Parental Child Abductors Retaliate With Threats Of Violence And Death

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“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 above statement, which was shared on the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s website, shares with us the reality that children who become the innocent victims of abduction are subjected to brutal crimes  – and that includes murder.  Along with my colleagues at the I CARE Foundation, I have been sharing this statement for some time: children of international parental child abduction are at risk of murder.  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.  Keeping this in mind it is no wonder that children are put in grave risk at the hands of the abducting parent.  The aggressive act of kidnapping – and 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 –

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The I CARE Foundation’s 2012 Year In Review

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What began with a personal promise I made during the time I was Chasing The Cyclone of international child abduction to one day make a difference for children and their families targeted for severe abuse in the form of the inhumane act of international parental child kidnapping (IPCA) came to reality in 2012 with the commencement of the non-profit International Child Abduction Research & Enlightenment Foundations, Inc’s (the I CARE Foundation) extensive, measurable operations working to prevent abduction and trafficking, and along the way, becoming heroes to children by creating more than a few miracles.

In reflection of all the positive things the I CARE Foundation has accomplished, the reality is that IPCA is spreading rapidly, hundreds of thousands of children each year are targeted for cross-border kidnapping each year, the majority of children who are abducted never come home, and tragically the vast majority of all children of abduction face serious short-term and long-term problems, including the threat of filicide (parental child-murder) and post-abduction suicide. These conditions prevail despite IPCA being a criminal act of kidnapping in accordance to federal laws. To put it mildly, we must do more.  Considerably more. Still, the I CARE Foundation’s first full year of operations has had a significant positive impact on many as shared below. And on this note, I would like to express on behalf of the foundation my sincere thanks to all the incredible individuals who assisted  in our stewardship and organizational mission.

It is not easy to think about nor write about a young child being murdered, nor is it easy to think about an emotionally battered and abused adult who was once a child-victim of abduction committing suicide because of post-abduction side effects, but it is a reality, and undeniably, it is a reality of IPCA.

International parental child abduction is simply not a criminal act of kidnapping and abuse, but a malicious act that could lead to a targeted child victim’s death. IPCA’s malignant tentacles target’s innocence’s life.

I know I speak for everyone at the I CARE Foundation when I say fighting to protect that innocent child is worth everything. And that includes the occasion threats and attacks received by kidnappers.

In my capacity as the Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation, I and the foundation’s directors, advisers, friends, and supporters join other advocates and organizations who act as steward-advocates sharing the message that IPCA is a serious, highly abusive, and inhumane crime against innocent children that leads to the destruction of life.

Reality is that each American and Canadian citizen is only three degrees of separation from knowing a child who has been kidnapped.

How big of an epidemic is it?

Consider this: in the United States it is measurably forecast that there will be between 100,000 and 125,000 American children internationally kidnapped by one parent from another.  In Canada this number ranges from 15,000 to 20,000 children.  Mexico is expected to see approximately 45,000 to 60,000 children abducted.   That’s between 160,000 and 205,000 innocent children in North America who will be criminally abducted abroad, and who are at risk of a fate of no-return.

The number of children being returned to their country of original jurisdiction – their home – is glaringly low and is measurably forecast at roughly 10%.  The 10% return number could actually be considerably lower because, in contrast to the U.S. Department of State’s reported return numbers, the I CARE Foundation contests that the DOS numbers are extraordinarily inaccurate with respect to the overall picture of IPCA because their reported cases of abduction and reported return numbers do not consider the number of unreported cases of abduction, nor the reality that there is a projected 0% return of abducted children who are not reported to the DOS’s Office of Children’s Issues.  With respect to unreported cases of IPCA, the extensive, highly distributed report written by Carolyn Vlk and me titled ‘Crisis In America’ measurably forecasts the number of unreported cases of IPCA in America appear to range from 100% to 125% of all reported cases of IPCA to the DOS. Due to the immigration influx in Canada, unreported cases of IPCA appear to be on par with the U.S. forecast.

Similar to North America, European and South American IPCA is dramatically on the rise and appears to be on par with North America.

In addition, in Asia cases of child abduction and human trafficking remain a glaring and unthinkable issue as exemplified by China’s outrageous reality of child slavery and trafficking in that country as illustrated by the December 24th, 2012 arrest of 355 traffickers, including a large number of police officers who ran child abduction rings in that country.  In fact, over the past 3 years China has reunited over 50,000 trafficked children with their parents.  An impressive reunification number at first glance, but in truth one that pales in comparison to the number of children brought into the dark world of abduction and slavery.   China is not alone, as this problem is widespread in most Asian countries.

Speaking of Asia, Japan, one of the West’s biggest trading partners and allies remains a black hole of international parental child abduction.  Here is the reality of the West’s biggest alley: children who are abducted to Japan by a Japanese national do not ever come home.  And today, there are hundreds of American and Canadian children who are illegally held in Japan by a parent who has kidnapped them.

With keen eyes focused on how we may protect children from a nightmarish fate of IPCA, the I CARE Foundation has launched a series of research studies and legislative initiatives, while voluntarily working where possible to help families in crisis.

What Needs To Be Done

Several noticeable issues going into 2013 need to be prioritized.  They include but are not limited to:

  1. Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction inbound member-state signatories need to adhere to the spirit of the international treaty and act to expeditiously decide on litigation concerning the return of the child.
  2. Courts in signatory member-states must act fairly and without bias so the international treaty is upheld.
  3. Judges in courts all over the world who preside over IPCA cases must be well-trained on all matters of IPCA, including the reality that abduction is a severe and abusive crime against a child that enables an abductor to further abuse a child during the time litigation brought by a targeted parent occurs. Furthermore, courts and their judges must act to counter-balance any stall tactics implemented by an abductor or their legal counsel as such activity is often implemented to strategically financially break the chasing parent due to the extreme cost chasing parents face when trying to reunite with their kidnapped child.  Of course, the courts must enforce the universally recognized notion amongst signatory nations that IPCA is extreme abuse, and extreme abuse is not in the best interest of any child.
  4. Sanctions by Hague member-nations against non-complying Hague member-nations must simply not be discussed but enacted.  The collateral damage of innocent children in lieu of other foreign policy issues should not be acceptable under any circumstance.
  5. The international community must continue to put diplomatic pressure on non-Hague signatories to become complying parties to the convention.  This includes countries such as Japan, Saudi Arabia, India, and Russia (most countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are not members of the Hague Convention).
  6. New state and federal laws (in Canada, provincial and national laws) geared toward child abduction and child trafficking must be created and upheld by both law enforcement and courts.
  7. In the United States, the Senate passed SR 543, which resolved that the American government and all agencies charged with a role in preventing or reuniting internationally kidnapped children use all legal remedies available to them under law to help children, including consideration of criminal prosecution of abductors and those who have aided or abetted in a kidnappers activity.  It is imperative that individuals who conspire to or actually abduct or aid in an abduction of a child are prosecuted.
  8. IPCA is a criminal act of kidnapping under the International Kidnapping Crimes Act.  The act of kidnapping of any form is an inhumane act.  Kidnappers who flee to another country must be extradited back to the country where the abduction took place.  Thus, it is critical that new agreements are created between many countries that allow for extradition of parents who kidnap, which unfortunately does not exist today.
  9. Parents everywhere must be aware that IPCA is real, growing, and could potentially impact their lives, particularly in an ever-growing multi-cultural global society where individuals from different nations create relationships that result in the birth of a child, and, the prevalence of divorce in society.
  10. Hague Central Authorities and government agencies in each member-state need to have their operation’s reviewed and clearly provided with greater resources necessary to support the much-needed expansion of operations required by families in crisis of abduction.  On December 14th, 2013 by virtue of U.S. Senate Resolution 543, Congress called for a full review of the U.S. Office of Children’s Issues (OCI) , which has oversight for all reported cases of inbound and outbound IPCA in the United States.  Undeniably, as both knowledge and understanding of the severity and danger of IPCA has increased, and, as the number of IPCA cases has also dramatically increased, the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues  that Congress created when it affirmed to annex the Hague Convention faces exponentially more severe, diverse, and a greater number of international kidnapping cases entering into and exiting the United States.  OCI must be completely overhauled to keep up with the crisis in America that is IPCA.
  11. Continued research in the area of IPCA must be conducted.
  12. Child abduction prevention measures must be created, implemented and upheld at both the local and national level.

Clearly, there are many serious challenges ahead of us as a global-nation of concerned global-citizen advocates of children.The work of every individual associated with the I CARE Foundation is done on a volunteer basis.  In addition, the foundation is solely funded by the organization’s board of directors and members of our advisory board in accordance to our non-profit organization’s by-laws.On a personal level, it is both my privilege and honor to have been able to provide much-needed resources to the I CARE Foundation, including but surely not limited to donating 100% of revenue I earned to the foundation as a best-selling author of geopolitical thrillers.

When I look back at my own personal journey racing into the storms of international parental child kidnapping, and my life as an author, I am pleased that writing Chasing The Cyclone has led to the creation of the I CARE Foundation and the many miracles that have been created when a group of individuals act selflessly, in kindness, and act by standing up for what is right: and in this case what is right in trying our best to help protect children.

As a writer, I am humbled that my work writing the deeply inspired story that is Chasing The Cyclone has been called by others in the media as ‘Creating Miracles Through A Book’.

There is no question there is a great amount of work that needs to be done to help children of IPCA.  We are reminded each day of the great need to educate, reform, and assist where we can.  The accomplishments of the I CARE Foundation drive us to build upon what we have achieved, while reminding us that there is a whole lot of work ahead of us on the horizon. The following is a partial list of the I CARE Foundation’s 2012 achievements.

The Accomplishments Of The I CARE Foundation

  1. The I CARE Foundation has significantly assisted families in crisis who are located around the world and who are dealing with abduction, including playing key roles in the legal rescue and reunification of many internationally kidnapped children, including children abducted to Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, South America, and North America.
  2. The I CARE Foundation has significantly assisted numerous targeted parents prevent the criminal abduction of their child or children, while creating legal precedents in numerous courts during litigation in hope and anticipation that other children and families will be protected.
  3. The I CARE Foundation launched a successful national campaign to build an attorney network of lawyers willing to assist at-risk of abducted children, including an extensive campaign to assist recruit the U.S. Department of State build the ‘Hague Convention Attorney Network’.
  4. The I CARE Foundation launched or participated in numerous legislative initiatives geared to protect children including advocating for the support of Senate Resolution 543, as well as working diligently on new laws and policy modifications associated to modifying the existing Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, and, creating aSecondary Prevent Departure Program applicable for individuals who possess U.S. Citizenship.
  5. The I CARE Foundation launched a national campaign of international parental child abduction awareness in order to raise awareness amongst parents.
  6. The I CARE Foundation continued to ensure use of the Prevent Departure Program to aid at-risk parents of abduction.
  7. The I CARE Foundation continues to build an international case law data base IPCA cases.
  8. The I CARE Foundation continues to conduct significant research and publish our findings connected with IPCA on a wide area of topics.
  9. The I CARE Foundation participated in the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program held at the United Nations.
  10. The I CARE Foundation’s internal fund-raising activity has ensured strong and progressive advocacy for 2013.

The I CARE Foundation’s accomplishments have been made possible because a group of individuals cared enough to attempt to make a difference in the lives of others.

I will be the first to admit that despite the many dozens of families who we have successfully assisted by either reuniting them with their abducted child or by assisting in preventing their child’s abduction, the reality is that there are many individuals and families we have attempted to assist but have not yet been able to achieve what we have hoped for.  The truth is the complexity of IPCA is significant.

Overall, the key to stopping child abduction, child slavery, child trafficking, and child abuse is to prevent any and all of it from happening in the first place.

The reality is that when it comes to IPCA, children who are stolen should never be viewed as being with their other parent, but instead they must be viewed as being held by a kidnapper who, as stated by numerous government agencies including the U.S. Department of Justice as likely a person who has serious and dangerous sociopathic tendencies.

Of particular note, the I CARE Foundation assisted numerous families in crisis because a group of incredible parenting writers/bloggers got involved and helped raise awareness.  On behalf of the foundation’s board and advisory board, I would like to express my sincere thanks and deep appreciation.  The reality is the information shared will reach many more parents than any of us know, and more than likely will help many families we will never know or meet.  Still, you made a difference and in this, you made the world a better place.

The parents who have had a child kidnapped face undue and incredible hardship.  Few parents of abduction are reunited with their children.  However, the tide is turning, and advocates such as those associated with the I CARE Foundation and elsewhere are committed to this change.

For those of you who have been reunited with your child, I hope that you do not walk away from this fight for children of abduction.  It is in your wisdom that you will be able to help those who continue to chase.

And for those parents who still chase the cyclone of abduction, never give up hope and always embrace your faith.  Know patience, and never think your child does not know you love them no matter how severe the parental alienation is because even though your child is a hostage of abduction, they are made of you. And as I said, the mountain of abduction is moving because parents who care are mobilizing, governments are realizing the inhumanity of IPCA and acting, and society as a whole is realizing that IPCA is a severe and dangerous act of kidnapping.2012 was a very good first year for the I CARE Foundation organizationally.  We will be expanding our operations significantly, continue our dedicated efforts to conduct research and guide legislation and new policy that may protect children, assist families in crisis as much as possible, and continue our stewardship of raising social awareness of IPCA in hope children and their parents will be protected.

To all of you who supported the I CARE Foundation’s activity, and to all of you who we have worked with, or who we may work with in the future, we wish you great success in all of your endeavors in the coming 2013 New Year.

On behalf of everyone here at the I CARE Foundation, I wish you God’s Blessings for a Happy, Healthy, and Peaceful 2013 New Year.

Sincerely,

Peter Thomas Senese
Founding Director
The I CARE Foundation

Child Victims of International Parental Child Abduction and Suicide Rates

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The 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

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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