Warning Signs

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

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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

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

Parental Child Abduction and the Serious Risk of Violence or Murder

Parentally Abducted Children Are At Serious Risk Of Violence or Murder 
At The Hands of A Parent Abductor


“Unfortunately, the threat of violence—and death—in these cases is all too real,” said Ashli-Jade Douglas, an FBI analyst in our Violent Crimes Against Children Intelligence Unit who specializes in child abduction matters.  “Most non-custodial parental abductors want retaliation. They feel that if they can’t have the child full time—or any amount of time—then the other parent shouldn’t have the child, either.”

The following statement shared on the Department of Justice’s official website should cause great concern for society as we try to protect our children from brutal crimes connected with abduction – and that includes murder.  The I CARE Foundation has been sharing this for some time: children of international parental child abduction are at risk of murder. The truth is – children are put in grave risk at the hands of their abducting parent.  Parental child abductors are willing to break the laws as well as the orders of a court – as well, they have no concern with perjury or contempt.  Parental child abductors kidnap children in order to cause the targeted parent hurt and suffering.  Simply put, the aggressive act of kidnapping – using a child to cause harm – is the reality of parental child abduction.

It is imperative that every social services program, every child welfare organization and every family protective service agency charged with investigating any claims of child abuse carefully analyze any allegations of abuse. Critically, these organizations must carefully scrutinize any claims made by a parent who was previously charged with child abduction, especially if a court determined that parent had committed a criminal act of child kidnapping, or in Hague cases during international parental child abduction that uses a civil procedure for the return of a child despite the federal act of kidnapping being committed, it is imperative that all social service personnel charged with investigating any claims of abuse or neglect made by a child abductor against their previous targeted parent be cautiously examined.  Critically, all social service agencies acting on a complaint against a child made by a parent child abductor must commence their investigation with the hard reality that the child was a victim of kidnapping along with other forms of serious abuse, and carefully review the sociopath tendencies of abductors.As published on the United States Department of State’s website, “When non-custodial parents resort to kidnapping, they believe they are acting in the best interests of their children. Although a minority of parental kidnappers may actually save their children by taking them out of the reach of the other parent, the motives of most parents who steal their children are not at all altruistic. Parents find a myriad of reasons or self-justification for stealing a child from another parent Some abductors will find fault with the other parent for nonsensical transgressions; others will steal a child for revenge.”

The State Department’s report includes, “[A] profile [of] the parent who shows signs of flagrant paranoid beliefs or psychotic delusions. In this situation, the intervention must focus on the child and his or her safety and well-being . . . Unfortunately, the other parent and the child must be informed about a safety plan at all times.”  Continuing, the Department of State’s report specifically states, “[The] profile [of an international parental child abductor] is the sociopathic personality.”

Again, nobody wants to think about a parent killing their child.

However, we must take into heavy consideration the statement by the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)  concerning the sociopathic behavior of abductors. Grave concern was expressed, “As with paranoid and delusional parents, sociopathic parents are unable to perceive their children as having separate needs or rights. Consequently, they often use their children blatantly as instruments of revenge or punishment or as trophies in their fight with the ex-partner. Hence, the sociopathic parent believes that domestic violence and child abduction can be perpetrated with impunity. Like paranoia, a diagnosis of severe sociopathy is rare (4 percent of the studies’ samples).

Filicide is not a term that I like to talk about, but the reality is, we need to talk about it more.  For those that are not aware, the term filicide refers to the deliberate act of a parent killing his or her own child.  In the United States, hundreds of children are murdered by their parents each and every year. Proportionately, filicide occurs everywhere. It is not a phenomenon isolated within American borders: parents do kill children. And we can’t put our head in the sand and think this does not exist.

According to a recent statement released by the FBI, there is a trend that I find incredibly disturbing coming from non-custodial parents – and that is the rate in which they are abducting and threatening to harm their own children… all with the intent of retaliation against the parent who has been given legal custody.

Now, with a large number of American children being born to unwed parents, along with the high rate of marriages ending in divorce, the reality is that there is an increasing number of cases where a single parent is going to have custody of the child. The FBI’s statistics show that between the years 2010 and 2012 there was an increase of 41% in child abduction cases that involved custody matters.  So if we add that to the increased number of those parents seeking retaliation through harming their own child – do we need to be concerned?  You bet we do!

In the FBI statement there were some recent cases of filicide that occurred at the hands of non-custodial parents:

  • In 2009, a non-custodial mother abducted her 8-month-old son from his custodial father in Texas. She told the father she killed the boy to prevent the father from employing his custodial rights and in retaliation for his alleged involvement with other women.
  • In 2011, a 2-year-old girl was abducted by her non-custodial father in California. A week later, both were found dead. The father committed suicide after shooting his daughter.
  • In 2012, a non-custodial father in Utah abducted and killed his 7- and 5-year-old sons and then committed suicide. He was angry over not being afforded sole custody of the children.

Ashli-Jade Douglas offers up this advice to help keep children safe:  “Custodial parents should inform schools, after-care facilities, babysitters, and others who may at times be responsible for their children about what custody agreements are in place so that kids are not mistakenly released to non-custodial parents.”

The common misconception that parental abductions are considered a family matter has to end.

Parental child abduction is a serious crime. The act of abduction leads to ongoing forms of abuse toward a child.

When a child is abducted they should immediately be considered to be in great danger!

Law enforcement agencies need to act quickly to ensure that these innocent children are not going to be harmed.  The sociopathic behaviors that a kidnapping parent exhibits has them believing in their own mind what they are doing is in the best interest of the child.  When we think again about the fact that many of these cases revolve around revenge or retaliation, you can see it’s not out of the question to have the ultimate revenge be at the expense of the innocent child… with the act of filicide.2abc2-icarelogo

This is all very disconcerting, but one thing is for certain:  raising awareness and stewarding the message about the warning signs of international parental child abduction is the key.  This awareness 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.

If I may ask you to please share the warning signs of international abduction – you may very well be getting this information out to a family that needs it… ultimately possibly saving the life of an innocent child.  It is that desire, that is so ingrained in me, that I continue my fight each and every day!

Together we can, and are, making a difference.

– The I CARE Foundation –

Peter Thomas Senese Hosts Television Special On International Parental Child Abduction On National Missing Children’s Day

Peter Thomas Senese Hosts Educational Television Special On International Child Abduction On National Missing Children’s Day

New York City Metropolitan area airing of ‘International Parental Child Abduction: A Pandemic’ which I hosted will air this Saturday at 8:30pm on Time Warner channel 56, Cablevision channel 69, Fios channel 44, and RCN channel 84 and also streamed online at the same time (Saturday at 8:30 PM) in conjunction with International Missing Children’s Day.

The segment is rather direct: Summer is when the majority of kids are abducted: this is how to stop their kidnapping. Its purpose very straight-forward: to simplify the risk factors of child abduction that occur during the summer school vacation and provide suggested steps on how targeted parents can protect their children.

The show will air in the 19 million person New York Metropolitan area this evening and is expected to be released thereafter in numerous communities around the United States.

To watch the show via web feed, please visit: http://bricartsmedia.org/community-media/bcat-tv-network (Channel 3).

A special thank you to Mark Sullivan for directing the educational segment, and to the indefatigable Carolyn Vlk and Joel Walter, Esq. for their writing contributions.

As history has demonstrated, sharing direct and straight-forward educational messages about child abduction prevention has helped many families targeted for kidnapping. God willing, the airing of ‘International Parental Child Abduction: A Pandemic’ will reach others who it is intended to reach.

In addition to this direct educational segment, I am happy to share that production of ‘150,000 Internationally Kidnapped Children’ is expected to wrap mid-Summer, 2013. The documentary film is a rather different production than tonight’s airing.

On International Missing Children’s Day, I ask each of you to raise your voice and help raise awareness of abduction.

Kindest regards to all,

Peter Thomas Senese
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

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. 

Heroes of Today: Mom-ology Parenting Blogger Jennifer Husson Cluff

A Remarkable Hero: Mom-ology Parenting Blogger Jennifer Husson Cluff

Jennifer Husson Cluff Has Been Voted As One Of Canada’s Top 5 Parenting Bloggers

Over the past few years I have written a series of essays about real-life heroes – incredible individuals who act in kindness and compassion toward others and who inherently, by the nature of their spirits, enhance the lives of those around them. I am fortunate to call each a dear friend. These individuals have made me a better person. They have positively impacted the lives of so many others by direct act or through social activism. Nevertheless, they are what is right about our world.

Jennifer Husson Cluff
Voted One Of Canada’s Top 5 Parenting Writers

Needless to say, I feel honored and blessed to have these remarkable heroes in my life for they have not only enriched my own life, but they have profoundly and measurably made our world a better place. It is my privilege to share with you, insight about my dear friend Jennifer Husson Cluff of Ontario, Canada who not only is an active defender and protector of children in crisis, as well as children with special needs, but who also is one of the kindest, most caring, and compassionate individuals I have ever had the privilege to call a ‘friend’. It is no wonder why Jennifer Husson Cluff has been awarded the honor of being called one of Canada’s top parenting bloggers through her incredible work discussing everyday parenting issues on her blog Mom-ology, but also issues revolving around autism and international child abduction and trafficking. From my perspective, Jennifer Husson Cluff is not only one of Canada’s top parenting bloggers, but she is one of the world’s most prolific parenting writers because through her writing and social media capability, Jennifer has measurably helped save the lives of children in severe crisis.

Before I go any further, let me say this simple thing about heroes: they are ordinary people doing extraordinary things for others during time of need or crisis, and in their act, they seek nothing but to hold the knowledge that they acted in kindness toward another, including individuals they know as well as individuals they may never know. In a hero’s compassionate act, they make the world a better place. And unquestionably, Jennifer Husson Cluff has made the world a better place for others.

Social media has clearly altered the way the world shares information, including a shift away from what may be previously considered traditional media outlets to the more nano-moment overdrive that occurs via social media outlets such as blog sites, TwitterFacebook, etc., etc. The paradigm of this is a massive world of what may be viewed as dormant voices erupted in the media. The volcano, if you will – the highly intelligent, insightful, connected voices known as parenting blog writers.

Speaking from first-hand experience in my capacity as the Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation, I have seen just how influential parenting blog writers are, particularly when they mobilize on a specific issue or cause. Fortunately for many at-risk children and their parents who have been targeted for international parental child abduction, a large and growing number of parenting bloggers decided to share their powerful voices and write about abduction. In doing so, the number of reported cased in the United States declined by 15% during 2012. This was more than a remarkable event. It was a miracle partially created by some extraordinary parents – mostly mothers who parent, who write, who live, who think, who care, and who stood unbowed. Among this remarkable group, and defining all of the above, is Jennifer Husson Cluff.

Over the past year, the I CARE Foundation has worked with Jennifer. Whenever we asked her for assistance in sharing messages that could possibly help families at risk, not only did she say ‘yes’ to our request, but asked ‘what else can I do to help?’

And help she did!

Jennifer Husson Cluff is my hero. She is what is right about this world. I value her friendship greatly and am inspired deeply by her belief in others, but more than anything, I value her incredible, insightful voice – a voice that always thinks of others while also being assertive, thoughtful, and at times, quite funny. And as a parent – there is not a day that goes by that I am not amazed by just how caring and attentive of a parent Jennifer is to her son Connor, who I think is one of the most remarkable young boys I have ever had the privilege of getting to know – in fact, I am blessed that Connor, who sees the world in its purest form – has been willing to share with me from time-to-time his unique, innocent, trusting, and wise perspective about so many things.

The other day, I was discussing with my fellow I CARE Foundation board of director member, attorney Joel Walter the amazing fact that the number of international parental child abduction cases declined by 15%. His words? “The reason why that happened more than anything is because of remarkable women like Jen [Husson Cluff] who answered our plea to help steward the message about abduction. They [the parenting blog writers] played a dramatic role in what was accomplished.”

I couldn’t agree more with Joel’s statement.

In asking Jennifer a list of questions below, I think you will understand just how remarkable a person she is. So with great pleasure, I share with you my interview with my hero, Jennifer Husson Cluff.

1. What is Mom-ology?

Mom-ology is a place where I share anything and everything mom-related… or in reality, parenting-related, as I do have some dad readers too. I originally started writing under another blog name and it was specifically about autism. As time went on, I started branching out into more general parenting topics, which allowed Mom-ology to be born. It allowed me to expand what I wanted to write about. It’s a place where I am able to be me and if that benefits someone else as well, that’s fantastic!

2. You have recently been voted one of Canada’s Top Parenting Blog Writers. Why write and what topics do you focus on?

My main goal in writing is to write about personal issues that may be of interest to others. Becoming a stay-at-home mom after being in the workforce for almost 15 years was a difficult transition in one sense. Though I love my son more than anything in this world, I thought I lost a part of my identity as a person in the workforce. So in creating Mom-ology, and writing about the things I do, it has allowed me to share my voice with others again.

Outside of sharing life living with autism… the good, the bad and the funny… I am passionate about raising autism awareness. As a special needs parent, I learned very quickly how to advocate for my son. Society has a lot of misconceptions about autism, and to help reduce the amount of discrimination and unfortunately, ignorance, the views of society need to change. My goal is to do what I can to change those views… to make life easier for my son, his friends and anyone else on the spectrum.

I have also become a bit of an advocate trying to help raise awareness about international parental child abduction (IPCA). About a year ago, I was introduced to this world that I didn’t know existed. I was an outsider looking in… and I can sure say, I didn’t like what I saw. I have been incredibly lucky to be able to assist the I CARE Foundation in any way I can, as they fight to bring about changes in the laws that are necessary to protect innocent children from the abuse and cruel world that is IPCA.

3. You are a fierce advocate of children with special needs. What benefits, if any, has social media had in furthering society’s understanding of children who are on the autism spectrum?

Thank you for saying that Peter – it means an awful lot coming from you. As you are aware, education is the key for any type of advocacy. In my opinion, social media has been a huge benefit as we try to raise awareness and help change the way society looks at children or adults on the autism spectrum.

Social media has allowed many causes and advocacy programs to reach people that they would have never been able to years ago. There are bloggers out there advocating and raising awareness for autism, as well as organizations such as Autism Speaks, and the information and reach is unbelievable. For example, April 2nd has been recognized as World Autism Awareness Day and a big part of this day is Autism Speaks’ campaign called ‘Light It Up Blue’. Businesses, organizations and individuals from all around the world recognize and participate in this event. It’s something small but it shows that social media is making a difference and getting the word out there. It allows us to share with society and to help people understand. Many times people’s reactions are based on fear of the unknown, but those fears can be reduced simply sharing information and educating society. I like to think that one day my son will live in a world that will accept him for who he is and part of that will be due to the work that advocates are doing today… but we still have a long way to go.

4. You have stewarded the message of international parental child abduction prevention, and have directly played important roles in helping prevent children from being internationally abducted. How would you describe parental child abduction and how relevant is this in society today?

I would say any parent’s worst nightmare would be to have their child abducted. Making it worse would be to know that it was the other parent doing the abducting! It’s hard to imagine that a parent could do that to their child! Aren’t parents supposed to love and care for their children? I know many of you feel the same way as I do and just can’t fathom the idea. However, it happens… and it happens a lot!

International parental child abduction is a form of child abuse… there is no other way to describe it. The short-term and long-term effects on these innocent children are severe. Not only is the child subjected to parental alienation, but studies show there is an increased risk of being murdered by the abducting parent (filicide) and data indicating victims of IPCA are also at a higher risk of suicide.

If you look at the statistics you will see how relevant this is in society today. There may be as many as 20,000 Canadian children and 125,000 American children internationally abducted by one parent from the other over the next ten years. Of those numbers, only about 10% of these children will ever come home!

As a parent, protect yourself and protect your child… I encourage you to take a few minutes and educate yourself about the WARNING SIGNS of IPCA. The easiest and best way to protect these children is to stop IPCA before it happens!

5. You use your blog to educate others about a host of important topics relevant to society today. What would be two of your biggest success stories on how your blog writing has helped another?

One of the things that I love about blogging is hearing from readers. My favorite story by far would be when I was contacted by a mom here in Canada, after reading an article about international parental child abduction that was shared on Mom-ology. This mom discovered that her three children were at risk of being taken to Saudi Arabia by their father. Thankfully the I CARE Foundation was able to ensure that these children remained in Canada where they were safe. I will ALWAYS remember that day… being a part of ensuring these children were safe… that was truly an amazing feeling!

I have had ‘autism parents’ contact me looking for support for their struggles that mainly revolve around dealing with school issues. Most recently, a parent emailed me after their child was forced into a supposed ‘seclusion room’ at school. Many parents are unaware of their rights in these types of situations and even more are afraid to upset the school and the officials. Helping parents to understand their rights and assisting to ensure they are able to access the resources and support that they need is extremely important. In this case it was to protect a child’s safety… to preserve a child’s dignity… and help a parent to realize they need to be the voice for their child and stand up for what they believe is right.

6. How socially influential are parenting blog writers and mom bloggers in particular?

I wish I could remember where I read this, but it was research stating that in 2012 there were 4.2 million ‘mom bloggers’ in North America. Now each of those mom bloggers have a passion that they write about… it may be fashion, food or fighting for a cause… whatever it is, in those numbers, they carry a lot of weight in the social world. Many parenting bloggers are stay at home moms and we use our blogs to share our voice and with the accessibility of the internet we are able to share our message with more people than ever before. I read parenting blogs from all around the world… I don’t go to buy a newspaper anymore… I use the internet to see what is going on in the world.

7. You have been blog writing for a little more than a year, yet in your first year as a blogger you have become considered one of the most important parenting blog writers. Are there any lessons that you can share with other parents who are or may be considering creating a blog?

Mom-ology was not my first blog but it is the first one that I have actually stuck with and made into something that I am proud of. I struggled a lot trying to ‘find my groove’ so to speak. I can’t say exactly what it was, but everything just fell into place. I write about what I love. I wouldn’t be able to do it any other way. I proved that to myself many times over!! I like to think I’m heading down the right path now though because I sure love what I do.

In my opinion, you need to write about what you know… write about what you love! I think with blogging, you have to do it because you enjoy it. If you put too many expectations on yourself you will probably lose interest. Deciding what you want from your blog is also an important step. Do you want it to be a ‘diary’ that you can share with family and friends, or do you have a bigger goal in mind…making an income? Advocating for a cause? Most of all have fun!

8. I would like to play a little word game. What comes to mind when I say, “Finding Your Voice?”

Funny you should ask this question, seeing as it comes up so much in our conversations!

I believe that your ‘voice’ is who you are… your mind, your heart and your spirit. When you ‘find your voice’ you find who you are truly meant to be and what is your ‘gift’, so to speak. There is a passion inside everyone and the challenge is to find it, but when you do, you will know. I guess for myself, I found my voice after I started Mom-ology. It’s been an incredible journey!

9. How has social media changed the landscape of society?

Social media has made some pretty great changes in the world. If you look at the way we interact with each other there are some definite pros and cons. Social media allows us to stay in contact with friends and family like we never could before, but I also think there is a downside to that in that we have lost some of the social skills that used to exist in society. People sit in the same room with each other and converse via text messages rather than a good old conversation. I must admit that I find that funny when I see it happen. The definition of ‘friends’ has pretty much been redefined due to Facebook. How many of your friends on Facebook are really friends? But if you look at the area of social activism, the changes are amazing! Gone are the days of having a small group on individuals trying to fight for a cause…locally. Today, social media allows people to connect on a global scale which only benefits the area of education and raising awareness. Think about the decline in parental abductions. This information is going out over the internet through the I CARE Foundation and bloggers. Parents are finding out about IPCA and the risks through social media. Children’s lives are being protected because of social media! I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty impressive!

10. Three books that have changed your life?

OK, this is really going to show where my life is today! I don’t have a lot of free time to read so when I do, most of my focus goes into learning about autism. The first two books are written by individuals on the autism spectrum and each has taught me so much about my son.

Chasing the Cyclone… well, that’s kind of a given. Now certainly one of my favorite books, it has impacted my life in so many positive ways… as has the author!!

1. Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin
2. Look Me In the Eye by John Elder Robison
3. Chasing The Cyclone by Peter Thomas Senese

11. Your son has a golden retriever named Ollie. How important is Ollie to your family?

As a companion, a helper, a best friend and member of our family, Ollie is our son’s autism service dog. Quite simply, he brings peace back to our lives as he is our extra set of eyes and ears. He has the amazing ability to make a young boy’s tears disappear by sharing a little nuzzle, or a comforting lick on the cheek, and those tears are replaced with sounds of laughter. Things like providing a warm snuggle at night, Ollie helps our son to feel safe and comforted so that he is able to sleep. A simple cuddle can help reduce anxiety and assists with self-regulation (those things we all take for granted) which makes those daily routines more bearable. If you were to ask what the best thing about having Ollie is, our son’s reply would be, and has been, ‘He is my best friend’.

We have had Ollie for almost 4 years and he has made such an enormous change in our lives. He has a big job but he does it so well! As you can probably tell by all that, Ollie is an extremely important member of our family and we are truly blessed to have him!

12. International Parental Child Abduction rates declined for the second year in a row in the United States. How significant of a role would you say parenting blog writers played in raising social awareness so at-risk parents can protect their children?

First off, I am thrilled at this news. When you shared this information the other day it was, as you know, a reality check for me. As a blogger, you don’t generally see the effect that you have on things like social awareness. If you are blogging about healthy eating, you don’t see how your efforts change people’s health specifically… you have to trust that what you are doing is making a difference.

In the case of parental child abduction, getting the word out on a global scale is beneficial for all. With bloggers having access to the internet and the followers through social media sites, it is easy to get messages out on a massive scale. I guess you could say that the numbers speak for themselves. Though standing up for what you believe in on your own is better than not doing anything at all, I think it takes a strong team to really make a difference. The efforts of the I CARE Foundation and the parenting bloggers that have been working with them are making a difference! I am proud to be a part of that!

13. Who or what inspires you?

That’s an easy one… my biggest inspiration is, of course, my son.

14. What should others know about you and your writing?

One of my favourite phrases is ‘Live… Laugh… Love’. There are sure a lot of different ways you can interpret that phrase, but any way you look at it, it’s a great way to live! If I could give everyone the ability to at least laugh each day I would. Laughter is the best medicine… it doesn’t take batteries… and best of all, it’s free.

I would love it if people would stop by and check out Mom-ology… and of course let me know that you stopped by!

15. What would you like to tell anyone who thinks that their voice doesn’t matter or who thinks that they can’t make a difference in their own life or the lives of others?

Never let anyone tell you that your voice doesn’t matter because it does! Even one voice can make a difference. It took me a while to realize that, but thanks to a pretty good friend… namely Peter Thomas Senese… I am able to see that now. If I can make a difference, so can you!

(End Interview Questions)

There are people in this world that make the world a better place by simply existing, and Jennifer Husson Cluff sure is one of them.  Extremely intelligent, humble, considerate to others, a dedicated parent who has found her voice and who has used her voice for the greater good of others, she is what is right about this world.

While I sit here thinking about how I would like to end this interview, I have immediately found myself reflecting upon the time when Jen and I first met.  With a smile on my face, I remember after our first conversation thinking how intelligent and caring she is.  But I also remember thinking to myself, “She really doesn’t realize just how capable she is, nor how important her incredible insight is.”  Well, I can’t say how amazing of an experience it has personally been to see first-hand as Jennifer Husson Cluff, one of Canada’s Top 5 Parenting writers . . . has found her voice.  Undeniably, the world is a better place . . . and my life has been enriched in ways I could never possibly explain.

And Jennifer, should you ever read this – I want you to know you are a true hero in my eyes.

Kindest wishes to all –

Peter Thomas Senese

Author, Filmmaker, Advocate, and Believer In Miracles
Founding Director – The I CARE Foundation

Please visit Mom-ology.

Suicide Rates and International Parental Child Abduction: A Very Serious Issue

What To Do If Your Child Has Been Internationally Abducted This Holiday SeasonThe International Child Abduction Research and Enlightenment Foundation (herein referred to as ‘The I CARE Foundation’) is dedicated to assisting children and their families from the horrible and inhumane crimes of malicious international parental child abduction (herein referred to as ‘IPCA’).  For clarity and understanding, IPCA is a criminal act of kidnapping under federal and national laws in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere.

Part of the I CARE Foundation’s mission is to conduct research in the area of IPCA, publish our findings, and use our findings to help guide new public policy that will benefit at-risk children and their families.

But what is it that we are really fighting against?

There are multiple facets to this answer, but all surround around the intent to prevent high-caliber child abuse, and this includes fighting against child-murder (filicide), and tragically, suicide my adults who were previously child-victims of IPCA.

It is important not to forget that children who are victims of IPCA are in fact crime victims – and crime victims of kidnapping.  The reality that they are victimized by a parent exponentially magnifies the trauma and abuse, as demonstrated by Dr. Nancy Faulkner’s highly distributed report stating that parental child abduction is child abuse.  Dr. Amy Baker, who is one of the world’s leading experts on parental alienation, not only reiterates the abuse of alienation and its widespread tentacles during international parental child abduction in her brilliant publication ‘Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome’, but further states that alienation and abduction cause for a child to lose their identity and in doing so, lose themselves, thus developing alarming long-term side effects of IPCA trauma.

Filicide has been an alarming issue that has recently become brought to society’s attention due in great part to the work of  Dr. Phillip Resnick, director of forensic psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University, who is one of the world’s leading experts on filicide.  However, up until now, there have been no published reports on IPCA and suicide though an assortment of surveyed therapist who specialize in IPCA have expressed alarm over the existence of adult suicides by IPCA child-victims.

Now, IPCA is not a new phenomena; however, it is one that over the past 20 years has grown dramatically and has by the very nature of the number of abductions here in the United States, in Canada, and worldwide become a frightening epidemic that is undeniably destroying many lives.

The I CARE Foundation’s efforts as an organization dedicated to conducting research and studies in the area of IPCA is critical to society today particularly since there has been limited new studies conducted despite the reality that it is expected that as many as 100,000 to 125,000 American and as many as 20,000 Canadian children will be victims of IPCA.

Sadly, we are deeply concerned about IPCA and filicide – when a parent murders their child.  Previous studies conducted, including those conducted by the RCMP have demonstrated that the instability of a parental child abductor is severe, and that children of abduction have been murdered by their parent because of the irrational and dangerous thinking connected to abduction that “If I can’t have my child, then nobody will.”

How widespread is filicide?  Several hundred children each year will be murdered by their parents each year in America, and proportionately, the number of Canadian children victims are on par with the population ratio of American to Canada.

After much discussion with leading therapist who specialize in IPCA, filicide, suicide, and family crisis issues, and having these mental health specialist express great, universal concern with respect to IPCA and suicide, the I CARE Foundation will be overseeing a new study that focuses on post-child abduction and suicide from targeted children.

Of great concern is the fact that many reported psychological conditions that exist with individuals who have committed suicide have been reported to exist with individuals who have been previously abducted or abusively alienated by a parent.

The I CARE Foundation will be providing updates on this issue: however, one thing is certain, and that is that there appears to be a clear correlation between suicide and IPCA.

Lastly, if you are a parent considering abduction, please do not.  The effects on your child are long-lasting and severe.

Regards,

Peter Thomas Senese
Founding Director
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

International Child Abduction Risks During Christmas Holiday Season

I and my fellow board members of the I CARE Foundation have been sharing for several weeks now that the Christmas Holiday Season is one of the most active times of year when children are internationally abducted by one parent from another.

Jennifer Cluff, who was recently voted as one of Canada’s Top 5 Mom Bloggers recently wrote an incredible article about Christmas and child abduction risks that I think every parent should read.

Seriously friends, international parental child abduction is only three degrees of separation away from affecting you or someone you may know.  Sadly, if a child is taken or illegally detained abroad, there is only about a 10% chance they will ever return home.

I CARE Foundation Protects Children From Abduction

On top of the actual kidnapping, the mental abuse placed on this child is so severe.
Read the Mom-ology article.  It is that concise and informative.Don’t let abduction happen to you.  Take some time and educate yourself!

Happy Holidays – Seriously …. let this be a happy holiday.  Don’t find yourself Chasing The Cyclone of abduction.

Peter Thomas Senese
Founding Director
The I CARE Foundation

An Abduction That Won’t Happen This Holiday Season

Don’t Let Your Child Be Internationally Abducted This Christmas

Several weeks ago the I CARE Foundation began an educational campaign reminding parents that the Christmas Holiday Season is International Parental Child Abduction Season.   In an effort to raise awareness, I had written a series of essays that were posted on an assortment of websites.

Our warning to parents to be mindful of the possibility of abduction during this time of year must be taken seriously.

Earlier today, one of the I CARE Foundation’s board members was contacted by a parent who shared information with one of our directors concerning the other parent of the child.  What she shared included:

  1. A strained relationship that included acts of abuse.
  2. A new-found ‘love’ by the other parent and desire to make the partnership work.
  3. A request to travel abroad to that other parent’s family, which so happens to be the country of origin and citizenship of the partner.
  4. A recent selling of a car for at least $7,500.00; however, no deposit of the sale has occurred in any bank accounts the inquiring parent has access to or is aware of.
  5. Discovery of the child’s educational transcripts.
  6. Recent shipment of clothing to help out ‘the poor’.
  7. Late night ‘walks’ that appear to be time when secretive phone calls are made as indicated by discovery of international pre-paid calling cards.
  8. A previous false claim 2 months ago of domestic violence.

After hearing of these events, the I CARE Foundation board member made some suggestions that might give more clarity on whether an international parental child abduction is planned.

Sure enough – the parent followed the instruction provided.  Discovery unquestionably shows abduction during the Holiday is planned.

. . . It may be planned . . . but it sure is not going to happen.

Friends – pay attention to this article below, share it, re-post it, talk about it …. but get the information out.

Chasing The Cyclone
by
Peter Thomas Senese

Parents Dealing With Divorce Should Not Let Their Children Travel Abroad With The Other Parent During The Christmas Holiday Season – International Parental Child Abduction.

The Christmas Holiday Season is also one of the most prominent times of year when many children are internationally abducted by one parent from another. It is critically important that any parent who is in a partnership with an individual who originates from or has family abroad to be highly suspect of the possibility of international parental child abduction during this time of year.

As in all cases of parental abduction, these crimes against children are well-thought-out, well-planned and designed to catch a targeted parent off-guard and unsuspecting that a horrible scheme is underway to have their child taken.

And the schemes that eventually see children abducted or illegally detained abroad are being carried out right now.

However, if you know the warning signs to look for, parents have a fair chance of protecting their child or children from abduction.

With 100,000 to 125,000 American Children and anywhere from 12,500 to 20,000 Canadian children reported to be expected to be internationally abducted over the next ten years DO NOT STICK YOUR HEAD IN THE GROUND:  International parental child abduction is a pandemic that silently steals children.

Don’t let your child be abducted.  Educate yourself.

You should know only an estimated 10% of all children internationally abducted ever come home.

What To Look For

In many instances of cross-border parental child abduction that occurs during the holiday season, generally the largest number of incidents takes place when one parent travels to another country with their child or children of a relationship accompanied by, or with the initial consent of the other parent.

Generally, the travel takes place under a guise of a holiday trip abroad to visit family members of the parent intending to abduct.  Of course, the targeted parent is clueless as to what is really going on.

So for example, Father X was born and raised in the Middle East but married Woman Y, who is an American citizen.  The couple lives in the United States, where their child was born and raised.

Unknown to the the woman in the relationship, the husband wants to end the relationship and relocate back to his country of origin back in the Middle East.  However, he has one problem: he knows that his wife will never allow for him to legally take the child with him.

So instead of announcing his true intent to separate, the husband will create critically important misdirection.  Meaning, he will do everything possible to make his wife believe that he is happy and committed in the relationship.

I did say everything possible. 

Why?

Becuase it is critical that she put her guard down and not suspect any foul play or scheme.

In the meantime, little things – that are really big things – may be taking place visibly or without knowledge of the targeted parent.  There are many warning signs to look for, but if the subtleties are not carefully considered, then the would-be abductor will get away with their plan.

So the husband who is intending to abduct the child by wrongfully detaining the child abroad will continue to create a facade of being happily married and committed to the relationship while carefully laying out a plan to get the child abroard.

Eventually, and right about this time of the year, the would-be abductor makes the suggestion that it would be ‘great’ or ‘nice’ or ‘meaningful’ to travel abroad together or without the other parent (depending on reasonable circumstances) in order to see his parents, siblings, and extended family.  And of course, all of this is in the best interest of the child of the partnership.

Now, since the wife may believe the husband is committed to their relationship and does not even consider that he may have intent to not return to their marital home, she more than likely is willing to consent to the holiday vacation.

Unfortunately for the mother and child, the trip takes place.

Unknown to both, the parent intending to abduct has already hatched a well-thought out plan, including what may be necessary to keep the child abroad while removing the other parent’s rights to the child abroad.

Everything is deception – and everything must be considered.

For example: the husband may ship certain belongings like a crib or a stroller and other items of the child that may create the appearnace the other parent knew he was relocating – and gave consent! Or, he may have begun to move his assets abroad.

Once abroad with his wife and child, the woudl-be abductor may make false accusations of child or spousal abuse (men and women both claim abuse in cases of of planned abduction), claims of drug use, or any other claim that may indicate that the child is at risk.

By stating the child is at risk, this could potentially allow a local court in the foreign country to grant him immediate custody of the child – even though the child’s original jurisdiction is in the country they were born and raised.  In addition, in cases where a Hague Application may be filed, the abductor has laid ground for an Article 13 Defense (which evolves around the best interest of the child).

If it sounds complicated, it is.

It is important for individuals married or in a relationship with partners who originate from non-Hague countries such as those located in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East to understand that if you are traveling to nations located in these areas and the other parent intends to not return to the child to the country of original jurisdiction, there is a very good chance they will be successful in keeping the child abroad . . . and your contact will be limited or absolved completely. Additionally, it is important to pay careful attention to Hague-Convention non-complying countries such as Germany, Brazil, Mexico, and Poland.

Of course, if you ever plan to travel abroad and have been involved in a suspicious or strained relationship, please contact an attorney who is familiar with international parental child abduction prevention.

Though I am not an attorney, I would highly advise you consider obtaining a court order prior to travel that the child is to be returned.  However, remember – in countries that are not members of internatinal treaties regarding abduction or do not comply to such said treaties – if a child is taken – it will be very costly and difficult to bring your child home.

So – if you have any suspecion that an abduction might be planned – and this time of year is the planning period for the high number of Christmas Holiday Abductions that occur – seek the advice of a qualified lawyer – and do not let your child travel abroad under any circumstance.  Pay attention to the warning signs and act now!

To read about Chasing The Cyclone’s impact, click here.  To purchase Chasing The Cyclone, please visit Amazon or BN.

Most of all, if you are in a multi-cultural relationship and you think there may be a chance that your spouse or partner may try to abduct your child during the coming holiday season, please pay attention to the information I have provided.  International parental child abduction is only three degrees of separation from impacting someone you know.

THE I CARE FOUNDATION