Christmas holidays… who’d have thought that I’d be talking about Christmas in October!?! We haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet! There’s no snow on the ground (thank goodness) and in fact, as I’m typing this, yes, in Canada… I am actually wearing shorts! But you know what, the important reason why I am bringing up the subject of Christmas holidays is because, outside of summer vacations, the Christmas holiday season is one of the most prominent times of the year for international parental child abductions to occur.
You see, when a would-be abducting parent makes a plan to abduct their child, it’s not generally something that happens overnight. These schemes, that put the safety of a child at huge risk, are set into motion often months before the time they would, or could, occur. It’s been a real eye opener for me to hear about how elaborate a potential abduction can be! So, if you think about it… now would be the time when would-be abducting parents are planning and scheming to be able to, in their hopes, put into action their twisted and dangerous plan that involves the innocent lives that they are supposed to be protecting… their child(ren).
Why is it that the Christmas holiday season is so prominent for international child abductions? Well, just like the summer vacation season, people travel. Let’s face it, the Christmas holidays are probably one of the biggest times of the year where families travel to spend time together allowing time to celebrate the season! All sounds pretty harmless right? For many it is… but sadly for many other families it isn’t.
Those parents that are in a relationship with an individual who originates from, or has family abroad should be very aware of the potential warning signs of international parental child abduction, especially during this time of year. Also, parents that are in the midst of a high-conflict separation or divorce… especially, once again, if one parent has ties abroad, please pay very close attention to travel plans during the upcoming holiday season. In order for the would-be abductor to put their plan into action, deceit becomes a big part of their lives. The unsuspecting parent may find the other parent wanting to ‘work on their relationship‘ and ‘try to make things work‘ so that they can ‘work together as parents‘. Now, please don’t think that I’m saying that these actions are never genuine because they may be… but what I am saying, is that parents in these positions should be aware that this is also a common scenario used to throw the targeted parent off-guard. So educate yourself and be aware… it not only protects you, but your child(ren) as well.
Imagine if you will… you travel abroad as a family to your spouse’s country of origin for what is seemingly a vacation for the holidays. Once the child is in a foreign country the would-be abducting parent makes false claims of abuse and neglect against the other parent. After this is done, they notify the other parent that they and the child will not be returning back to the country where the child was originally living. In these situations, the targeted parent very often is forced to return home without their child while they seek legal assistance. Sadly and not surprisingly, the rate of recovery in these cases is very low. Scary? You better believe it is! Imagine being that unsuspecting parent!
What can you do to protect yourself and your child(ren) this holiday season? Outside of educating yourself about the risks and warning signs of international parental child abduction, please consider using the I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form when your child is traveling abroad. This document was created to help prevent international parental child abductions related to the wrongful detention of a child that is traveling abroad with one parent. In actual fact, it is estimated that 80-90% of all international parental child abductions are dealing with wrongful detention, so the I CARE Foundation’s Travel Consent Form is geared to potentially stop a huge number of abductions each and every year. The impact it has made already is important to note as the I CARE Foundation has reported that all children that have traveled using their Travel Consent Form thus far have returned home safely to their country of original juridiction. The ground-breaking Travel Form, which was released about three months ago, has been embraced on a worldwide level by parents and the legal community… as well the I CARE Foundation has been given the support from Mr. Christophe Bernasconi, the Secretary General of the Hague Conference on International Private Law. Here is what Mr. Bernasconi had to say:
I have had the possibility to look at the travel form and must say that I am impressed: this is the most comprehensive document of its kind that I have seen so far and there is little doubt in my mind that this is a most valuable and important effort to prevent child abduction. I applaud your efforts and wish to congratulate you and your team . . . It is really impressive to see how quickly your international travel child consent form has started to yield practical results and how well you monitor its operation – this really is remarkable.
Now, if I was to ask you one question…’How much do you know about international parental child abduction?’… what would your answer be? If you were like me a couple of years ago, you may have just answered that question with the reply that I don’t like to hear… and that is ‘nothing’. I admit, I knew nothing about this world of parental abduction. Granted today, there are still so many things about this horrific world that I don’t understand, but I’m learning. This is a very real and scary world my friends, and one that every parent should be aware of. When you read these posts, maybe you might find something interesting and decide to share this information with someone else. Those few minutes you took to educate yourself and then perhaps share means that YOU are now a part of this network of people that are trying to raise awareness and potentially help stop a child from being abducted. YOU have perhaps become the reason that someone in need has received this information and gotten the help they needed! And all because you decided to take a moment out of your day and help. How cool is that?
So, why not take a moment and watch this short video with Peter Thomas Senese, the Executive Director of the I CARE Foundation… then why not pass it along in an effort to help the I CARE Foundation raise awareness that Christmas is abduction season?!