Safely back from Cuba, kidnapped kids mug for cameras

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TAMPA, Fla. -  Thursday was another strange day for two boys whom police say were kidnapped and taken to Cuba by their parents. But they seem to cope with the ordeal as well as any of the adults involved.

Bob and Patricia Hauser told their grandsons they were having their pictures taken after trip to Cuba.

“We're just treating it as they went on a vacation,” Patricia Hauser said to a throng of media assembled on her front lawn in Tampa Thursday.

How else do you explain to kids that age what has happened to them in the last two weeks?  Their parents, Josh and Sharyn Hakken, lose custody of them after drug charges against their dad.  They move to Tampa with their maternal grandparents.  Police say dad comes to the home, takes them by force, and they all sail with their mother to Cuba, where Cuban officials let American authorities fly them back home.

By which time, their anxious grandparents, “were just smiling from ear to ear and hugging each other,” Patricia said. “And just couldn't wait for that plane to come.”

The boys aren't the only ones whose lives have upended. Josh and Sharyn Hakken lost the boys, and have now lost their freedom, maybe for a long time with felony kidnapping charges hanging over them. And now the Hausers – empty nesters until last week – suddenly have two young boys to raise.

“You just take one step at a time,” Bob Hauser said. “Our focus has been on getting those boys. Now our focus is making sure that we go forward and they can lead a normal life.” As far as how the boys have coped with such a crazy ordeal, the Hausers say that other than a couple of bug bites from the boat trip they show no ill effects so far.

“We have not asked the boys anything about their journey,” Patricia Hauser said. “We are just letting them tell us as things come out if they feel like talking.”

The Hausers refused to talk about their daughter or their son-in-law, or details about the case against them.  The Hakkens have a bond hearing Friday.  And after Thursday's media circus, at which they let the media photograph the children, the Hausers hope that they can begin to build a normal life for their grandsons.