Stamford Mother Fights To Win Back Custody Of Son


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Photo: Hour photo / Matthew Vinci
Maria “GiGi” Gonzalez in the room of her son, Santiago, of whom she is currently fighting to regain custody in a legal battle that has spanned nearly two years.
North Stamford resident Maria Gonzalez spent her second straight Mother’s Day without seeing or hearing from her 5-year-old son Santiago.
The Department of Children and Families aggressively sought and obtained a temporary order of custody committing Santiago to the agency’s care in mid-October 2012 despite the fact that the child was never abused, neglected or placed in dangerous conditions while in Gonzalez’s care. The agency’s actions resulted in a prolonged custody battle in which the agency reversed its stance and advocated for a mother and child reunion, but the child has never been returned to Gonzalez’s custody.

“It’s very hard, but I have a lot of hope that this is going to be the last Mother’s Day that we are going to be separated,” Gonzalez said.  Facing federal sentencing and deportation from the United States due to the method in which she took Santiago to the country after saving him from life on the streets of Guatemala City, Gonzalez is battling tremendous odds to be reunited with Santiago.

“I am a mother, and I am fighting for my child,” she said. “That’s not a question. I am not going to stop.”
Gonzalez obtained a work visa and came to the United States from Argentina in 1993 with the goal of taking college courses in the English language. She first lived in Manhattan and then relocated to Stamford, finding work as a babysitter and taking college courses at Norwalk Community College and UConn Stamford.
Known to friends and family as “GiGi,” Gonzalez enjoyed Stamford and decided to obtain her green card to stay in the community.
She began dating Henry Lopez, a renowned local chef who immigrated to the United States from Guatemala in 1999 and the couple married in 2003. Lopez and Gonzalez started a popular local catering company — Positano Gourmet — and by 2005, they were able to purchase their second home in North Stamford.
Lopez and Gonzalez continued to…..
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