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Saturday
Jul132013

Mother and Daughter Trapped in Brazil Custody Dispute Return Home

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A Massachusetts mother and her 6-year-old daughter have returned home to the United States after being stranded in Brazil for nearly two months as a result of a tumultuous custody battle, according to their Facebook page.

Shauna Hadden, 33, of Agawam, Mass., took to Facebook to announce that she and her daughter, Ava, made it back Friday night.

"We are home!!!!!! Love you all thank you all," Hadden wrote on her Facebook page, "Trapped in Brazil." The page has received more than 12,000 likes.

Hadden said she got word that she could leave Brazil on Wednesday, when a federal regional judge there ruled that she and her daughter should be given back their passports, which they had turned over to police, according to a post on Facebook. Both Hadden and her daughter were also removed from the country's no-fly list, the post said.

Hadden took her daughter to Brazil on May 21 to visit the girl's father, Donizete Machado, whom Hadden divorced in 2009. When the mother and daughter arrived, Hadden says, her ex-husband went to court to get custody of Ava.

Although he was denied custody, a Brazilian judge ordered Ava's passport confiscated, Hadden said, adding that she surrendered her own passport as well when police came to her door.

Hadden, who has full custody of her daughter, said she planned a three-week trip to the South American country with Ava so the girl could meet her extended family and learn more about her cultural heritage.

"I was trying to do the right thing, what I thought was the right thing for Ava, and he hadn't seen her in four years," Hadden said.

When the two arrived in Brazil, "Shauna got a call from a man who lived in Machado's town telling her not to come," Shauna's mother, Linda Hadden, told ABC News. "Her ex-husband was planning to take Ava from her."

So instead of traveling to see Machado, Hadden says she chose to go north and stay with friends.

"That's when Machado got angry," Linda Hadden said. "He and his sisters started sending my daughter nasty messages, saying things like, 'You're going to have to stay in Brazil forever.' So Shauna decided to take her return flight home."

But Machado, who had bought the plane tickets, cancelled them when Hadden arrived in Brazil, she said.

While the U.S. State Department tried to get Hadden and Ava out of Brazil, Hadden grew increasingly concerned that she would not get her and her daughter's passports back before her travel visa expired Aug. 21.

"I have no documents here. I fear to even go in the car because if I get pulled over and I don't have my documents, ultimately they could throw me in prison because I'm undocumented," Hadden told ABC News in a Skype interview.

But after the judge ruled in her favor, Hadden posted pictures of herself and her daughter smiling and holding their passports on Wednesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio