Saturday, July 25, 2009

Parental abduction wisdom, pt 4: Parental kidnappings up 70%

by Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon--

“’Right then, I knew my life was over….’”

“American Janet Greer lost her 3-year-old daughter, Dowsha, 12 years ago when her boyfriend took the child from Hawaii to Egypt. She had pleaded with a judge for sole custody when the unmarried couple split fearing her ex might flee. The judge refused. Her worst fear was realized when Dowsha never returned from a weekend visit with her father.

"’Right then I knew my life was over,’ recalled Greer. ‘Right then I knew he had her.’

“Greer fought for years to see her daughter, even winning a ruling in the Egyptian courts. The ruling was never enforced.” (Source: ABC News)

The U.S. State Department reports that parental abductions involving American children are rising. There were more than 1,000 new cases of American children taken by a parent to another country in 2008 — a 70 percent increase in the past two years.

There is probably a corresponding increase in the number of domestic U.S. parental abductions, but that data is difficult to find.

The U.S. Department of Justice has calculated the total number of parental abductions across the U.S. at more than 200,000 cases each year.

This figure is probably an undercount, as many parental abduction cases that are reported to local law enforcement by victims go no further than that.

In Oregon, for example, the State Police operates its Missing Children’s Clearinghouse, but the OSP rarely receives reports regarding abducted children from local police agencies and its clearinghouse site is both hard to find and updated infrequently.

The unstable U.S. economy is one factor behind the increase in international parental abductions. It has led to layoffs of foreign-born workers, which might prompt a parent to return to his or her home country and take a child with them.

Other reasons include the increase in binational marriages and the combination of international travel and divorce.

“’The international tug-of-wars get even more difficult to resolve when nations
disagree on which parent should keep a child. It's not just a U.S. trend, it's a worldwide trend,’ said Julie Furuta-Toy, director of the Office of Children's Issues at the U.S. Department of State.

"’In the long term, it is the children who suffer,’ she said.”

Parental abductions are cases of extreme cruelty, where one parent’s desire to harm the other parent falls one step short of actual homicide, leading the parent to commit a criminal act despite the obvious severe harm to the child.

“Rick Paris was taken from Argentina at age 6 in the 1950s and brought to the states for polio treatment by his American mother. She told him his father and grandfather were killed in a car accident. Mother and son moved several times and she often changed their names.

“At 16, Paris learned his father was still alive. He called his father who arranged a reunion in Argentina. The two stayed close until Paris' father died two years ago. Paris believes the psychological toll on the children in abduction cases is huge, regardless of what may appear to be happy reunions.

"’Parental kidnappings are definitely one of those gifts that keeps on giving,’ said Paris. ‘It deeply and fundamentally affects your ability to trust, your ability to create meaningful relationships. It sure does stay with you forever.’

In a case that recently made some stir in the media, David Goldman has been fighting to get his son back ever since his former wife took the child to Brazil and never returned. She later died, and the boy has been living with his stepfather in Brazil.

“U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, has been advocating for Goldman. He recently introduced a bill that would remove Brazil from a duty-free trade program until Goldman's son is returned to him in the U.S.

“Since beginning his advocacy, Smith said he has heard from people across the country entangled in international child custody disputes. Goldman's fight has inspired others and brought needed attention to the issue, he said.

"’By his heroic efforts to get his son back, he's not only brought hope and renewed activity for other families, he's lifted the veil off this egregious problem for the United States Congress,’ Smith said.

"’This is a serious issue globally that Congress, the White House and the State Department has to do much more than we've done to date.’"

One of the greatest barriers to reducing the incidence of parental abductions is the complacency of the general public and of elected leaders at all levels of government.

Most can’t be bothered….



Coming next: Parental abduction wisdom, pt 5:

Sean Cruz writes

Parental Abduction Law at

Oregon’s Aaron’s Law: Stop Parental Abductions at

Blogolitical Sean at

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