Mother's battle to get back abducted daughter, 2
Investigation under way after estranged partner who beat city resident took their child to France
It will be a lonely Mother's Day tomorrow for Alyssa Cruz, who is still wondering how her estranged boyfriend managed to spirit their two-year-old daughter from Hong Kong to France without the child's birth certificate or passport.
"For this Mother's Day, all I want to know is that my daughter is fine. But I can't see her and can't contact her right now," Cruz said with tears in her eyes.
Cruz last saw Lana Desiree Cruz Lopez on March 20, the day before her daughter's second birthday. Lana was born in France in 2012, and holds a French passport.
She had allowed Clement Lopez to take the child on an outing - against the advice of police and social workers - after he pleaded with her to let him see the child as it was her birthday.
"I was going to invite him to her celebrations anyway," the 25-year-old English teacher and Hong Kong resident said, explaining why she relented.
The next she heard from Lopez was a text message that she opened as she waited at the Central ferry piers for him to return from what she thought had been a day trip to Stanley. "I'm sorry baby, I'm walking," it read.
Unsure of what was happening, Cruz waited until the next day to call police, by which time it appears Lopez had left Hong Kong, with Lana. A week later she discovered he had taken Lana to his parents' home in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France.
French authorities are now working to resolve the case under an international convention on child abduction to which France and Hong Kong are parties.
The pair met in Hong Kong in 2011, before moving to France later that year. Cruz said that Lopez had assaulted her on numerous occasions, including when she was pregnant with Lana.
She escaped back to Hong Kong with Lana in November last year, but Lopez followed them. After another attack, he pleaded guilty on April 16 to assaulting Cruz and was put on a HK$1,000 good-behaviour bond. Cruz considered the relationship over.
Police and the Social Welfare Department advised her not to see him or to leave Lana alone with him.
Cruz now suspects that Lopez had reported Lana's documents lost and had obtained new ones before meeting their daughter on March 20. "That would mean he planned it beforehand," she said.
Cruz said the Hong Kong Department of Justice has provided assistance to her and is officially treating the incident as a case of child abduction. The Post has seen case documents that have been translated into French and passed on to French authorities.
A spokeswoman for the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong said the consulate was aware of the case. She did not address the issue of the passport, and said judicial proceedings had begun in France so the consulate could not comment further.
The spokeswoman said Hong Kong and France were parties to the Hague Convention which covers international child abduction, and that "mechanisms" provided by the convention had been activated.
The spokeswoman confirmed that the Hong Kong government and the French justice ministry were working together, in accordance with the convention. "We hope that a solution will be found in the interest of the child," she said.
The Hong Kong Department of Justice said it did not comment on individual cases.