Here's the story:
Waynesville Woman Finally Reunites With Abducted Daughter
Janet Greer's moment finally arrived Wednesday — 12 years after her daughter was abducted by her father and taken to Egypt.
With Chris Cuomo from ABC's “Good Morning America” at her side, the Waynesville woman entered her daughter's world, wrapped her arms around her, touched her and smelled her hair.
She shed tears that never stopped pouring from years of living with a broken heart.
That heart broke when Greer's ex-boyfriend — who had a court-allowed weekend visit with his then-3-year-old daughter Sarah in 1997, never returned with her. Instead, Magdy Elgohary got on a plane with Sarah in tow and flew to Egypt.
Authorities in Hawaii, where Greer and Elgohary were living at the time, issued warrants charging him with felony kidnapping.
But Sarah “Dowsha” Elgohary's family refused to let Greer to see her own child. Even after the Egyptian courts awarded her custody, the family intervened to stop it from occurring. And local leaders refused to intervene on her behalf.
Finally, the day she's dreamed and fought so hard for happened Wednesday.
“I think she saw her in the afternoon over there,” said Ruth Greer, Janet's mother from their Waynesville home. “She said, ‘Mom, she looks like me; tall and slender. She's got hair down to her waist.' She was ecstatic.”
Can you imagine what this must have been like for this woman? To have her child abducted, and despite her best efforts, to have any contact with her daughter refused? I sure can't:
State Department Assistance
Ruth Greer said a recent bombardment of media coverage, pressure from people like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other high-profile officials put shame on the Elgohary family, with whom Dowsha and her father were living.
An Egyptian-American journalist recently published a stinging piece about Greer's situation in Egyptian newspapers. The publicity and outcry enlightened the government and enraged people, writer Zagloul Ayad, of Boston, said in an interview last week. Ayad also runs a nonprofit to help others in similar situations.
Greer's YouTube video, in which she tearfully pleads her case, also spread all over Egypt and other newspapers picked up her story.
“They all got tired of the press hanging around,” Ruth Greer said, “and bringing shame on themselves.”
I've followed this story for years and have been amazed at the fight Greer puts up daily — the e-mails and phone calls, her reaching out to anyone who may help her see her child.
Many times she flew to Egypt, only to win custody by law, but was never granted actual access to her daughter.
Here is the YouTube video, mentioned above:
Holy cow, can you imagine what Janet Greer's life has been like for the past 12 years? It sounds like a living hell. And then Secretary Clinton stepped in:
Finally, A Reunion
Janet Greer prepared for the reunion by collecting some of Dowsha's favorite toys from when she was a baby and toddler. The girl is now 15, and Janet hadn't seen her since she was 3. She was hoping the toys would stir a memory.
“(Janet) used to wear Jontue (perfume) when Sarah was little and wore it today, hoping when they hugged each other the familiar scent would be there,” Ruth Greer said.
“Janet called me to say peace has been established between the family (the Elgoharys of Egypt) and her. She said she met with them all and Magdy (Dowsha's father) even asked about me. The lines of communication are open. They have agreed for her to have visitation and there was even some joking.”
According to the “Good Morning America” segment, the days preceding the reunion were tangled in red tape and more refusals.
Clinton spoke to the Egyptian foreign minister on Greer's behalf, saying that “as a mother,” she was hopeful this would be resolved.
A spokesman from the U.S. State Department said the department has been aware of the case since 1997.
“The Department has been fully engaged with Ms. Greer since learning of the tragic abduction of her daughter, Sarah, in 1997,” said spokesman Darby Holladay. “At every possible opportunity, we have pressed the Egyptian government to resolve this case. We will continue to assist Ms. Greer for as long as necessary.”He also said the embassy had assisted Greer during each of her visits to Egypt over the last 12 years and accompanied her to court hearings and meetings, providing support.
But just last week, despite pleas from high-profile officials, Greer again lost custody in Egyptian courts, due to paperwork problems from a lawyer.
With American leaders and national media at her side, she then decided to plead once more with the family, and told them she'd drop all charges if they'd allow visitation with Dowsha.
The family, upset by all the media attention, agreed to a meeting in their hometown near Cairo.
I'm glad to hear the State Department has been aware of this for the past 12 years, and has provided assistance, but, evidently, it wasn't enough. Clinton has been on the job how long now, and she was able to make this happen? Just sayin'.
Finally, the actual reunion:
‘I Love You'
With her daughter finally standing next to her, the first words out of Greer's mouth were “I love you,” in both Dowsha's language and in English.
“I think she's on Cloud Nine,” Ruth Greer said of her daughter. “She's actually laid eyes physically on her daughter and is so thrilled and excited. She doesn't speak much English so they are going to have to get to know each other again.”
Despite the good news, Ruth Greer continues to harbor mixed emotions.
“I still don't trust them,” she said of the family who put them “through hell,” including so much stress both she and Janet suffered health problems over the years, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent trying to reunite with the girl.
“I wonder if this is another ploy,” Ruth Greer said.
She also said she didn't know how long her daughter would remain in Egypt or if Dowsha would come to the United States with her.
“I wish this was behind me and she were back home to a normal life,” Ruth Greer said.
Earlier in the week, I received the following e-mail from Greer, describing the conditions she was under.
“It is all over the news here and in the newspapers, people point at me where ever I go,” she wrote. “The local news filmed this day before yesterday and it is all over the satellite here. They would not let us film here at the hotel because it is an old Palace where the King lived, a landmark, so it is against the law to film so we went out into the street by the Nile to do it. Traffic stopped to watch … It would be so simple if the Elgohary family would just let me see Dowsha!”
And now they have. Many years are gone, but I imagine Janet Greer is wondering about the many more she can share with her daughter. (Susan Reinhardt is a Citizen-Times columnist. Contact her at sreinhardt@CITIZEN-TIMES.com.)
Wow - what an amazing tale.
And Secretary Clinton has also been fighting on behalf of David Goldman, a NJ man who has been fighting to have his son returned since 2004 (h/t to a faithful reader who told me of his plight). His son, now 9 years old, was taken by his wife on a visit to Brazil. After she got there, she informed her husband she was staying, and a battle has ensued ever since. Secretary Clinton began working on this in March.
No doubt, Secretary Clinton will continue to fight for Mr. Goldman until he, like Janet Greer, gets to be with his son again. I hope, and pray, that time will be soon...