As I look back over the past four years of the I CARE Foundation‘s activity working to protect children from international child abduction, my eyes and my spirit reflect upon a sea of faces of children and parents we have helped. However, there are other faces – the faces of the dedicated I CARE Foundation staff who work day-in and day-out on behalf of at-risk children. And today, on America’s Independence Day, I applaud each member of the I CARE Foundation family around the world as each of your unselfish acts have, in reality, made a significant and immeasurable positive difference on the lives of so many others. Unquestionably, it is through each of your acts of dedication to fighting the fight against child abduction that we, as a private non-profit organization, have created a large, positive, and formidable footprint on behalf of children everywhere.
Since we formally commenced our operations, our achievements continue to grow. Yet, it is in the challenges that lay ahead that we continue our dedicated daily work. In these challenges and tasks that lay ahead of us, we are reminded that if we continue our work, we will continue to realize our goals of creating a global environment where children are not at risk of abduction. Some of the achievements we have accomplished include, but are not limited to:
- The United States outbound international parental child abduction rate has dropped by 38.06% while in the rest of the world the outbound child abduction rate continues to rapidly grow. For example, in England the outbound child abduction rate has reportedly grown by nearly 100% over the past decade. God willing, the I CARE Foundation’s reach in England via our landmark and groundbreaking international travel child consent form will reduce the abduction rate in England and nearly every other country in the world, where, in reality, the abduction rate has grown to pandemic levels.
- The I CARE Foundation’s creation and global implementation of our international travel child consent form has been directly responsible for ensuring the safety of a large and growing number of children around the world. In fact, the scholarly and legally sound travel consent form has been called the first and only global child abduction prevention tool: one that in a year’s time has changed the landscape of child abduction prevention. We take great pride in knowing that not only has our travel consent form been called ‘Remarkable’ by the Hague Conference Secretary General, but due to its success, plans are underway within the Hague Permanent Bureau to create an official Hague International Travel Consent Form using the I CARE Foundation’s form as a model.When we consider that studies show that at least 70% of all international parental child abductions occur when a child is wrongfully detained abroad, and less than 20% of all children are court-ordered to be returned to their country of habitual residency, not only has our work protected the lives of many, but in a very real way, the I CARE Foundation’s travel consent form protects the integrity of the Hague Child Abduciton Convention.
- Our work implementing the Prevent Departure Program has prevented a large and growing number of abductions in the United States.
- Our work associated with preventing child abduction in connection with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative has made a meaningful and measurable impact protecting American children.
- We have helped pass numerous laws and altered existing government policies geared to protect children while also successfully altering proposed legislation that could have been catastrophic in the real fight to protect all children from abduction.
- We have become one of the leading organizations conducting research and publishing our findings on parental child abduction. In fact, our research has helped create new tools and policy that has had a giant impact on behalf of children.
- We have raised society’s awareness of international parental child abduction, including awareness amongst potentially targeted parents. Our social media outreach has had immeasurable results: the 38.06% U.S. abduction decline is directly related to our outreach campaigns.
- We have prevented the abduction of a large and growing number of children.
- We have successfully reunited a large and growing number of children with their families.
- Perhaps most of all, we have acted with our compassionate hearts.
Today is Independence Day in America. Personally, it is a very important day for it celebrates liberty.
On this special day, I am reminded that children around the world have a God-given right to live in freedom. Our work continues.
To all my friends who I am proud to work side-by-side with, I wish to each of you a Happy Independence Day – wherever you are in the world.
And America – Happy Birthday!
– Peter Thomas Senese –