200,000 innocent, defenseless American, Canadian, Mexican, and Caribbean Island nation children are expected to be taken from their homes, their family, their friends, their country, and the lives they knew over the next decade. In the process, these children’s identities, security, and their right to love are taken from them. The abductor? One of the child’s other parents, who has illegally either removed a child of a relationship or marriage from the country or wrongfully detained the child in a foreign country in contradiction to court orders.
Based upon the statistical severity of international parental child abduction cases (IPCA), it is critical that parents, particularly parents in at-risk relationships, become aware of the warning signs of a potential abduction, and familiarize themselves with what steps they may take if a possible threat exists.
According to the not-for profit International Child Abduction Research & Enlightenment Foundation (I CARE Foundation), a recent research study strongly indicates the possibility that as many as 200,000 to 225,000 children living in North America will be internationally kidnapped by one parent from another over the next decade.
The number of attempted international parental child abductions (IPCA), which numbers are expected to far exceed the actual international kidnappings exponentially.
The total number of global international parental child abductions is unknown; however, they are expected to be significant.
Chasing The Cyclone Best-selling author and I CARE Founding Director Peter Thomas Senese commented on what is a clear plague that is destroying lives, “The situation of IPCA is very serious and at pandemic proportions. The problem has been that the anticipated number of international parental child abduction cases has not been previously published because there has been limited studies and research conducted to previously assess the actual number of abductions until the research study titled ‘Crisis In America’ was first published last year by Florida CAPA law writer Carolyn Vlk and myself.
“In this initial report, review and analysis of previous government reporting methodologies were analyzed, while also allocating great weight to how previous statistical methodologies were created and implemented. What we discovered was highly questionable statistical methodologies and unaccountable data coupled with a failure to include abduction cases that have gone unreported largely due to a large and growing immigration migration population in the North America, and particularly in the United States.
“There was no previous published studies that forecasted future IPCA cases by weighing the ‘reported’ number of abduction cases and the statistically measurable number of ‘unreported’ abduction cases, and juxtapose this source data with existing political, social, and cultural trends that will impact the abduction rate. Outside factors included but were not limited to population growth, increases in cross-cultural marriages, ease and existence of immigration migration, economic considerations, marriage and divorce rate, child birth rate, the creation of new laws intended to prevent IPCA, nation participation of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and social awareness of IPCA and warning signs associated with a possible abduction.”
Most concerning, the ease of which a parent is able to abduct a child despite IPCA being a federal crime of kidnapping is alarming.
New York City attorney Joel S. Walter, who has practiced complex law primarily in the United States Federal Courts and who is a member of the Board of Directors of the I CARE Foundation and a member of the United States Department of State’s Hague Convention Attorney Network said, “The challenges targeted parents of IPCA face include, but are not limited to:
- According to the DOJ, most IPCA cases are caused because one parent seeks revenge, and desires to hurt the other parent.
- In the vast majority of cases, a child is used as a pawn, and often times, the abductor implements various forms of parental alienation against the other parent in order to have the child sanction their act of abduction.
- Unfortunately, the overwhelming number of targeted parents who have their child stolen never see the warning signs or chose to not pay attention to the warning signs of a potential abduction.
- IPCA is a federal crime of kidnapping. Each state has its own criminal statute that deals with this act. However, very rarely does an abducting parent get charged with the criminal offense since both law enforcement and our courts all too often view IPCA a ‘family court matter’, when in reality, this is a serious crime.
- Very rarely will a country who receives an extradition request for a parent who has committed IPCA uphold the request. This is due to many reasons including legal, political, or cultural issues.
- In cases where IPCA occurs, the common belief is to turn to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. However, many countries, including those found in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East are not members of the Hague Convention, thus forcing a targeted parent to attempt to litigate their child’s return in a foreign court in the country their child was abducted to, which often is filled with bias. And then there is the issue that many countries such as Brazil and Mexico, who are members of the international convention, are known to not uphold the intent and spirit of the convention.
- Of course there are real problematic issues too, including finding out where your child was taken to. Knowing where your child is obviously is critical.
- But even when you know where your child is, and even though this is a serious crime, unfortunately, for U.S. citizens, if your child is abducted overseas, you are responsible for all the financial costs associated with recovery. If you do not have at your disposal large sums of money, in essence you are facing a very hard difficult road ahead of you.
- The emotional and spiritual difficulties are substantial as so too is the complex legal system targeted parents have to navigate in order to try to bring their child home.”
So what does a parent do?
They try to prevent abduction from happening
Obviously education and awareness is key.
Fortunately the International Child Abduction Research and Enlightenment Foundation (I CARE) has made educating other parents of the risk factors a priority. In addition, the research oriented self-funded not-for-profit organization has embarked on numerous research projects revolving around IPCA, and is working on various legislative initiatives that will help stop abduction.
Two primary legislative initiatives of the I CARE Foundation include seeking a modification to the existing Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that presently allows children traveling from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico by land or sea and who are under the age of 16 years old to only present a photocopy of a naturalization document such as a birth certificate when they cross a border. Under the I CARE’s initiative, a valid passport would be required for all international travel regardless of type of travel or age. Additionally, the second initiative would establish a security screening list for individuals who possess U.S. citizenship and who are considered by either courts or law enforcement as a high-risk child abductor.
Obviously new laws do not help parents today. But understanding the facts and realities of IPCA do.
In order to educate others about the risks of IPCA, Peter Thomas Senese has written Chasing The Cyclone. Book critics and advocates alike are praising Mr. Senese’s writing and story of IPCA as a book every loving parent should read. Here are a few accolades extended to Mr. Senese that provide insight onto IPCA:
The highly influential New York Journal of Books said of Chasing The Cyclone, “Chasing The Cyclone is a well-written thriller . . . Senese shares myriad emotions by writing in the first-person as he weaves through the action in this suspense-filled story . . . This novel might also be considered a treatise on international child abduction. Cyclone, while full of actual strategies and resources to assist parents in international abductions, is above all else a love story about a father and son … From Los Angeles, to Canada, to New Zealand, and eventually, Macau, a special administrative region of China, Cyclone is rife with international intrigue and suspense. The protagonist, Paul Francesco, orchestrates a master plan that he hopes will reunite him with the love of his life – his son. Along the way he finds himself swamped in red tape and drenched in frustration. Filled with a plethora of powerful characters and puzzling predicaments and dead ends, the story moves quickly . . . Cyclone will leave you informed and satisfied . . . you will be reluctant to put down.”
The renown Guilty Pleasures Book Review, known as one of the nation’s top book critic book review sites by women for women said, “If I had to use one word to describe Chasing the Cyclone by Peter Thomas Senese it would be phenomenal. As in remarkable. Extraordinary. I have read many books over the years, for enjoyment, for education, because I had to, because I wanted to. I cannot think of any other book that comes close to making me feel as I did when I read this book. I believe these feelings will stick with me forever. This story, inspired by horrific events, is about the love between a father and a son. And that love is beautiful . . . Mr. Senese’s is evidenced by a large number of sworn testimonials by many thankful parents who Mr. Senese has directly helped in either reuniting with their own child or preventing their child from being internationally abducted. Establishing the I CARE Foundation and being closely involved in the rescue attempts of abducted children is but one of the many impactful acts of Mr. Senese. Clearly, ‘involved’ for Mr. Senese means financially, emotionally, legally, and investigative support. His selflessness is inspiring. He is hope.”
The highly respected True Crimes Book Review added, “Chasing the Cyclone is a gripping story. Writing in a style that reads much like a diary, Senese blends cold, hard facts with a fictional plot – a plot which will evoke heartbreak, rage, disgust, and a whole host of other emotions you can’t put a name to . . . I never realized just how prevalent international child abductions are and the ridiculous hoops a Chasing Parent must go through to be reunited with their child . . . And last, but definitely not least, hug your child. Tightly. To know where your child is, is something many of us take for granted. Too many parents would give anything just to know where to start looking.”
Well, there are no fool-proof warning signs that your spouse or ex-spouse is thinking of taking your child across international borders, with or without your permission and knowledge. However, there are in fact many signs and signals that can provide you with insight that your spouse or former spouse is intending to abduct with your child. Most of all, trust your instincts. If you have reason to believe that your spouse is in the process or is contemplating the abduction of your child, you must not wait: contact your local police and a lawyer familiar with family law and custody matters. You may need to file an ex parte (an Emergency without notice filing) motion to the court of jurisdiction where the child lives, seeking court intervention prior to when the abduction or wrongful retention occurs. Under most laws, the judge will have to hear your application so long as you present enough strong and credible evidence that your spouse or ex spouse is planning to take your child across state or international borders.
Please visit Peter Thomas Senese’s official website for Chasing The Cyclone to view a complete list of the author’s Warning Signs of a potential abduction, or on what to do If An Abduction Is Imminent.
Remember, tens of thousands of parents who have had their children stolen never saw it coming. Don’t let this happen to you. Educate yourself.
I am also pleased to share that best-selling author Peter Thomas Senese is donating 100% of his e-book royalties earned from Chasing The Cyclone to the I CARE Foundation in order to help create a few miracles and reunite children who were wrongfully taken.
Click here to purchase Chasing The Cyclone by Peter Thomas Senese on Amazon.
Here is a YouTube video on Warning Signs that Peter created to help-