THE LEFT-BEHIND PARENT


Your Experience of Missing-Child Trauma

Source:www.lilaclane.com/missing-children/left-behind/

Your child has been kidnapped or is missing, and here on the internet you’ll find a lot of valuable support, legal information, and contacts. However, there will be many difficult hours where you will feel very much alone — and this page is meant to help you get through those times.
THE INITIAL CRISIS
The first few days are incredibly confusing. You’ll receive a lot of advice. Here’s a little more. 

ENLIST A GUARDIAN
You need a cool head to guide you. As the left-behind parent, you’re going to be in shock, so your intellectual capabilities will be compromised. Enlist a relative or friend to be your crisis Guardian — you will need them to stay with you and accompany you to all appointments. Ideally, they should take a week off from work to be by your side.

If you have a current spouse living with you, they should not try to fill this role. They can’t — they’re in shock too. You need a third person, someone with enough emotional distance to stay calm.

KEEP TRACK OF YOUR PROGRESS
Start an activity log and keep it up every day. This will be difficult because the world’s going to be pulling you in ten directions at once, but as the hours and days pass, everything’s going to become a big blur — so you absolutely have to keep track. Get a blank book, notebook or ledger; and every day, record the important points of each meeting with police, phone calls with organizations, etc.  If you don’t have an answering machine, pick one up so that you won’t miss any incoming assistance.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Sleep when you’re able to sleep. Eat when you’re able to eat.

Your body is going to go haywire. Eating will be difficult. Your stomach will often be churning. Carry Tums with you at all times, and nibble them when necessary. Your ability to digest food will disappear, so you’ll need to adapt your eating habits. Keep a wide selection of snacks available, and try to eat at every opportunity. For meals, you’ll have better luck if you try lighter fare than usual. A chicken salad will stay down better than a heavy steak. Drink constantly — dehydration causes disorientation.

Often, you’ll be awake all night, then exhausted the whole next day, so grab your Z’s whenever you can. If it’s 3 pm and you have a gap before a 4 pm meeting, grab the opportunity and lie down. If necessary, take a sleeping pill at bedtime (particularly if nightmares are waking you repeatedly). Sleep deprivation leads to slowed mental processes and, later, paranoia — so you absolutely must get sleep, whenever and however possible.

Since your body and mind are going to be stretched to the limits of endurance, it’s strongly recommended that you go to a 24-hour clinic (or emergency room) and have them prescribe something to stabilize your emotions. A doctor will know what kind of medication can help you get through this trauma. It’s very important that you maintain your sanity no matter how nightmarish the experience becomes.

THE SECOND PHASE
Your emotions will change after the first few days of the crisis. The initial agony is from not knowing from minute to minute. Later, the agony is not knowing day after day.

Most of the time, you’ll find yourself in one of three coping states:

1. INTELLECTUAL STATE. This is the state you need to be in when you’re talking with police, touching base with your lawyer, researching information on what to do, etc. You have to be mentally focused, which usually means that at times you have to push your emotions underneath and try not to think too much about your child except in abstract terms. This state is sometimes forced on you (due to appointments) even when you don’t feel ready. Other times this state will come to you naturally, and you’ll find yourself actively digging through documents and reading information paks.

2. EMOTIONAL STATE. In this state of mind it’s very difficult to focus on anything mentally. Your thoughts are with your child, where they might be, how they might be doing, you miss them and want to comfort them. Crying relieves physical stress, and you’re under tremendous stress, so don’t cut your tears short. If you start to cry, try to sob it out of your system without holding back. Don’t restrict your crying. Enlist your guardian to comfort you — and if you feel the need, hug one of your child’s stuffed animals.

There will be times when you are caught in your reeling emotions, unable to respond to intellectual challenges around you. At these times it will be important for your crisis Guardian to be with you, so they can answer authorities’ questions, help make decisions, etc.

Seeing the child’s photos or toys around the house may become too painful. Don’t feel guilty if you decide to put away these toys, move the photos, or close the door to the child’s room. You are not abandoning their memory. After all, your thoughts are with them constantly. But you do need some control over your emotional cycles, especially when it’s time to gather information or make decisions — at times like that, a photo within sight may be unnecessary torment. Make adjustments in your home if you feel the need, and don’t feel bad about it. You need to keep your head together, in order to fight for your child’s well-being.

3. DRIFTING STATE. There will be times that you’re so exhausted or in such shock that you don’t feel anything at all. You’ll find yourself staring blankly at a wall, or drifting with no thought as you look right through the book or screen in front of you. This is a natural result of the trauma. It’s a time when your system can regroup — recharging your batteries, so to speak. Your intellectual and emotional states burn extraordinary amounts of energy out of your body, so if and when you enter a listless state, don’t fight it. Drift and let your thoughts remain unfocused. Your body and mind can use this time to recover.

All three of these states will be useful to you, and should occur as a natural cycle. If you find yourself stuck in a counterproductive state for longer than one day, go to a 24-hour clinic and have a doctor prescribe medication to help you cope.

DISTRACTIONS
There will be times when you can do nothing — times when you’re supposed to wait for a callback or the next step in the proceedings. Such times are painful as you wait for the world to acknowledge the urgency of this situation… and the wheels of justice grind so slow they’ll seem to have stopped. If you’re at a waiting point, it’s important not to work yourself into hysteria over these empty minutes. You need to seek distraction, or you’re just going to overstress yourself. You’ll particularly need distraction on Saturdays and Sundays, when cases are often placed on hold.

Television is usually a great relaxer, but at this time it won’t be. As you flip the channels you’ll see cartoons, children’s shows, commercials with children — everywhere you look there will be children, including children who look like or remind you of your own child. So don’t channel-surf. Get a TV guide and select a specific show to watch, then turn directly to that program. Choose shows that won’t assail you with family-focus commercials. Good bets are CNN, Animal Planet, nature shows, or non-family movies. Even better, pick videotapes to watch.

GOING OUT
Much of the work of regaining your child will have to do with your phone. You’ll be calling people and waiting for return calls, checking in with lawyers and detectives, and giving updates to family members. Consequently you will frequently find yourself trapped at home. Over time this will make you feel like a freak in a cave. You need to get outside once in a while.

When you go into public with the intention of re-charging your emotional batteries, try not to put yourself into stressful situations. Don’t go to fast-food restaurants; you’ll see many children that remind you of your missing child. Money is an issue now due to the costs of the search, but don’t discount your need to reduce stress. Two visits to McDonalds can be traded for one visit to a nice restaurant, late in the evening, when there won’t be any children dining there.

Shopping is a major source of stress. Malls and supermarkets are full of child-reminders. Ask your Guardian to do the shopping for you. Alternatively, shop at 7-Eleven late in the evening.

Lest this sound like we’re discounting natural emotion:  there’s nothing wrong with allowing your emotions full expression. But it’s much more comforting to let those feelings flow when you want to (instead of when the world forces it on you), in the security of your home, where your loved ones can comfort you and you can express yourself fully.

Good luck with your search.  May you soon be happily reunited with your beloved child.

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National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – This is the ONLY website at which you need to register your child as missing.  NCMEC is a non-profit system with federal affiliation; they work with the law enforcement divisions on your case.  Most other “list your missing child here” websites are hosted by people who’ll contact you and promise to find your child in exchange for large amounts of money.  If you need that kind of help, look for legitimate private-investigator listings, or recovery sites that don’t ask you to “register” your missing child in their database — don’t get duped by people who risk children’s lives for money.

Missing (tv show) – If your child has been classified ‘missing endangered’, see if this show will present your case

Federal Parent Locator Service – 18 USC 55318 USC 663

Missing Children Search Aids – List of contacts

Divorcenet.com – Legal information

Hague Convention Agreement – A means for requesting the return of internationally kidnapped children

Hague Participating Countries – Country by country

Child Abduction Resources – U.S. Department of State

Canada – International Kidnapping Information

International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act, 18 U.S.Code §1204

Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (1980), 28 U.S.C. §1738A

Federal Law / Missing Children Title 42, Chapter 72, Subchapter IV, 5771+

International Child Abduction Remedies Act, 42 U.S.C. §11601

Missing Children Record-Flagging Act – Not in force in all areas yet

Bring Tessie Home page – Our personal struggle with parental kidnapping

Emotional AbuseStalking – Traumas that foreshadow impending parental kidnapping

Laurie’s Webpage Theme Sets – Thank you, Laurie, for the design of this page

Lost links (I’m trying to track them down):
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (1979), 43 U.S.C. §458A
National Child Search Assistance Act (1990), 42 U.S.C. § 5780)
Homepage of Maureen and Missing Child Nadia

Search Google for more webpages about Parental Abduction

Gift From Within – for those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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The Recovery of Internationally Abducted Children – A Comprehensive Guide (excellent)

When Parents Kidnap

Not Without my Daughter

For the Love of a Child

Torn From my Heart: A Mother’s Search for her Stolen Children

Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America (focuses mostly on non-parental kidnappings)

Obstacles to the Recovery and Return of Parentally Kidnapped Children and many other excellent references at OJJDP

If you need to raise money for your child-abduction case,
it’s possible for you to receive donations from people
via the internet.  Click these links to see how it works.
Sample donation link – Amazon.com
Sample donation link – PayPal.com

Most child kidnappings involve a parent or relative as kidnapper, and that is the experience of our family. However, if your situation is different — the child has been kidnapped by a stranger, or is missing due to other circumstances (such as a runaway) — this page will speak to your experiences too, so please read on….


Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

CHILD ABDUCTION PREVENTION


CHILD ABDUCTION PREVENTION

The following information is excerpted from The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

In light of the high profile abductions of several children, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) encourages families not to panic. Instead, parents need to empower themselves with information that can help protect their children.

CHILD ABDUCTION: STATISTICS

  • Parental abductions and runaway cases make up the majority of missing children in the United States. In 2002 there were about 797,500 children reported missing, or nearly 2,185 per day. The vast majority of these cases were recovered quickly; however, the parent or guardian was concerned enough to contact law enforcement and they placed the child into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center – a computerized national database of criminal justice information. It is available to Federal, state and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies.
  • Each year there are about 3,000 to 5,000 non-family abductions reported to police, most of which are short term sexually-motivated cases. About 200 to 300 of these cases, or 6 percent, make up the most serious cases where the child was murdered, ransomed or taken with the intent to keep.
  • The NCMEC analyzed more than 4200 attempted abductions from February 2005 to March 2010 and found that 38% of attempted abductions occur while a child is walking alone to or from school, riding the school bus or riding a bicycle; 37% of attempted abductions occur between the hours of 2:00pm through 7:00pm on a weekday; 43% of attempted abductions involve children between the ages of 10 and 14; 72% of attempted abduction victims are female; 68% of attempted abductions involve the suspect driving a vehicle.
  • Research shows that of the 58,000 non-family abductions each year 63% involved a friend, long-term acquaintance, neighbor, caretaker, baby sitter or person of authority; only 37% involved a stranger.

SAFETY TIPS FOR PARENTS:

  • Be sure to go over the rules with your children about whose homes they can visit when you’re not there and discuss the boundaries of where they can and can’t go in the neighborhood.
  • Always listen to your children and keep the lines of communication open. Teach your children to get out of dangerous or uncomfortable situations right away, and practice role-playing and basic safety skills with them.
  • Teach your children in whose car they may ride. Children should be cautioned never to approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless accompanied by a parent or trusted adult.
  • Make sure children know their names, address, telephone numbers and how to use the telephone.
  • Choose babysitters with care. Obtain references from family, friends and neighbors.

SAFETY TIPS FOR CHILDREN:

  • Always check first with your parents or the person in charge before you go anywhere or do anything.
  • Always take a friend when you play or go somewhere.
  • Don’t be tricked by adults who offer you special treats or gifts or ask you for help.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no and get away from any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or confused. Trust your feelings.
  • Don’t get into a car or go near a car with someone in it unless you are with your parents or a trusted adult.
  • Never take a ride from someone without checking first with your parents.
  • Never go into a public restroom by yourself.
  • Never go alone to the mall, movies, video arcades or parks.
  • Stay safe when you’re home alone by keeping the door locked. Do not open the door for or talk to anyone who stops by unless the person is a trusted family friend or relative.

INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL ABDUCTION

In situations where parents have not resolved the issue of child custody, and one of the parents has ties to another country, there is the risk that that parent might take the child with them to a foreign country. Parents who are in this situation can find useful information about international parental abduction in “A Family Resource Guide on International Parental Kidnapping” published by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

For emergency assistance contact:

ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

The goal of ABP World Group Ltd. is to locate, negotiate and recover your missing child.
We can dispatch personnel to most locations in the world; we specialize in locating missing children up to ages 18.

Follow our updates on Twitter and Facebook

Parental Child Abduction and Abducted Children Recovery


Christmas holidays – A time for parental child abductions

The holiday season sees a sharp rise in the number of parental abductions in Australia.  With emotions running high between separated and divorced parents during the Christmas/New Year period, a small number of parents will take the drastic step of abducting their own children.  Most of these children are eventually recovered, but a small number of parents will experience the agony of never seeing their children again. Read more below.

The number of British children abducted by one of their parents and taken abroad is set to double as the holidays start, the Foreign Office has warned.

Read more here: The Telegraph

Airlines Sued for Their Role in Parental Child Abduction

Read more here:Lawdiva’s Blog

Steps You can Take To Prevent Parental Child Abduction

Read the article here: ABP World Group Ltd`s Blog

Parental Child Abduction – Lesson 1

Parental Child Abduction – Lesson 2

For Help and assistance: ABP World Group international recovery services

Follow our updates on Twitter and FacebookOur website: http://www.abpworld.com

Parental Child Abduction is Child Abuse


by Nancy Faulkner, Ph.D 

Introduction
Risk Factors
Impact of Parental Child Abduction

What has been reported about abducted children?
Conclusion from Clawar & Rivlin


Introduction
“Because of the harmful effects on children, parental kidnapping has been characterized as a form of child abuse” reports Patricia Hoff, Legal Director for the Parental Abduction Training and Dissemination Project, American Bar Association on Children and the Law. Hoff explains: 

“Abducted children suffer emotionally and sometimes physically at the hands of abductor-parents. Many children are told the other parent is dead or no longer loves them. Uprooted from family and friends, abducted children often are given new names by their abductor-parents and instructed not to reveal their real names or where they lived before.” (Hoff, 1997)

As an early leader in the relatively new field of parental child abduction issues, Dr. Dorothy Huntington wrote an article published in 1982, Parental Kidnapping: A New Form of Child Abuse. Huntington contends that from the point of view of the child, “child stealing is child abuse.” According to Huntington, “in child stealing the children are used as both objects and weapons in the struggle between the parents which leads to the brutalization of the children psychologically, specifically destroying their sense of trust in the world around them.” Because of the events surrounding parental child abduction, Huntington emphasizes that “we must reconceptualize child stealing as child abuse of the most flagrant sort” (Huntington, 1982, p. 7).

There is an unfortunate and evident paucity of literature on parental child abduction. Just during the past two decades, Huntington (1982), Greif and Hegar (1993), and others have begun addressing concerns for children kidnapped by their parent abductors. With growing concerns for abducted children, some experts have coined terms like “Parental Alienation” to describe the potential negative impact on child victims. Regardless of the specific terms designed to illustrate the effects of parental child abduction, there is general consensus that the children are the resultant casualties.

Risk Factors
Post-divorce parental child stealing has been on the increase since the mid-1970s, paralleling the rising divorce rate and the escalating litigation over child custody (Huntington, 1986). According to Hoff (1997), “The term ‘parental kidnapping’ encompasses the taking, retention or concealment of a child by a parent, other family member, or their agent, in derogation of the custody rights, including visitation rights, of another parent or family member.” 

The abductor parent may move from one state to another, beginning a new round of investigation into the abuse with each move, impeding intervention by child protective services (Jones, Lund & Sullivan, 1996). Or, the abductor may flee to another country, completely shutting down any hopes of involvement by child protective services in the country of origin. The most pervasive scenario is that the abducting parent goes into hiding, or moves beyond the jurisdiction of governing law.

“These kidnappings are very cleverly plotted and planned and often involve the assistance of family members. The target parent has no forwarding address or telephone numbers.” (Clawar & Rivlin, p. 115)

Huntington and others believe that inherent in the act of kidnapping and concealment are negative consequences for the child victims. It is Huntington’s contention that one of the most concerning factors is that the parent has fled and “is out of reach of law and child protection agencies.” To escape discovery the abductor parent is hiding out, — “so who knows what is happening with child!” (Huntington, 1982).

The abducted child is without the safeguards normally provided by child law. This leaves the child completely vulnerable to the dictates of the abductor parent, who, as evidenced in the following research by Johnson and Girdner, may not have the child’s best interests in mind, or may be functioning with severe impediments.

A study entitled Prevention of Parent or Family Abduction through Early Identification of Risk Factors was conducted by Dr. Janet Johnston (Judith Wallerstein Center for the Family in Transition) and Dr. Linda Girdner (ABA Center on Children and the Law). The researchers detailed six risk parent profiles for abduction:

1. Have threatened to abduct or abducted previously;
2. Are suspicious and distrustful due to a belief abuse has occurred;
3. Are paranoid-delusional;
4. Are sociopathic;
5. Have strong ties to another country; and
6. Feel disenfranchised from the legal system.

These findings by Johnston and Girdner pose a bleak prognosis for children held at the hands of such inept parents.

According to Rand, an abducting parent views the child’s needs as secondary to the parental agenda which is to provoke, agitate, control, attack or psychologically torture the other parent. “It should come as no surprise, then, that post-divorce parental abduction is considered a serious form of child abuse” (Rand, 1997).

It is generally accepted that children are emotionally impacted by divorce. Children of troubled abductor parents bear an even greater burden. “The needs of the troubled parent override the developmental needs of the child, with the result that the child becomes psychologically depleted and their own emotional and social progress is crippled” (Rand, 1997). Since the problem of parental child abduction is known to occur in divided parents rather than in united and intact families, the inordinate emotional burdens compound abduction trauma. Rand reports that although Wallerstein is familiar with Parental Alienation Syndrome, Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989) prefer the term “overburdened child” to describe this problem.

In custody disputes and abductions, the extended support systems of the parents can become part of the dispute scenario, — leading to a type of “tribal warfare” (Johnston & Campbell, 1988). Believing primarily one side of the abduction story, — family, friends, and professionals may lose their objectivity. As a result, protective concerns expressed by the abandoned parent may be viewed as undue criticism, interference, and histrionics. Thus, the abandoned parent may be ineffectual in relieving the trauma imposed on an innocent child by the parental abduction.

Generally the abductor does not even speak of the abandoned parent and waits patiently for time to erase probing questions, like “When can we see mom (dad) again?”. “These children become hostages … it remains beyond their comprehension that a parent who really cares and loves them cannot discover their whereabouts” (Clawar & Rivlin, p. 115).

Impact of Parental Child Abduction
Children who have been psychologically violated and maltreated through the act of abduction, are more likely to exhibit a variety of psychological and social handicaps. These handicaps make them vulnerable to detrimental outside influences (Rand, 1997). Huntington (1982) lists some of the deleterious effects of parental child abduction on the child victim: 

1. Depression;
2. Loss of community;
3. Loss of stability, security, and trust;
4. Excessive fearfulness, even of ordinary occurrences;
5. Loneliness;
6. Anger;
7. Helplessness;
8. Disruption in identity formation; and
9. Fear of abandonment.

Many of these untoward effects can be subsumed under the problems relevant to Reactive Attachment Disorder, the diagnostic categories in the following section, and the sections on fear, of abandonment, learned helplessness, and guilt, that follow.

Reactive Attachment Disorder. 

Attachment is the deep and enduring connection established between a child and caregiver in the first few years of life. It profoundly influences every component of the human condition, — mind, body, emotions, relationships, and values. Children lacking secure attachments with caregivers often become angry, oppositional, antisocial, and may grow up to be parents who are incapable of establishing this crucial foundation with their own children (Levy & Orlans, 1999).

Children who lack permanence in their lives often develop a “one-day-at-a-time” perspective of life, which effects appropriate development of the cognitive-behavioral chain — thoughts, feelings, actions, choices, and outcomes. “They think, ‘I’ve been moved so many times, I’ll just be moved again. So why should I care?'” (ACE, 1999).

Stringer (1999) and other experts on attachment disorder concur that the highest risk occurs during the first few years of life. This disorder is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as Reactive Attachment Disorder. According to Stringer, common causes of attachment problems are:

1. Sudden or traumatic separation from primary caretaker (through death, illness hospitalization of caretaker, or removal of child);
2. Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse;
3. Neglect (of physical or emotional needs);
4. Frequent moves and/or placements;
5. Inconsistent or inadequate care at home or in day care (care must include holding, talking, nurturing, as well as meeting basic physical needs); and
6. Chronic depression of primary caretaker.

It is evident that these causality factors would place at high risk children who are subjected to similar conditions in the circumstances of parental kidnapping.

Attachment is the reciprocal process of emotional connection. This fundamental and necessary developmental process influences a child’s physical, cognitive, and psychological development. It becomes the basis for development of basic trust or mistrust, and shapes how the child will relate to the world, how the child will learn, and how the child will form relationships throughout life. “If this process is disrupted, the child may not develop the secure base necessary to support all future healthy development” (Stringer, 1999).

Stringer (1999), Van Bloem (1999), The Attachment Center (ACE, 1999), and criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV, 1994) identify a significant and troubling list of behaviors associated with problematic attachment:

1. Unable to engage in satisfying reciprocal relationships;
2. Superficially engaging, charming (not genuine);
3. Lack of eye contact;
4. Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers;
5. Lack of ability to give and receive affection on parents’ terms (not cuddly);
6. Inappropriately demanding and clingy;
7. Poor peer relationships;
8. Low self esteem;
9. Affectionate with strangers or attempts to leave with strangers;
10. Refuses, resists, or is uncomfortable with affection on parental terms;
11. Incessant chatter or nonsense questions;
12. Hyperactive, over-active, or attention deficit;
13. Poor, underdeveloped, or no conscience;
14. Hoarding, gorging, eating abnormalities, or hiding food;
15. Intense control battles;
16. Significant learning problems or lags;
17. Fire setting, fire play, or fascination with fire;
18. Daily lying or lying in the face of the obvious;
19. Fascination with weapons, blood, or gore;
20. Destructive to self or others; and
21. Cruelty to animals, siblings, or others.

This unsettling list of disturbances and other constellations of behaviors exhibited by abducted children comprises criteria from various childhood disorder categories of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that might lead one to rule out the following diagnoses:

1. Reactive Attachment Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood;
2. Separation Anxiety Disorder;
3. Overanxious Disorder of Childhood;
4. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder;
5. Conduct Disorder;
6. Disruptive Behavior Disorder;
7. Oppositional Defiant Disorder;
8. Eating Disorders;
9. Learning Disorder NOS;
10. Regression and Elimination Disorders: Encopresis and Enuresis; and
11. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

As a relatively new diagnosis to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), also known as Attachment Disorder (AD), is often misunderstood, and relatively unknown (ACE, 1999). Although the official DSM-IV diagnosis may be overlooked by some professionals, the phenomenon of attachment disorder was observed 50 years ago by Rene Spitz in the well known monkey studies. Spitz reported that infant monkeys may actually die if they are not played with, talked to, held, stroked, and tended. Some species of young monkeys die when abandoned. Even a brief separation of infant monkeys from their mothers is seen two years later, causing the infants to be more timid, clingy, and relate poorly to others.

Humans are social animals. If abandoned as an infant or young child, we may first protest by screaming, then quietly withdraw; finally, we become detached and apathetic. Abandoned, we may joylessly play some with others, but there is no emotional involvement (Tucker-Ladd, 1960).

The DSM-IV (1994) defines Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) as markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in most contexts, beginning before age five. According to Van Bloem (1999), inexperienced professionals often misdiagnose Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Depression, Autism, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Other experts in RAD estimate that this disorder has been misdiagnosed as Bi-Polar Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder in 40 to 70 percent of the cases (ACE, 1999).

Bloem (1999) suggests that Reactive Attachment Disorder is often accompanied by other diagnosis listed above, but that Attachment Disorder most often needs to be the primary diagnosis and the focus of early intervention. Some professionals may mildly disagree with Bloem’s preferred diagnostic perspective; however, most would agree that the resultant trauma to a child, — who in a moment was stolen away from his or her entire world of familiarity, — is emotionally, developmentally, and psychologically devastating.

Van Bloem (1999) reports that for a child “it is not possible to develop true self-esteem and find peace without resolving differences and emotional pain due to stressed or damaged emotional ties to parents and family.” According to Van Bloem, attachment helps the child to:

1. Attain full intellectual potential;
2. Sort out perceptions;
3. Think logically;
4. Develop a conscience;
5. Become self-reliant;
6. Cope with stress and frustration;
7. Handle fear and worry;
8. Develop future relationships; and
9. Reduce jealousy (Van Bloem, 1999).

The words “attachment” and “bonding” are used interchangeably. These bonding impaired individuals typically fail to develop a conscience and do not learn how to trust. With Attachment Disorder, individuals have difficulty forming intimate lasting relationships (ACE, 1999). Children with attachment disturbance often project an image of self-sufficiency and charm, while masking inner feelings of insecurity and self hate. Unfortunately, such children do not respond well to traditional parenting or therapy, since both rely on the child’s ability to form relationships (Stringer, 1999).

Adult survivors of abuse may experience long term or chronic lifetime symptoms resulting from childhood trauma. For example, a person who has been physically abused might suffer from depression or anxiety. A victim of childhood sexual abuse might exhibit symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress, or other disorders as evidenced in the DSM-IV criteria of adult mental health disorders, such as:

1. Agoraphobia
2. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
3. Dissociative Identity Disorder
4. Dysthymic Disorder
5. Substance Abuse or Dependency
6. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
7. Major Depressive Disorder
8. Panic Attacks or Panic Disorder
9. Borderline Personality Disorder

All too often, children suffering from Reactive Attachment Disorder go untreated and become adults without conscience (Antisocial Personality Disorder) and without concern for anyone but themselves. “Parental dreams are lost, and they grow up uncaring and without social conscience” (ACE, 1999).

Learned Helplessness. 

The concept of learned helplessness is based on the highly respected work of Seligman in 1975, when he observed this helpless condition among animals that were unable to alter their environment. Seligman subjected dogs to random shocks at variable intervals that were completely unrelated to their volitional behaviors. Nothing the dogs could do would protect them from being shocked. Under this experimental treatment, the dogs became passive and refused to leave their cages, even though the cage doors were eventually left open as the shock treatments continued.

“The key to the learned helplessness model is punishment that is totally unrelated to the victim’s behavior, that is, the victim does not have to do anything wrong to be punished” (Lalli, 1997). As a consequence, the victim places him or herself under a virtual house arrest without informed judgment that includes facts of the situation. In the situation of parental abduction, the child victim often does not know why he or she has been abducted, has no control over the situation, and even though there may be very strong feelings of anger, frustration and confusion, — the totality of helplessness may result in a yielding to the circumstances. This yielding and superficial appearance of resolution to the circumstance may be the result of complete devastation, lack of control, and total helplessness, — rather than acceptance.

Fear and Phobias. 

Most phobias are groundless and excessive, such as fears of crowds, small spaces, addressing large groups, and heights. These fears of harmless situations may be associated with fantasies of horrible consequences, like the fear of public speaking. Thus, frightening and irrational thoughts of what might happen become paired with the real situation, which in turn produces a fear reaction. For example, at night a child has fantasies of demons lurking under the bed and in the closet. The stronger the fantasies, the worse the fear when the lights are turned off. Soon, the fears will occur prior to bedtime, from anticipation of being in the dark.

“Likewise, most of us have at least a mild fear of the dark. Relatively few people have been attacked in the dark, no one by ghosts or monsters. Yet, at age 3 or 4 (as soon as our imagination develops enough) we begin fantasizing scary creatures lurking in the dark. Our own fantasies create our fear of the dark.” (Tucker-Ladd, 1960)

Children who are abducted have been stripped of almost everything familiar – toys, personal possessions, playmates, relatives, teachers, the neighborhood, playgrounds, favorite shopping and eating places, — daily routine — and a parent. Suddenly snatched from all that is familiar and deposited without adequate preparation into a completely new environment, — fear of the unknown, future events, emotional safety, and physical safety can run rampant and become irrational. The real threat becomes even more exaggerated and capacities to deal with the threat seem completely inadequate. “This is horrible, out of my control, and I can’t deal with it.” Overwhelmed with the stress of new stimuli and unable to make sense of the situation may lead the child to excessive anxiety and fears, which in turn may develop into chronic anxiety, stress reactions, depression, paranoia and/or other complications discussed in the following sections.

Stress and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. 

One of the leaders in theories of anxiety, Hans Selye spent a life-time studying stress and postulated that almost any change is a stressor, since there is a resultant demand to deal with a new situation. If normal daily stressors are increased to unusual and traumatic events, like child abduction, the short and long term impact may significantly impair development and functioning, — even into adulthood.

There are three stages in General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). In the alarm stage, physiological changes occur, — the heart beats faster, respiration increases and becomes more labored, senses become at least temporarily more alert, perspiration occurs, — all preparing the body to flee or attack. The body responds with panic, a reaction to the fight or flight dilemma. Under continued stress, the second stage begins, — resistance. The body becomes weary and attempts to adjust and adapt to the stress. Despite efforts to adapt, the autonomic system is still working overtime.

If the stress is extended (days, weeks, and months), resistance is further depleted and exhaustion occurs. Energy to continue stress adaptation is depleted. The body gives up, with some resultant damage potentially occurring, — particularly to the heart, kidneys, and stomach. Commonly, psychosomatic disorders occur. These somatic disorders are psychologically mediated physical difficulties, like lethargy, pain, hypertension, headaches, abdominal and gastric distress, and sleep disorders. Feelings of hopelessness and a state of confusion generally accompany the physical symptoms and decision-making deteriorates under intense or prolonged stress.

Extensive replicated research findings have demonstrated these psychosomatic and physiologically damaging consequences may also occur as a result of extended stress from circumstances of childhood trauma. The potential for harmful effects of divorce on children has been widely substantiated. Stress has been documented to alter the brain, cardiovascular systems, immune systems, and hormonal system. For example, it has been discovered that female adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a smaller hippocampus than non-abused women. Stress symptoms that are evident as an adult may be due to occurrences from many years prior, e.g., the long term effects of divorce, such as a fear of intimacy, may occur much later in life, — 10 or 15 years later.

In children, extended stress may result in regression of behaviors, like age inappropriate thumbsucking, excessive clingyness, unexplained crying, bedwetting, and temper tantrums.

Prolonged and unresolved stress may also manifest in displacement, the redirection of impulses (often anger) from the real threat to an innocent and safer person. Often, the redirection is because the threat is too dangerous to confront. This may be the case in an abducted child who redirects his or her anger from the abductor to another person, possibly the abandoned parent for not rescuing and restoring life to the way it had been. Another form of displacement is internal. Instead of displacing hostility to another person, it is turned inward, against oneself. This is not uncommon in depression and suicide.

Extended stress and frustration to resolve the conflict, in an effort to relieve the anxiety, may result in reaction formation, — denial and reversal of feelings. Love becomes hate, or hate becomes love. For example, with a problem between a parent and child, the child may express the anger through exaggeration of affection. In this situation, the child may superficially appear to be closely bonded with the parent who is contributing to the stress; if asked, the child will attest to a strong and loving parent-child relationship.

Yet another stress reaction is identification, — the process of attempting to bond with the person responsible for the stressors and becoming like the abuser to diminish the conflictual anxiety. As an example, some sexual assault victims have been known to identify strongly with offenders, even to the point of developing intimate relationships with incarcerated abusers. In these situations, the victim may emulate and become more and more like the abuser. Identification with and emulation of the offender is particularly true in cases of child sexual assault victims who become adult offenders. In parental child abductions, some children have been known to identify with the abducting parent, to the point of completely rejecting and blaming the abandoned parent, despite evidence absent blame.

Stress also generally interferes with performance, resulting in inhibited learning, poor decision-making, and resulting in restricted development. Intense and prolonged stress, especially in childhood, may create an overreaction to stress, — even years later. Intense reactions to stress and resultant failures become a self perpetuating cycle, creating more stress and more failure. Continued failure breeds the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, which circles back to learned helplessness and giving up.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is more intense than the normal anxiety generally experienced day to day. It’s chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, even though time has passed, the circumstance has changed, and there seems to be nothing evident that will continue to provoke anxiety. Having this disorder means anticipating disaster and experiencing excessive concerns about health, money, family, or work. The problems generalize to other situations in life, become self-sustaining, and the original stressors are then difficult to identify.

People suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder cannot seem to control or manage their concerns, even though they may realize their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. They seem unable to relax, often have trouble falling or staying asleep, with worries that are accompanied by physical symptoms, like twitching, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, sweating, or hot flashes. There may be feelings of being lightheaded, out of breath, nauseated or an urgency to urinate; or, there may be an almost constant feeling of having a lump in the throat. There may be a heightened startle response, lethargy, or difficulty concentrating. If severe, manifestations of Generalized Anxiety Disorder can be very debilitating, making it difficult to carry out even the most ordinary daily activities (DSM-IV, 1994).

Guilt. 

It is difficult for some to understand the guilt felt by a victim, particularly when the victim is a child. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse continue to remind us that they felt guilt — guilt that they may have in some way brought on the abuse, guilt for feeling some sensate pleasure, guilt for destruction of the family constellation when the abuse was discovered, and guilt for legal consequences to the offender.

Literature on divorce is deplete with references to children feeling that they had somehow brought about difficulties between their parents and were responsible for the culminating division of the family. The guilt of abducted children is not dissimilar.

“These children are extremely guilty when they return and are very fearful of the reaction of the other parent. They do not know who to believe, the are bewildered and very fearful. Many children have a sense that the stealing was their fault and that it could have been avoided. They feel to blame for both the stealing and for the divorce. Many of the older children feel very guilty about not having tried to contact the parent victim. These children feel it is not possible to have a relationship with both parents, and they are town between them. It is not uncommon to see total confusion when they are returned, particularly with a sense of being returned to a stranger.” (Huntington, 1982, p. 8)

Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. 

The diagnoses of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are commonly applied by professionals to victims of abuse situations, such as sexual abuse and child abduction, when the presenting symptoms and applicable conditions apply. According to the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (1994), a person suffering from Acute Stress Disorder has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present:

1. The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others;
2. The person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

Either while experiencing or after experiencing the distressing event, the individual has three (or more) of the following dissociative symptoms:

1. A subjective sense of numbing, detachment, or absence of emotional responsiveness;
2. A reduction in awareness of his or her surroundings (e.g., “being in a daze”);
3. Derealization;
4. Depersonalization;
5. Dissociative amnesia (i.e., inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma).

Like many reactive effects and symptoms discussed in the sections above, this diagnostic category also includes marked symptoms of anxiety or increased arousal (e.g., difficulty sleeping, irritability, poor concentration, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, motor restlessness). A victim of abuse may meet the criteria for this diagnosis when the disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning; or, when the disturbance impairs the individual’s ability to pursue some necessary task, such as obtaining necessary assistance or mobilizing personal resources by telling family members about the traumatic experience.

Parental Alienation and the Overburdened Child. 

“Physical kidnapping situations leave children extremely susceptible to indoctrination against a target parent. Often the operating strategy is to frighten the child into believing that the only way to exist is to escape some ambiguous harm that is to be inflicted upon the parent, child or both of them by the target parent” (Clawar & Rivlin, p. 115).

In Children Held Hostage: Dealing With Programmed and Brainwashed Children, Clawar and Rivlin detail signs of abduction victim “maladjustment that go beyond the impact of separation and divorce” (p. 129). The authors delineate these parental child abduction consequences as “specifically related to the effects of brainwashing and programming.” Clawar and Rivlin list 25 resultant manifestations, including anger, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem, development of fears and phobias, depression, sleep disorders, and eating disorders.

“Brainwashing” and “programming” are terms used more and more frequently by experts of parental child abduction. These term may initially offend or alienate the reader who is not familiar with Parental Alienation and abduction dynamics. “Brainwashing” and “programming” — or changing a child’s belief systems, — may be intentional, or, it may be the unintentional process of a parent imposing their belief systems on the child through an extended period of inadvertent repetition.

According to Garbarino et al. (1986), psychological maltreatment can be viewed as a pattern of adult behavior which is psychologically destructive to the child, sabotaging the child’s appropriate normal development of self and social competence. To assist with a framework for understanding brainwashing and parental alienation concepts, five types of psychological maltreatment identified by Garbarino et al. were adapted by Rand (1997) to apply to the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS):

1. Rejecting – The child’s legitimate need for a relationship with both parents is rejected. The child has reason to fear rejection and abandonment by the alienating parent if positive feelings are expressed about the other parent and the people and activities associated with that parent.
2. Terrorizing – The child is bullied or verbally assaulted into being terrified of the target parent. The child is psychologically brutalized into fearing contact with the target parent and retribution by the alienating parent for any positive feelings the child might have for the other parent. Psychological abuse of this type may be accompanied by physical abuse.
3. Ignoring – The parent is emotionally unavailable to the child, leading to feelings of neglect and abandonment. Divorced parents may selectively withhold love and attention from the child, a subtler form of rejecting which shapes the child’s behavior.
4. Isolating – The parent isolates the child from normal opportunities for social relations. In PAS, the child is prevented from participating in normal social interactions with the target parent and relatives and friends on that side of the family. In severe PAS, social isolation of the child sometimes extends beyond the target parent to any social contacts which might foster autonomy and independence.
5. Corrupting – The child is missocialized and reinforced by the alienating parent for lying, manipulation, aggression toward others or behavior which is self destructive. In PAS with false allegations of abuse, the child is also corrupted by repeated involvement in discussions of deviant sexuality regarding the target parent or other family and friends associated with that parent. In some cases of severe PAS, the alienating parent trains the child to be an agent of aggression against the target parent, with the child actively participating in deceits and manipulations for the purpose of harassing and persecuting the target parent.
Separation Anxiety and Fear of Abandonment. 

Separation Anxiety and fear of abandonment is noteworthy enough that it deserves mention separate from fear and learned helplessness. While manifestations of this problem may also meet the criteria for Overanxious Disorder of Childhood, in this instance features are more specific to having been removed from and seemingly abandoned by a parent. As mentioned above, the child may have no way of knowing what attempts the abandoned parent may be making for rescue, may believe to have been deserted by that parent, and may have been convinced by the abducting parent that the abandoned parent is deceased or no longer cares about the child.

According to the DSM-IV (1994), Separation Anxiety is manifested by developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from those to whom the individual is attached, as evidenced by three (or more) of the following:

1. Recurrent excessive distress when separation from home or major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated;
2. Persistent and excessive worry about losing, or about possible harm befalling, major attachment figures;
3. Persistent and excessive worry that an untoward event will lead to separation from a major attachment figure (e.g., getting lost or being kidnapped);
4. Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school or elsewhere because of fear of separation;
5. Persistently and excessively fearful or reluctant to be alone or without major attachment figures at home or without significant adults in other settings;
6. Persistent reluctance or refusal to go to sleep without being near a near a major attachment figure or to sleep away from home;
7. Repeated nightmares involving the theme of separation;
8. Repeated complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated.

The duration of the disturbance is at least 4 weeks. The onset is before age 18 years. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, academic (occupational), or other important areas of functioning (DSM-IV, 1994).

Even children who have not suffered the trauma of abduction may experience Separation Anxiety and fear of abandonment. The death of a parent, family member, or friend’s parent, as well as extended absences of one parent and other factors normally expected in life may contribute to separation anxiety. That being the case, one can only imagine the degree of Separation Anxiety experienced by a child who believes to have been abandoned by a parent as a consequence of parental abduction circumstances.

Grief. 

Siegelman (1983), an expert on grief, contends that change is upsetting because we are leaving a part of ourselves behind. Any change involves loss of the known and relinquishing of a reality that has contributed to understanding and consistency. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a well respected authority on grief, suggests that the second most intense life stress, second to death, is divorce or loss of a love relationship. “Love relationship” in this sense applies to all familial and close relationships, e.g., husband-wife, parent-child, siblings, etc.

Not only does an abducted child experience the physical distancing and loss of a parent, the child may also be lead to believe the parent is deceased. Parent abductors are frequently known to invent stories about the abandoned parent to silence the frightened child’s questioning. With the death of a parent, generally comes loss of attachment, history, and roots. According to Ross, a sudden, unexpected loss is usually harder to accept than an anticipated loss for which we have had time to prepare, as is the case for a kidnapped child.

Loss and grief experts also agree that the loss of a person on whom we are dependent is difficult to handle, especially if that dependency left us without a life of our own and incompetent to care for ourselves — like that of an abducted child kidnapped from a parent on whom he or she was dependent. Also, the assistance from personal support systems — family and friends — is an important factor in recovering from a loss. Support for such losses are likely to be especially weak when one lives away from family or has few friends, such as the grief-stricken child who was removed from their own support and reality. An abducted child has lost most, if not all support systems.

So, added to the abducted child’s long laundry list of challenges, problems, stressors, and confusions, — is grief. Grief for the absent parent, for a life that no longer exists, for friends and loved ones, and for the certainty and comfort of life as it was.

What has been reported about abducted children? 

According to Greif (1999) in his personal lecture notes on “The Impact of Parental Abduction on Children,” the following have been experienced by “children on the run,” whether they remain within their country of origin or are taken across international borders:

1. Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse (the range being from 6% with Finkelhor, to higher with others);
2. Neglect in terms of care, feeding, and psychological nurturing;
3. Specific training in how to be secretive in relation to hiding a sense of self, hiding accomplishments, distrusting authorities, etc.;
4. Being lied to about the searching parent, including being told the searching parent has abandoned the child, doesn’t love the child, or the searching parent is dead;
5. Being moved constantly and denied contact for any significant time with any one other than the abductor – this may include being cut-off from contact with siblings, teachers, friends, grandparents, and other relatives;
6. In addition, and on a more complex level, an abducted child is exposed to a dynamic situation where the child may take on an inappropriate, more adult-like role. In one scenario, the child may become the protector or caretaker of the abductor, if the abductor appears in need of emotional reassurance. In another scenario, the child over-identifies with the abductor in an “us against them” mentality where distrust of authority is the norm. One possible result of either dynamic is that the located child remains with the abductor!

Confirming the discussions above about the impact of child abduction, Greif adds that according to the literature, upon recovery the child may experience:

1. Concerns about safety and reabduction;
2. Guilt and shame;
3. Confusion about his or her identity if there has been a name change;
4. Loyalty conflicts between the searching parent and the abductor with whom the child may have identified;
5. Specific problems like depression, anxiety, anomie, bedwetting, thumb-sucking; and
6. Psychological regression, withdrawal, PTSD-like symptoms, and extreme fright.
Conclusion
“As adults, many victims of bitter custody battles who had been permanently removed from a target parent, whisked away to a new town and given a new identity, still long to be reunited with the lost parent. The loss cannot be undone. Childhood cannot be recaptured. Gone forever is that sense of history, intimacy, lost input of values and morals, self-awareness through knowing one’s beginnings, love, contact with extended family, and much more. Virtually no child possesses the ability to protect him- or herself against such an undignified and total loss” (Clawar & Rivlin, p. 105).

Published by: ABP World Group Ltd. Child Recovery Services

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International Child Abduction – A Guide to the Basic Law


By:Tre Critelli

As the world continues to get smaller and international travel more common, areas of the law once thought to be of primarily local jurisdiction are now turning out to have international complications. Nowhere is this more evident than in the area of family law.

Marriages between citizens of differing countries can be extremely beneficial and worthwhile, but when they break down the fight over child custody and visitation can quickly become quite complex. Simply serving a legal notice of a lawsuit on a party residing in a different country can be difficult and at times expensive. Often it requires familiarity with the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters, something few attorneys have any experience with. Further complications develop when one spouse decides to take matters into their own hands and simply disappears with the child, returning to their homeland.

In order to provide a remedy for such “abductions,” the international community came up with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This Convention aims to protect children internationally from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention and to establish procedures to ensure their prompt return to the State (i.e. country) of their habitual residence. As of this date, some 55 countries are signatories to the Convention. Some of these countries, however, are more than reluctant to comply with the terms of the Convention despite the fact that they have signed it.

Utilization of the Convention is fairly straightforward. Each country that has signed the Convention has a Central Authority to which an aggrieved parent may apply for assistance. An aggrieved parent is one whose child has been taken. That Central Authority will contact the Central Authority of the country to which the child has been taken. An attempt will then be made to locate the child and obtain a voluntary return. In the event that the parent refuses to return the child, a lawsuit is brought on behalf of the aggrieved parent to compel the return of the child.

As an example, if a child was taken from her residence in the state of Iowa and brought to London, England by her mother, the child’s father would contact the U.S. Central Authority, the U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues. They would assist the father in completing a Petition for Return of Child which would be filed with the Central Authority of England and Wales, the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit. The authorities in England would attempt to get the mother to return to Iowa with the child. If they were unsuccessful, then the father would bring a lawsuit against the mother in the English court system. The same process would be used if the child was resident in London, England and was wrongfully brought to the State of Iowa by her father: the mother would contact the Central Authority in London which would in turn contact the Central Authority in the United States. If unsuccessful, she would file a lawsuit in the US court where the child was located.

Once a lawsuit is filed, in order to win a case of wrongful removal or retention under the Hague Convention, the aggrieved parent must show that:

(1) the child was “habitually resident” in the country before being removed;

(2) the child’s removal was in breach of the “rights of custody” of “a person, an institution or any other body;” and

(3) that those rights “were actually exercised at the time of removal or would have been so exercised in the absence of his removal.” See Hague Convention, Art. 3.

As one would expect, there has been a significant amount of jurisprudence (legal theory) develop as it concerns the above terms. Courts have concluded that the term “habitually resident” refers to a child’s customary residence prior to his or her removal but focuses not upon a child’s domicile or legal residence but rather where the child physically lived for an amount of time sufficient for acclimatization and which has a degree of settled purpose from the child’s perspective. In other words, where the child likely considered its home.

“Rights of custody,”” meanwhile, include rights relating to the care of the person of the child and, in particular, the right to determine the child’s place of residence. These rights may arise by operation of law or by reason of a judicial or administrative decision, or by reason of an agreement having legal effect under the law of that State.

After the aggrieved parent has shown the court that the child was wrongfully abducted, the burden shifts to the opposing parent to show by clear and convincing evidence why the child should not be returned. Under the Convention, it is an affirmative defense if:

(1) the person seeking return of the child consented to or subsequently acquiesced in the removal or retention;

(2) the proceeding was commenced more than one year after the removal of the child;

(3) the children have become well-settled in their new environment; and

(4) there is a grave risk that the return of the children would expose them to physical or psychological harm.

Court decisions on this matter are quite clear that acquiescence under the Convention requires either an act or statement with the requisite formality, such as testimony in a judicial proceeding; a convincing written enunciation of rights; or a consistent attitude of acquiescence over a significant period of time. Acquiescence has been held to be a question of subjective intent. Many lawsuits in international child abduction matters focus upon whether or not one of the parents agreed or consented to the removal of the child.

Parents should be aware of the “one year” defense. Commencement of proceedings, as used in Article 12 of the Convention, means the filing of a civil petition for relief in any court which has jurisdiction in the place where the child is located at the time the petition is filed. Once the location of the child is known, the clock starts to run. However, Article 12 goes on to state that “even where the proceedings have been commenced after the expiration of the period of one year…, [the court] shall also order return of the child, unless it is demonstrated that the child is now settled it its new environment.” Hague Convention, Article 12. As for this “well settled” exception, it should be noted that the court retains the discretion to order the children returned even if an exception applies. Nor is a court obligated to take into account the child’s wishes.

Finally, Article 13(b) of the Hague Convention allows a court to deny return of a child to the country of habitual residence if “there is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.” Generally speaking, such a risk arises in two situations: (1) imminent danger such as war, famine, or disease; or (2) when there is likely to be serious abuse or neglect and the court in the country of habitual residence, for whatever reason, may be incapable or unwilling to give the child adequate protection. As a parent, you will be expected to provide compelling evidence that the child will in all likelihood be in danger if returned.

As should be no surprise, international child abduction matters are extremely complex, both in legal substance and procedure. In the unfortunate event that your child has been abducted, you should contact an attorney experienced in the area of international child abduction immediately. Time is of the essence, and a quick response can often be the difference between a voluntary return of the child and a long, expensive court battle in a foreign country.

For additional information concerning International Child Abduction, please see the U.S. Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues: http://www.travel.state.gov/abduction/abduction_580.html

For assistance in locating qualified lawyers, please see http://www.critellilaw.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tre_Critelli

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Morocco – Norway International Child Abduction Inter-Governmental Battle


There are reports from Norway of an international re-abduction case involving the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, the Norwegian Embassy in Morocco and Special Forces officers of the Norwegian Navy. The case has led to an international crisis between Morocco and Norway.

Morocco is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri has asked that diplomats at the Norwegian embassy in Rabat be questioned and prosecuted, in connection with their alleged role in the Skah child custody case.

– Norway has broken diplomatic protocol, ethical guidelines and damaged the friendship between our two countries, the Moroccan Foreign Minister said at a press briefing Wednesday. He went on to say that Morocco was far from satisfied with Norway’s handling of the case, in which a Norwegian woman smuggled her two children out of Morocco.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre maintains that neither the embassy nor his department were involved in the flight, and that he therefore can see no reason for punishing anyone. 

___________

A heated dispute has arisen in Norwegian media, following reports that two special forces officers assisted a Norwegian woman in bringing her two children back to Norway, following a custody dispute with her Moroccan former husband. The two children reportedly escaped from their father’s apartment and sought refuge at the Norwegian Embassy in Rabat last July.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry say they regarded it as a “crisis situation” and allowed the children into the embassy. Three days later an embassy official drove the children to an agreed address where the children were turned over to a person representing the mother. The children and their mother were then smuggled out of Morocco on a small sailing boat.

Defence Minister Grete Faremo confirms that two officers from the Norwegian Navy’s special forces were involved in sailing the boat when the mother and children were brought out, but that the two were on vacation at the time. However, Faremo says it is unacceptable for Defence personnel to participate in “such an operation”, even on their time off. The opposition in Parliament (Storting) have callled for a full investigation into the case.

The children’s mother had for several years sought help from the embassy, and claims that Norwegian officials earlier had not met her appeals to help her ensure enforcement of a Norwegian court order which had granted her custody of the children. There are also reports that embassy personnel and Norway’s ambassador to Morocco had been threatened by the children’s father.

Posted by Jeremy Morley
ABP World Group Ltd. on Twitter:http://twitter.com/#!/Abducted


ABP World Group international child recovery service


ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

The goal of ABP World Group international child recovery services is to locate, negotiate and recover your missing child. We can dispatch personnel to most locations in the world; we specialize in locating missing children up to ages 18. Areas of expertise: Parental abduction, Missing children, Kidnappings, Runaway children and Counseling.

Unfortunately in this day and time parental kidnapping happens and we are here to help you trough this difficult period. We are aware parental child abduction can be difficult to resolve, but we use professional operatives with the skills and expertise to help find a resolution.

We also provide:

• Executive protection
• Close protection high or low profile
• Surveillance
• Investigation
• Security consulting
• Medical services
• Anti kidnap logistics and planning
• Abducted and missing children recovery
• Missing person investigations
• Panic room / Safe room construction
• Risk Management

For more information, visit our web site: www.abpworld.com

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Wo ist Marvin?


By:ZDF

Vater verschwindet mit sechsjährigem Sohn

Die 43-jährige Sabine Engl ist verzweifelt. Ihr Sohn Marvin ist seit fünf Monaten verschwunden. Ihr Ex-Mann hat Marvin nach einer gemeinsamen Ferienwoche mit seinem Sohn nicht nach Hause zurückgebracht.

Vier Jahre war Sabine Engl mit ihrem Mann verheiratet, 2007 kam die Trennung. Das gemeinsame Sorgerecht für ihren damals vierjährigen Sohn regelten beide mit einem rechtsverbindlichen Vertrag. Darin wurde festgelegt, dass Marvin bei seiner Mutter wohnt. Der Vater sollte den Jungen am Wochenende von Freitag bis Samstag bei sich haben. In den Ferien lebte Marvin die Hälfte der Zeit bei der Mutter, die andere Hälfte beim Vater. Doch nach den letzten Herbstferien bringt der Vater Marvin einfach nicht zurück. Er schickt nur eine SMS mit den zwei Worten: “Wird später.”

Sabine Engl. Quelle: ZDF 

ZDF
SMS an Marvins Mutter

Vater und Sohn in Norwegen?

Sabine Engl versucht immer wieder, ihren Ex-Mann zu erreichen. Sie alarmiert die Polizei, meldet ihren Sohn als vermisst. Und sie stellt Strafanzeige. Schließlich beauftragt sie eine Privatdetektei, die Vater und Sohn tatsächlich in Norwegen aufspürt. “Die sind in Norwegen unterwegs gewesen und haben dann ein Foto geschossen, worauf ich den Marvin und meinen Ex-Mann erkennen kann”, sagt Sabine Engl. Doch die Spur verliert sich.

Die Polizei vernimmt unterdessen Verwandte und Freunde des Mannes. Dabei finden die Beamten heraus, dass die neue Lebensgefährtin Vater und Sohn am 16. Oktober 2009 zum Düsseldorfer Flughafen gebracht hat. Auch die Flugtickets im Wert von rund 1.600 Euro sind von ihrer Kreditkarte abgebucht worden. Doch die Lebensgefährtin besteht darauf, nicht zu wissen, wohin beide geflogen sind und nicht mehr mit ihnen in Kontakt zu stehen.

Marvin. Quelle: ZDF 

ZDF
Foto der Detektei

Europaweite Fahndung ausgeschrieben

Nun bleibt Sabine Engl als letzte Hoffnung die deutsche Justiz. Das alleinige Sorgerecht hat sie bereits erwirkt. Im Januar, drei Monate nach dem Verschwinden Marvins, gibt die Staatsanwaltschaft Kaiserslautern eine europaweite Fahndung nach dem Vater raus. Doch das bedeutet nicht, dass eine Verhaftung vorgenommen werden soll. Christian Schröder, Staatsanwalt in Kaiserslautern, erklärt: “Es ist eine Fahndung, die sich darauf richtet, den Aufenthalt des Beschuldigten festzustellen. Es ist keine Fahndung, die auch dem Ziel dient, ihn festzunehmen.”

Sabine Engl. Quelle: ZDF 

ZDF
Sabine Engl vermisst ihren Sohn

Denn eine Festnahme mit Haftbefehl setzt voraus, dass Marvins Vater für seine Straftat eine Freiheitsstrafe erwartet. Aber das ist hier nicht der Fall. Ihm drohe lediglich eine Geldstrafe, so Schröder.

Zitat

„Ich träume jede Nacht irgendwelche schlimmen Sachen, manchmal auch gute, dass ich ihn wiederhabe. “

Sabine Engl

Mutter hat schlaflose Nächte

Sabine Engl bemüht sich mit ihrer Tochter Jennifer aus erster Ehe, den Alltag zu meistern. Doch seit dem Verschwinden ihres Sohnes fehlt ihr die Kraft. “Ich träume jede Nacht irgendwelche schlimmen Sachen, manchmal auch gute, dass ich ihn wiederhabe. Ich hab einfach auch schlaflose Nächte, unzählige.” Zurzeit bleiben ihr nur die Erinnerungen an glückliche Zeiten. Doch Sabine gibt die Hoffnung nicht auf, Marvin bald wieder bei sich zu haben.

Wo ist Marvin?

Wenn Sie Informationen zu dem Fall haben oder Marvin und seinen Vater gesehen haben, wenden Sie sich bitte an die Staatsanwaltschaft Kaiserslautern unter der Telefonnummer 0631-3721200 (ortsüblicher Tarif). Weitere Kontaktinformationen finden Sie auf der Website(Externer Link – Öffnet in neuem Fenster) der Staatsanwaltschaft.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

Parental Abduction – Lesson 1


By: Jake Morphonios

Imagine…

You wait for your former spouse to return your son following a schedule weekend visit. When your child isn’t returned, you go to the other parent’s home only to discover that the apartment has been vacated.

The physiological response in each of these situations is the same. Your heart begins to pound and your adrenaline starts to surge through your veins as the realization dawns that your children are gone. In an instant your brain considers possible explanations, but they each defy logic. Your brain already knows what your heart is desperately trying to deny. Your children have been kidnapped.

There are few horrors that can rival the experience of having one’s child kidnapped. Movies and television shows sensationalize child abduction. The nightly news further distorts correct understanding of child abduction by only reporting on the most dramatic of cases, for example, the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. There exists, however, a less-glamorous form of child abduction which is perpetrated by the child’s own parent.

Parental Kidnappings

Each year there are more than 350,000 child abductions in America. The vast majority of these kidnappings are perpetrated by one of the child’s parents. The official term for this type of crime is “parental child abduction”, but it is also referred to as a “child kidnapping” or “child snatching”. Regardless of the terminology, the fact that the child is taken by the other parent does not diminish or negate the raw emotional trauma inflicted upon the other parent.

Parental kidnapping is the unlawful abduction of a child by one parent which deprives the other parent of their lawful custody of the child.  In divorce situations, the abductor may be the custodial or the non-custodial parent. This means that even if the abductor is the custodial parent or primary caregiver, if the abduction deprives the other parent of his or her court ordered visitation time then the custodial parent is guilty of parental child abduction.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention conducted an intensive and thorough research study on child abduction in America. The project is called the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART). The section that focused specifically on children abducted by family members is called NISMART-2. This article extensively references the NISMART-2. The original study may be found at: http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org

Defining Parental Child Abduction

“For the purposes of NISMART-2, family abduction was defined as the taking or keeping of a child by a family member in violation of a custody order, a decree, or other legitimate custodial rights, where the taking or keeping involved some element of concealment, flight, or intent to deprive a lawful custodian indefinitely of custodial privileges.”

The NISMART-2 elaborates on the definition above by further defining the following terms:

  • Taking: Child was taken by a family member in violation of a custody order or decree or other legitimate custodial right.
  • Keeping: Child was not returned or given over by a family member in violation of a custody order or decree or other legitimate custodial right.
  • Concealment: Family member attempted to conceal the taking or whereabouts of the child with the intent to prevent return, contact or visitation.
  • Flight: Family member transported or had the intent to transport the child from the State for the purpose of making recovery more difficult.
  • Intent to deprive indefinitely: Family member indicated intent to prevent contact with the child on an indefinite basis or to affect custodial privileges indefinitely.

Conceptualizing the Problem

Of the 203,900 parental child abduction cases studied, 57% were labeled as “caretaker missing”, meaning that the victimized parent did not know where the child was for at least 1 hour, became alarmed and searched for the missing child. However, the NISMART-2 reveals:

“It is possible for a child to have been unlawfully removed from custody by a family member, but for that child’s whereabouts to be fully known. Thus, a child can be abducted but not necessarily missing.”

In fact, the study found that 43% of the children kidnapped were not thought of as “missing” by the victimized parent because the child’s whereabouts were known to the victim parent.

“Although the family abductions described in this study typically had certain disturbing elements such as attempts to prevent contact or alter custodial arrangements permanently, they did not generally involve the most serious sorts of features associated with the types of family abductions likely to be reported in the news. Actual concealment of the child occurred in a minority of episodes. Use of force, threats to harm the child and flight from the State were uncommon. In contrast to the image created by the word ‘abduction,’ most of the children abducted by a family member were already in the lawful custody of the perpetrator when the episode started. In addition, nearly half of the family abducted children were returned in 1 week or less.”

Even if the child is not considered missing, the abduction is still considered child abuse because of the damage that it inflicts upon the child. The NISMART-1 found that, “family abduction can result in psychological harm to the child” and the NISMART-2 states that “family abductions constitute an important peril in the lives of children it is important to remember that the potential harm to family abducted children exists whether or not they are classified as missing”.

Characteristics of Parental Abductions

Location and Season. 73% of parental abductions took place in the child’s own home or yard, or in the home or yard of a relative or friend. Children were removed from schools or day care centers in only 7% of the cases. In 63% of the cases, the children were already with the abductor in lawful circumstances immediately prior to the abduction.

Police Contact. In 40% of all cases, the aggrieved parent did not contact the police to report the abduction. The study found a number of reasons for this, but the majority of responses indicated that the parent did not believe that the police would intervene in the matter because the child’s whereabouts were known, they were in the care of a legal guardian, and it did not appear that the child was being harmed. The highest percentage of abductions took place during the summer.

Ages. 45% of abductors were in their 30’s. 44% of abducted children were younger than age 6.

Indicators of serious episodes. “The use of threats, physical force, or weapons was relatively uncommon in family abductions.” 17% were moved out of State with the intent to make recovery more difficult. 44% were concealed, at least temporarily, from the victimized parent-+. 76% included attempts to prevent contact. 82% included intent to permanently affect the custodial privileges of the aggrieved parent.

Conclusion

Parental child abduction is the unlawful kidnapping of a child by one parent which deprives the other parent of his or her lawful custodial rights. This kind of child snatching not only victimizes the other parent, but it is also a serious form of child abuse.

When the abducting parent chooses to go underground or flees the state or country, recovery of the child becomes exceptionally difficult – and sometimes impossible. Because of this, if you suspect that your child is at risk of abduction you must act now. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of abduction, as well as actions designed to make the recovery of your child far more likely.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com

New Definition of Parental Alienation Syndrome


What is the Difference Between Parental Alienation (PA) and Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?

by Douglas Darnall

In Dr. Richard Gardner’s second edit of parental alienation syndrome, he defined PAS as “a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrination and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent.” He went on to emphasize the point that if “true parental abuse and / or neglect is present” and the child’s animosity is justified, PAS would not be an appropriate explanation for the children’s feelings.

Gardner describes what the severely alienated child will look like. To better understand PAS and help prevent the damage its causes children and families, I am suggesting that parents and the courts must understand the process that leads to PAS. Therefore I am defining parental alienation (PA), rather than PAS, as any constellation of behaviors, whether conscious or unconscious, that could evoke a disturbance in the relationship between a child and the other parent.


My definition of Parental Alienation is different from Dr. Gardner’s original definition of PAS in 1987: “a disturbance in which children are preoccupied with deprecation and criticism of a parent-denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated.” I am placing the emphasis on the brainwashing process while Dr. Gardner’s definition goes a step further to explain that the term is similar in meaning to brainwashing except that he adds the additional component of the child becoming active participant in the denigrating the targeted parent. In effect, the child has been successfully brainwashed.

With either definition, the motivation for the alienating parent has both a conscious as well as “a subconscious or unconscious” component.

The children themselves may have motivations that will make the alienation worse. Their hedonistic outlook for immediate gratification or their desire to avoid discomfort makes them vulnerable allies for siding with the alienating parent. The children become an advocate for the alienating parent by becoming the spokesperson for their parent’s hatred. They become the soldiers while the alienating parent is the general directing the action in the background against the targeted parent. The children are frequently unaware of how they are being used. It is most important to understand that if the child is angry and refuses to visit the targeted parent because of actual abuse or neglect, the child’s behavior is not a manifestation of PAS. This is why the issue of false allegations is so important.

Another difference in what I am outlining in my book (“Divorce Casualties: Protecting Your Children From Parental Alienating“) is my emphasis on the alienating parents rather then on the severity of symptoms. I believe this is important because parents (both mothers and fathers) must be able to honestly look at their behavior, identify the symptoms of alienation (not just the symptoms of PAS), and learn strategies for preventing PA regardless of whether the parent is the alienator or the targeted parent. I believe that alienation is a reciprocal process where both parents get caught up in alienation.

Dr. Gardner’s most controversial solution for dealing with severe alienation was to remove the children from the alienator’s home and place the child with the targeted parent. Later, however, he recanted his recommendation, saying that the children “are likely to run away and do everything possible to return to [the alienating parent’s] home (Gardner, 1992).”  Dr. Gardner then recommended “transitional sites” such as friend or family member’s house, a community shelter, or hospital. Each site would have a different level of supervision and resources to help the children and targeted parent. Hospitalization would be used only as a last resort.

Dr. Gardner’s definition emphasized the point that the child must be an active participant with the alienating parent in degrading the targeted parent.  My definition of Parental Alienation (PA) focuses more on the parent’s behavior and less on the child’s role in degrading the victimized parent, because alienation can occur well before the parent’s hatred for the other parent permeates the child’s beliefs about the victimized parent. This definition is necessary if parents are going to recognize the risk they have for unconsciously falling into a pattern of alienation if they don’t take corrective action. By the time the children have come to agree with the alienating parent’s propaganda, it can too late to prevent the significant damaging effects of the alienation. *(See Note at the end of this article for an important new finding.)
Also, Dr. Gardner’s definition states that the criticism of the other parent must be unjustified and/or exaggerated. I do not believe this is necessary. One parent can alienate the children against the other parent simply by harping on faults that are real and provable. Divorced parents need to understand that their children need to love both parents if at all possible, even if they themselves have years ago ceased to love their ex-spouse or ex-partner. They should help the children to dwell on the other parent’s good points rather than the faults.

It is important to keep in mind that that alienation is not about the horrible parent or “bad guy,” versus the targeted parent or “good guy.” The “bad guy-good guy” roles rotate. The same parent can be both the alienator and the victim, depending on how he or she is behaving. It is not uncommon for a targeted parent to retaliate with alienating behavior against the other parent. At this point, the parents have reversed their roles. This process can occur well before PAS manifest itself. The problem now is that the alienation escalates back and forth, each parent retaliating against the other. What does this do to your children? It is this vicious cycle that must be prevented or stopped.

You can’t assume that the targeted parent is without fault. Targeted parents can become alienators when they retaliate because of their hurt. Now they are in the role of the alienator and the other parent becomes the victim. The roles become blurred because it’s now difficult to know who is the alienator and who is the victim or targeted parent. Often both parents feel victimized. Alienation is a process, not a person.

Understanding parental alienation is paramount for a child’s welfare and a parent’s own peace of mind. Divorced parents, grandparents, judges, mediators, attorneys, and mental health workers all need to understand the dynamics of parental alienation, recognize the symptomatic behavior, and execute tactics for combating the malady.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Service

Visit our web site at: www.abpworld.com