November 5 2008 - Update from my mom, Holly Collins

November 5 2008
Dear Family and Friends,

It’s only been a few weeks since I’ve returned home for the first time in 14 years. I couldn’t wait to get back to the Netherlands to my young children, but on the other hand, it was difficult leaving my homeland again. For a brief moment I wasn’t a refugee anymore. I was even a hero in some people’s eyes.

It was a bit defeating secretly returning to life as a refugee, living in the projects and struggling to make it from day to day. I don’t think Americans realize how difficult it is being a refugee in exile in a foreign country.

Time passes by slowly when one doesn’t have a purpose. The world stands still here to a degree. It was exactly what the children and I needed to heal, but we have outgrown our sanctuary and we are eager to return home and take back our lives which were stolen from us.

I just found out last week that we will be forced to remain in exile for at least 3 more years. It is necessary to protect my 15 year old son from a vindictive judge. Of course I will do anything to protect my child. It’s not even a choice.

I am grateful that my children are safe. I know that so many other mothers are still in that unbearable situation that I used to be in. It was hell knowing that my children were being abused and that there was nothing I could do to protect them. I would have done anything to secure their safely and to a degree I did. I realize how fortunate I am to have rescued them and to have escaped our lives of abuse. I still don’t know how we made it.

It is amazing that we were able to find a way out of the United States. I still can’t believe that I, as an American, received Asylum in Europe and that we were able to keep hidden for over 12 years. My damaged children healed nicely and are wonderful people and will be productive members of society.

It is also unbelievable that the criminal charges were even dropped and that some very important federal officials acknowledge and have even apologized that the legal system failed us. I have had the honor of being a mother to 10 amazing children. They have molded me into the strong yet soft, warm, loving mother I am today.

Everyone is telling me that 3 more years in exile is nothing in compared to the 14 years we’ve already spent here. I should be thankful that my children are safe. I should be appreciative that I have medical insurance, a roof over my head, rations to survive etc… and believe me I am! I don’t want to appear ungrateful and full of self pity, but this isn’t fair!

If the court would have worked as it should have, and my children were protected, I would have completed college and gone on to law school. I would have also been able to provide so much more for my children. I don’t understand why it is okay for everyone else to just accept that this is how my life is and I should be grateful that this is the best that I should hope for.

It has been an emotionally exhausting and draining experience in having to fight so hard for basic human rights that so many take for granted. I am grateful for all the well-meaning intentions I've received, but sometimes it feels like I'm expected to just accept that this is how my life is. We Have been advised to accept and embrace the attitude that “life isn’t fair.”
Any child who has been repeatedly battered and beaten already knows how unfair life is and many just accept it. This isn’t how life should be. Life should be fair! I want my children to realize that if they are good people, hard working and honest that they will excel and that anything is possible.

I can accept that this is just the way life is for 'someone like me.' I still have difficulty accepting that I am worthy just to be. However, as a mother of these specific children, I owe it to them to show them that good people are also entitled to good things that life has to offer.

There doesn't appear to be anything else I can do at the moment and we will be forced to remain here for 3 more years. I will continue to raise my children in a home full of love and happiness. I just want your understanding that inside my heart is still aching and I long to come home.

Lots of Love,