Hague Child Abduction Convention

Japan Ratifies 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention

(January 24th, 2014)

rat28jp1 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention; a few hours later, the Japanese Ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr. Masaru Tsuji, deposited the instrument of ratification, making Japan the 91st Contracting State to this important treaty. This significant development reaffirms that diplomatic efforts among the international community, together with the invaluable assistance provided by the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, are working; it also reaffirms that the Hague Child Abduction Convention is the proper mechanism for all governments and families around the world to utilize in order to settle international child abduction disputes.

Unknown-1Japan’s ratification of the Convention comes after long-standing multi-lateral diplomatic efforts combined with global public outcry over Japan’s previous failure to participate in the international child abduction treaty and to offer victimized children and targeted parents of abduction a vehicle to turn to in order to resolve international parental child abduction disputes.

The 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention will enter into force for Japan on April 1st, 2014. Under Japan’s participation, foreign parents who have previously had a child internationally abducted to Japan are not eligible to file a Hague Application or utilize the treaty. Retroactivity remains a concern for hundreds of left-behind parents still seeking to reunite with their kidnapped children.

The 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention seeks to combat parental child abduction by providing a system of co-operation between Contracting States and a rapid procedure for the return of the child to the country of the child’s habitual residence. Judges overseeing litigation revolving around the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention are not to determine issues of custody as that issue typically falls under the jurisdiction of the courts located in the child’s country of habitual residency.

Japan’s ratification of the convention demonstrates that international diplomacy and education continues to work, while also creating a stronger atmosphere for other countries that are not participants to the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention, such as India, to strongly consider ratification.

rat28jpIn the past, Japan has been considered a ‘black hole’ for international parental child abductors as the overwhelming number of children abducted to Japan by a Japanese national living abroad have not been returned to the child’s country of original jurisdiction.

The vast majority of left-behind parents are fathers residing in Europe and North America. Tragically, the targeted parent often has little or no rights of access or custody to their child once the child lands in Japan due to the country’s antiquated and prejudicial family law policies that tend to grant a child’s mother sole custody of the child while simultaneously removing the child’s father’s access to the child. Japan’s legal system does not recognize the concept of joint-custody.

In May 2013, the Diet had approved Japan’s compliance to the treaty, sending out a clear indicator that the country was steadily moving toward participation. Until today, Japan was the only country in the Group of Eight (G8) that has not affirmed the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention.

The following month (June) Japan’s Parliament enacted a law stipulating domestic implementation procedures for the Hague child abduction treaty.

Japan’s Parliament established procedures requiring the country to create a Central Authority under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry. The Central Authority’s responsibilities include the tasks of locating children who have been abducted and encourage families involved in international parental child abduction claims to settle disputes through consultations.

If the consultations fail, family courts in Tokyo and Osaka specifically trained in 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention matters will decide on matters. The Central Authority will be staffed with legal experts in international private law as well child psychologist and domestic violence counselors. A third Hague Court location could later be added.

Under the terms of Japan’s Parliamentary action in June, 2013 the new law provides grounds forrefusal to return a child if abuse or domestic violence is feared, issues that are expected to draw keen interest in light of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention’s Article 13, a provision that is almost always utilized by parental child abductors regardless of the gender of the abductor.

Child abduction prevention advocates from around the world hope that Japan’s ratification of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention will further push non-Hague countries including India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Philippines, and China (mainland) who are all believed to be actively assessing the Convention with a view to becoming a party to.

Today Japan has taken its place at the table of nations and finally a stand against the atrocity of international parental child abduction and severe abuse against targeted children and their families.  As Japan works to uphold the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention we must first and foremost not forget the children who have been abducted to Japan and their left-behind families, many whom successfully advocated for Japan’s ratification of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention.

We invite you to read the official comments shared by The Hague Permanent Bureau concerning diplomacy and Japan’s ratification. Please click here.

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To visit the I CARE Foundation official website, please click here. 

The I CARE Foundation: Zero Tolerance For International Parental Child Abduction

ZERO TOLERANCE FOR INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION AND THE NEED FOR AN EDUCATED JUDICIARY

1c402-icarelogoThe  I CARE Foundation takes a very strong stand when it comes to international parental child abduction… and that is one of zero tolerance for anyone planning or attempting such schemes! Under no circumstance should a parent feel that they have the right to abduct a child, nor should a parent ever think that removing a child from the other parent in this manner is in the child’s best interest.  It is not! There are both short and long-term ramifications on the child, and these are well-documented.  The underlying reality is that once abduction occurs, regardless if the kidnapping is done by a known person or stranger, the child’s safety is placed in grave risk.

When issues arise regarding mobilization (when a parent wants to relocate to another country with the child but without the child’s other parent), these issues should be rectified in accordance with the law. Not by creating an evil scheme filled with false innuendos and accusations against the other parent so to create a misleading impression that abduction is critical for the child’s safety and well-being. It is not. Seeking legal assistance via criminal and civil remedies if abusive conditions exist is the option that must be sought.

A would-be abducting parent puts their child in harm’s way, and this is not acceptable! The I CARE Foundation takes the position that international parental child abduction is a severe form of child abuse with consequences that will be extreme and will impact all phases of the child’s life.  With that being said, we also acknowledge the severe negative impact that abduction has on the victimized targeted parents. Both parties, the child and the targeted parent, are victims when we are dealing with parental child abduction.

In nearly all cases of parental abduction, children are used as pawns by the abducting parent in order to carry out their extensive premeditated plan which includes, but is not limited to causing severe suffering to the child’s other parent. One of the greatest challenges that children and their targeted parent face is the lack of accountability through the courts.  If a court neglects to hold abductors or would-be abductors accountable, this not only means that the targeted parents may remain at the mercy of a vengeance-seeking abducting parent that has already caused considerable harm, but it also sends a very dangerous global message that parental child abductors have limited risks when it comes to legal accountability, both in respect to the courts, but also law enforcement.  This needs to change!

The I CARE Foundation believes strongly that the Hague Child Abduction Convention is the right mechanism that all nations should participate in and adhere to.

As we look forward and create changes to help protect the hundreds of thousands of children each year who are targeted for international abduction, we see the critical need to create an International Judiciary College.

The fact is that the vast majority of judges who oversee international child abduction cases have not been trained in the very complex legal, psychological, political, financial and logistical matters that impact all cases of international abduction.  We face a reality that has untrained judges and courts contributing to many failures, including properly and expeditiously overseeing legal proceedings that seek the return of abducted children to their country of habitual residency.  An International Judiciary College, ideally under the guidance of the Permanent Bureauwould have a dramatic impact on reducing the global abduction rate, but also increasing diplomatic relationships among countries. As well, it is highly conceivable that the issues that exist today regarding the lack of judicial compliance would be greatly reduced as more judges become trained on Hague matters.

The reality is that today many targeted parents who have experienced abduction and who have been abused by the abducting parent remain targets of their child’s kidnapper.  Courts are hesitant to hold parental child abductors accountable for their act. Part of the problem lies heavily in an untrained judiciary – judges who are not trained in the deep understanding of parental abduction matters.  Tragically, the result of untrained judiciary and actors involved in abduction matters is that the targeted parent will believe that the courts will not hold the abductor accountable and equally alarming – by failing to hold the abductor accountable – the courts in essence empower the abductor who has returned with the child after the kidnapping – to attempt to abduct again or to continue making allegations against the targeted parent.

Tragically, when a targeted parent of abduction receives little or no support or protection from the court while they are working to protect their child from abuse (including but not limited to abduction), then that parent can become disenchanted with the legal system they once believed would protect them and their child. They lose hope.

Sometimes claims of abuse are real, and we acknowledge this reality.  In such cases we urge all parents to seek all intervention and assistance available to them under the rules of law.  Conversely, we have also seen in a great number of international child abduction cases when both men and women make false claims against one another.  This is a reality.

As always we encourage all parents to be familiar with the RISKS AND WARNING SIGNS of international parental child abduction.  Being aware of these warning signs is critical in preventing an international abduction from occurring.  Never think that you or your child(ren) could not become a victim of this inhumane crime.  Be proactive and protect yourself… and your child(ren).

If you happen to be a parent that has a child that is traveling abroad, either by choice or by court order, please consider using the I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form.

For more information on international parental child abduction, please visit the I CARE Foundation’s official website.

Kindest regards,

Peter Thomas Senese
Executive Director
I CARE Foundation

International Abduction: The Love Of A Chasing Parent

aa3c9-icarelogoTry to imagine a world that makes little sense.  A world where trust is replaced with mistrust, where belief is replaced with skepticism and where love is replaced with hurt.  This is the world of International Parental Child Abduction.  It’s a dark world that is filled with a great deal of pain and suffering.

But make no mistake: the love of a parent who is willing to chase the cyclone of abduction is stronger than the strongest tsunami. And not only have I felt this love myself during the time I was Chasing The Cyclone, but I have witnessed first-hand other parents do everything they can in the best interest of their child.

Now for those of you who do not know how parental child abductors typically attempt to have an international court sanction their illicit act of kidnapping, the way this is done under the rules of the Hague Convention is to slander, defame, and outright attempt to vilify their target before the courts. Claims of child abuse, molestation, incredible drug and alchohol use, etc., are commonplace, occurring in near every abduction defense. Of note, these claims are made by both men and women abductors equally against their targets.

There is no question that abduction litigation is complicated. In part this is due to various laws and cultural norms in countries associated to the litigation.

During the years I have worked to assist other parents, I have met few parents who have withstood the incredible challenges in attempting to reunite with their child than my friend Steven.  I am proud to stand with him as he works diligently to reunite with his daughter while hopefully reforming laws and policies that have failed him and his child.

One day, Steven will be reunited with his child. And until that day happens, he will have my unwavering support. Why?  Because my friend Steven is a very good, caring, honest, and loving man.

I would like to share this letter from Steven as it serves as a reminder of the many thousands of targeted parents around the world – near equally men and women – who are forced to defend against a child kidnappers claims under Article 12 or Article 13 of the Hague Convention.

Letters like Steven’s are very important for they educate each of us of the importance of stopping abduction.

As for the targeted parent who was able to protect their child, I must say that he unquestionably is one of the kindest, gentlest, and loving parents I know.

To read a large number of select testimonial letters from parents who I and the I CARE Foundation have assisted, Please Click Here. 

Critically, parents need to know the Warning Signs Of International Parental Child Abduction.

Of great interest is the fact that the I CARE Foundation’s groundbreakingInternational Travel Child Consent Form is being hailed as one of the most important child abduction prevention tools ever created.

On a personal note, it is my honor to be able to have helped as many parents and children as I and my colleagues at the I CARE Foundation have.

The shared select testimonials were provided in order to educate others of the severity parents around the world face when dealing with the abduction of their child.

One last thing: Steven – you know where I stand.

Kind regards to all,

Peter Thomas Senese 

http://www.petersenese.com/uploads/Testimonial_Letter_20.pdf

Peter Senese And The I CARE Foundation Create Hague Convention International Travel Child Consent Form

Peter Senese & The I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form:  A Groundbreaking Child Abduction Prevention Tool That Is Expected To Reduce The Number Of Parental Child Kidnappings Around The World.


The I CARE Foundation’s groundbreaking International Travel Child Consent Form is being embraced by the legal community around the world.  Highly respected international family lawyers that are already utilizing this abduction prevention tool are calling the Travel Consent Form a leading-edge resource that is expected to reduce the number of worldwide international parental child kidnappings.

The International Travel Child Consent Form was conceptually created during an I CARE Foundation conference held at the United Nations on abduction. It was constructed to create a conclusive and categorically undeniable evidentiary agreement between two parents that affirms a child’s country of original jurisdiction prior to travel abroad is permitted while emphatically removing many common abduction defenses established under the Hague Convention child-kidnappers often use to mislead the courts during litigation.

Peter Senese of the I CARE Foundation stated, “The now released International Travel Child Consent Form is steep in Hague-oriented case law with focus on Articles 1, 12, 13 and 20 of the convention. It was created to affirm and uphold original jurisdiction of a child, affirm the child’s country of permanent residency, and remove any misleading legal defenses an abductor may attempt to utilize under Articles 12, 13, and 20 of the Hague Convention. One of the most important aspects of the new resource is that it also establishes strong support for a child’s immediate return under Article 1 of the Hague Convention. We may not have created a new international law; however, we have created a universal tool that will stop many international abductions.”

Esteemed Washington D.C. uber international family law attorney Armin U. Kuder, partner at the highly respected firm Kuder, Smollar & Friedman, has been named in every article identifying leading family lawyers in the prestigious ‘Washingtonian Magazine’ while also has been named in ‘The Best Lawyers in America’ since the publication’s inception, provided insight on the pragmatic usefulness of the ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’ when he said, “If there is no prior attempt at international abduction of a child, it is extremely difficult to convince a court that it is going to happen. The I Care Foundation International Travel Child Consent Form is a powerful tool for exposing a would-be abductor’s intent. If a parent will not sign the form, we have compelling evidence to present to a court in support of limitations on travel, use of passports, and conditions for access to the child.”

Carolina Marín Pedreño is a partner at the prestigious London-based law firm of Dawson Cornwell, Carolina Marín Pedreño is the Founding Member of FASIM, an international association of attorneys based in Barcelona created to prevent and assist with international child abduction cases. Additionally, Carolina is the Secretary of the British and Spanish Law Association, a member of the Spanish Association of Family Lawyers, AEAFA, Resolution, Reunite: International Child Abduction Centre, the Society of British and Argentine Lawyers, and the Association of Lawyers for Children. She added, “As a practitioner I am very optimistic about the effect the consent form will have in reducing kidnapping. I have just offered to use it in a case in London to offer reassurance to the other parent and minimize any concerns they have about agreeing to a holiday abroad due to a perceived risk of kidnapping. The international judiciary should embrace it as a preventive tool.”

The ‘Christopher Morris International Travel Consent Form’ is named in honor of New York police officer Christopher Morris’ and his legal fight to reunite with his daughter. Despite being a 911 hero, a former member of the FDNY, and a highly decorated police officer, Mr. Morris’ three year struggle to reunite with is daughter demonstrates nobody is immune to abduction. Mr. Morris was present at the conference on abduction held at the United Nations. He commented, “There are thousands of tragedies of abduction occurring each year because parents wrongfully detains a child abroad and then attempt to have a court sanction their disobedient act by further dishonest acts of trying to convince the court there was consent to relocate or it is in the best interest of the child to remain abroad due to abuse. If the I CARE Foundation’s travel consent form was available and had been signed before my daughter traveled to Germany, she would be in New York today. Peter Thomas Senese and the I CARE Foundation continue important and meaningful work to help children around the world. Every parent should utilize this form when a child is traveling abroad.”

Mexico’s Carlos Alvarado is a partner at the International Law Group and considered one of the most knowledgeable international family law attorneys in Mexico. Mr. Alvarado was responsible for codifying and translating the I CARE Foundation’s travel consent form into Spanish. Mr. Alvarado added, “The International Law Group has confidence this new International Travel Child Consent Form will be an excellent tool to prevent international child abductions by inhibiting parents or legal guardians abduct. I am confident governments and its agencies, including courts, will be willing to “enforce” the use of this form for all minors traveling abroad. There are no reasons for a parent or guardian not to sign it if there are no intentions to abduct. I have sent the form to a large number of colleagues in Mexico, including current Judges. Their unanimous opinions were the same: This may not stop international abduction but we all should spread and “enforce” the use of this form to prevent it, and, in case of litigation, have another element to build a stronger case. Litigation of abduction cases are difficult and extremely expensive. This new doctrine should drastically reduce the challenges of reunification in many cases.”

Silvia A. Sejas Pardo, a highly respected Argentinean and Spanish international lawyer based in Spain and who is a Founding Member of FASIM, an international association of attorneys dedicated to preventing child abduction commented, “The consent form is simple and clear which makes it an easy instrument to implement globally. The I CARE is providing with the consent form a unique, applicable tool to prevent child abduction. The international community should welcome it. Hopefully it would become a common piece of paper to travel with.”

To download a copy of the ‘International Travel Child Consent Form’ in English or Spanish please visit the I CARE Foundation’s official websitehttp://www.stopchildabduction.org/

Summer Vacation Schemes and Fraud Behind International Child Abduction

During the summer school vacation, fraud, scams, and conspiracies to kidnap a child are at their highest levels.  This is the time of year when parents of children look at returning back to their country of origin after either deciding to separate from their spouse or during divorce.Yes, child custody disputes can get ugly. But there is something much more at hand – something very dark – when international parental child abduction occurs.  You see, a tremendous number of well-respected reports issued by government and non-government agencies alike have all said the same thing: children who are victims of parental kidnapping are used by their taking parent and used as a tool to cause harm to the other parent.

FRAUD, SCAMS, SCHEMES, CONSPIRACY, KIDNAPPING & CHILD ABUSE ARE ALL ON FULL DISPLAY DURING THE SUMMER CHILD ABDUCTION SEASON

International parental child abduction is not just the act of snatching a child from the country they live in and illegally removing them to another country without the other parent’s consent or a court order.

Abduction often takes place when one parent decides to detain a child in a foreign country without the other parent’s consent or a court order. This often occurs during high conflict child custody disputes.

ACCORDING TO A RECENT DOJ REPORT, CHILDREN WHO ARE KIDNAPPED BY A PARENT FACE SEVERE PHYSICAL ABUSE AND ARE AT RISK OF MURDER

The reality is that wrongful detention of a child under the rules of the Hague Convention appears to be the most common form of abduction. Parents need to know and understand the risk factors associated with allowing a child to travel abroad and act proactively to protect them.

Often there is extensive deceit and fraud involved at the hands of an abducting parent.  This includes never giving any indication to the other parent that their alleged ‘family vacation’ is in fact an abduction scheme.

Unfortunately, there are many abduction defenses that are implemented as part of an abductor’s strategy to have a court sanction their act of kidnapping.

There is no question abduction is complicated.  Especially for someone who first experiences the betrayal and fraud associated with abduction.

THE I CARE FOUNDATION’S INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL CHILD CONSENT FORM WAS DESIGNED TO HELP STOP THE CRIMINAL ACT OF CHILD ABDUCTION

Recently, the I CARE Foundation launched a very unique abduction prevention tool: one that has never before been created.  It is a universal international travel child consent agreement that was created to remove possible legal defenses associated with an abductor’s scheme to wrongfully detain a child abroad.

PARENTS ALLOWING OR REQUIRED TO ALLOW A CHILD TO TRAVEL TO A FOREIGN COUNTRY SHOULD STRONGLY CONSIDER HAVING THE OTHER PARENT SIGN THE I CARE FOUNDATION’S TRAVEL CONSENT FORM. SHOULD THAT PARENT NOT BE WILLING TO DO SO – THIS IS A SERIOUS WARNING SIGN OF PLANNED ABDUCTION.

Please visit the I CARE Foundation to receive a copy of the international travel child consent agreement or to learn more about the criminal act and schemes of parental child abduction.

Kind regards to all,

Peter Thomas Senese

International Travel Child Consent Form: Help Stop Parental Child Abduction

I CARE Foundation (International Child Abduction Research & Enlightenment)

I am very pleased to share that on behalf of the I CARE Foundation we have released the ‘International Child Travel Consent Form’ created to help stop international parental child abduction’s associated with the wrongful detention of a child traveling abroad.

This agreement has been created for parents with children that will be travelling abroad.  

The release is timely as it allows parents the ability to sign in time for summer vacations as summer is the prominent time for international parental child abductions to occur.

As school ends for the summer vacation, the vast majority of international parental child abduction threats and kidnappings take place. Often, these abductions occur when one parent is able to legally remove a child from their country of origin, and travel abroad – as an example, under the idea of a family vacation to visit relatives.  However, and unknown to the child’s other parent, who may or may not be traveling with the scheming parent, there is a deceitful and fraudulent plan to never return back home.

Today the I CARE Foundation released the “International Child Travel Consent Form” that was created to stop international parental child abduction when a parent traveling abroad with their child may consider not returning the child to their country of jurisdiction.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TRAVEL CONSENT FORM

I have said this many times previously, the key to protecting children at risk of abduction is to prevent their kidnapping. Today the I CARE Foundation is pleased to release our ’The International Child Travel Consent Form’ based upon substantial ‘Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction’ case law.

The travel document is designed to remove an abductor’s defense under acts of wrongful detention and focuses on key issues related to the Hague Convention’s Articles 12, Article 13, and Article 20.

The dedicated work of the I CARE Foundation’s legal advisory board, which includes members of the United States Department of State’s Hague Convention Attorney Network, to create this formidable legal abduction prevention tool bespeaks of the ongoing dedication to stop the criminal and highly abusive act of kidnapping.

The travel document does not simply act as a parent consent form allowing a child to travel abroad but reinforces a child’s return to their country of origin based upon affirmation requirements that remove the majority of an abductor’s legal defenses to remain abroad in connection with Hague law.

The I CARE Foundation’s international travel parental child consent form is a new tool that can be utilized by parents around the world, as well as attorneys who are trying to protect abduction. If a traveling parent refuses to sign the document, then under no circumstance should the other parent or a court permit a child to travel abroad as there is a heightened increase to an abduction threat.”

The I CARE Foundation’s ‘International Child Travel Consent Form’ addresses many of the possible legal defenses an abductor may use in court under Article 12, Article 13, or Article 20 of the Hague Convention.

The ‘International Child Travel Consent Form’ will be available in Spanish, French, German, and Italian in the coming days.

For more information about the ‘International Child Travel Consent Form’ and international parental child abduction please visit The I CARE Foundation official website.

For attorneys interested in obtaining a full legal brief and framework of the travel consent form, please contact mediarelations@stopchildabduction.org.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TRAVEL CONSENT FORM

Kindest regards to all,

Peter Senese

I CARE Foundation Director

The Extreme Difficulties Recovering A Child That Has Been Parentally Abducted

Recovering an internationally abducted child is very difficult regardless if the abducted child is taken to a Hague signatory country or a non-member of the Convention.

There are abundant reasons why it is very difficult to have an illegally stolen child returned despite the United States being a signatory of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. They include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Lack of action in reporting a child’s abduction by a targeted parent left behind; and,
  2. Many nations do not comply with or uphold the spirit of the convention (ex, Brazil, Mexico, Germany); and,
  3. Many countries have not signed the convention (ex. Japan, China, Russia, and many countries located in the Middle East); and,
  4. Chasing Parents may not have an idea what country their child was taken to; and,
  5. Chasing Parents are responsible to carry the enormous financial burden associated with their child’s recovery. Many simply do not have the substantial resources needed; and,
  6. Many Chasing Parents do not have the knowledge necessary to navigate the difficult and complex legal system of international law, nor do they often know who to turn to and what to do; and,
  7. Nationalistic prejudices of court systems located in the ‘inbound’ country, whereas, a court may try to protect the abducting parent if that parent is a citizen of the country where they abducted the child to; and,
  8. Cultural differences; and,2abc2-icarelogo
  9. A Chasing Parent’s fear to attempt to recover their child due to threats from the abducting parent or individuals associated with the abducting parent; and,
  10. Lack of cooperation from law enforcement; and,
  11. Limited power of the Office of Children’s Issues to intervene on behalf of a U.S. citizen.

For more information on abduction please visit the I CARE Foundation.

Summer Vacation and International Parental Child Abduction: When School Ends… Kids Are Abducted

As the summer vacation draws near, thousands of children will be victims of international parental child abduction – Peter Thomas Senese

f872b-icarelogocalltoarmsHi, I’m Peter Thomas Senese, the Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation and as the summer school vacation period approaches, I would like to share with you the assortment of warning signs and risk factors associated international parental child abduction that targets thousands upon thousands of unsuspecting parents and defenseless children each year primarily who are a product of a multi-national relationship or marriage that is or has ended. In sharing some key warning signs today, it is my hope that children will be protected from kidnapping and overwhelming abuse.

Now if you’re like hundreds of thousands of parents around the world the term international parental child abduction may be one you are not familiar with. . . . . . until a child you know is kidnapped and illegally detained in a foreign country by the child’s other parent.

Before I go any further, let me say this: the vast majority of children abducted abroad never come home. Tragically, some can’t – they are gone forever.

According to United States Federal Law, the illegal removal of a child from the country without consent of a court or the child’s other parent is a criminal act of kidnapping. The conspiracy that leads up to the child snatching is generally filled with a host of illegal activities, including false allegations toward the targeted parent of abuse toward the child or other parent. This is something I will touch upon later. However, one thing more than anything else should be clear: parental child abduction is not just an act of kidnapping against an innocent child, but inherently, an abducted child becomes a prisoner of the kidnapper forced to follow and obey the predators instruction under the deplorable acts of parental alienation that the kidnapper deploys as they need to rationalize their behavior toward the child-victim.

Generally, the vast majority of abductions are well-planned and are orchestrated so that the other parent is off-guard when the abduction occurs. Blindsided by the act of international parental child abduction – that tragically is treated very differently than a stranger abduction by law enforcement despite the act being a federal crime of kidnapping – parents who attempt to reunite with their child often enter a dark and dangerous world that will change their world forever.

But what are we fighting for?

Lives.

We’re fighting for a child’s life.

Filicide – a term you may not know – is the act of child murder by a parent. In the United States, hundreds of children are murdered by their parents each year. This is not a phenomenon – parental child murder is a reality that knows no borders.

In cases of parental child abduction the kidnapper uses the child as a pawn to cause hurt and suffering toward the other parent. Denying that parent access to the child is a common theme and often the reason why abduction occurs.

The fear is – the reality is – that many abductors exhibiting sociopath behavior often believe that if they can’t have sole custody of a child – nobody will. Additionally, there appears to be a strong correlation of adult suicides connected to child abduction victims.

None of its easy to discuss yet we’re all only three degrees of separation from knowing someone who may be a target of abduction.

In the course of events leading up to the actual abduction or attempted abduction there are clear warning signs that may allow a parent to protect themselves and their children. And with the summer months upon us – the time of year when most child kidnappings take place – I hope that some insight I will share may be of use to you.

On behalf of my colleagues at the I CARE Foundation, one thing is certain: raising awareness and stewarding the message about the warning signs of international parental child abduction has played a role in reducing the number of reported outbound child kidnapping cases originating in the United States by 15% during the last two consecutive years after nearly 30 years of continued growth.

Make no mistake; the reality is that tens of thousands of children living in cities and on farms across our nation are targeted for kidnapping each year. It is carefully estimated that only 10% of these children will ever come home when we consider the ‘reported’ and ‘unreported’ cases of abduction.

Do you really want to play those odds?

Now before I get into a list of warning signs of international abduction you may ask yourself why is international parental child abduction affecting tens of thousands of families?

The answer is complex, but in general terms, we are seeing a substantial increase in multi-national relationships, which personally I think is great; however, with the notion of ‘global citizenship’ comes some challenges.

You see, as our world becomes a closer, more connected society, individuals from different nations develop relationships with one another, some leading to the birth of a child. Unfortunately, some of these relationships end, and when they do, the foreign-born national parent often desires to return to their home country – and when they do – they usually have a desire to take the child with them.

Except they have one problem: the other parent does not want their child to live abroad after being born and raised in their home country.

Knowing that the likelihood of a court granting them permission to live abroad with their child more than likely will not occur, the parent seeking to relocate to a foreign country often creates a clever, well thought-out plan to either abduct the child from the child’s country of original jurisdiction, or, they will create a deceitful scheme that will enable them to legally remove the child from the country they live in – such as plans to travel on a family vacation with intentions of permanent removal.

Once they are abroad, the scheming parent will often lay a host of criminal charges against the other parent, including domestic physical and mental abuse, threats of murder, and outlandish acts of child abuse and neglect – all for one purpose: to sever the other parent’s relationship with the child and to gain legal actions to the foreign courts they are now physically located in by having the targeted parent arrested and prevented from seeing either them or the child.

Now what most individuals do not realize is that once that child steps foot on foreign soil, that child’s temporary welfare becomes the responsibility of the rules of law and courts of the country they are located in.

Which means this: the police and courts must follow the procedures established under their law: the targeted parent more than likely will be arrested, issued restraining orders against them, and have their access to their child denied until an investigation is done. In the meanwhile, the scheming taking parent files a host of legal motions in the country that will further restrain the targeted parent.

Welcome to a scheming kidnappers idea of a vacation.

Sometimes – and I have seen this happen many times – but a kidnapper will say that the other parent actually consented to have the child relocate . . . so that they can litigate ‘what’s in the child’s best interest’ abroad – in their country of origin – and at a tremendous disadvantage to the child’s other parent.

I want to make this very clear: the scheme of a parental child abductor does not discriminate by gender. Men and women generally abduct equally and often cite abuse and mistreatment as the reason why they abducted. They make the claim that they are not abductors but liberators fleeing abuse. The majority of these claims are false. They are lies created to defend against Federal kidnapping charges. They are lies created in hope a court would sanction the abduction under Article 13 of the Hague Convention – a rule that allows an abductor the ability to relocate if they can prove it is not in the child’s best interest to return to their home country. These lies are intended to cruelly cause the targeted parent suffering, including arrest in hope to make any litigation they may bring to reunite with their child difficult or impossible.

So if you think that since you may have a U.S. custody order, and that THAT order will allow you to simply go and bring your child home, you should know this: that once your child is in a foreign country, the pragmatic reality of the custody order you are in possession of may mean very little, especially if the abductor has made a criminal complaint against you and/or filed a civil action for custody. Usually, they happen at the same time.

And so here’s your reality: should you attempt to remove your child and take them home with you, you may be violating laws in the country you and your child are located in and you may be arrested . . . . Your custody order is at least temporarily, useless. Welcome to the world of parental child abduction.

But like Dante’ descending into the Inferno, your nightmare as a targeted chasing parent has only just begun. For example, as an American citizen, do you know that even though the abduction was a criminal act toward you and your child, you are responsible for 100% of all costs associated with finding, monitoring, and litigating your case, including the costs to bring your child home unless you become dead-broke – which often occurs for many targeted parents because the cost to reunite with a child often costs parents hundreds of thousands of dollars. So if you don’t have a large amount of money available, chances are you’re not going to bring your child home. But that’s not it: you still have to deal with the false charges and claims, and litigate abroad. If you don’t think foreign courts have prejudice, you are sadly mistaken.

And if you think you’ll simply be able to get an arrest warrant issued and seek extradition proceedings against the kidnapping parent, you’re in line for some serious disappointment because numerous countries that the United States has extradition agreements with do not have agreements in place regarding parental abduction. In fact, in certain countries, this is not even a crime!

Do you get the sense of hopelessness? If you do – welcome to the world of many chasing parents.

Add to it that while your child is gone, he or she is taught by the abductor to think you are a bad mother or father out to hurt them and their taking parent. Yes, parental alienation and parental isolation are alive and well – and in its abuse, it destroys the innocence and very fabric of your child.

So as the summer approaches, this is the time of year when parents need to be aware of the warning signs of parental child abduction.

I have often heard from parents who tragically stuck their head in the sand and didn’t pay attention to the warning signs that ‘Their partner was not that clever’, to find out just how cunning and deceitful they really were only after their child or children were gone.

The key to stopping child abduction is to prevent it from happening.

The MOST IMPORTANT WARNING sign of abduction is to understand the present relationship you have with the child’s other parent and ask yourself ‘May that parent have the intent, desire, ability, and means to take your child to another country without your permission, or possible intent to keep your child in a foreign country should you grant permission for your child to travel abroad with you, the other parent, or both of you?

Abduction often occurs as a prelude to parents separating or beginning divorce proceedings, though there are a significant number of abductions that occur post-divorce commencement litigation. In many cases, the abduction is a planned scheme, which means that generally, the parent intending to abduct a child will try to create an atmosphere that is opposite of their intent: meaning that they will try lull the other parent to thinking that they are committed to the relationship, when in fact they are not. This is a critical issue because it is easier to abduct a child when the targeted parent is not seeking to prevent abduction. So having the targeted parent think that there is a loving, committed relationship is critical for the abductor.

So – if you have been in a difficult, strained relationship with a person who has deep ties to a foreign country, and suddenly that person is demonstrating a new-found love or new-found commitment . . . and they eventually pose the idea of traveling abroad with the child so the child could visit that person’s family, THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS WARNING SIGN that abduction may be planned.

Remember, even if you are invited to travel with the other parent and child, this does not mean you or your child are safe. I know many parents who traveled abroad with the other parent and child who were in possession of custody orders – only to have false claims of abuse, neglect, or acts of violence made against them within days of touching down in the foreign country. Once that happens, the legal nightmare begins – despite possessing joint custody, there is very little that the targeted parent can do to remove the child from the inbound country because the abducting parent usually has filed legal documents seeking court relief to remain abroad – typically in their country of origin.

So here we are – the school summer vacation season is upon us. Parents need to ask themselves this question: Has my relationship with my child’s other parent been strained, and all of a sudden there is a new-found love or commitment by that parent – and is there a trip abroad being suggested or planned? Because if so – you should be very concerned.

As touched upon earlier, if you believe the other parent may remove or retain the child abroad in order to gain an advantage in expected or pending child-custody proceedings by seeking the jurisdiction of the courts located in their country of origin, you should be very concerned.

For example, if a child is taken to a nation in the Middle East, there is a high probability that that nation will allow the abductor to keep the child abroad since the legal environment or cultural traditions may provide the abductor the safe harbor they seek.

In fact, there are many nations who simply do not return internationally kidnapped children, and this includes the majority of countries found in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, who outrageously, are not signatory members of international treaties on abduction. And before I let you think that having a child abducted to European or South American countries is any better you better think again. For example, I have a good friend who is a highly decorated police officer in New York who had his daughter abducted to Germany. For nearly 4 years this loving, honest, compassionate father has fought to reunite with his child. Yet she remains in Germany and he is as close as bringing her home today as he was when the kidnapping first occurred.

Unfortunately, there are countries, particularly in the Middle East, that have cultural environments that make it very difficult for a woman to recover their child. Cultural norms in Asia make it equally difficult for a man to recover their child. But child recovery and reunification is rare. In fact, there are many cases when the international courts order for a child to be returned to their country of original jurisdiction, and the kidnapping parent does not follow the court orders and does so without fear of retribution or arrest . . . . it’s a common theme.

Now back to the WARNING SIGNS – If the other parent threatens you that they will take your child abroad and you will never see them, don’t take this threat as a non-event. Many abductors who have successfully kept a child abroad did in fact make at least one threat that they were returning to their own country of origin.

Another WARNING SIGN is if the other parent presses you to sign a passport application for your child to obtain a passport from their country of their origin. Remember – your child has a right to dual citizenship if their other parent is a foreign-born national.

BEWARE that many nations do not require a second parent’s signature in order to obtain travel documents for a dual national child. . . for example France – so you very well may not know if the other parent has a secondary passport issued from another country. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT because even though the U.S. courts may obtain or even cancel your child’s American passports, they have no control on passports issued by another country. The fact is that even though a U.S. court order may restrict international travel for the child – passports issued by a foreign country are accepted without question at points of departure from the U.S. ”

So if abduction is going to occur – there is a high probability that foreign issued passports will be used to leave the United States.

NEEDLESS TO SAY, if you discover a foreign passport for your child issued from another country that you were not aware of, you have a serious problem on your hand.

Often the scheming parent will use a sudden illness of a family member abroad as a scheme to play on the targeted parent’s heart, often seeking to have their child, ‘See their grandmother or grandfather before they pass away.’ I can’t even begin to tell you how many scenarios like that I am aware of – when the targeted parent who let their child travel with the other parent – soon finds out that there was no family emergency, but instead – an abduction scheme.

A CRITICAL WARNING SIGN is if you soon realize that the other parent is sending large sums of money or other personal belongings abroad – or if they are removing all financial ties to the country they presently live in . . . such as selling their home, quitting their job, selling their car. You get the idea.

There is one other VERY IMPORTANT WARNING SIGN that I would like to touch upon here: if there is a false police complaint and incident report filed by your child’s other parent against you, there is a likelihood that they are establishing a case against you based upon domestic violence and abuse which will be very beneficial to them in court should they abduct your child.

Disgracefully, both men and women abductors are known to make false claims of abuse toward the other parent when planning to abduct . . . if you think it can’t happen to you – you better think again.

With false police complaints in mind, there is something every parent should be aware of: generally, a parent seeking to abduct a child will often make a false police report against the other parent on Thursday afternoons thru Friday afternoon in hope to have their targeted parent arrested and detained by law enforcement over the weekend so that while the child’s other parent is in jail, they have an unimpeded path to depart the country.

When the abductor arrives in the inbound country where they had schemed to abduct the child to – they have established a paper trail of domestic abuse or violence reports that may provide the court in the foreign country with all the evidence they need to allow the abductor the right to keep the child there, thus becoming a ‘liberator’ as opposed to an ‘abductor’ because they created the false appearance that they had to run to protect their lives.

Remember, children under 16 years of age living in the United States, Canada, or Mexico are not required to present a valid passport when traveling within North America so long as they travel by land or sea under policies established by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative . . . . which means that a closed circuit cruise ship that starts and ends in the same port, but that may travel to foreign ports, is in fact a vehicle for abductors to use.

Hopefully the I CARE Foundation’s efforts will cause our government to modify this policy and mandate that children traveling abroad, regardless of age must present a valid passport.

The Truth is that there are a substantial amount of warning signs of abduction, and parents need to pay attention to them TODAY.

Should you believe that your child is at risk of abduction, please contact a qualified attorney who has true experience litigating international child abduction prevention cases.

If child abduction is in process, please contact law enforcement immediately as well as a qualified attorney familiar with abduction. You should also immediately contact the United States Department of State’s OFFICE OF CHILDREN’S ISSUES.

As the summer approaches, the reality is that thousands of children will be targeted for abduction. It is anticipated that several thousand children will be kidnapped abroad when combining reported and unreported cases of abduction.

Of these children taken, only a small number will ever return home . . . ever see their targeted parent again . . . ever return to the community they were raised in . . . ever see their family now left behind.

In the process, their identity will be stolen . . . who they are will be denied . . . they will learn to know hatred because that is what an abductor will preach to them in order to have that child hate their left behind parent . . . and they will live a life as a fugitive.

Most of all they will become prisoners illegally detained by a vengeful abductor who is using that child to cause harm and destruction to the other parent.

Tragically, these children will lose their innocence. As I said earlier, many will never come home . . . some simply will never have the opportunity to . . . . they can’t.2570b-chasingthecyclonehardcoverjacket

For more information I urge you to visit the I CARE Foundation’s website. You may also visit the official website for Chasing The Cyclone, which is the website of my deeply inspired novel about international child abduction that contains an extensive amount of resources. And of course, you should visit the United States Department Of State Official Website, particularly if abduction is in progress.

Protect yourself and your child. Educate yourself.

~ Peter Thomas Senese

150,000 Internationally Kidnapped Children: Film To Shoot On Location At United Nations

Film.  Books.  Advocacy.  Rescuing Children.  Heroes.  International Child Abduction.  United Nations.  The Hague Convention. Kidnapping.  Fighting Kidnappers.  Chasing The Cyclone.  Hope.  Murder.  Abuse.  Targeted Parents.  Hopelessness.  The I CARE Foundation.  Protecting Children.

In no particular order, these are some of the words that come to mind when I think of international parental child abduction (IPCA).

For those of you who are not aware, IPCA is the crime of child kidnapping.  It is a brutal crime against both child and targeted parent: one that is legally complicated to obtain true justice on, and one which in many ways, does not protect innocent children of kidnapping the way you might expect.

The reality is, every child of abduction is severely abused and some are murdered.

It’s a worldwide epidemic.  A plague that is finally being pushed back in the United States, but one that continues to spread in nations around the world.

The key to curing this plague is to educate society, particularly those parents who may be at risk of abduction … and who may not know that such risk exists.

Creating various tools that educate others has played a very important role in having the abduction rate in the United States decline by over 15% per year the last two years.

My work in this area continues.

I am very pleased to share that a portion of the film on international parental child abduction titled 150,000 Internationally Kidnapped Children, presently in production and being produced in conjunction with the I CARE Foundation, will add the United Nations as a key location to the film.

Filming at the United Nations is no easy task. I am very thankful to the team at the United Nations for granting the necessary access required to film on location.

However, having previously sponsored a conference and spoken at the United Nations in my capacity as the founding director of the I CARE Foundationconcerning the issue of international parental child abduction (IPCA) in conjunction with the United States Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, it is both an honor and only fitting to have an important portion of the film take place at the United Nations.

I am very excited about the potential positive impact that 150,000 Internationally Kidnapped Children may have on others, including parents who may be targeted to have a child internationally abducted by the child’s other parent or by a stranger.

Previously, and in an ongoing effort, I produced the rather straight-forward educational documentary series on international parental child abduction titled Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms Of International Parental Child Abduction which discussed a wide-range of issues associated with international parental child abduction, including warning signs and risk factors, what to do if your child is targeted or taken, the Prevent Departure Program, and the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative amongst many critically important topics associated with child kidnapping.

Judging from the tens of thousands of views of the Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms of International Parental Child Abduction along with the rather large number of parents who personally contacted me and shared that the information contained in the educational documentary series made the difference between having their child remain at home as opposed to being internationally abducted, there is a clear international need for a film such as 150,000 Internationally Kidnapped Childrenone that not only shares critically important new research conducted by the I CARE Foundation concerning IPCA, but a film that clearly shows both the incredible dangers of stranger and non-stranger abduction in a way that gives light to ways which these kidnappings may be prevented.

Of course, at the core of all the information that I create concerning IPCA is the unbending desire and commitment to help educate society and targeted parents so that children will not face the dangerous, and at times deadly ordeal of IPCA.

There unquestionably is a great crisis on our hands as too many children around the world are being abducted. However, if the statistics of reported cases of abduction originating from the United States demonstrate anything – there has been a two-year consecutive decline of over 15% per year the last two years – it is that stewarding the message that IPCA is a real threat, and enlightening society of the reality of IPCA does in fact mean something: after nearly 30 years of near-consistent growth in the number of IPCA cases, we’ve pushed back the proverbial mountain in the United States . . . and though there is a great deal to still be done, there is measurable indicators that raising awareness has made a sizeable difference in protecting children from abduction.

On a very personal note, and as a storyteller and writer, when I first began my journey as an international parental child abduction prevention advocate by writing the critically acclaimed novel Chasing The Cyclone that was deeply inspired by my own experiences, I never thought that so many miracles would happen as a by-product of these efforts. But that is what happened because through it, dozens of internationally kidnapped children have been reunited while an even larger number of targeted children of abduction have remained safe.

And that is very cool.

-Peter Thomas Senese-

Parental Child Abduction: A Mom Makes A Heroic Rescue Of Son

I am pleased to be able to finally share the wonderful news that my good friend Kalli Atteya has safely reunited with her young son, who was previously internationally snatched by the child’s father during a despicable and cunning scheme that lured Kalli and her son to revolutionary Egypt two years ago (the abduction took place on August 1st, 2011) under the guise of the extremist father, Mohamed’s, claims that his mother was dying and that she wanted to see her grandson before her death.

Kalli’s efforts are nothing short of heroic.  The love she holds for her son is what is right about our world.

This is what occurred in short form.

Kalli had met Mohamed (an Egyptian national reported to be part of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood) in 1999 while he worked in a restaurant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A year later they married. And a year later, Niko was born (2001).

“Three months after our boy was born, he left,” Kalli Atteya told FoxNews.com. “He moved back to Harrisburg, and he dated many, many women. I tried to save my marriage but it didn’t work. Basically, he married me for a visa.”

Finally, in 2005 Kalli was granted a divorce from the child’s father, who quickly moved from the United States to China, leaving Kalli – who is a few classes short of receiving her Masters in Education, alone to raise her young son.

During the next six years, Kalli kept in touch with Mohamed in order for her child to know his estranged father under remote circumstances.

Then, in 2011, Kalli and her son’s nightmare occurred.

Mohamed was able to convince Kalli to travel with their son to Egypt in order to see his alleged dying mother.  What was really going on unknown to Kalli was that Mohamed was planning to snatch his son, and bring him into the world of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Shortly upon Kalli and her son’s arrival, Mohamed’s long-planned scheme went into place and culminated with him tossing out of the car Kalli and her sister Maria (who traveled with her sister and nephew from Pennsylvania to Egypt), while they were on a desolate road while in route from Alexandria to Port Said on August 1st, 2011.

Kalli stated that Mohamed had complained of car trouble and forced herself and her sister (Maria Panagos) out of the car in extreme heat, leaving Niko, himself and a driver to speed away. “Mohamed threw me off on the side and ran to the car. I remember seeing Maria dragging behind the car as my son pounded on the windows. It was so unreal to me. At that very moment, I knew this was all preplanned.”

And so, Mohamed, disappeared into the turbulent sea of the Egyptian Revolution, leaving Kalli and Maria (what am amazing sister) looking into the foreboding eye of the cyclone of abduction.

Unfortunately, at the very same time in Egypt, the Spring Uprising also essentially tossed out any rule of law, and despite the fact that Kali was able to obtain an array of national court orders and arrest warrants against Mohamed, the political atmosphere resulted in nothing being done against Mohamed for his act of abduction.

In the meantime, Kalli was rightfully petrified for her life, as threats by Mohamed were not to be taken as hot-winded words, but a reality.

Still she persisted. How could she not? She had a child to protect: one whom she loved with all of who she is.

Perhaps that’s the one thing about being a targeted parent of international parental child abduction that most others don’t really know: as a parent you know you’re about to chase the cyclones of the biggest storms conceivable – you know you’re going to get battered if you are lucky enough to simply walk out of it – but you do it anyway because love is worth risking everything for.

Welcome to the world of international parental child abduction where schemes such as Mohamed’s are the norm, not the atypical.

In fact, young Niko is quoted by Fox News as saying, ““My Dad forced me to be Muslim, which I did not want to do.”

“My son told me [it was] to make him a Muslim,” Atteya stated when asked why she thought her ex-husband snatched the boy. “He said that we lack the morality and the values that their system has. And he said that Americans were so violent, he said we are a rotting society.”

So just how did Kalli regain her son?

Well, she traveled to Egypt on three separate occasions, only letting her most trusted friends familiar with her intent to know what she was doing.

Along the way, she sadly paid over $100,000.00 to a company that helps recover internationally abducted children.  According to Kalli that company took her money but did nothing.  Fox News added, “Kalli turned to a Norwegian company for help. With each new bit of hope came a new charge until she had spent more than $100,000, depleting her savings and funds borrowed from relatives. Still, she seemed no closer to reuniting with her son.”

As you may imagine, Kalli’s despair and concern for her son grew as her funds quickly depleted.

But there was one thing that Mohamed did not bank on: the unbowed love Kalli had for her son, and her will to bring her son home.

Along the way, Kalli kept certain government non-government organizations abreast of her plans, always making sure that whatever she was doing, was in fact, legal and in accordance to international law (I applaud this act at the highest level).

As to the exact details of how Kalli was able to find and reunite with Niko, needless to say, she walked a hire-wire act that included finding, watching, and planning on when and how to approach her son, who was being carefully guarded – yes guarded (remember, the reality is that children of abduction are in fact ‘prisoners’).

In fact, there were a few times that Kalli actually got to close to Mohamed for comfort. Fortunately, he did not recognize her underneath the veil of the Burqa she was required to wear in Muslim-controlled fundamentalist Egypt.

With careful timing and awareness of Mohamed’s whereabouts, Kalli had a limited opportunity to rescue her son.

Her plan came together as Niko was exiting the school he was attending that Kalli had successfully tracked him to.

Seeing her son on the street as school was letting out the children, Kalli quickly approached her son while she wore her Burqa.  Eyeing him, she said, “Niko. Its mommy. Come with me quickly.”

Under the dark veil, the child saw his mother’s piercing blue eyes. He knew it was his mother. He listened.

“My first reaction was [to wonder] if that was my mom or not, and then I saw her eyes,” Niko said. “I thought, ‘Thank God. I’m going to finally get out of here. I’m going to be free.”

Quickly walking to a rickshaw, Kalli put her on the back seat of the three-wheel bike commonly found in Egypt, and peddled as fast as she could away from the town where the child had been detained.

Once the school was a distance away, Kalli changed Niko’s clothing.  “I dressed him up as a girl. We made it back to a safe house,” she told Public Opinion.

But the journey was far from over.

Now alone in Egypt with her son, and knowing that the father would soon be looking for her and her child, Kalli needed assistance from home, while trying to create a plan that would cause Mohamed to misdirect his own fanatical search.

United State Department of State officials have publicly stated that they are aware of Atteya’s case, but declined to provide further details due to privacy concerns.

“One of the Department’s highest priorities is the welfare of U.S. citizens overseas,” the statement reads. “This is particularly true for children, who our most vulnerable citizens.”

Read what you will into this statement, but one thing was certain: Kali was going to operate within the rules of international law. And today, with the assistance of her friends combined with the unbowed love and courage she has for her son – both mother and son are home.

How lucky are they?

Well, according to heavily reliable sources, Mohamed Atteya and his henchmen have attempted to track down anyone who assisted Kalli bring her son home, leaving a trail of heavy violence in his path, as he and his goons have attacked anyone he thinks may have helped his ex-wife.

Mohamed Atteya, 38, who speaks Arabic, English and Chinese, and is wanted by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security Service for making false statements and providing forged documents to obtain a U.S. passport, amongst a series of criminal complaints against him.  Should he attempt to enter the United States, he will be immediately detained.

In the meantime, the friends of Kalli celebrate openly her and Niko’s return.  It has been a long road for mother and child, but for all those who have supported them.

When Fox News shared part of the story today of how Kalli reunited with Niko, it was time to finally share the news we have guarded carefully to our vest.

With reflection on Kalli’s story, the question must be asked: How far are extremist parental kidnappers willing to go?

Below is a portion of a story I shared yesterday concerning this very topic. I am including it here for further reading.

There is a significant and growing side of international parental child abduction that makes me shudder at the very notion of kidnapping I am too familiar with: the alarming act of cross-border parental child kidnappings committed by political extremist and religious zealots.

It has taken a while for society to grasp the notion that when one parent illegally removes a child from the child’s country of habitual residency, this is a cruel criminal act of kidnapping.  And the abducted child is not simply with one of their parents, but instead, is a hostage held by an abductor who generally does not have the child’s best interest in mind.

Tragically, and most alarming is the reality that children of abduction are being put into extraordinarily dangerous situations.

Previously, I have shared the reality that filicide – child murder by a parent – along with suicide amongst child abduction victims is a real issue.

So where does the use of a child come into play amongst political extremest, social revolutionaries, and religious zealots?

What I am about to share should not be classified as a rare occurrence. They are not.

Let this image sit with you for a moment: a young girl is internationally kidnapped by one of her parents: a parent who possesses extreme religious beliefs that all things born from the West are evil, including his daughter.  In that parent’s religious zealot fever, he thinks that the only way to have penance is to do the unthinkable. Meanwhile, the young girl’s mother, frantic at knowing the truth of the monster who took their child, along with knowledge of his intent, seeks any way to rescue a child now taken to a world where women have no rights, and foreign women have even less.

But here is an innocent child now delegated to becoming a sacrifice.

Welcome to the unforgivable world of international parental child abduction.

Now imagine a young boy abducted to the nation, if you can call it that, in the midst of a bloody civil war in impoverished Africa. The child was taken by his mother, who left him behind, as a bargaining chip in the conflict between two of that nation’s leading militant tribes. As bombs exploded and casualties rose, the child is taught to think that his left-behind parent not only did not love him and that he was an evil man; while the brainwashing ordeal unfolded, war’s bloodshed continued to fall.  And for the father who searched, he knew that returning back to the country his child was held hostage could lead to his immediate death, and further harm to his family that remained in his country of origin.

So here is another innocent child delegated to becoming a pawn in a nation’s civil war.

Welcome to the brutal world of international parental child abduction.

A young child just learning how to ride a bicycle is snatched from a Norman Rockwellesque mid-America town and taken to a nation of zealot fundamentalist revolutionaries who preach intolerance for the West.  The child is taught to hate the peaceful world he was taken from.  Gone is the loving, peaceful, and gentle world he was born and raised in. In its place is a world filled with daily bombings and gunfights, violent protests that lead to deadly stampedes, and an unforgivable God (the God the kidnapper teaches his child is not a loving God, nor does it represent the kind God taught in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths).  As this child lives an imprisoned life terrified by everything around him, his left behind parent knows that entering the world of the brutal abductor in order to find her child if caught means entering a world so brutal, that your imagination’s notion of brutal punishment and torture, simply could not conjure the realities that would await her if caught.

Sadly, another defenseless child imprisoned into the worst of nightmares. Except it is his reality.

Welcome to the world where the God worshipped is a God filled with hatred.

And do not think that a child is not at risk of death. They are.

Perhaps this reality is the one singular thing that drives all child abduction prevention advocates the most: the hope to prevent the death of a child either at the hands of their parent abductor, or at their own hands later in life due to the brutal psychological trauma they endured during the time of their abduction.  I know my own activism in this arena is greatly due to my desire to help protect children from all forms of harm.

As you can see, the common denominator in the scenarios I presented above is that the child was used as a pawn to advance the abductor’s own agenda.

This is something that occurs in every international parental child abduction case.

For the taken child, they are indeed brought into a harsh world that emotionally and spiritually resembles the lonely, wind-swept barrier prison known as Alcatraz.  Short-term and long-term trauma is real. So too are the challenges the majority of children face going forward.

One of the things that appears to not have been spoken about in the dialogue concerning international parental child abduction is the general view by the abducting parent that life in the country of the child’s habitual residency is one that they often dislike, or in some cases, despise.

In these types of situations, the abductor’s (who is nearly always a foreign-born national living in another country) resentment toward most things in the country they are residing in prior to the act of kidnapping grows significantly.

Eventually, some of these parents sermonize their view to the child: preaching – and brainwashing – their views to a child is a necessity for all abductors since they need to justify the act of kidnapping to the child under the guise of ‘liberation’.

And extreme cases of ‘liberators’ does exist, creating a potentially greater danger to society than what anyone is talking about.

The question needs to be asked: What are the long-term social risks if a zealot abductor kidnaps a child born in the West, removes that child to a nation of political and religious extremism which the abductor is an active part of, and who evangelizes the messages of hatred and intolerance toward the child’s country of previous habitual residency to the point that the child buys into the parent abductor’s sermons as ‘liberator’ that is preached in order to justify the international abduction?

Well, we have a potentially serious problem on our hands.

Make no mistake, all forms of international parental child abduction are severe forms of child abuse.  Under no circumstance should child abduction be tolerated.  Fortunately, this notion is beginning to take hold by society due to the stewardship of the realities of abduction by concerned parents and advocates alike.

In fact, by raising awareness of international parental child abduction the cross-border kidnapping rate has declined in the United States by 15% per year for two years in a row, after nearly thirty years of steady growth.

So our voices are making a difference in the United States.  And unquestionably, the United States Department of States’ Office of Children’s Issues has to be given a great deal of credit in their outreach efforts attempting to increase the threat of abduction amongst targeted parents.

Nevertheless, our children remain at great risk. For example, imagine being a mother who living in the United States trying to prevent your daughters from being abducted to Saudi Arabia – a nation where women have essentially no rights. Or a father trying to find your child is Japan or South Korea – nations known to not return abducted children. The realities and hard-truths are disheartening: between the reported and unreported cases on international parental child abduction, it is estimated that only 10% of all kidnapped children ever come home.

In ending this article I would like to share this message: as the summer approaches, now is the time that would-be abductors are planning their scheme to illegally snatch their child.  Raising awareness of the risk factors and knowing the warning signs of abduction are so important.  Parents involved in multi-cultural relationships are particularly at risk of abduction.  The last thing any parent wants to do is find themselves Chasing The Cyclone of abduction.  The best defense against abduction is to educate yourself.

One final note: as the Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation, I am pleased to share with you that the children I mentioned above in the examples I provided are all now at safely home.  Since inception, the I CARE Foundation has assisted a large and growing number of children and their families at risk of abduction. Our work continues.

Click here to read more about The I CARE Foundation.
Click here to read more about Chasing The Cyclone.
Click here to visit the official website of Peter Thomas Senese. 

Parental Abduction: A Life Destroyed In Less Than 24 Hours

How easy is it for an abducting parent to legally remove a child from one country to another without the child’s other parent consenting to such move?

How does evil fill the hearts of an abductor, who only seeks to have an outcome they desire, no matter what the emotional, spiritual, and financial costs involved for the targeted parent and the children?

How extensive is the malice?

What I am about to share in the shortest detail demonstrates the sociopath behavior and pure malice of a parent who knows how to utilize the legal system to legally remove a child from one country to another without the other parent’s consent, and then further remove that parent’s access rights all because the taking parent no longer desires to live in the country of the child or children’s habitual residence.

Now imagine having every part of your life destroyed in less than 24 hours. Think it can’t happen? You are wrong!

So Much For The Wedding Vow – I Will Destroy Your Life – And This Is How
(Based Upon A Real Life Scenario)
  • American male citizen marries French female citizen in the US three years ago.
  • American citizen is a young attorney.
  • French citizen does not work.
  • The couple has two children, both born in the United States and under the age of 2.
  • Father, though practicing law, works from home on most days in order to provide care for children.
  • Mother is unhappy living in the United States and states that she wants to return to France with children.  Father wants to remain in United States, where children have lived, and where he is a practicing attorney.
  • Father compromises and travels for month-long visit to France with wife and children in hope that continued access to wife’s country of origin will satisfy her.
  • Mother makes numerous threats that she is going to take children and move to France without Father.
  • Father fears that children will be removed from America without his consent.
  • Mother has financial wherewith all and support system to relocate to France without children’s father.
  • Father discovers that children’s mother has been investigating how to remove children from America (abduction).
  • Father discovers that children’s mother has a large amount of concealed money in Europe he was previously not aware of.
  • Mother hides children’s US passports from father.
  • Mother escalates threats to children’s father that she is leaving for France with children, stating
    there is nothing father can do about it (all while living together. No divorce
    proceedings at this time).
  • Father discovers children’s mother has been in contact with French embassy. Father’s concern that mother is in possession of French passports
    for children that he did not authorize or sign for increases significantly based on direct statements of mother that it does not matter if father has American passports and that nothing he can legally do will stop her from leaving America with children.
  • At no time have there been any claims of accusations that father has made any verbal threats or acted in any capacity of abuse; whereas, mother has made numerous threats of abduction and has demonstrated a violent temper in front of friends and family of couple.
  • Father discovers children’s mother has a second phone which he was not aware of, providing mother with ability to communicate with others without father knowing.
  • Then late yesterday —– Thursday —— Mother threatens that she is taking children and moving to France immediately. Father informs wife he is going to file for divorce and seek court to ensure children are not illegally removed.
  • Hours later, mother makes police report against children’s father claiming that father made dangerous threats against her and
    children and that she fears for her safety.
  • Father becomes aware of wife’s deceitful plot and that she is at police station.
  • Mother makes late afternoon police complaint against husband.
  • Mother tries to lure father back to house in order to have him
    arrested. Unknown to wife, father is able to see police car at house waiting for him to come back via video security system.
  • Mother’s FALSE claim of domestic abuse sets up a 13B Hague Defense should
    she abduct.
  • Clear intent by mother to have father arrested today by police.
  • While father is arrested for domestic threats, wife, who is in possession of French
    passports can legally departs for France with children as father sits in jail
    cell.
  • While in jail, mother has the opportunity to clear out all finances of
    partnership.
  • Mother, who has means to disappear with children in France and Europe
    creates legal defense to have French courts sanction abduction under best
    interest of child due to father’s arrest.
  • Father faces major legal fight to reunite with children, which will take a significant toll on his  professional life.

In essence, by making a false police report and seeking for her husband’s arrest on a Friday with hope that her husband will be detained over the weekend, the children’s mother, who is in possession of French passports could depart the United States legally with her children since there is no court order restricting her or the children’s departure. In addition, the claim of domestic abuse toward her and/or her children provide mother to seek new jurisdiction of children and their custody in France.

Tragically, what you have read above is not an isolated act, nor do false claims of abuse occur solely by women against men. In the world of international parental child abduction, it is the norm for an abductor to make false claims against a targeted parent.

If you noticed in the brief scenario described above, the abductor had planned her scheme carefully – from moving money to Europe, to concealed phone calls, to illegally obtained passports, to a malicious scheme that would prevent her husband to file any court action to restrain her from leaving the United States by making a false police report in hope he would be arrested and detained long enough for her to get to an airport and depart with the children of the marriage.

And in the meantime, the targeted parent has been arrested, had his children taken from him, had his assets taken, and is now Chasing The Cyclone of abduction. All in less than 24 hours.

The only thing that is a bit different about what I described above is that in the scenario shared above, the abductor did not plan into their illicit scheme on obstacle: THE I CARE FOUNDATION and the organization’s understanding of abduction, and how to stop it.

And so on this day, there was no abduction though clearly there was an long-planned, well thought out scheme to do so.   And today there was no arrest based upon a false complaint.  And today, two young children have not been tossed into the storms of international abduction. And an innocent parent who loves his children did not sit in a jail cell saying to himself that his biggest nightmare came true. And most of all, children who were about to be put into imminent danger . . . were not in good part because of the I CARE Foundation and one really good parent who was willing to do what was necessary so his children would not be used as pawns in some horrible scheme.

It is days like today, when your actions and all you have experienced actually help another parent that makes it worth continuing the good fight.

For more information about international parental child abduction, please visit the I CARE Foundation website and the official website of Chasing The Cyclone.

Respectfully,

Peter Thomas Senese

The I CARE Foundation

International Parental Child Abduction Rates on the Decline in United States

A Special Message From Peter Thomas Senese On

The U.S. Decline Of International Child Abduction Cases

I am very pleased to share that the number of reported United States outbound cases of international parental child abduction (IPCA) has declined for a second year in a row.

Despite key factors that have led to increases in risk factors associated with IPCA such as global citizenship mobility, U.S. abduction rates have dropped from what was previously forecasted as a +22% to a +40% yearly growth rate to an average decline of 15% per year over the past two reporting years.

This is a remarkable series of events, and credit must be given and shared with those who have worked so hard to stop abduction.

Personally, I believe that there is no organization that deserves more credit than the United States Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues (OCI).  The leadership of OCI is made up of some of the most caring individuals in the world who dedicate their lives to helping families at risk of abduction. Speaking from first-hand experience as a volunteer advocate who spends a significant part of my life fighting for children at risk of abduction, I can tell you that fighting this fight is not easy: which makes it even that more remarkable to think about the incredible commitment displayed by many individuals at OCI. With attention to the decline in reported cases of abduction, significant credit must be given to OCI and its leadership, who continued with an assortment of educational public outreach programs created to help families in crisis.  Clearly, their effort is making a difference.

Outreach and education have been the primary catalysts behind the decline in abductions, and undeniably, the work of a select group of organizations, foundations, and individuals have made a sizeable difference in preventing abduction.  Unilaterally, the  work of child abduction prevention advocates have been able to not only educate families in crisis of abduction, but organizations such as the I CARE Foundation have assisted parents by providing legal counsel during court abduction prevention proceedings. Undeniably, stewarding the public message of abduction risk has made a measurable difference, and the tireless work of these non-government organizations have made a difference.  In addition, the vehicles used to reach parents have increased.  The books, articles, and reports written and published have mattered.  The educational documentary films have made a difference, as too have the creation of several educational websites.

In reflection, the power of social media and global connectivity via the Internet has allowed communities dealing with IPCA to form and grow. These communities have become visible and made a difference to many.  And they continue to grow.

Another aspect of why IPCA rates have fallen is that after 30 years since the United States became a member of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction (1981), courts and judges charged with overseeing abduction risk are finally beginning to understand the gravity of the situation at hand, and their own limited authority once a child is illegally removed.

From the I CARE Foundation’s perspective, and keeping in mind that many of our lawyers have worked impressively to educate the courts and judges on the many issues of IPCA.  On a personal level, I have voluntarily provided expert testimony before numerous courts in my capacity as the Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation at the request of counsel. In fact, at the request of the United States Department of State, the I CARE Foundation hosted a conference at the United Nations as part of the Department of State’s ‘Global Leadership Visitor Program’.

Finally, I must say that the incredible effort of a series of parenting bloggers who wrote extensively about IPCA reached millions of other parents, some of who were at risk of having a child abducted.  Made aware of their own circumstances (many parents never consider the possibility of IPCA), these at-risk parents were able to act to protect their children – something I know first hand because the I CARE Foundation assisted numerous families in crisis who turned to the foundation for assistance after reading an article posted by a parent blog writer. Remarkably, these amazing parents, all not having any direct association with IPCA, made a major contribution and help protect children.

Are we moving in the right direction? Yes.  However, it would be a major mistake to think that we can put our guard down and not push further to remove abduction risk.  Clearly there is a great deal to be done on all fronts, including the abduction prevention side and, equally, on the international compliance side once a child is kidnapped.  Sadly, it is anticipated that the total number of children returned home after they are abducted, when including reported and unreported cases of abduction (as defined in the report below), is less than 10%. Which means that approximately 90% of all kidnapped children never come home.  And the dangers of IPCA are real, and include severe abuse that has led to parental child murder and post-abduction suicide by kidnapped victims.  And that is why we must continue to fight against abduction.  Afterall, a child’s life sure is worth fighting for.

I offer to you the report ‘Crisis In America – 2013’ written by Carolyn Ann Vlk, Joel Walter, and myself.  Carolyn and Joel are two of the hardest working child advocates on the planet. The I CARE Foundation is very fortunate to have their leadership.

Here is the report:

Report on International Parental Child Abduction Growth
International Parental Child Abduction Today – 2013
Written By

Issued On February 25th, 2013

INTRODUCTION

United States child-citizens continue to be criminally kidnapped, illegally removed overseas, and wrongfully detained in foreign countries in shocking numbers by their non-custodial parent. The global plague of international parental child abduction significantly continues in America in a similar capacity as it does in the majority of nations abroad. However, the United States Department of State has now reported in two consecutive years that the number of reported outbound cases of American child-citizen abductions has declined. Clearly, this is very significant, particularly since previously reported growth trends demonstrated an average growth rate of reported American child abductions of over 20% per year during the previous decade.

Specifically, during 2012 there were 799 reported international parental child abduction cases filed with the United States Central Authority representing a total of 1,144 children.  Previously, in 2011 there were a total of 941 reported international parental child abduction cases filed with the United States Central Authority, representing a total of 1,367 children.

Thus, the reduction by 142 filed cases represents a decline of 15% of reported abduction cases from 2012 from 2011.  During the same reporting period, there were 223 fewer children internationally kidnapped in 2012 from 2011, representing a 16.3% decrease of total children abducted.

Comparatively, there were 1022 reported international parental child abduction cases in 2010 representing 1,492 children.  Thus, there has been a reduction of 223 reported abduction cases from 2010 to 2012, representing a total decline of 348 children between the two years. This represents a two year decline from 2010 to 2012 in reported cases by 21.8%, and a 23.3% reduction over the same two year period in the number of children kidnapped.

Year                      Reported Cases           Number of Children

2010                             1022                                       1,492
2011                               941                                       1,367
2012                              799                                        1,144

The decline in the reported number of international parental child abductions of American citizens represents a significant development and bespeaks of the tremendous educational outreach effort by the United States Department of State’s Office of Children’sIssues as well as non-government organizations such as but not limited to the I CARE Foundation and the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children to raise awareness of parental abduction amongst lawyers, judges, law enforcement, and targeted parents to that children may be protected.  However, it is important to note that despite a groundbreaking shift in child abduction statistical growth trends previously realized, we strongly affirm that criminal international parental child abduction continues to be a destructive epidemic in the United States and abroad that must be met with new abduction prevention laws and government policies, while significant efforts to educate courts, law enforcement, social workers, and at-risk parents of the many issues of child kidnapping diligently continue.

It is important to note that while the number of ‘reported cases’ of international parental child abduction have declined, the number of ‘unreported cases’ of abduction remains a significant concern for both government agencies and non-government organizations dedicated to preventing abduction.  Previously, the I CARE Foundation issued a report that the number of yearly unreported cases of abduction is believed to equal between 100% and 125% of all reported abduction cases.  We have no reason to change this forecast.  Thus, though there are no measurable statistics on unreported abduction cases, it would be reasonable, though not conclusive, to anticipate that the number of unreported cases of international child abduction have also declined.

While there is much to be pleased about regarding the significant decline in the reported international parental child abduction rate and forecasted decline in unreported cases of abduction, a great concern critically worth noting is that the number of children actually legally returned home after they are kidnapped remains to be estimated at only 10% when considering the total number of reported and unreported cases.

The reality is that children who are internationally abducted do not come home.  Sadly, many are lost forever.

One of the major facets of abduction prevention is education, and raising awareness of abduction threats to at-risk parents clearly has demonstrated a clear and measurable impact on the number of reported abduction cases.

Clearly and unquestionably, educational outreach programs directed toward raising international parental child abduction awareness are working!  Still, there is a long way to go.

The I CARE Foundation and the organization’s leadership have been actively involved in increasing awareness of child abduction while assisting a large number of parents protect their at-risk children.

One of the I CARE Foundation’s most dynamic and significant educational outreach programs that have had measurable results is the ‘Parent Blogger Educational Outreach Program’.  Under the program, highly influential parenting bloggers with a large global readership of followers have written a series of informative educational articles concerning the pandemic of international parental child abduction, including warning signs, risk factors, and actionable steps an at-risk parent may take to prevent abduction.  This grassroots effort led primarily by mothers who write and blog to raise awareness has been a tremendous success and has resulted in a significant number of successful child abduction prevention cases to occur.   Collectively, the extraordinary participants of the ‘Parent Blogger Educational Outreach Program’ have reached millions of parents, some who may have been directly at risk, or who may have known another parent and child at risk of abduction. In addition, the reach of these incredible parents willing to help protect children at risk of abduction has had a global impact on the prevention of child abduction as blogger participants were located on every continent and the millions of their readers blanketed the globe.  Clearly, the effort of these parent writers has made a significant difference in protecting lives, both in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere!

With the recent success of efforts put forth by child advocates everywhere to stop abduction, we are reminded that child abduction is a cruel and dangerous act against a child.

With grave concern we acknowledge that hundreds of young children each year are murdered by their parents in the United States, and that there is a clear statistical correlation of filicide in nations abroad and abduction similar to reported United States and Canadian government statistics of parental child murder.

As this report cites in detail, international parental child abduction is a severe criminal act of kidnapping committed by a parent against a child and the targeted left behind parent. International parental child abductors commit grave crimes against their child, including the act of abduction as well as the acts of child abuse and neglect.

According to numerous studies and reports including those issued by the United States Department of Justice and Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police, an abductor exhibits significant sociopathic tendencies, and generally does not act in the best interest of a child, but conversely, the act of abduction and the acts after the child-snatching cause both serious short-term and long-term damage that may, on many occasions, be irreversible. Sadly, acts of identity stripping, parental isolation, and removal of the bond between the abducted child and targeted parent speak nothing of the fact that filicide: the act of parental child murder is real. So too, tragically, is the reality that children who have been abducted and who have had their identity stripped during an abduction exhibit an alarming number of characteristics that are exhibited in individuals who commit suicide.

For the majority of child advocates who work tirelessly to protect children, especially advocates who are not in the business of profiting due to the tragedy of a child being kidnapped, what we fight for are lives – children’s lives.

In our capacity as directors of the not-for-profit I CARE Foundation, which has successfully assisted reunited numerous internationally kidnapped children with their targeted left-behind parents taken from around the world, while also preventing an exponentially larger number of children from international parental child abduction, we and our colleagues have worked tirelessly at conducting extensive research in the area of child abduction.

The I CARE Foundation’s volunteer activity has included playing key roles in legally reuniting many abducted children, writing and working diligently in the passing of abduction prevention laws and leading in lobbying efforts to have existing policies modified so that the capacity to protect children from kidnapping would be increased, in our creation of a national attorney network of educated lawyers willing and ready to assist at-risk children and their families,  in our capacity as researchers and educators to study the global issues of international parental child abduction and publish our findings in a way that may drive policy, and in our efforts to create a grassroots educational awareness movement by working with leading parent bloggers and writers with large followers, who have shared with their audiences the grave issues of abduction.

Though great strides have been made over the past two years, and we hope that the child abduction trend will continue to decline, we do have reason for concern.  Our apprehension is due in part due to the reality that though abduction rates have declined in the last known reporting fiscal year of 2012, there remains a glaring failure by the courts and law enforcement to punish international parental child abductors even though the act itself is a federal criminal act that is a known form of child abuse.  Without concern to be held accountable for their actions, parents who contemplate or carry out abduction will do so with a sense of immunity.  Without holding kidnappers accountable, children at-risk of abduction remain vulnerable.

In addition, it is critical to recognize that chasing parents who attempt to legally reunite with their kidnapped child face incredible difficulties in doing so. The challenges faced are discussed in this report in detail; however, they include but are not limited to failures by nations to uphold international treaties such as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the outright failure of nations to enter into any international treaty, receiving-country prejudice at the trial court level on legal action taken by a left-behind parent, grave financial challenges faced by a targeted chasing parent, and direct physical dangers faced by a targeted parent if they should attempt to reunite with their abducted child.

Clearly, child abduction prevention advocates are making an impact through an assortment of outreach programs that are raising awareness at the at-risk parent level, the trial lawyer level, and within the courts, as demonstrated by the second consecutive year of abduction rate declines. However, for parents presently attempting to reunite with their kidnapped children, the challenges they face are grave as explained herein.

REPORTED CASES OF INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION

Indisputable, are the actual number of ‘reported’ abduction cases. Estimating the incalculable total number of ‘unreported’ cases is difficult to assess. Despite this inability to concisely determine the total number of cases each year, it appears America and our nation’s children-citizens are plagued by a dangerous criminal epidemic known as ‘International Parental Child Abduction’ that is silently sweeping through our nation. At risk are tens if not hundreds of thousands of our defenseless children who are targeted for abduction each year.

In April of 2009, the annual Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was released. In that publication, Janice L. Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs writes, “Unfortunately, current trends reflect a steady increase in the number of international parental child abduction cases and highlight the urgency of redoubling efforts to promote compliance with Convention obligations and encourage additional nations to join the Convention.” She also writes, “Very few options exist for parents and children who are victims of parental child abduction.” In the 2010 annual report Ms. Jacobs continues to voice concerns over the increasing numbers of our child-citizens who have been wrongfully removed or wrongfully detained.

Similar sentiment has been shared in reports issued by the U.S. Department of State since this time. There is no question that the challenges that parents and children of abduction face are significant.

However, during 2012 there were 799 reported international parental child abduction cases filed with the United States Central Authority representing a total of 1,144 children.  Previously, in 2011 there were a total of 941 reported international parental child abduction cases filed with the United States Central Authority, representing a total of 1,367 children.  Thus, the reduction by 142 filed cases represents a decline of 15% of reported abduction cases from 2012 from 2011.  During the same reporting period, there were 223 fewer children internationally kidnapped in 2012 from 2011, representing a 16.3% decrease of total children abducted.  Comparatively, there were 1022 reported international parental child abduction cases in 2010 representing 1,492 children.  Thus, there has been a reduction of 223 reported abduction cases from 2010 to 2012, representing a total decline of 348 children between the two years. This represents a two year decline from 2010 to 2012 in reported cases by 21.8%, and a 23.3% reduction over the same two year period in the number of children kidnapped.

UNREPORTED CASES OF INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION

Peter Thomas Senese commented, “The anticipated number of international abductions used as a benchmark and often referred to is inconclusive because the published data does not take into consideration ‘unreported’ cases of international child abduction, population growth, increases in multi-cultural marriages, immigration migration increases to the United States, and economic difficulties many families are facing, which inevitably leads to a break-up of the family unit. More concerning is how the widely distributed and cited surveys used what I believe to be an inadequate number of telephone interviews and appear not to include any law enforcement records. In my view, we as a nation have a serious problem on our hands.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk stated, “Admittedly, something is seriously amiss in our ability to accurately estimate the number of children victimized by the crime of child abduction. In my opinion, utilizing only a random telephone survey, to determine the number of affected children is a process flawed by numerous, serious methodological problems. Additionally, the cooperation and compliance rate in obtaining the return of our citizen children who have been criminally internationally abducted must be drastically improved. The recovery of so few of these children during an entire fiscal year is not and should not be acceptable”.

Unfortunately, many internationally abducted children are never returned because their abductions are not reported to authorities. The likelihood is that the vast majority of these types of cases never end with a child’s return. It would be reasonable to conclude that if a targeted parent did not report their child’s abduction, then in all likelihood, that U.S. child-citizen will not be returned to the United States. Due to the number of ‘unreported’ international abduction cases, it is difficult to determine a reasonable return-rate percentage. We recognize the difficulty in attempting to accurately estimate the ‘unreported’ case numbers and believe that it is probable that the number of returns of ‘unreported’ cases is extremely low and essentially immeasurable.

Reasons for ‘unreported’ cases include the financial inability of a Chasing Parent to take legal action since they are responsible to pay for all costs associated with their child’s recovery – even though a child’s international abduction violates state and federal laws such as the International Parental Kidnapping Crimes Act (IPCA). Furthermore, many parents experience a sense of hopelessness that any recovery efforts will be futile since there are great difficulties associated with bringing a child home, including the possibility of first trying to determine where your child is. Also, the fact is that many nations are not a party of or do not uphold the Hague Convention. Furthermore, there exist substantial prejudices in foreign courts.

The NISMART I study reported that there were a total of 354,000 parental child abductions annually. The NISMART II study stated the total number of parental child abductions decreased to approximately 203,900 children. The truth of the matter is that we really do not know how accurate any of the data is or how large of a problem we actually have on our hands. What we do know is that hundreds of thousands of children are targeted for parental abduction each year, and out of this group, tens of thousands of these instances include planned international parental abductions.

PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION IS A SEVERE FORM OF CHILD ABUSE

According to leading experts who specialize in international parental child abduction, conclusive and unilateral opinion and fact demonstrates that parental child abduction of a targeted child is a cruel, criminal, and severe form of abuse and mistreatment regardless if the child is with one of their (abducting) parents. This includes the illegal act of international abduction, whereas, the child is unexpectedly uprooted from their home, their community, their immediate and extended family, and their country. Sadly, severe short and long-term psychological problems are prevalent for many abduction victims who survive their kidnapping experience. It is commonplace for a child to be emotionally sabotaged, whereas, the abducting parent will try to remove all bonds and attachments the child has with the other parent, thus, removing the child’s right to know the love of the other parent, and keep in tact their own identity. Too many children simply never come home and in certain cases a child’s abduction overseas has led to the death of the abducted child.

A leader in the field of parental child abduction issues, Dr. Dorothy Huntington wrote an article titled Parental Kidnapping: A New Form of Child Abuse. Huntington contends that from the point of view of the child, “child stealing is child abuse.” According to Huntington, “in child stealing the children are used as both objects and weapons in the struggle between the parents which leads to the brutalization of the children psychologically, specifically destroying their sense of trust in the world around them.”

“Because of the harmful effects on children, parental kidnapping has been characterized as a form of “child abuse” reports Patricia Hoff, Legal Director for the Parental Abduction Training and Dissemination Project, American Bar Association on Children and the Law. Hoff explains, “Abducted children suffer emotionally and sometimes physically at the hands of abductor-parents. Many children are told the other parent is dead or no longer loves them. Uprooted from family and friends, abducted children often are given new names by their abductor-parents and instructed not to reveal their real names or where they lived before.” (Hoff, 1997)

Consider that today in Japan, there are approximately 230 American children-citizens who were illegally abducted from United States soil to Japan by one of their parents in violation of U.S. court orders. To date, and for what is believed to be nearly fifty years, Japan – America’s strong ally – has never returned 1 American child who was parentally kidnapped and illegally detained in accordance to United States law. And tragically, the vast majority of the chasing parents left-behind in the wake of their child’s abduction are not permitted to have contact with their child.

EXTREME DIFFICULTIES IN RECOVERING AN ABDUCTED CHILD

There are abundant reasons why it is very difficult to have an illegally stolen child returned despite the United States being a signatory of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. They include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Lack of action in reporting a child’s abduction by a targeted parent left behind; and,
  2. Many nations do not comply with or uphold the spirit of the convention (ex, Brazil, Mexico, Germany); and,
  3. Many countries have not signed the convention (ex. Japan, China, Russia, and many countries located in the Middle East); and,
  4. Chasing Parents may not have an idea what country their child was taken to; and,
  5. Chasing Parents are responsible to carry the enormous financial burden associated with their child’s recovery. Many simply do not have the substantial resources needed; and,
  6. Many Chasing Parents do not have the knowledge necessary to navigate the difficult and complex legal system of international law, nor do they often know who to turn to and what to do; and,
  7. Nationalistic prejudices of court systems located in the ‘inbound’ country, whereas, a court may try to protect the abducting parent if that parent is a citizen of the country where they abducted the child to; and,
  8. Cultural differences; and,
  9. A Chasing Parent’s fear to attempt to recover their child due to threats from the abducting parent or individuals associated with the abducting parent; and,
  10. Lack of cooperation from law enforcement; and,
  11. Limited power of the Office of Children’s Issues to intervene on behalf of a U.S. citizen.

REASONS WHY ONE PARENT CRIMINALLY ABDUCTS A CHILD

Studies have demonstrated that an unprecedented number of abductions have occurred where one parent took unilateral action to deprive the other parent of contact with their child. The majority of abducting parents will typically use the child as a tool to cause the targeted parent great pain and suffering. Their intent is simple: to make the other parent suffer as much as possible by depriving that targeted parent with the love and connection to their own child. Nearly every published study on this subject has concluded that an abducting parent has significant, and typically, long-term psychological problems and may in fact be a danger to their child.

We take the time to acknowledge that in certain cases of parental child abduction, a parent claims to have no other choice but to flee the other parent due to serious, grave, and ongoing forms of abuse. We acknowledge that in many abduction defenses found under Article 13 of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an abducting parent will often claim mental, emotional, and physical abuse by the other parent as part of their defense to sanction their criminal behavior of abduction. However, we must also acknowledge that domestic violence is a very real, measurable, and in many cases, an ongoing crime that has limited law enforcement safety controls. We acknowledge that there are parents who must flee for their and their child’s safety due to failures by law enforcement and courts to protect their safety, combined with an habitual abuser who aims to cause grave hurt to the targeted parent.

In addition, and understandably, family abductions occur at a higher rate during times of heightened stress such as separation or divorce and often involve custody issues and visitation problems. The sad fact is that a large number of marriages, estimated to be between 40% and 50%, in the U.S. end in divorce.

One of the many considerations that factor into the increase in total abductions indicates that economic difficulties in the United States and elsewhere are a measurable factor in the number of increases in separations and divorces. This added stress can lead to a parental cross-border abduction, particularly since we live in a global society, and the number of international relationships has increased dramatically.

While all children can be potential targets of a family abduction, the likelihood increases when that child has a parent with ties to a foreign country. According to the Juvenile and Family Court Journal Vol. 48, No. 2 titled Jurisdiction In Child Custody and Abduction Cases, “Parents who are citizens of another country (or who have dual citizenship with the U.S.) and also have strong ties to their extended family in their country of origin have long been recognized as abduction risks.” This increase in cultural diversity within the U.S. population has created challenges for our existing laws. Many U.S. born children-citizens fall victim to parental abduction when a parents’ union ends.

Across the U.S., states are struggling to address their archaic and outdated laws, and establish additional precautions to better protect their child-citizen population. Unquestionably, it is critical that child abduction prevention laws are passed in each state and upheld by the judiciary and law enforcement. Failure to do so will likely lead to the looming disaster that is already upon us.

Peter Thomas Senese stated, “As a nation, the United States must fight back this sweeping plague by passing child abduction prevention laws and by increasing our judiciary’s level of competency in overseeing and enforcing laws associated with these complex cases of potential or actual international parental child abductions. Critical to judges and lawmakers’ ability to protect our children is the need for immediate research on this subject. The present available information is archaic, and more than likely inaccurate particularly due to the inability to measure ‘unreported’ cases. The community of child abduction prevention advocates has pointed this out for some time now. What we also need is for the creation and enforcement of well thought out and researched laws along with the upholding of the intent, spirit, and law of the international treaties such as The Hague Convention so we can protect our children and put an end to the spread of this malignant pandemic that has reached our shores.

Florida state representative Darryl Rouson is the lawmaker who championed and sponsored Florida’s landmark Child Abduction Prevention Act (HB 787). The bill was unanimously approved in the Senate and House of Representatives and signed into law by Governor Charlie Crist. Florida’s new preventative legislation will take effect on January 1, 2011. Representative Rouson commented, “It is critical for each state to implement laws that will protect the rights of our children-citizens who may face parental child abduction. The misconception that when one parent steals a child from the other parent, that the child is safe, is undeniably inaccurate. It is through prevention laws such as Florida’s Child Abduction Prevention Act that we will be able to prevent this serious crime against our nation’s children from occurring.”

Carolyn Ann Vlk, the child abduction prevention advocate, commented, “Early on in my research on this critical issue I recognized the urgent need for preventative legislation. Thankfully, Florida’s legislative body wholeheartedly agreed as evidenced by the unanimous votes. I am thrilled for the added measure of safety this new law will have in protecting the children of my great state. However, I will not be satisfied until all states have child abduction prevention legislation enacted.”

IMMIGRATION MIGRATION AND ITS AFFECT ON CHILD ABDUCTION CASES

A report compiled by the renowned Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center reports that most immigrant groups are comprised of young families. The likelihood that a child will be born while the parents are present in the U.S. is high. Prior to 2007, data collected on parents of children under 18 only identified one parent, and a second parent could only be identified if they were married to the first parent. Currently, a second parent identifier is considered whether or not the parents are married to each other. The new data more accurately reflects the number of children living in the U.S. with at least one foreign-born parent.

In 2008 that meant that 22% of all children in the United States had at least one foreign-born parent. In fact, consider the following statistics compiled by the Center for Immigration Studies in its March 2007 analysis. Immigrants and their U.S. born children under age 18, as a share of population: California – 37.9%, Los Angles County – 50%, New York State – 27.9%, New York City – 46.7% and Florida – 27.9%.

It must be noted that although 31.3% of all immigrants originate from Mexico, other countries have significant entry numbers as well. Included in the March 2007 Current Population Survey (CPS) were statistics indicating that 17.6% of all immigrants were from East/Southeast Asia, 12.5% from Europe, 5.5% from South Asia, 3.5% from the Middle East, and Canada at 1.9%.

Traditionally, states such as California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois and Arizona have had large numbers of immigrants in their population. What is surprising is the trends in migration toward new centers of immigrant growth. The CPS prepared an analysis of states with statistically significant growth in immigrant population between 2000 and 2007. Most notably, Wyoming, which experienced a percentage increase of 180%, Tennessee at 160%, Georgia at 152.1%, and Alabama at 143.6%. The impact of unprecedented increases in immigrant migration is likely to create multiple challenges as states struggle to keep pace with their newest segment of population and their children.

“As a nation of immigrants, it is important to note that as our nation’s population increases due to immigrant migration, so too does the likelihood of increased cross-border child abduction,” Peter Thomas Senese added.

Additionally, it has been well established that illegal aliens do not respond to surveys such as the US Census or the CPS. Because the U.S. government does not have accurate records of arrival and departures for individuals present illegally in the country, their numbers must be estimated, as there is no hard data to draw from. However, indirect means for establishing these figures are used, and they must be viewed with a considerable amount of uncertainty. In 2007 CPS, it was estimated that of the approximately 37.9 million immigrants present in the U.S., nearly 1 in 3 immigrants were present illegally.

It is important to note this segment of our population when discussing child abduction because when a child is born in the U.S. that child automatically is a U.S. citizen. While the available data gives us fairly accurate figures regarding the number of children born in the U.S. as well as those immigrants who are present legally, a number is impossible to compile accurately in relation to the unauthorized resident population.

In regards to children born to illegal immigrants, in the five-year period from 2003 to 2008, that number rose from 2.7 million to 4 million. The report published by the Pew Hispanic Centers reported that nationally the children of illegal immigrants now comprise 1 in 15 elementary and secondary students in the U.S. Additionally, in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Texas more than 1 in every 10 students in those states are the children of illegal immigrants.

Carolyn Ann Vlk, the writer of Florida’s Child Abduction Prevention Act stated, “The ability of state governments to prevent the abduction of children by family members could be drastically improved by comprehensive legislation. While aiming to protect all children, special consideration must be given to those children who may be at increased risk simply by virtue of their parentage. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the resident population of the U.S. projected up to April 22, 2010 estimated that one international migrant enters the U.S. every 36 seconds. International travel has become commonplace and as more cross-cultural relationships develop children are born. A number of these relationships will end and may result in an increased risk of international abduction of the child. Attempting to retrieve a child who has been abducted and possibly hidden internationally is a near impossibility as a multitude of problems surface in cases such as these. Unfortunately, studies have proved 4 of 5 Americans drastically underestimate the threat of a family abduction. Statistically, it is a sobering thought when you become aware of the vast numbers of children that are criminally abducted each year. Preventative laws are a necessity as an immediate remedy to this unconscionable crime.”

DEPARTMENT OF STATE’S OFFICE OF CHILDREN’S ISSUES

The Office of Children’s Issues has worked diligently to educate at-risk parents of abduction via an assortment of outreach programs.  The leadership at OCI has placed a particular emphasis on abduction prevention, which in turn has demonstrated remarkable and measurable results including two consecutive years of significant abduction rate declines.

The Department of State was established to assist parents whose children have been unlawfully removed from the country. The OCI assists the remaining parent and strives to protect those children who have been victimized in these types of cases. Considering thousands of child custody cases are fought across national borders each year, the assistance of the OCI can be invaluable.

Litigating custody, especially across international borders where conflicting orders may exist can be difficult if not impossible. The OCI aims to assist in these cases by enhancing an understanding of the many complex laws, both domestic and international that may be applicable to a particular case.

However, OCI has significant limitations, including the fact that they cannot represent your abducted child in a foreign court. OCI does provide a list of lawyers in foreign countries who at times have worked pro bono on abduction cases. However, there are no obligations by any of these lawyers to take a case, and it is up to each Chasing Parent to work out all arrangements. The reality is that ‘pro bono’ sounds like a nice idea, but it is an unrealistic expectation.

Immediate suggestions that could allow the dedicated staff at OCI to be more helpful include the following:

  1. Creating and distributing useful, concise information for chasing parents, law enforcement, and court personnel regarding all areas of IPCA. The use of digital media combined and supported by printed content is critical.
  2. The development of an independent website outside of the Department of State’s website. This website must be easy to navigate, include audio and digital feeds, and must be accessible to individuals in various languages.
  3. OCI must actively support advocates and lawmakers who are seeking to pass child abduction prevention laws. Support by OCI in this area can increase the visibility of the issues of child abduction while also increasing lawmaker and judiciary awareness.
  4. Dissemination of information on the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program.
  5. Dissemination of information on the ‘Prevent Departure Program’, and dedicated resources established to assist lawyers and Chasing Parents seeking assistance under this program.
  6. Increases in outreach toward documented and un-documented aliens about OCI, and the rights of their U.S. child-citizen.
  7. Increase in personnel to support the tremendous workload of the OCI staff.

About the Authors:

Peter Thomas Senese is the Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation, a highly respected child abduction prevention advocate and a successful chasing parent in accordance to the rules of international parental child abduction law established under the Hague Convention.  Under Peter’s leadership, the I CARE Foundation has assisted reunite many children who have been internationally kidnapped with their left-behind parents while also working tirelessly to prevent the abduction of an exponentially larger number of children. Peter advocated for the passage of the State of Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ (CAPA), heavily contributed to raising public awareness of the previously widely underutilized federal child abduction prevention program; specifically, the ‘Prevent Departure Program’ (PDP) that is now more commonly implemented in aiding targeted parents and their child from abduction in certain case scenarios, worked diligently to have ‘Senate Resolution 543 – the International Parental Child Abduction Resolution’unanimously passed calling for a complete revamping of how the United States government handles abduction. In addition, Peter has spoken as an expert witness before numerous government bodies, including hosting a forum on international parental child abduction at the United Nations at the request of the U.S. Department of State in his capacity as the Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation.  Peter is the creator/writer/producer of the educational documentary film series ‘Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms Of International Parental Child Abduction’, a best-selling author whose upcoming world-wide book release focusing on international parental child abduction and titled ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ has been critically acclaimed as a call-to-arms against child abduction. Peter is the writer of an extensive number of influential articles and essays pertaining to IPCA. He has created and oversees a comprehensive website dedicated to child abduction prevention and good parenting (www.chasingthecyclone.com) where numerous essays and may be found, including the eye-opening report ‘International Parental Child Abduction And Human Trafficking In The Western Hemisphere’ Peter co-authored with Ms. Carolyn Vlk. Dedicated to bringing about new child abduction prevention laws while creating dialogue that may reform certain government programs and protocols so that they may better serve targeted children and their parents, Peter Senese is a strong supporter of The Hague Convention and The Department of State’s Office Of Children’s Issues.

Carolyn Ann Vlk is a renown child abduction prevention advocate and a Founding Board of Director Member of the I CARE Foundation as well as a member of the Special Advisory Board of the Amber Watch Foundation. Carolyn drafted the landmark State of Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ that will be enacted on January 1st, 2011. Ms. Vlk was highly influential in raising the public’s awareness on the little-known, highly effective child abduction prevention federal program titled the ‘Prevent Departure Program’ and  worked diligently to have ‘Senate Resolution 543 – the International Parental Child Abduction Resolution’ Carolyn is also a writer/producer of the highly educational documentary film series titled ‘Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms Of International Parental Child Abduction’, and, is the author of numerous essays and studies on parental child abduction, including the groundbreaking report titled ‘International Parental Child Abduction And Human Trafficking In The Western Hemisphere’ (2010). Carolyn is dedicated to assisting parents and their children who are targets of international child abduction, and is committed to bringing about positive reform and change in law and government protocol that has been established to aid at-risk children. Ms. Vlk is a supporter of The Hague Convention, The Department of State’s Office Of Children’s Issues, and the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (UCAPA). Carolyn is a loving and dedicated mother to her children, and fought rigorously to protect her own child who was a target for potential abduction that she went so far as to draft legislation that has now become new law in her home state of Florida.

Joel S. Walter is a practicing attorney licensed to practice law in New York State and is admitted into numerous United States Federal Courts, where he has practiced law for nearly 40 years.  Mr. Walter is a Founding Board Member of the Board of Directors of the I CARE Foundation, where he has worked diligently in assisting parents and children in crisis at risk of abduction, including playing key roles in reuniting numerous children of international kidnapping with their targeted parents.  Joel’s active role with the I CARE Foundation also includes conducting legal research on a variety of issues related to abduction and trafficking.  A highly respected trial lawyer by nature, Joel is known within the law community as an outstanding litigator.  Joel has worked diligently on numerous I CARE Foundation legal initiatives and has petitioned various lawmakers on a series of policy issues related to child abduction and trafficking.

Report On Total Number Of International Parental Child Abductions To Be Released: Results Will Shock You!

Through the combination of stewardship of sharing the message of international parental child abduction and the actual growing number of child kidnappings that are occurring each year, society is slowly but surely becoming aware of the existence of the international parental child kidnapping crisis upon us, and surely coming to terms that when a parent illegally removes or detains a child in another country without permission of the other parent, the child taken is not simply with their other parent, but with an abusive criminal kidnapper.

So, you would think that the total number of international parental child abductions would be made easily available upon, in the very least, signatory countries of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction in lieu of the urgent worldwide dilemma at hand.

But they’re not. Not even close.

In fact, many member states of the Hague Convention to not publish their statistics.

Why?

It is beyond me.What To Do If Your Child Has Been Internationally Abducted This Holiday Season

The I CARE Foundation has been spent a great deal of time researching the question, ‘What is the Total Number of International Parental Child Abductions?’  Of course, there are many ancillary questions that stem from this question.

In the near future, and as the I CARE Foundation prepares to announce a series of legislative initiatives, we will be releasing a shocking report that addresses the issue of how many international parental child abductions exist each year worldwide that is so concise, measurable, and sadly, alarming.

If you are a journalist interested in receiving a copy of the report prior to its publication, please contact the I CARE Foundation. If you desire to be placed on an e-mail list in order to receive a copy of the report, please click here.

What will be shared is remarkably alarming. And it affects everyone.

– Peter Thomas Senese –
On Behalf Of The I CARE Foundation

What To Do If Your Child Has Been Internationally Abducted This Holiday Season

During the Christmas Holiday Season many children are internationally abducted in accordance to international law because they are illegally and wrongfully detained in a foreign country without one of the child’s parent’s permission.

If this has happened to  you and your child, you must first realize that the abduction was a well-planned scheme orchestrated by lies, deceit, and assistance by others, more thank likely the abductors friends and family members in the inbound country your child is presently being wrongfully detained.  In addition, there is the possibility that the abductor also received assistance from other family and friends in the country of original jurisdiction (your home country) where the child lived.

Now, before I go any further, I will say this: you need to pay attention to every detail and keep records of everything that transpires.

If you are presently in a foreign country where your child is presently being detained and you have no access to your child because the abductor has cut off ties with you, I reiterate that you must be very careful and remind yourself that you and your child were targets of a well-planned scheme.  You must seek immediate assistance from a local lawyer familiar with family law matters in that country, and, you must seek assistance available to you under the rules of law, including the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

For a list of countries who are signatory members of the Hague Convention, please click here.

Regardless if your child was illegally detained in a foreign country with or without you being in that country, there are critical steps that I suggest you must do, as outlined below.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS NOT TO WASTE TIME.

THE SECOND MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS THAT ANY COMMUNICATIONS MADE BY THE ABDUCTOR MORE THAN LIKELY WILL BE USED TO EITHER HURT YOU OR TRY TO SHOW THAT YOU HAD OR HAVE CONSENTED TO THAT PERSON’S ‘RELOCATION’, AS THEY TRY TO SUGGEST YOU SANCTIONED THEIR NO-RETURN. THUS BE VERY CAREFUL!

When you believe that your child or children have been abducted by either their other parent or a non-stranger, you must remember that time is a precious commodity you do not have.

You must act efficiently, thoughtfully, and purposefully with respect to all efforts that you are about to put forth in recovering your child. Of utmost importance is the fact that you need to know everything that everyone involved in your child’s recovery is doing. Critically, you must stay calm, stay alert, immediately contact law enforcement, and immediately contact a lawyer familiar with family custody law.

1.  Never give up HOPE that you will find your child or children no matter how long and difficult the road you have to journey on is.

2.  URGENTLY, if you are a citizen of the The United States, immediately contact the United States Department of State – Office of Children’s Issues. They can be reached at 202-736-9090 or at 888.407.4747.  If you are presently in the foreign country that your child was illegally detained, then immediately contact the United States embassy in that country, and schedule an emergency appointment seeking their assistance.

If you are from Canada, contact the Justice Legal Services in Ottawa at 613.996.1300 or 613.992.6300.  If you are presently in the foreign country that your child was illegally detained, then immediately contact the Canadian embassy in that country, and schedule an emergency appointment seeking their assistance.

3.  If your child’s habitual residence was in the United States, immediately contact the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children (1-800-The-Lost).

If your child’s habitual residency is Canada, contact The Missing Children Society of Canada (800.661.6160).

4.  IMMEDIATELY contact your local police and your local branch of the FBI (in Canada, the RCMP) and share with them all the details that support your belief that your child’s abduction is imminent or in progress.

Do not wait to file your police report!

Make sure you have as much evidence to support your claim as possible, including any witnesses that can support your claims. While sharing this information with the police, make sure that you file a missing child report immediately.

This report is important as it allows the police to place a description of the child who is missing on the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, (and in Canada the Canadian Police Information Centre {CPIC} computer system) so all police forces in the United States (and likewise, in Canada) will know the child is missing.

The police should notify border crossing and all ferry, rail, airport facilities. If there is any hesitancy on their part to do so, under all circumstances demand that all border crossing locations and transportation companies (ferry services, airlines, etc.) are notified, and that all travel manifests are immediately reviewed. If you suspect parental or non-stranger abduction, provide the police with a photo of the suspected abductor, an address, telephone number and any other pertinent information about that person.

In addition, so long as you have a custody order decree from the courts, law enforcement can seek to press charges of aiding and abetting against any individual who may have assisted the abductor with their kidnapping scheme.  Recently, Senate Resolution 543 (SR543) that was unanimously passed in the Senate on December 14th, 2012 resolved that our nation and all applicable agencies involved in child abduction prevention and reunification do whatever they can to assist a targeted child.  This means that under the reach of criminal law, and if there is enough evidence to support a case of aiding and abetting, a criminal complaint must be filed with the authorities.

5.  In all scenarios, it is strongly advised that you hire a lawyer familiar with international child abduction.  It is critical that emergency legal applications are made to the court of jurisdiction that request for the court to issue to you the following:

A) Temporary Full Custody of your child or children.

B) A Return Order for your children demanding that the other parent return them to the court of jurisdiction by a specified date.

In addition, laws in many states give judges authority to issue a ‘pickup’ order for the child to prevent an imminent abduction or harm to the child. Pickup orders go by different names, including ‘warrant to take physical custody of a child’ and ‘warrant in lieu of a writ of habeas corpus’.

6.  The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), in effect in most states, provides an emergency ex parte proceeding for getting a law enforcement directed pickup order (in conjunction with a custody enforcement order) when abductions or serious physical harm to a child is imminent. If the requirements are met, a judge should issue an order directing law enforcement to pick up the child and to serve notice of the custody enforcement proceedings.

7.  If you believe your child’s safety is in danger, and you have credible evidence that your partner is intending to imminently take your child and abduct to another country – file an emergency ex parte motion in court immediately, and make sure you or your lawyer notify your local law enforcement that you are filing an emergency motion before the court.

8.  When possible, you and/or someone you trust should stay in close physical proximity of the child. Consider hiring a seasoned private investigator to monitor the movements of your spouse and child.

9.  STAY CALM. Contact neighbors, friends, spouse, siblings and anyone who may know where your child may be. Invite a friend or acquaintance with a “calm” manner to be with you.

10.  Conduct a telephone search. Call family, friends and relatives who may wish to help. Encourage them to use their telephones to make inquiry calls so your line will remain free for incoming calls. If you have to leave the house, have an answering machine on the line or have a friend or neighbor take incoming calls.

11.  Have friends and relatives conduct a basic land search of the neighborhood area while you are making a police report. With family and friends, try to recall the present and past few days of family situations and activities (a recent argument or disciplinary action could be the reason for hiding).

12.  Provide the police with the information in your prepared Identification Kit. This kit should include updates clear photographs, foot and fingerprints, birth certificate, medical history, passport, dental records, X-rays, child’s name and description including location of scars, birthmarks and any other identifiable data (glasses, braces, earrings, etc.). A videotape or a recent home video of the child may be made specifically for the kit. Try to keep a mental note of what your child is wearing each day.

13.  Conduct a complete physical search of your area. Organize a search party of friends and relatives to search areas such as, child’s route home from school, community center, friend’s houses, favorite hang-out etc. Be on the lookout for articles of clothing, toys, books other personal belongings scattered on the ground. If found, do not disturb. Contact a police officer immediately.

14.  Leave someone at home at all times to answer the telephone in case your child calls.

15.  Continue to keep the telephone lines FREE at all times.

16.  Continue your search even if there are no immediate results. Follow up for updates on the case by contacting the investigating police officer and the provincial searching agency who registered your child.

17.  Solicit media support such as radio, television, local publications and newspapers only at the advice of the police and searching agency involved with the case. Be mindful that once your spouse has illegally taken your child and is on the run, they essentially will act like a fugitive (in many cases they are due to arrest warrants issued by the local court). Typically, a person running from law enforcement is willing to take risks that they might otherwise not be inclined to take under more normal circumstances. These risks can be very concerning, and could potentially place the child as well as the abducting parent in grave and dangerous situations. So, before you solicit help from the media, weigh out the opinions and advice of law enforcement, your lawyer, and your private investigators, if you have hired for these services.

18.  Distribute a photograph of the missing child as well as your spouse or ex-spouse who has taken your child.

19.  Keep a detailed diary of people and agencies you have contacted and steps you have already taken. Logging the events limits the duplication of efforts and allows a review of inquiries.

20.  As I said earlier, hire a local lawyer familiar with local and international child custody law and have your attorney appear before your local court immediately. Share with the court the details of your child’s abduction and all other relevant information to allow the judge to understand the seriousness of the matter. It is critical that you are honest, open, and credible before the court. In simple terms: do not lie, do not fabricate anything, and do not give the court any reason to question your credibility. Tell the good, the bad, and the ugly. Request that the court grant you sole full custody and sole full guardianship of your child or children if you do not already have it. Also request that the court direct your spouse to immediately return with the child to the place of original jurisdiction (if he or she has a lawyer in the jurisdiction, you should be able to serve that person [have your lawyer check on matters of service]. Request that the court issue a ‘pick-up’ order directing police officers to assist you in finding and returning your child to you.

21.  If you know your child has been taken to another country, contact the United Stated Department of State – Office Of Children’s Issues and immediately file a Hague Application for the wrongful international abduction and retention of your child.

22.  Make sure you monitor all bank accounts and remove all assets that are in joint-tenancy into your sole name.

23.  If you are the primary holder on any assets and credit cards, immediately remove your spouse’s name on every account.

24.  Immediately contact your credit card companies and put a security alert on all of your credit cards. This will direct the credit card company to request that you show proper identification to the merchant during each time you use a credit card, or, in the event of electronic on line transactions, a representative from the credit card company’s security department will be required to contact you in order to authorize the transaction. Also, make sure you put two password questions and answers (not one – but two), on your bank and credit card accounts in order to prevent having anyone else other than you access your money.

25.  Contact all credit reporting agencies and request that you are immediately notified of any credit inquiries, remarks, or additional accounts. Make sure that each agency issues a security alert, directing each requesting credit company to seek additional verifying information that any inquiries or applications made to their company were made by you.

26.  Monitor all cell phones of your spouse, and, if possible, have all cell phones, emails, and any other communication devices monitored.

27.  Check with your spouse’s friends, family, and acquaintances and see if they were aware of any information that might lead you to locate your child. Typically, a person who is standoffish, might have known of the abductor’s plans, or, has already been influenced by that person, and will be of little help to you. If that occurs, immediately report this to law enforcement investigating the abduction. If the police chose to interview that person, and they lie to law enforcement, they can be criminally charged with a crime.

28.  Check in your child or children’s rooms for any hints or clues as to where they might have been taken.

29.  Check your ex-spouse or spouse’s personal items for any clues as to where they might have taken your child.

30.  If your ex-spouse or spouse has family that live in a foreign country, hire the services of a private investigator in that country to immediately follow your ex-spouse or spouse’s parents and other family members in order to determine where the child has been taken and is located. This very well may be the best set of dollars you will spend. Remember, any recovery actions cannot be taken until your child’s location is known. In many international parental child abduction cases, the abducting parent chooses to go underground with the child, and develops behavior similar to a fugitive on the run (they are fugitives). Typically, they have a support network in place, and the abduction has been carefully planned and enabled through the assistance of family members and friends. Finding and knowing where your child was taken to is the most important action once you know the child has been removed from the country of habitual residency. Without knowing what country your child is in – you cannot file a Hague Application … and you will be spinning your wheels endlessly trying to find out where your child is. One final note on this subject: according to the provisions in The Hague, there exists language that essentially enables a Hague judge overseeing the case to allow for a child to stay with the abducting parent if the abducting parent is able to prove to the court that returning the child to the country of origin would be detrimental to the child’s best interest. One of the techniques commonly used in a Hague defense is to demonstrate that the child or children have adjusted and desires to live in the country they were wrongfully and illegally taken to. In certain situations, a judge may believe that the child or children have settled into their ‘new life’, and that uprooting them would be harmful, and not in the child’s best interest. So – it is critically important for a Chasing Parent to know where the child was taken to as soon as possible and immediately file for the child’s return under the protocols of The Hague Convention.

31.  If your child is taken to another country, consult heavily with a lawyer in your local jurisdiction familiar with The Hague Convention, and, make sure you hire a lawyer familiar with The rules of The Hague Convention in the jurisdiction you know your child was taken to.

32.  Become familiar with the laws and customs of the country that your child has been taken to.

33.  Consult with The National Center For Missing And Exploited Children, the governing agency who acts as The Hague Signatory for your country (in The United States, the U.S. State Department acts as the official Hague representative for The United States Government) and the International Child Abduction Research and Enlightenment Foundation (the I CARE Foundation).

34.  Try to keep yourself physically active, eat a healthy diet, and rest on a regular basis.

35.  Never give up Hope that you will be reunited with your child.

36.  Remember, you must know everything that everyone involved with your child’s recovery is doing. Do not be concerned about any or your actions other than one: finding your child. In essence – do whatever you have to do in order to protect your child – but remember, your actions must not place your child in any harm’s way. That is why it is important for you to consult with the experts – but remember – you must know everything – including as much as possible on family law, and the rules of The Hague Convention.

37.  Allow and trust in The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Hague Courts do work!

38.  If your child or children have been issued a passport and you have access to it, make sure you hold it and secure it in a safe place. If your child has not been issued a passport, then immediately contact the agency overseeing passport issuances, and appraise them of the present situation. Typically, law enforcement or an officer from the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues overseeing your Hague Application will do this as well.

39.  In the event that your child does not have a passport from the country they habitually lived in, and no passport has been requested or issued by your local government, then make sure that law enforcement contact the local embassy of the country your spouse was originally from, and inform them of the litigation taking place.

40.  One of the most important things you can do in the early stages of an international child abduction is to establish friendly contact with the relatives and friends of the other parent, both in your country and abroad. The fastest and most effective way to resolve international child abductions is for the abducting parent to return the child voluntarily. While there may be good reasons for you to believe that this approach won’t work, it is important that the effort be made.

41.  Make sure you have a cell phone with you at all times, that it is fully charged, that you keep a charged back-up battery, and a back-up phone charger.

42.  If you are traveling abroad to search for your child, make sure you send yourself back-up ‘emergency’ money via Western Union (Western Union is reliable, serves most locations around the world, and funds can be accessed immediately).

43.  The ‘Prevent Departure Program’ is a very effective tool to prevent alien residents physically in the United States from leaving the country either with or without a child. The program is administered by the Department of Homeland Security and was initially created to aide in our the country’s national security interests post 911. Essentially and under the purposes of child abduction, an individual would not be able to depart from the United States. For more information on this program, please visit information on this website listed under ‘Prevent Departure Program’ or click on the following link:

44.  Trust yourself.

45.  Contact the I CARE Foundation.

46.  For more information please visit the Department of State’s Office Of Children’s Issues at http://travel.state.gov/abduction/emergencies/emergencies_3845.html

47.  Remember, the abductor has been well advised and aided about how to get away with their abduction.  They will try to do whatever they can to have it appear that either you are a horrible, dangerous person, and/or that you consented to their travel abroad with intent to relocate. Thus, be very careful of what the abductor communicates with you, and be very leary that any suggestion to have a family member of the abductor mediate an agreement between the two of you in genuine: there is a very good chance it is not.

48.   In the United States, it is illegal to operate or hire a recovery agents who essentially re-abduct a child taken in another country.  It is strongly advised that you follow the rules of law and remember that recovery agents are very costly, you as a client have limited way of validating their activity or expense, and that generally, snatching a child places the child in harms way.  Follow the rules of law and trust the courts.

49.  Critically, you must be aware that if you are in a foreign country where your child was taken, the other side will do essentially whatever is possible in order for them to remain there, including making false child abuse or police reports against you.  One of the most common techniques used for both men and women abductors is for the abductor to make a police report that you threatened their life and that they are concerned about their and the child’s safety.  This enables them to get a restraining order against you while also laying out ground for an Article 13 Defense of the Hague Convention.

50.  It is beyond important that you remember that the abductor committed the crime of kidnapping.  Surely, the abductor was aware of their action and legal issues.  And it did not matter.  They still carried out there plan.  And if you are on foreign soil, you should be very cautious that the abductor has been well advised, and knows that it is critical for their abduction defense to make the child abuse or criminal complaint against you.  Sadly, many abductors act as predators by luring the partner to the foreign country during Christmas so that they could make criminal complaints against that person while they are there. Be very careful – and seek assistance from your country’s embassy.

51.  Mobilize your assets.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD ABDUCTION:

When it comes to International Parental Child Abduction, there are a few things that are important to realize.

1.  From 2012 -2022, it is anticipated that there could be as many as 100,000 to 125,000 international parental child abductions originating from the United States, and as many as 17,500 cases originating from Canada.

2.  Unreported cases of abduction are anticipated to at least equal the number of reported cases of abduction, and it is believed that this number could be as high as 150% of reported cases. As an example, in 2010, there ere 1,634 reported cases of IPCA in the United States. Thus, it could be expected that the number of unreported cases of abduction ranged from 1, 634 to 2,451, and that the total number of cases of international parental child abduction was anywhere from 3,264 – 4,085 cases.

3.  Growth of IPCA cases is at least 20% per year.

4.  It is forecast that only roughly 10% of all children (reported and unreported) illegally kidnapped come home.

5.  International Parental Child Abduction is a federal crime.

6.  Loopholes in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative may have a serious negative impact on IPCA and human trafficking in the United States.

7.  The Prevent Departure Program needs to be modified to allow the screening of high-risk child abductors who possess rights of United States citizenship.

Peter Thomas Senese

Founding Director
I CARE Foundation

Peter Thomas Senese: Looking Back At The I CARE Foundation’s First Year

It has been a little over a year that the I CARE Foundation began our formal operations working toward trying to dramatically reduce the number of children who are fallen victims of the crimes of international parental child abduction or child trafficking.

The I CARE Foundation has had success on many levels, including reuniting numerous internationally kidnapped children with their parents while also preventing an even greater number of abductions from occurring.   Due to the nature and sensitivity of many of the cases we are involved in, we are mindful not to discuss any role we play or our involvement even after a child is returned because children of abduction, sadly, are considered high-risk targets for an attempted second abduction.

Nevertheless, I know I speak on behalf of the I CARE Foundation’s entire board of directors when I say that we always keep in mind the wonderful words shared with us by many of the parents who we have assisted.  Their words of thanks and appreciation move us deeply while reminding each of us how important our work is.

But our work protecting children is not simply found in successfully assisting the many dozens of families we have over this past year.  And before I go any further, I will be the first to say that reuniting children of abduction or preventing a child’s international abduction is not easy: the laws are not helpful, the scheming parents seem to have a hidden playbook on how to abduct, countries often do not uphold international law, and the financial costs of recovery or prevention is incredible: thus, there are times when despite our capabilities, our efforts may not result in a recovery or prevention of abduction.

Fortunately, there have been many successes, while remaining committed to those we seek to help.

However, our primary mission is to conduct research in the area of international parental child abduction and child trafficking, publish and widely disperse our findings, and then use our data to help drive new policies and laws that will help protect children.  Considering the I CARE Foundation is a non-profit organization fueled by the financing made available by our board of directors, it is encouraging at this point just how far we have come in a year.

You know, one person’s voice really can make a difference.  And humbly, it was during the time that I was ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ of international parental child abduction that I thought one day I would use my skills and capability as a best-selling author to help other parents and children facing a world of abduction that does not make any sense: the world of international parental child abduction. Fortunately, I had a starting point that would allow me to set the wheels of advocacy in motion because I had a platform to stand on: you see, it took a great deal of everything, but I was able to reunite with my child despite unthinkable hardships and challenges, and in doing so, I also learned a great deal about child abduction.

Using my skills as a writer, I then wrote the deeply personal fiction novel ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ that was overwhelmingly inspired by my life’s experiences that book critics have praised.  I am very proud of ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ because, as it has been properly stated in the press, it is a book that creates miracles.

Now you might be asking yourself how does a book create miracles?  To begin, the knowledge shared with other targeted parents has helped many reunite with their children or helped them protect their kids.

In addition, I have donated 100% of all of my various books proceeds and ancillary income to the I CARE Foundation, including 100% of my revenue generated from all e-book sales of ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ (hardcover will be released in early 2013: 4.8 Star Rating: 40+ Reviews) to the I CARE Foundation.  Fortunately, I have been blessed to be able to make several important donations to the foundation that has unquestionably rescued and protected many children.

As for the I CARE Foundation, some of our successes include but are not limited to:

  1. Reuniting numerous abducted children with their families.
  2. Assisting in the prevention of the international kidnapping of many targeted children.
  3. Conducting and publishing important research in the area of child abduction.
  4. Using our research findings to either drive or initiate new laws and policies geared to protect children and their families.
  5. Creating a nation-wide attorney network of lawyers capable of assisting families in crisis due to actual or potential abduction.
  6. Launching a successful campaign seeking attorneys to join the U.S. Department of State’s Hague Convention Attorney Network.

There are no words that I could ever use to explain the heart-felt joy I feel knowing that so many children have been assisted because of the I CARE Foundation’s work.   Nor could there ever been words that could mirror the hurt I feel when I come to learn of a parent and child’s suffering due to abduction.  It is what drives all of us to make a difference.

In little over a year, the I CARE Foundation’s accomplishments have had a positive social impact.  It was an honor to participate in the United States Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program at the United Nations.  It was an honor to accept a magnificent American Flag that was flown over the United States Capitol in my honor, and I sure am looking forward to traveling to the Hague and visiting the Peace Palace in the early part of 2013.

When I look out at the number of lives the I CARE Foundation has knowingly touched, and consider the number of individuals we will have a positive impact for that we will never know or meet, the writer inside of me smiles because I know without my desire to write ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ the I would not have sought to create the foundation.  Clearly, the power of books and writing are alive and well.  And I am thrilled to know that the foundation’s operations, board of directors, advisory board, and international reach and presence will be expanding in 2013.

On a personal note, and outside of the joy I feel knowing of the children we have helped, it has been richly rewarding to develop friendships with some truly remarkable, loving parents who it is my honor to call ‘friend’.

In the spirit of friendship, I know that 2013 is really going to be the Year of the Child.

On a final note, please remember, Christmas is Child Abduction Season.  Educate yourself so that you and your family can have a Happy Christmas.  And as for me: I will continue to stand up to kidnappers of children . . .

Peter Thomas Senese

Founding Director
I CARE Foundation