«

»

Dec 27 2012

What To Do If Your Child Was Internationally Abducted During The Christmas Season

For the past few weeks the I CARE Foundation has been sharing information as part of an educational series of articles about the fact that Christmas is a prime time for international parental child abductions to occur.  It’s always the challenge to get this information out to those that need it most, and unfortunately, there are already a lot of parents reaching out to the I CARE Foundation asking for their assistance… which means there are a number of abductions that have already happened or are about to happen.

So, today I am sharing information from Peter Thomas Senese, the Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation, about WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD WAS INTERNATIONALLY ABDUCTED DURING CHRISTMAS.  This is VITAL information for those families that are affected by international parental child abduction.

If possible, please help and share this information with your network.  Sadly, children that are internationally abducted are also at risk of murder by the other parent, so sharing this information could in fact save a child’s life.

So, from Peter Thomas Senese and the I CARE Foundation:

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

Jen

As a Canadian blogger and the mom of a child on the autism spectrum, Jen shares a lot about life while having a child with autism... raising autism awareness and the need for acceptance. She is an active advocate both online and in the community for those with autism but also service dogs. Also as a volunteer for the I CARE Foundation Jen shares a great deal of information about international parental child abduction (IPCA) in an effort to help raise awareness and educate parents about the risks and warning signs of international parental child abduction. Mom-ology has been ranked in the Top 25 Canadian Mom Blogs for 2012 & 2013, one of the Most Influential Canadian Mom Blogs for 2013 as well as placing in 1st (Disability) & 3rd (Activism & Social Justice) for the Canadian Weblog Awards 2013.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle Plus

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *

CommentLuv badge