A father who has spent five years trying to bring his abducted son home from Turkey has described the reunion with his two children as "hell".
Bruce Laybourn has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting for the return of his son Dylan, now 5, who was illegally taken by his Turkish-born mother, Gulsen Nil Laybourn, in 2007.
While fighting the painstaking legal process, Laybourn recently travelled to Turkey with his daughter Gerry, 22, from an earlier marriage, for the first time since Dylan's abduction.
Writing from Turkey on the eve of his departure back to New Zealand, Laybourn, a magazine publisher, said: "This is the worst part. The sitting and waiting is hell for us all. It is sad to wonder at when we might ever be all together again."
The trio spent two weeks sightseeing in Istanbul.
He said: "Being together with my daughter and son for the first time in five years was an incredibly moving experience. It was overwhelmingly emotional to watch and experience. Initially shy, Dylan very quickly became inseparable from his big sister."
He said Dylan "adores" Gerry, a surgical veterinary nurse from Mt Albert.
Despite the setbacks, he said he never contemplated taking Dylan illegally back to New Zealand: "I know better than most the gut-wrenching devastation of having a child ripped out of my life and taken to a foreign culture on the other side of the world. I could not do that to anyone."
He said Dylan's mother took good care of him, but his opportunities in New Zealand were far greater. "In my five years coming here, I'm yet to see anywhere where a child can easily and regularly run in bare feet over grass or a sandy beach, breathe clean air, swim in the sea or river.
"It is a city fraught with dangers and, as a result, children are very cosseted and protected."
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said the ministry had provided extensive and ongoing consular assistance to Laybourn since 2007.
"Unfortunately there are no further avenues available under international law, and Turkish domestic law applies."