Eric Birts won't take for granted the opportunity to wrap his arms around his first grade daughter.
"I'm just glad to have her back," he said.
Six-year-old Eriona was kidnapped from Washington, D.C., by her mother last Thursday. Her father's been searching for her ever since, not sure she'd ever come back into his life.
"This could have turned out so much worse," he said. "I can only imagine other parents that have been through this."
It's been a long journey, but both are intact as they near the other side. Eriona's mother turned herself into Little Rock police on Tuesday, and she now faces extradition to D.C.
"You have to get custody -- if it's not on paper the courts don't care," Birts said.
Eric Birts has raised Eriona on his own, separated from mom Ebony Anderson for the past six years. So, he never though he would need a judge's approval.
"She's in Little Rock, Arkansas," he said. "I'm in DC and thinking I'm safe, but that's not the case."
When Anderson turned herself into authorities, Eriona was placed into Department of Human Services custody. While Birts had a custody order signed by a D.C. judge, he still wasn't given custody of Eriona by DHS. Birts said he was told by the agency that he would have to appear in court in Little Rock.
"I've just been through hell and back, and I can't believe I'm having to go through all of this here. I have the paperwork, but they won't give me my daughter."
The past 24 hours have been an uphill battle, a crash course in learning the legal ropes.
"My daughter's worth anything. I will go across the world two or three times for her," Birts said.
And he did. A 4 p.m. court appearance resulted in the juvenile court judge signing off on Birts' custody of Eriona. He plans to return home with her tomorrow.