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Hartland Mother Working for Custody of Her Children in Jordan 

Catherine Pegram

A woman from Hartland is in an international custody battle, hoping to bring her three children back to Maine. Heidi Alsaleh is in the middle of a divorce from her Jordanian husband. She says he took their American-born children to that country without her permission.Now she’s in Jordan, too – and family and friends back home are praying for everyone’s safety.Alsaleh has been living in Jordan near her soon-to-be ex-husband and three kids for more than a year. Shirley Gould, Heidi’s maternal grandmother, says it’s the only way he’d allow her to be with the children – Ahmed, Manar and Sarah. “He wouldn’t even let Heidi see the kids unless she went with him. So she agreed to go back with him and she had been there for over a year. He physically abused her, mentally.”Then in September she says, “She just couldn’t stand anymore of it and so one night, her and the kids managed to get the car and escape to embassy in Amman.”That’s when Heidi’s parents, Dean and Geneva Sides, left St. Albans and headed to Jordan to help their daughter. They rented an apartment where she could live with her kids, something they say her husband, Mohammed, initially agreed to.Gould says, “It wasn’t an hour later when he kidnapped the little boy away from him – he assaulted my son-in-law knocked him to the ground and tried to run Heidi over.”That was nearly a month ago. She says, “And they haven’t heard a word on the little boy – where he is, if he’s alright, at all.”Heidi’s paternal grandmother, Viola Sides, says Heidi’s parents have left their jobs and spent most of their money to help her and their grandkids. “It’s a hard situation. Like my son said, I’m staying here until I get my daughter and them home. He says he won’t leave them, so that’s what he’s doing. He’s doing what he’s got to do.”Sides says people throughout Hartland and Saint Albans are coming together to help the family.”We’ve put out notices to all the churches around here and they have prayers for them all of the time. so that’s all we can do is just pray for them.”As they continue to wait for word on Heidi’s son and the fate her family. “We’re praying and we’re hoping that they’re gonna get him back and they’re going to come home safe. That’s all we can do.”Heidi’s family has contacted Maine congressional leaders for help. A spokesperson for Senator Susan Collins tells us her office has been in touch with the U.S. Embassy and the Office of Abducted Children at the State Department. Collins was told the Embassy is aware of the family’s situation and working to bring it to a successful resolution.