May 31, 2011: State Department says number of parental abductions is rising.
A Berwyn father says there's no way he can give up the emotional and expensive battle to find his daughter.
"I can't give up on her," Michael Sanchez said of his daughter who was taken from him more than three years ago.
In 2005, Emily Machado was born to Nigia Machado and Michael Sanchez. The couple broke up before Emily was born and it took two years to work out a parenting agreement.
"In the parenting agreement it stated clearly that neither parent was allowed to leave the country [with Emily] without the others consent," Sanchez said.
That agreement was shattered in 2008, when mother and daughter disappeared. Sanchez sought out the help of the U.S. State Department.
"Within three days I got a call from them and they found one way tickets to Brazil. I didn’t believe it," Sanchez recalled.
Sanchez found out that Machado secretly got a passport for Emily before leaving the United States. He said he believes Machado, a Brazilian citizen, fled because she was afraid the U.S. court system would take away her custodial rights because she was an illegal immigrant.
The State Department calls international parental abductions "a very disturbing trend" and that the numbers of cases are sharply rising.
There are 16 open cases right now in Brazil. Last year, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says around 2,000 children were illegally taken by a parent out of the United States.
"There were many days I cried, so many times I wanted to give up," Sanchez said. "You are depressed, you can't sleep, you can't eat."
Sanchez works two jobs to pay the legal bills in his fight to get Emily back and is pursuing a college degree.
He traveled to Brazil in October, hoping that Machado would allow him to see his daughter.
Sanchez said she refused. He was granted full custody of Emily by the Cook County Court system if she is returned to the United States.
He has appealed to Brazil to follow the provisions of the Hague Convention. Senator Dick Durbin's office, he said, has also made appeals to the Brazilian government.
Sanchez, along with other parents of abducted children, recently signed a letter of appeal to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.