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Kali's mother, Sandra Clarissa Zemialkowski, took the child to the Dominican Republic in December 2007. She told Kali's father, Dhanika Athukorala, that it was a two-month visit to relatives, and Dhanika consented to this. Zemialkowski failed to return with Kali in February 2008, however, and Dhanika sought a court order to compel her to give Kali back.
After some negotiation, the parents agreed that Sandra was to set up a webcam so Dhanika could keep in touch with Kali, and she was to bring Kali to the United States for a visit one week every three months. In addition, Dhanika would be permitted to travel to the Dominican Republic to see his daughter whenever he liked. Sandra didn't abide by the agreement, however, and obstructed Dhanika's access to the child. He was only allowed to see Kali a few times, and never for overnight, which was contrary to what Sandra had promised. Her attorney in Massachusetts told the family court judge she had no intention of coming to court or taking Kali to see her father. The judge then granted custody of Kali to Dhanika, and ordered Sandra to return her by April 13, 2009. Sandra never did, and Dhanika hasn't seen or had contact with his daughter since the custody ruling.
Dhanika is trying to arrange for Kali's return to the United States under the terms of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international civil treaty which the Dominican Republic signed in 2007. The Dominican Republic has refused to take action, however, saying Sandra was within her rights when she moved there with Kali and because Sandra and Dhanika were never married, Dhanika has no say as to where their daughter lives.