The Daily Mail, a semi-tabloid newspaper from Britain, has picked up the Amber Nicklas story. In this article they state Amber’s keepers (don’t know what else to call them: they’re not a legitimate foster family, they didn’t legally adopt her, they didn’t kidnap her and they’re not related to her) are Romanian and she speaks Romanian as well as English. I also found this exclusive interview with the Romanian family, who are described as “gypsies.” That term is not strictly PC anymore, and I doubt the family calls themselves that.
This news source, which interviewed the family, also said the family was part of the Romanian community, but not whether they were born in Romania or in the US. They said they hadn’t realized at first that she had been kidnapped, and when they found out they had gotten too attached to her to give her up. They claim they tried to enroll her in school but they didn’t have the papers to do it. The father says she is “very bright” and they tried to educate her at home, but they didn’t do very well — she can’t read or write. Perhaps the family didn’t know English well enough to teach her to read in that language.
I feel deeply sorry for this girl. She has been victimized three times over: first when she was taken from her family and put in a foster home, then when she was abducted from the foster home, and now that she’s been taken from the only family she knows. I wonder if there’s any chance the Romanians could regain custody of her.
That is a tricky question. On the one hand, the Romanian family seems to have loved her and taken good care of her (besides not enrolling her in school), and it may be “in the best interests of the child” to give her back to them, especially since her biological relatives were deemed unfit. On the other hand, she was unlawfully taken, and the Romanians knew this and they knew it was against the law to keep her, and they didn’t enroll her in school. (Whether they could have or not, under the circumstances, is another issue. But a child should be in school, and lots of children have been taken away from their real, custodial parents for truancy.)
I’m glad I’m not the judge or social worker or whoever who has to decide what to do with Amber.
Here’s another question: why has Amber got so much media attention when Quranah Gilliam, who was located under very similar circumstances, hardly got any? I didn’t even find out about Quranah’s recovery for over a year.