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Elian is all alone. As helpless and as isolated today as he was while drifting on an inner tube, waiting for someone to rescue him.
The day after I interviewed Osberg-Braun, we talked again. "You asked me some really hard questions," she began. "You kept asking me, 'What if you're wrong? What if you're wrong?' I've thought a lot about it. That's so difficult. These are such untenable positions. Nobody knows the right answer. Only God knows what's right."
In the end, she said, she believes she is left with just two options: Return the child or fight to keep him here. Fighting to keep him here, she concluded, was the better choice. "You asked me: What if I'm wrong and the father wants the child returned? Well, what if I'm right and the child's father really wants him to stay in the United States? I couldn't live with myself sending a boy back to Cuba like that."
Osberg-Braun has two young children of her own, a fact she readily admits has affected her approach to the case. "I'm definitely acting in a manner as if Elian were my child, thinking about it from a standpoint of what I would want for Elian," she said. "Hopefully we can find a solution not as lawyers but through the family."
But who actually represents Elian? I asked her. Shouldn't someone care only about him, someone willing to fight the attorneys and the relatives and everyone else in looking out for his welfare.
She replied, "I'll have to think about that."