Family bonding has looked a little different for Anna Corbett and her three kids, Ketsia, Miriam and Caleb over the past few years. She and her husband, Ryan, raised their children in Afghanistan from 2010 up until they needed to evacuate in 2021 when the Taliban took over. 

Ryan worked with NGOs while overseas, until he started his own business, Afghanistan Bloom. His organization helps Afghans start their own businesses. 

What You Need To Know

  • Ryan Corbett and his family lived in Afghanistan from 2010 until they needed to evacuate in 2021

  • He decided it was time to return to Afghanistan to check on his employees at the end of July, 2022, when his family last saw him

  • Corbett has been detained for 16 months and his family says he's living with minimal food, little sunlight, in a cold environment and his health is quickly declining

  • They're speaking out after 16 months of silence because they fear for his life
  • If he isn't home by the new year, his wife, Anna, is planning her eighth trip to D.C. to speak with national leaders

When the Corbetts returned to the States, they bought a house in his hometown in the Rochester area.

“Probably right now, I think, like, home is here," said Miriam Corbett, 16.

“Well, it used to be," said Ketsia Corbett, 18.

Last summer, Corbett needed to return to Afghanistan to check in on his employees. He gathered a business visa and set off.

“July 2022, at the very end, was when he left for his trip, and we haven’t seen him since then," said his oldest daughter.

Corbett has been in Taliban custody for the past 16 months. His wife, Anna, says she was in contact with him when he was asked into police headquarters, but her husband wasn’t worried. She says he was offered to leave 24 hours later, but chose to stand by the sides of his Afghan counterparts who were being detained with him. Little did he know he wouldn’t have another chance to leave for more than a year. 

“It’s just not right that a U.S. citizen be wrongfully detained sitting in this basement. So cold, no heat, terrible conditions, declining health and we’re worried for his life and we need more to be done. We need him to be prioritized. The kids and I are very scared,” his wife explained.

Corbett has learned of the conditions her husband is living in from other detainees who were with him, but were released from prison by the Taliban. 

“It’s not a good balanced diet. Also, it’s very dark, so small. So no windows, no access to sunlight. Only once a month, for 15 to 20 minutes Ryan is allowed outside and sometimes he’s not. His blindfold is not even removed,” she explained, “And what’s very concerning to us and it’s so scary for the kids is that we’ve heard of Ryan fainting. He had never fainted before. The whole time I’ve been married. He’s never fainted.” 

Corbett explained concerns of her husband's blood pressure, and constant ringing in his ears since being detained, too. She says when he was 16, he was in an accident and his lung collapsed leaving him prone to pneumonia, as well.

It's been 16 months in life-threatening conditions and only 16 minutes on the phone with his family. 

“It’s also really tough to wait for 16 months and only have 16 minutes on a call. Ryan and I have been married almost 20 years. And with all our travels, we’re just a really close family. He’s my best friend. We love him so much and miss him like crazy all the time. So that’s really, really tough.” Corbett said, “What’s really challenging is that when we hear from Ryan directly, we cannot really know what’s going on because he’s not alone and he’s told what to communicate. So I’m very, very grateful for these two calls.” 

Corbett says she can’t express how thankful she is to hear from her husband at all. The kids agree it’s nice to hear their dad's voice when they can.

Corbett has inevitably been a single mother for the past 16 months, in secrecy. 

“The toll it’s taking on our family is difficult to really assess right now because we’re trying to survive. I get out of bed every morning, not because I want to, but because I have to. I’ve got to fight to get Ryan home. And I don’t want my children to lose both parents,” she said. 

Corbett has only recently gone public with her family’s fight to reunite. She’s been to D.C. seven times to advocate for her husband's safe return. However, parenting alone has been difficult. 

“It’s really tough to be alone. I’m grateful, my children are amazing, all three of them, but it’s a lot. It’s sad when I have to make decisions. It’s so hard. It’s scary to make them alone because Ryan and I talked about everything. And so now, I’m worried I’m making the wrong choice on my own,” she explained. 

Corbett is originally from France, and the children explained the transition of moving back to the United States after more than a decade of living in Afghanistan, and going to public school for the first time, was difficult for everyone. 

“This burden that we’re carrying day and night of worrying about Ryan, and his safety, and how he’s really doing, which is so scary,” his wife explained. “So juggling the transition to the states, to public school, keeping it quiet, worrying all the time, getting tidbits of news is just, the kids have been amazing, but it’s taken a toll and it’s been really tough for us.” 

“It’s been hard without my dad like to transition because like my mom is from France and so she doesn’t really she can’t help us that much with like American culture and stuff," said his oldest child.

“I was learning how to drive from my dad. He was teaching me. And after he was detained, I just like, wasn’t able to drive for a whole month. Like, I just couldn’t drive,” their daughter explained. 

Little milestones for which she’s missed her father have been adding up over the 16 months without him. 

“I have had two birthdays without him, so it’s been hard. And now I’m, I’ve applied to college, got accepted to a lot, and, I have to figure out what I’m doing in the next few months. [It's] coming really quickly, graduation, so I really want my dad to be back for when I graduate in June,” she said. 

Special occasions continue to add up for his wife, as well. 

“We’ve had two Thanksgivings without him. We had really big birthdays this year, and now looking at another Christmas without him is just, more than we can bear,” his wife said as she showed the pile of gifts that have been accumulating for her husband. “At the end of the day, it’s 16 months and Ryan’s not home and behind us, you can see the stockings. Ryan’s stocking is hanging there. We’ve been accumulating presents and things for him and just keep waiting. And that’s why we decided it was time to go public and I wanted everyone to know about this and put as much pressure as I can on the Biden administration that we are worried about Ryan’s life, and we need him home as soon as possible.”

As their oldest prepared to go to college for nursing, she has one plea to the Biden administration in her father's honor. 

“Every day is just so hard, and I just want my dad home, and I want the government to get him out as quickly as possible and to allow our family to come back together after so long because I miss my dad a lot,” Ketsia Corbett explained. “My dad just wanted to help people, and that’s what he was doing. And this is what happened. And now it’s been 16 months and, so it’s every day is so hard and we can’t have it. Nothing’s normal. We have dinner together and it’s not normal.” 

His wife agreed, time around the dinner table has not been the same since her husband left. 

“It was hard, in the beginning especially," she said. "We would put five plates and then realize that there was an extra plate.” 

While Corbett says her community has grown exponentially throughout the 16 months without her husband, and she appreciates the support from national leaders in D.C.

“Conversations are ongoing with the Taliban and appear to be increasing,” she said. 

However, she says the matters of her husband's return are top secret. She will continue embracing her family time throughout the holiday season, but if no news comes by the New Year, she plans to return to the county’s capital to continue her family’s cry for help.