Monthly Archives: July 2012

Petition to Bring Kids Home – Over 500 Signatures!

You can always count on good people to speak up and lend a hand, all over the world!

Family and friends of the abducted children have been heartened by the response to the petition asking US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to help bring the children home. Since its launch last week, over 500 people from around the world have signed!

Those signing hail from Canada, Austria, UK, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Ireland, Poland, Bulgaria, Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Egypt, South Africa, Qatar, UAE, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and even Russia!

In the United States, the signers come from California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, DC, Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Connecticut, Missouri, Massachusetts, Iowa, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Maryland, Georgia, New Hampshire, Oregon, Ohio, Oklahoma, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Colorado, and Hawaii.

To everyone so far, THANK YOU!


Happy Birthday Sara!

Dear Sara,

Since we have no way to contact you, we hope that maybe you will have access to a computer and will find this note.

Remember last year when you were home in Florence, and you got a pink bike for your birthday? You were very happy. Zoe wanted to ride it, so you helped her.

And remember when you, Ezra, and Papa went for a ride with your new bike and got so many blackberries, you and Papa and Ezra were shouting “more! more! (blackberries! blackberries!)” each time you saw some good ones to eat? Some were hard to reach so you and Papa helped Ezzie, lifting him up to pick some more of his own.

This year, Papa, Grandpa, Roro, Molly, Zoe, Maggi, Lorenzo all wish you a Happy Birthday, and we are thinking of you and have presents that we hope we’ll be able to give you. We are all very proud of you and miss you very much, and we want you home as soon as possible.

And Papa would like to say to you, “see you later, alligator…” (you know the rest…”boop ti do be do be doo”).



Petition to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Help Bring Abducted Children Home

Dear Madam Secretary,

It has been almost one year since four American children were abducted from their American custodial father, and illegally taken from Italy to Russia by their non-custodial mother.

The court-appointed psychologist and the judge deemed the Russian mother, Marianne Grin, psychologically unstable. Sole custody was given to the father one year prior to the abduction.

The Russians are not honoring the Hague Convention principles to return the children to their habitual residence nor are they honoring the convention of the Rights of the Child. The Russian authorities are taking no steps to protect these children.

The mother cancelled all forms of communication with the children. There has been no contact with their friends and family. Facebook and email accounts were deleted, the children are not allowed phone calls.

The children do not go to school regularly nor have a stable home. They have no family in Russia. The mother abandoned the children to Russian Institutions/orphanages when she was unable to care for them.

We need help from the US State Department to appeal to Russian authorities to follow international laws and conventions and return these children to their father.

The Italian authorities can do little, as the children are American citizens.

The family is seriously concerned for the physical and psychological health of the children.

Please help bring these children home to safety, love and caring.

Thank you,



To sign the petition click here:

What is a mother? Aunt Molly’s open letter in defense of the children

Aunt Molly last summer with Sara, and her little cousin, Zoe, who adores and misses her

English version of Molly’s letter, published in the Corriere Fiorentino newspaper. Original in Italian is below.

Indifference, and Judicial System Without Humanity

Dear Director [of Corriere Fiorentino],

What is a mother? A mother is a person in that she is a vessel of diverse experiences – some even contradictory – including pain and pleasure, thoughts, hopes and prejudices, desires, or even self- love and hatred for others. What happens when this delicate balance is thrown off and the suffering of a psychiatric illness turns her world inside out and in doing so drags her children along with her? What happens when the mother, in this state of devastation, purports to be the owner of her own children and the fortress/prison that encloses them? What happens when all of her fears and her obsessions become the only walls of the world in which her children must remain?

In fleeing to Russia, her native country, Marianne Grin took her four children with her without worrying about their scholastic needs, their health, or their friends and family. It’s not just their father who is missing them, but also their uncles and aunt, their grandparents and their cousin. She took them with her, considering them objects that she possesses. And that is just how she treated them. When they were too burdensome for her she placed them in institutes and orphanages of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism to then be able to take them out when it was convenient for her in order to use them as weapons in the war waged against her husband.

Can a mother directly inject the poison of her insanity into the minds of her children and taint their entire future lives and imprint their psyches with the wounds of a suffering that is not even their own? In Italy you can, thanks to the complacent indifference of those who are supposed to be ordered by the law to prevent it.

The judicial authorities wipe their hands clean just like Pontius Pilate. In fact, they are the ones whose negligence and logically incoherent decisions permitted Marianne’s escape. And now they continue to take their time, and lose time, demonstrating supreme indifference towards the irremediable damage that their attitude will produce in the lives of these four children.

Bureaucracy has its timetable they say. And I respond to this that the “banality of evil” – as Hannah Arendt tells us – appears to present itself in the public institutions of every country involved here, Italy, Russia and the United States of America, and also in the religious institutions that Marianne used to her advantage.

Too many times we have been told by public officials and representative of religious communities that these are family problems that they can do nothing about. But I want to remind you here that if Marianne Grin fled to Russia illegally it is because of the unorganized Italian judicial system that gave her access to the children when they had a warning by the father’s lawyer with concerns about a potential attempt to flee, and it is the fault of a shameful complicity of a group of religious figures.

And if the children are still in Russia it is a because of the usual Italian justice system (it took 7 months to write one document – without effective consequences – where the Italian police are ordered to search for the children in Italy and in Russia); it is because of the Russian justice system that so far refuses to recognize the exclusive parental custody decision of the Italian court to the father; it is because of the absence of the direct involvement of all of the governments involved here, whether Italian, Russian or American, that simply demonstrate indifference regarding my niece and nephews, dual American and Russian citizens, born and raised in Italy, all of them legal residents in Italy, 3 of them born in Italy, but in fact, all Stateless and currently citizens of a No Man’s Land. And each of these public officials – who all speak different languages – says the same thing: we understand your pain, but we have to do our job.

With this letter I am addressing all of the authorities responsible here: Italian, Russian and American, is it really impossible to reconcile the timetables of bureaucracy and legal administration with that of the saving of the life of a human being?

Molly McIlwrath
The children’s aunt

Original Italian version, published together with articles about the refusal of Marianne Grin to permit the children to be visited by their long-time friends from Italy or their uncle, who came to see them in Russia from California.


Caro direttore, che cos’è una madre?

Una madre è una persona che, in quanto tale, è un contenitore di esperienze diverse e anche contraddittorie, di dolori e di piaceri, di pensieri, di speranze di pregiudizi, di desideri, di amore di sé, di odio per gli altri. Che cosa succede quando questo delicato equilibrio è turbato e il dolore — quello di una malattia psichiatrica — travolge una madre e con essa i suoi figli?

Che cosa succede quando la madre, in questo stato di devastazione, pretende di essere la proprietaria dei propri bambini, la fortezza carcere dentro cui chiuderli, con la scusa di proteggerli dal mondo? Che cosa succede quando tutte le sue paure, le sue ossessioni diventano le uniche pareti del mondo dentro cui i bambini devono stare?

Con questa fuga in Russia, il suo Paese nativo, Marianne si è portata dietro i suoi figli, senza preoccuparsi della loro esigenze scolastiche, dei problemi di salute, delle relazioni amicali e familiari. Qui non c’è solo il padre ad aspettarli, ma anche gli zii, i nonni, la cuginetta. Se li è portati dietro, considerandoli cose sue. E come tali li ha trattati.

Quando sono stati troppo ingombranti li ha depositati in istituti e orfanotrofi di ebrei ultraortodossi, per poi riprenderli quando le erano utili come armi da usare nella guerra al marito.

Può una madre, impunemente, instillare il veleno della propria follia nella mente dei figli, avvelenare la loro vita futura, marchiandoli con il fuoco di un dolore che non è loro?

In Italia si può, grazie anche alla complice indifferenza di chi invece dovrebbe essere deputato dalla legge ad evitarlo. L’autorità giudiziaria si lava le mani come Ponzio Pilato; eppure è questa che, con le sue negligenze e le sue decisioni logicamente incoerenti, ha permesso a Marianne la fuga. E ora continua a prendere tempo, a perdere tempo, dimostrando suprema indifferenza verso i danni irrimediabili che questo suo atteggiamento produrrà nelle vite dei bambini. La burocrazia ha i suoi tempi, ci dicono.

Ed io rispondo a questo che la «banalità del male» — come ci dice Hannah Arendt — sembra ripresentarsi nelle istituzioni pubbliche di ogni Paese coinvolto, Italia, Russia, Gli Stati Uniti, e anche nelle istituzioni religiose che Marianne ha usato a proprio vantaggio. Troppe volte ci siamo sentiti rispondere da pubblici ufficiali e rappresentanti di comunità religiose che questi sono problemi familiari rispetto ai quali loro non possono fare nulla.

Ma voglio qui ricordare che se Marianne è fuggita in Russia illegalmente è a causa della farraginosa macchina giudiziaria italiana che le ha consegnato i bambini quando a loro era già stato segnalato il pericolo di fuga, e a causa della colpevole complicità di alcuni religiosi. E se i bambini sono ancora in Russia è a causa dei tempi della solita giustizia italiana (7 mesi ci sono voluti per scrivere un documento — senza conseguenze effettive — con il quale si ordina alla polizia di ricercare i bambini in Italia e in Russia).

È a causa della giustizia russa che disconosce la decisione del tribunale italiano dell’affidamento esclusivo dei bambini al padre; è a causa dell’assenza di un intervento diretto dei governi coinvolti, quello italiano, quello russo e quello americano, che mostrano indifferenza sulla sorte dei miei nipoti, cittadini americani e russi, tutti e quattro residenti in Italia, tre di loro nati in Italia, ma di fatto, figli di una terra di nessuno.

E ognuno di questi pubblici ufficiali, che parlano lingue diverse, dicono la stessa cosa: comprendiamo il vostro dolore, ma noi dobbiamo fare il nostro lavoro.

Mi rivolgo a tutte le autorità responsabili qui, italiane, russe e americane: è davvero così impossibile conciliare i tempi dell’amministrazione della giustizia con la salvezza della vita di un essere umano?

Molly McIlwrath
Zia dei bambini

The Half Elf, by Elliot Mcilwrath, Chapter 3

As previously posted,  Eli (Elliot) began writing a book when he was 11 years old, getting up in the early morning before school each day to work on it. Because Eli’s family is prevented from contacting him, his father is assembling the work that he left behind, with the help of Eli’s close friend, Edo.

As we have received many requests to make more of Eli’s book available, here is Chapter 3.

Chapter 3:  Astengurt

The cell had stone walls, a wooden bench where I was stretched out, and nothing else. As I stood up, a man wearing a red cloak appeared. He opened the cell, which apparently had not been locked, and pulled me up gently by the arms.

“You have not been harmed,” he said, as if saying that would make it true, but it did not make my head feel any better.  “And more importantly,” he continued, “you are being awaited.” He spoke politely, with a slight accent I’d never heard but that faintly reminded me of how Andrew sometimes spoke.

He gestured in the direction I was to go, and bowed as I passed him, as if I was someone important or going to see someone important, or both.

Continue reading The Half Elf, by Elliot Mcilwrath, Chapter 3

Why does she want to ruin her children’s lives?

One question we repeatedly hear: why is Marianne Grin (Марианны Гринь) denying her children all contact with their father, her little cousin of two years, all three grandparents, her aunt and uncles, and their many friends they left behind? A clue may lie in her own sense of abandonment, and the relationships she severed with her parents and the rest of her own family.

As has been pointed out by some of those familiar with her past, when Marianne’s father died in Moscow in 1997, she did not mourn it as a loss.

On the contrary, in letters she sent to friends at the time, she virtually celebrated his passing. She referred to him as her “so-called father”, disdainfully remarking that he had died “after drinking too much vodka.”  Letter on father’s death

In another letter, she gleefully referred to her father’s death as part of a “count-down” for both parents, remarking that his death was just “one down, one to go…” Letter with “count down” of her parents’ deaths

Grin claimed in her correspondence to have met her father only once in her life, a spin on her personal narrative that she told many people at the time in the USA (and a different story than the one she has been telling in Russia).  Not uncoincidentally, her letters celebrating the passing of her father were sent in August and September 1997, a time when – it subsequently surfaced – Grin was also writing to the US Department of Justice falsely claiming that her mother was abusive towards her and her brother. See her mother’s statement in 2009, submitted in support of the father being custody of the children.

This was all, of course, some years before Grin acquired Russian citizenship.

What is most startling about Grin’s happiness over the actual and prospective death of her parents is how they illustrate what she is now engaged in doing: to inflict her painful personal history on her own children by severing their ties from their father (affectionately referred to in these various letters about her “vodka-drinking” father) and all other family.  It appers she wants her own children to suffer the same fate she believes occurred to her, to repeat what she feels is the source of her own misery and unhappiness in life.

And this comes at a time when children’s relationships with their father is increasingly perceived as a critical element of their growth.  A scientific review of over 500 studies, for example, concluded this year that a nurturing and accepting relationship with one’s father is often more important to healthy psychological development than with one’s mother.

It is clear from her correspondence that Grin believes she never had that nurturing and accepting relationship with her own father (or mother), which may explain why she felt nothing about abandoning her children for several months into Chabad-Lubavitch orphanages in Russia (and demanding they keep the children isolated from family).  

More importantly, though, what can be done about this, so that history does not need to repeat itself?

After abducting the children to Russia, Grin has sought help from others in waging war against her own family (and enlisting her children in it), a self-destructive course that only few are willing to aid.  It is still possible for Grin to accept that there are many who care about the children who can assist her in getting the help she needs in order to achieve a decent life, both for herself and also for the children.