The harrowing true story of a high-school senior, her parents, her secret online relationship with a handsome, manipulative stranger, and her well-laid plan to leave home and country to marry a man in Kosovo she thought she loved.
The Baldwins were a strong, tight-knit family living in Texas. When their seventeen-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, met Aadam in an online chat room, she fell for his good looks, his charm, and his respectful conversation. He lived in Kosovo, and they began talking regularly. The more attached Mackenzie became to Aadam, the more detached she became from her family.
Mackenzie’s parents, John and Stephanie Baldwin, had no clue there was a man behind their daughter’s sudden change in personality, her surprising interest in Islam, and her withdrawal from friends and family. When Mackenzie’s attachment to Aadam increased and they became “engaged,” Mackenzie started making plans to fly secretly to Kosovo and marry Aadam.
But twenty-five days before Mackenzie was scheduled to leave the country, three friends in whom Mackenzie had confided told Mackenzie’s father. Through the help of their pastor, John Baldwin contacted the FBI and asked for help. The FBI did not believe Aadam was involved with ISIS or that he was trying to radicalize her, but they were concerned about Aadam’s intentions, as that part of Kosovo was known for sex-trafficking and money scams. With just 72 hours left before Mackenzie’s planned departure, three FBI agents confronted her and urged her to stay.
Told from the viewpoint of both father and daughter, Almost Gone allows us to walk with this family through Mackenzie’s network of lies and deceit and John and Stephanie’s escalating bewilderment and alarm. More than a cautionary tale, this is the story of unconditional parental love and unwavering faith, and how God helped a family save their daughter from a relationship that jeopardized not only her happiness, but also her safety.
John Baldwin is a deacon and has served in many ministries at Parkway Hills Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. He also serves on the board of directors for High Adventure Treks for Dads and Daughters and Dads and Sons (HATS). This organization promotes father/daughter and father/son communication, leadership, and relationships through shared adventures such as white water kayaking, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities. By day, John is a business technology consultant working with the largest credit card banks.
Mackenzie Baldwin is a college student pursuing a double major in Psychology and Child Development. She is adventurous, enjoying activities such as rock climbing, camping, backpacking, and water sports. She is scuba certified and as a certified skydiver, she has made more than fifty solo jumps.