A teenager who was at the center of a high-profile tug-of-war between Taiwan and Brazil during a three-year-long custody battle that began more than a decade ago left Sao Paulo late on Wednesday for a two-week visit to Taiwan.
The trip will be the first time that Iruan Ergui Wu (吳憶樺), now 18, has been back to Taiwan since the Taiwan High Court granted custody to his Brazilian maternal grandmother in 2004.
He is scheduled to arrive at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport this evening along with his adoptive mother, Etna Borkert, and elder brother Cassio Borkert.
At a send-off dinner organized by the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation, many Taiwanese expatriates gave him gifts and wished him and his family members a happy and safe journey.
The foundation last year invited the teen and his family to visit Taiwan, organizing a trip that has been financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, several charity groups and private donors in Taiwan.
Iruan is to meet his father’s relatives, who took care of him for about three years after his father died and who fought to keep him in Taiwan.
He is also scheduled to make a brief visit to his uncle’s home in Greater Kaohsiung’s Cieding District (茄萣) on Sunday and return on Jan. 10 for a family reunion before returning to Brazil on Jan. 19.
Iruan’s father, Wu Teng-shu (吳登樹), was a fishing boat captain from Cieding, which is now a district of Greater Kaohsiung. He met Marisa Ergui Tavares during a visit to Brazil, and their son was born in 1995. The couple never married.
After Tavares died of cancer in 1998, her mother, Rosa Leocadia DaSilva Ergui, was awarded custody of Iruan.
In March 2001, Wu Teng-shu brought his son to Taiwan to visit his family, but when he died two weeks later of a heart attack, his brother, Wu Huo-yen (吳火眼), decided to keep Iruan in Kaohsiung.
Ergui came to Taiwan in June 2001, accompanied by Adir Ferreira, an uncle of Iruan, seeking to take her grandson back to Brazil, setting off a legal battle that lasted more than two years before the High Court ruled in her favor.
When police arrived at Wu Huo-yen’s home on Feb. 20, 2004, to pick up Iruan for his return to Brazil, clashes erupted between the youngster’s relatives and neighbors, who tried to stop police from entering the home.
Iruan was placed in foster care with the Borkerts in 2008 at the age of 13 after Ergui became too ill to care for him. He was later adopted by the family, who live in Canoas, Brazil.
Ergui died last month.