Bring Atlas Home

Protect Children from International Kidnapping

Atlas Cerny was abducted in September 2011 from his home in California, USA, by his mother, Aslihan Arikan Cerny, with the help of Aslihan’s mother & father, to Ankara, Turkey.  Aslihan claimed she was visiting her native Turkey for a supposed three and half week “holiday” but her intentions were never to return to her home in California.

Shortly after arriving in Ankara, Aslihan with the help of her attorney father filed for divorce in Turkey, leaving Atlas to grow up in a broken home.  I had been in contact with Aslihan to ensure Atlas had made the long journey to Turkey without incident.  Throughout our communications while she was in Turkey, Aslihan had made no mention of intent or that she had filed for divorce, all conversations were normal.  A few weeks later, and only days before Aslihan and baby Atlas were to fly back to California, Aslihan inform me of her intent to stay in Turkey and that I should never contact them again but I could see Atlas “any time I wanted”.  My heart sank, and I thought my life was over.  How could she be so cruel and insensitive?  How was she going to support Atlas with no job or income?

Before Aslihan and Atlas left I knew that Aslihan was suffering from some kind of postpartum depression and I thought that allowing to return to her native Turkey would allow her to recuperate by seeing her family.  I was against Atlas traveling with her on this long journey from California to Turkey and when I brought up the topic of Atlas remaining in California with me, under my care, she became violently angry with me.  It is a cultural thing with Turkish people apparently that they feel only the mother can take care of a child.  Modern thinking shows otherwise.  I reluctantly agreed to allow both Aslihan & Atlas to travel to Turkey for the supposed three and half week stay.  Now I regret this decision.

As a child my mother would take me to Germany to visit family every summer.  I thought this was all part of being married to a foreign national and knew that trips like this would be inevitable.  Little did I know how deceitful people can be, let alone my spouse.

After I could not convince Aslihan to return home with Atlas, I had to make plans to go to Turkey to see my baby boy after not seeing, holding, and telling him that I love him for months.  Aslihan was reasonably accommodating.  She allowed me to visit Atlas for only a few hours most days.  Although this precious time was not long enough I complied with her sporadic visitation schedule.

While in Ankara I knew I had to gear up for a bitter divorce and custody battle ahead and was interviewing lawyers for the Hague Convention case that will be handled by the Turkish “legal system”.  I settled on hiring Nedim Yucca, who I found on the US Embassy website, as he was a seasoned lawyer in Ankara who had previously won cases that involved Turkish mothers kidnapping their children to Turkey.  During this visit to Ankara I was trying to work out a reasonable agreement with Aslihan as to how to share custody of Atlas.  In her normal childish manor she was not receptive to agreeing to anything and would only respond “we will let the courts decide”.  She would proceed to demand other things like “I want $300,000 USD for emotional suffering, I lost my job, and lost my friends”.  My thinking is that $300k for living near the beach in California??  Apparently this is legal in Turkey!!!  Aslihan was paid when she quit her job under Turkish law, and in regards to her friends, there is Facebook, if they really were close friends.  Clearly she was being irrational and no agreement could be made.  Later in the week, Aslihan was served with court papers from the California Superior Court and US Department of State for the return of Atlas to the United States.  She was shocked and looked at me in disbelief as if she had done nothing wrong!  I explained to her that there are international laws in place that protect children against this exact situation.  Considering her father has been a lawyer for 20 years, one would think he knows better.  The evidence against her is pretty strong  and any real court sees that but the Turkish Court is being persuaded otherwise.