A MAN is fighting to get his daughter back after his ex-wife took her on holiday to America and then refused to return her.
John Pilsworth, 34, thought nine-year-old Baelii was going on a two-week trip with her mother Rachel, 27, an American citizen.
But Rachel told him in a phone call on New Year’s Eve that the pair would not be returning to Scotland.
Mr Pilsworth, of Cockburnspath in the Borders, said: “I’m not going to give up. All Baelii’s Christmas presents are lying unopened in her bedroom.
“The day Baelii was born was the happiest day of my life. Before she went to America, I sat her down and told her how much I loved her.”
Rachel, who met Mr Pilsworth on the internet, took Baelii to Independence, Missouri, on December 21, and planned to visit her father in Texas before flying back to Scotland on January 2.
It was agreed Baelii would live with her father and Rachel would have three days’ access a week
Mr Pilsworth said: “The last time I spoke to Baelii was on New Year’s Eve, when she told me she had bought a pet fish called Sparky.
“I wondered how she was going to bring a fish back home.
“Ten minutes later, Rachel came on the phone and told me they were going to Texas. I said she was cutting it fine, because they were due back in a couple of days.
“Then she dropped the bombshell that they weren’t going to be coming back.
“It was the worst piece of information I have ever received in my life.”
Baelii was born in the US and lived with her parents in Kansas City, but moved to Scotland in 2006.
Her mother joined her there later in an effort to save the couple’s troubled marriage. However, the pair failed to salvage their relationship and a divorce was finalised in 2010.
It was agreed Baelii would live with her father and Rachel would have three days’ access a week.
But she resigned from her job as retail manager at a visitor attraction in North Berwick on December 28.
She insisted she had been treated “terribly” by her husband and his family and acted in the “best interests” of her daughter.
She added: “This wasn’t an easy decision. I was only 21 when I went to Scotland.
“I didn’t know anybody and I built a life for myself over five years.
“My former husband has no job and lives with his parents. I am the best person to raise our daughter.
“I have asked Baelii what she would prefer to do. I wasn’t going to force her to do anything. She is very happy here.”
Mr Pilsworth, originally from Doncaster, has begun a Facebook campaign to get his daughter back and is planning to contact his MP.
He also intends to petition the Scottish Government to use the 1980 Hague Convention on international child abduction.
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said it was a “civil matter”.