Bringing Pietro Home: One Dad's Epic Custody Fight

After web of lies, Brandon Henry's custody battle leads to Italian convent.

ByABC News
September 10, 2009, 8:35 PM

Dec. 16, 2009— -- Any parent who has gone through a custody battle is bound to have a story to tell. But the story of Brandon Henry's fight to win custody of his son -- with angry parents, a secret pregnancy and a cast of Italian nuns -- is one only Hollywood could make up, if it weren't true.

The story culminated in an emotional mission to Florence, Italy, where Henry moved into his lawyer's nearby villa and began a long struggle with the local court system.

The story began the day he met Stephanie Chavarria.

"I met Stephanie in about, say, 2004," said Henry. "She's a real people person, a wonderful smile. And an amazing laugh. We just had so much in common. We just clicked."

Henry, 28, was an Army vet and an aspiring DJ in Dallas. He thought Chavarria was going to be the love of his life. There was just one problem. Well, actually two.

"Her parents are extremely controlling," said Henry. "They want to control who she's friends with, who she sees, who she spends time with."

Henry said Carmen and Lazaro Chavarria, two dentists in the Houston area, wanted their daughter to have nothing to do with him.

"They prejudged me," said Henry. "They felt she should be with a lawyer or doctor."

Carmen and Lazaro Chavarria did not respond to repeated attempts to contact them by phone.

Chavarria continued to date Henry against her parents' wishes.

"Our relationship was kinda weird, because every time we'd go out or do something she was constantly lying to her family," said Henry.

Then one day, Henry's mother, Sherrye Andrews, noticed something.

"Brandon actually showed me a picture," said Andrews. "He said, 'Mom, look at this.' And I said, 'Um, she's pregnant.'"

"We always talked about having a child together," Henry laughed. "I just didn't know it'd come so soon. I was looking forward to it. And, you know, at the time, she was too. She was really happy about it."

But Henry was completely unaware of what was coming next.

"Everything changed," he said. "Everything fell apart."