Saturday, August 22, 2009

Post Abduction and the abducting parent.

By no means am I an expert on how to advise on a child's re-entry into their community post-parental abduction. Nor do I profess to possess all of the needed wisdom on how a parent should act once a reunification successfully occurs concerning ongoing ‘prevention' with respect to potential acts of future abduction. There are no easy solutions; however, there is one goal: to be able to allow your innocent child to, well, be a child.

Clearly, each international abduction case is remarkably unique regardless of the common elements that may be attributed to these types of cases and the individuals that commit these crimes.

Additionally, in situations where there existed no acts of abuse, why and how do you allow and facilitate an abducting parent who committed the horrendous criminal act of abduction against your child back into both of your lives? And how do you actually deal with a person who more than likely did everything possible to slander your name and your reputation in order to stage a defense against their criminal act of international child abduction?

If you agree to do so, then in what capacity?

Unquestionably, there is great risk involved.

On one hand your greatest responsibility as a parent is to ensure your child's safety, which includes preventing any threat of abduction from occurring again. On the other hand, what you fought for when you recovered your child was for your child's rights to know the love of both parents in an environment that empowers their sense of identity. And on top of all of this is the reality that you, a successful Chasing Parent, must deal with the very real possability that your former spouse still may be very bitter and resentful toward you; there does exist the possability that this person may attempt to cause you harm whenever the opportunity arises. In between the lines trying to determine your child’s best interests are the judges, mediators, and policymakers.

Did I mention that none of this is easy?

In writing this article, I thought perhaps parents may find some useful straight-talk that may benefit your child's short-term and long-term happiness and stability.

Now, first let me say that I am fully aware that not every situation will or should call or allow for both parents to be a part of a child's life. When there exists grave concerns of a re-abduction or any other type of danger, then it is critical to protect your child from that danger, and any notion of dual-parental re-entry should be avoided at all costs. In cases where there is great concern and mistrust, mediation can provide much needed intervention – ideally there should not be one single child that should have to endure a parental abduction.If it is realistically safe for you and your child to allow a post-abducting parent who is desirous and capable of re-entering your lives to do so, and you wish to support your child having both parents in their life, then your decision to travel down the path of careful reconciliation in the name of your child -may be a very wise one.

It is here, in a structured re-entry, that hope exists.

The trauma your child experienced during their abduction can eventually fade, with professional intervention and healing. These, children can have a normal life filled with magic and wonderment may be obtained. Surely, this is what you desire: a magical harmonious life for your child.

Again, it is not going to be easy, and there are many situations where one parent's re-entry will cause more damage than good.

Perhaps these discussions can begin to take place with a professional mediator, who has experience and knowledge in the area. Be forewarned: do not act blindly and do not forget the past events; make sure that if you allow re-entry to occur, that every step is made to remove any form of re-abduction or abuse.

All jurisdictional legalities should be first addressed and you should careful craft any Access Orders before the children leave the jurisdiction.

Once these steps are taken, the custodial parent can begin to encourage the child to have access with the abducting parent.Dialogue and visits with the abducting parent can assist the child and fully allow for the healing process to continue. This can empower the child which in the long term will help their growth and development. After all, we do not want our children to take on the role of a victim but the role of a survivor .

This will strengthen their spirit and empower them, teaching them the future does not have to be like the past.

I imagine you might be wondering why I think I have some authority to write this article. Well, the answer is simple: I am a Chasing Parent who successfully recovered, reunited, and re-entered my community with my son, and along the way, have created an environment that has made it possible for him to receive and understand the love of both of his parents.

Openly, it is not easy, and I do live with daily concern that my former spouse may attempt to hurt me if ever given the opportunity.It is a risk that I have presently decided to take for my son's sake.

You may take what you want from what I share, but I thought certain individuals might benefit from the lessons I have learned personally and also educated on by other Chasing Parents who have previously addressed the issue of re-entry.

Before I go any further, I want to reinforce my position that I strongly support the full and complete enforcement of all criminal laws created to prevent parental child abduction in all forms and arenas.When one parent chooses to deny a child their rights to the other parent by breaking the laws that govern their child's welfare, purposefully removing or detaining their child from the country of origin in a foreign country without consent of the other parent, this cruel criminal act of kidnapping places the child, along with all other parties, in a position of grave and severe risk.

I also believe that our court system and the lack of knowledge and education by judges in the area of international custodial jurisdiction is a significant reason why there are so many international child abduction cases. Our legal system does not work the way it has the potential to. What I mean by ‘our legal system' are the courts, generally, worldwide, and how they handle both incoming and outgoing international child abduction cases. Training and research in this area can bring about immediate and much needed change. An un-informed and uneducated judicial system plays a heavy role in the cruelty our children face, and there are many other problems that must be addressed, however prevention must first start with creating a highly trained judicial system supported with heavy research and people with hands on experience.

One highly regarded suggestion with respect to overhauling the legal system is for nations to form a body of judges and mediators solely trained to serve in a "Parental Abduction Tribunal Unit". This tribunal would consist of judges, mediators and helping professionals aimed to address and handle parental abduction cases. This Unit would be responsible for hearing international child abduction cases. This idea stems from the United Kingdom; the only country that has highly informed and trained judges overseeing international child abduction legal proceedings and has been very affective.

Back to re-entry post child abduction ... here are some suggestions I have implemented that appear to be working for my child. None of them have been easy to do, but due to these efforts, my child lives in a worry-free, safe environment filled with the love of both of his parents.

1. Lose the ego. Let's be frank about certain realities. First, you probably do not like or trust the other parent; and obviously for good reason - you were forced into the deadliest of storms by the act of utter abuse - the abduction of your child. You may still view your child's other parent as your enemy, and you may still have great fear of that person's capability, however, your child probably doesn't view that parent as their enemy, and if they do, then you better stop whatever you're doing and help change this perspective because it will cripple any sense of security and identity she/he may have. What you need to know is your child needs you both as parents to stop being enemies. In order to do that, you both need to take a giant step forward and lose your egos. This doesn't mean you need to be that person's friend, but you need to compartmentalize certain parts of your painful history with that person in the name of the best interest of your child.

2. Forgiveness. After you decide that you're going to do your best to lose your ego and compartmentalize your anger, the next critical step in being able to facilitate your child's re-entry is probably the most difficult of all things you will be required to do: the act of forgiveness. Okay, now trust me; I know how hard this issue is. That is why you need to first lose your ego. Once you've tossed it, remember these words: Your child needs you to act in forgiveness. If you fail to do so, then you are creating an environment filled with hostility and fear, which will cause potentially irreparable and severe psychological damage to your innocent child. So if you want your child to grow up a mess, then hold onto the anger and the hatred. Alternatively, you can set an example for your child that will be one of the greatest gifts you can ever share: teach the powerful act of forgiveness.

3. Create an open environment of expression. Regardless of whether you want to believe it or not, once a child is wrongfully removed or detained by one parent from the other, the child lives in a perpetual state of fear and worry. This precludes them from being able to share openly their feelings or emotions. In every conceivable way, your child previously lived in a psychological prison where true freedom of expression caused great anxiety. Whilst held in this state and with each passing day, a part of their spirit died. You do not want to create another spiritual prison! Critically, you must create a nurturing and free environment that fosters open communication filled with empowering support and understanding of your child's desires, concerns and views. To put it bluntly, you need to allow your child to feel safe and unencumbered in being able to talk about anything they desire without concern of a backlash or retribution in the event you disagree with their views. Similarly, your child may desire to bring up a subject (such as the other parent) that you may not want to speak about. Remember, the more open and supportive you are of your child's views and perspectives, the more trust you will build. Trusting is everything.

4. Trust. Probably the most difficult of all the things an abducted child must learn to live with is the task of determining how to live with a lack of trust created by their abduction experience. Trust needs to be rebuilt for your child, regardless of your perspective on what occurred and who is responsible. Remember, from your child's perspective, the system that they counted on; the love and support of both mother and father, failed. Right now is probably a good time to remind you of the first golden-rule: get rid of your ego. The only perspective that really matters is the view of your child, and clearly, your child's trust was breached. So, a few suggestions for you to consider to restore trust include doing what you say you're going to do; never speak poorly about your child's other parent; never discard or hinder your child's right to the other parent; reinforce the idea your child was not responsible for the trauma that has occurred; make sure you actively reintroduce you child to the community that is part of their identity; and finally, tell the truth.

5. Family. Remember your child's family includes the both of you. In being significant parts of your child's family, both parents may provide critical components of your child's identity (I am aware that this is not always the case, and there are individuals out there who should never have been parents in the first place). What you need to guard against is creating a platform where your child's identity is associated with anger and hatred. Isn't it better, in the very least, to have cooperative distance? If that is the case, then perhaps the most helpful idea I can provide is this: don't go out of your way to hurt or be unfair to the other parent when it comes to their interaction with your child. If you do, what you're really doing in the end is punishing your child.

6. A safe place to disagree. There are going to be times when the two of you will not agree on certain issues. What you need to do when this occurs is to remember not to talk poorly about the other parent in front of your child, and, make sure that there is a mechanism (perhaps mediation) in place that can assist each of you through difficult issues.

7. Follow the law. With everything that you do, make sure that you follow the laws of custody you are governed by.

8. Be demonstrative. Hugs and kisses and the words "I love you" are just as important to your child as you being an active part of their day-to-day life. So, take an interest in what your child is doing, participate in those interests as much as you can and remember, when you do, a hug and a kiss followed by the words such as "I love you" or "I am so proud of you" will mean a great deal to your child long after they have grown into adulthood.

9. When in doubt, act on the side of caution. As a Chasing Parent, you and your child would not be in the position you are in unless a well orchestrated conspiracy to abduct your child was not carried out by the other parent. Do not forget how clever that plan was and how you were perhaps caught off guard. One simple rule to live by: if something doesn't seem right, it probably is not. If that is the case, act with great caution and always ask the advice of a good lawyer familiar with international child abduction jurisdiction law on how to act. If you can't afford a lawyer any longer, there are plenty of smart individuals that work in the trenches of international child abduction that can give you some insight based upon their own experiences ... they are called ‘Chasing Parents'.

10. Let your child be a child. Remember your child has the right to be a child.

11. Be ready for an attack. The reality of an abducting parent's situation once they are ordered home is that these individuals are typically angry, bitter, and hostile. In addition, there has been much said about the fact that in the vast majority of cases, abducting parents do have serious mental problems. So, you must remember that there is a chance that revenge and the desire to cause the Chasing Parent left behind in the wake of an international child abduction - which is cited by most leading authorities as the primary reason why a parent abducts their child - may now exist in a post-reunification world even more than during the time your child was stolen.

I know - none of this is easy!

Now that you've read a few of my suggestions, you might think I must have fallen on my head a few times. Perhaps, you're thinking that what I am suggesting is to have you forget whatever happened in the past or it does not matter. Well, I'm not saying those things at all. What I am suggesting is that you need to look at things from your child's perspective, needs, and best interests (both short-term and long-term). In order to do so, anger and resentment fueled by ego, pain and fear must be compartmentalized, not discarded. In its place must be an enforceable set of expectations and boundaries that both parents are accountable to uphold in the name of your child. And you must be mindful that revenge and anger probably still exists.There are a few simple things that some parents have found to be effective tools in helping children heal from a parental abduction. Allow your child time to play, laugh and sing. You might want to join them too. This too, is very therapeutic.

In reality, international parental child abduction remains very easy to accomplish due to failures by judges to realize that their court orders mean very little if anything at all once a child is removed to another country, and, the incomprehensible failure by police-keeping officers to uphold the laws of the courts with respect to a child's rights of access, visitation, and custody of one of their parents.

I also want to be very specific and state that this act is a grave crime against children. Unfortunately, many abducting parents do not fear criminal prosecution while planning and implementing their criminal conspiracy (I know of no act of parental child abduction whereas the abducting parent did not breach numerous criminal codes or rules of court). Clearly, a collective effort by highly educated judges willing and able to enforce the laws they are duty-bound to oversee will significantly reduce the number of planned or actual abductions.

Ultimately, your child needs a loving, safe environment that allows them to be a child. What your child needs is to trust again while embracing love without fear of retribution. Remember, nobody said any of this is going to be easy, however, if you're in a position to think about the issues I have brought up, there is a good chance the difficult part of the journey you, your child, and the abducting parent have traveled on may be over . . . but that depends on how you both as parents interact with one another.

The level or degree of dysfunction, the threat of re-abduction, awareness, legal prevention established to prevent another abduction from occurring, self reflection on the choice and consequences to allow or not to allow the abducting parent re-entry, are all issues that must be considered. This, re-entry, will impact the child and parent and are all variables that must be discussed, especially when dealing with mental illness. However, issues will surface for a child when the abducting parent is capable of having a loving bond and this, is taken away forever from a child. When children are not allowed or forbidden to have any access or visits after re-entry with the abducting parent this can also hinder the child’s development. In the same manner, when abducted children are forced to return to re- visit an abducting parent via a Court Order, before a healing period, this too can have long term consequences on the children as it prolongs and continues the abuse. The justice system is not fair however, parents can choose to practice fairness as this is in the best interests of their children.

One last piece of advice: keep your eyes open at all times, whilst creating the best possible open, loving and supportive environment of your child. Remember, there was a time when you may have thought you would never see your child again, so make sure you celebrate each day.

For more information on international parental child abduction, please visit www.chasingthecyclone.com.

Signs of a Potential International Child Abduction.

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.

1. Be aware of the possibility of any abduction. Although there are no foolproof warning signs for abduction risk, some indicators should not be ignored. Do not stick your head in the sand and pretend that your child is not at risk.

2. The vast majority of international child abductions occur by a parent who is determined to cause hardship and harm to the other parent. The instrument that they use in order to cause this harm is the child or children of the marriage. A significant number of leading therapist from around the world have stated in numerous reports that revenge is the primary and leading reason why one parent will try to end the other parent’s relationship with their own child. Therefore, if you are involved with a person who has jealous or revengeful tendencies, you must be aware that these characteristics are common in the vast majority of would-be parental child abductors.

3. If the issues raised in Section 2 are true in your situation and your spouse or former spouse has in the past used the child of your marriage or relationship to cause you harm, pain, and suffering, or, has tried to control and manipulate your actions, then your concern should be magnified ten-fold. If the same individual has family members in another country or has lived in another country and has expressed a desire or threat to move there with your child, your concern should be magnified one-hundred fold.

4. If there is evidence of previous abductions, disappearances, or threats to abduct the child by your spouse or ex-spouse, these indicators demonstrate that any new abduction threat is real and in more likelihood already planned.

5. If your spouse or ex-spouse has citizenship in another country and strong emotional or cultural ties to their country of origin.

6. Unexplainable removal of cash deposits and diminished assets, or unexplainable increases in credit card or bank debt.

7. Concealment of new credit cards or bank debt.

8. Concealed, hidden, and abrupt communication with individuals or family members living in a foreign country.

9. Concealed, hidden, and abrupt communication with a lawyer.

10. Frequent previous trips with child to a foreign country without other parent.

11. Family and friends living in a foreign country.

12. No strong ties to a child's home state.

13. Strong foreign support network.

14. No financial reason to stay.

15. Possible use of the child as a pawn in order to gain access to non-joint assets.

16. Engaged in planning activities such as quitting job; selling home; terminating lease; closing bank accounts or liquidating assets; hiding or destroying documents; or securing a passport, a birth certificate, or school medical records.

17. A history of marital instability, lack of cooperation with the other parent, domestic violence, or child abuse.

18. An announcement of an unexpected trip to another country with the child.

19. The taking of easily transportable high-valued items such as jewelry upon departing to another country.

20. Adamant unwillingness to leave the child behind with you while spouse travels to a foreign country.

21. Shipping of personal items to a foreign country.

22. A past tendency of your spouse or ex-spouse to relocate and live abroad.

23. In certain jurisdictions – whereas both parents have a joint-right to custody – it is conceivable that a parent possessing a right of custodial authority over the child (this can be joint or sole custody) can legally remove the child of the marriage/partnership to another country for an undetermined period of time (claiming a holiday or short-term trip) without needing permission or actually informing the other parent if a pre-existing travel agreement is not in place already with the court. Essentially, a parent exercising their right of custody over their child can legally remove the child of the marriage/partnership without permission from the other parent if a court order is not issued previously. Not surprisingly, many international parental child abductions occur when one parent takes the child of the marriage to another country for an alleged short ‘family visit’ – however, in reality that person has no intention of ever returning with the child to the place of habitual residency. What typically happens next in these scenarios is that the abducting parent, unknown to the left behind parent, files for a divorce in the country they have abducted to. The divorce motion and affidavit filed makes claim to all sorts of cruel and dangerous behavior against the spouse (thus the reason why they are able to file under an ex parte [without notice] motion). Once the divorce law suit is filed, the abducting parent usually will go underground with the assistance of family and/or friends who usually assisted in the planning of this act. It is critical to note that deception is a critical element in these typical scenarios: the left behind parent is left to believe that their partner and child are on a short vacation (typically to visit family of the partner) at the time of their departure. A few days or weeks later, reality sets in with either a phone call or a letter saying that the partner and child/children are not returning, and that a divorce action has been filed. So, even if you think you are happily married, it is greatly advised to have a legally binding and court registered travel agreement in place prior to either parent exercising a right of custody is granted permission to leave the country with your child.

24. Trust your instincts: if something feels wrong, it probably is. And remember that most international parental child abductions are carefully planned and typically involve the help of others.

25. Discovery of either a U.S. passport or a foreign passport issued by another country in your child's name that you are not aware of.

For more information on international parental child abduction, please visit http://www.chasingthecyclone.com/.

If you are a parent who beleives that your child is in immediate danger, contact your local police and the Office of Children's Issues at the U.S. Department of State immediately.

What To Do If An International Child Abduction Is Immanent Or In Progress

When you believe that your child or children have been abducted by either their other parent or a non-stranger, you must remember that time is a precious commodity you do not have. You must act efficiently, thoughtfully, and purposefully with respect to all efforts that you are about to put forth in recovering your child. Of utmost importance is the fact that you need to know everything that everyone involved in your child’s recovery is doing. Critically, you must stay calm, stay alert, immediately contact law enforcement, and immediately contact a lawyer familiar with family custody law.

1. Never give up HOPE that you will find your child or children no matter how long and difficult the road you have to journey on is.

2. IMMEDIATELY contact your local police and your local branch of the FBI (in Canada, the RCMP) and share with them all the details that support your belief that your child’s abduction is imminent or in progress. Do not wait to file your police report! Make sure you have as much evidence to support your claim as possible, including any witnesses that can support your claims. While sharing this information with the police, make sure that you file a missing child report immediately. This report is important as it allows the police to place a description of the child who is missing on the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, (and in Canada the Canadian Police Information Centre {CPIC} computer system) so all police forces in the United States (and likewise, in Canada) will know the child is missing. The police should notify border crossing and all ferry, rail, airport facilities. If there is any hesitancy on their part to do so, under all circumstances demand that all border crossing locations and transportation companies (ferry services, airlines, etc.) are notified, and that all travel manifests are immediately reviewed. If you suspect parental or non-stranger abduction, provide the police with a photo of the suspected abductor, an address, telephone number and any other pertinent information about that person.

3. URGENTLY, in The United States, immediately contact the United States Department of State – Office of Children’s Issues. They can be reached at 202-736-9090 or at 888.407.4747. In Canada, contact the Justice Legal Services in Ottawa at 613.996.1300 or 613.992.6300.

4. In The United States, immediately contact the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children (1-800-The-Lost), and in Canada, contact The Missing Children Society of Canada (800.661.6160).

5. Laws in many states give judges authority to issue a 'pickup' order for the child to prevent an imminent abduction or harm to the child. Pickup orders go by different names, including 'warrant to take physical custody of a child' and 'warrant in lieu of a writ of habeas corpus'.

6. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), in effect in most states, provides an emergency ex parte proceeding for getting a law enforcement directed pickup order (in conjunction with a custody enforcement order) when abductions or serious physical harm to a child is imminent. If the requirements are met, a judge should issue an order directing law enforcement to pick up the child and to serve notice of the custody enforcement proceedings.

7. If you believe your child's safety is in danger, and you have credible evidence that your partner is intending to imminently take your child and abduct to another country - file an emergency ex parte motion in court immediately, and make sure you or your lawyer notify your local law enforcement that you are filing an emergency motion before the court.

8. When possible, you and/or someone you trust should stay in close physical proximity of the child. Consider hiring a seasoned private investigator to monitor the movements of your spouse and child.

9. STAY CALM. Contact neighbors, friends, spouse, siblings and anyone who may know where your child may be. Invite a friend or acquaintance with a "calm" manner to be with you.

10. Conduct a telephone search. Call family, friends and relatives who may wish to help. Encourage them to use their telephones to make inquiry calls so your line will remain free for incoming calls. If you have to leave the house, have an answering machine on the line or have a friend or neighbor take incoming calls.

11. Have friends and relatives conduct a basic land search of the neighborhood area while you are making a police report. With family and friends, try to recall the present and past few days of family situations and activities (a recent argument or disciplinary action could be the reason for hiding).

12. Provide the police with the information in your prepared Identification Kit. This kit should include updates clear photographs, foot and fingerprints, birth certificate, medical history, passport, dental records, X-rays, child's name and description including location of scars, birthmarks and any other identifiable data (glasses, braces, earrings, etc.). A videotape or a recent home video of the child may be made specifically for the kit. Try to keep a mental note of what your child is wearing each day.

13. Conduct a complete physical search of your area. Organize a search party of friends and relatives to search areas such as, child's route home from school, community center, friend’s houses, favorite hang-out etc. Be on the lookout for articles of clothing, toys, books other personal belongings scattered on the ground. If found, do not disturb. Contact a police officer immediately.

14. Leave someone at home at all times to answer the telephone in case your child calls.

15. Continue to keep the telephone lines FREE at all times.

16. Continue your search even if there are no immediate results. Follow up for updates on the case by contacting the investigating police officer and the provincial searching agency who registered your child.

17. Solicit media support such as radio, television, local publications and newspapers only at the advice of the police and searching agency involved with the case. Be mindful that once your spouse has illegally taken your child and is on the run, they essentially will act like a fugitive (in many cases they are due to arrest warrants issued by the local court). Typically, a person running from law enforcement is willing to take risks that they might otherwise not be inclined to take under more normal circumstances. These risks can be very concerning, and could potentially place the child as well as the abducting parent in grave and dangerous situations. So, before you solicit help from the media, weigh out the opinions and advice of law enforcement, your lawyer, and your private investigators, if you have hired for these services.

18. Distribute a photograph of the missing child as well as your spouse or ex-spouse who has taken your child.

19. Keep a detailed diary of people and agencies you have contacted and steps you have already taken. Logging the events limits the duplication of efforts and allows a review of inquiries.

20. Hire a local lawyer familiar with local and international child custody law and have your attorney appear before your local court immediately. Share with the court the details of your child’s abduction and all other relevant information to allow the judge to understand the seriousness of the matter. It is critical that you are honest, open, and credible before the court. In simple terms: do not lie, do not fabricate anything, and do not give the court any reason to question your credibility. Tell the good, the bad, and the ugly. Request that the court grant you sole full custody and sole full guardianship of your child or children if you do not already have it. Also request that the court direct your spouse to immediately return with the child to the place of original jurisdiction (if he or she has a lawyer in the jurisdiction, you should be able to serve that person [have your lawyer check on matters of service]. Request that the court issue a ‘pick-up’ order directing police officers to assist you in finding and returning your child to you.

21. If you know your child has been taken to another country, contact the United Stated Department of State – Office Of Children’s Issues and immediately file a Hague Application for the wrongful international abduction and retention of your child.

22. Make sure you monitor all bank accounts and remove all assets that are in joint-tenancy into your sole name.

23. If you are the primary holder on any assets and credit cards, immediately remove your spouse’s name on every account.

24. Immediately contact your credit card companies and put a security alert on all of your credit cards. This will direct the credit card company to request that you show proper identification to the merchant during each time you use a credit card, or, in the event of electronic online transactions, a representative from the credit card company’s security department will be required to contact you in order to authorize the transaction. Also, make sure you put two password questions and answers (not one – but two), on your bank and credit card accounts in order to prevent having anyone else other than you access your money.

25. Contact all credit reporting agencies and request that you are immediately notified of any credit inquiries, remarks, or additional accounts. Make sure that each agency issues a security alert, directing each requesting credit company to seek additional verifying information that any inquiries or applications made to their company were made by you.

26. Monitor all cell phones of your spouse, and, if possible, have all cell phones, emails, and any other communication devices monitored.

27. Check with your spouse’s friends, family, and acquaintances and see if they were aware of any information that might lead you to locate your child. Typically, a person who is standoffish, might have known of the abductor’s plans, or, has already been influenced by that person, and will be of little help to you. If that occurs, immediately report this to law enforcement investigating the abduction. If the police chose to interview that person, and they lie to law enforcement, they can be criminally charged with a crime.

28. Check in your child or children’s rooms for any hints or clues as to where they might have been taken.

29. Check your ex-spouse or spouse’s personal items for any clues as to where they might have taken your child.

30. If your ex-spouse or spouse has family that live in a foreign country, hire the services of a private investigator in that country to immediately follow your ex-spouse or spouse’s parents and other family members in order to determine where the child has been taken and is located. This very well may be the best set of dollars you will spend. Remember, any recovery actions cannot be taken until your child’s location is known. In many international parental child abduction cases, the abducting parent chooses to go underground with the child, and develops behavior similar to a fugitive on the run (they are fugitives). Typically, they have a support network in place, and the abduction has been carefully planned and enabled through the assistance of family members and friends. Finding and knowing where your child was taken to is the most important action once you know the child has been removed from the country of habitual residency. Without knowing what country your child is in – you cannot file a Hague Application … and you will be spinning your wheels endlessly trying to find out where your child is. One final note on this subject: according to the provisions in The Hague, there exists language that essentially enables a Hague judge overseeing the case to allow for a child to stay with the abducting parent if the abducting parent is able to prove to the court that returning the child to the country of origin would be detrimental to the child’s best interest. One of the techniques commonly used in a Hague defense is to demonstrate that the child or children have adjusted and desires to live in the country they were wrongfully and illegally taken to. In certain situations, a judge may believe that the child or children have settled into their ‘new life’, and that uprooting them would be harmful, and not in the child’s best interest. So – it is critically important for a Chasing Parent to know where the child was taken to as soon as possible and immediately file for the child’s return under the protocols of The Hague Convention.

31. If your child is taken to another country, consult heavily with a lawyer in your local jurisdiction familiar with The Hague Convention, and, make sure you hire a lawyer familiar with the rules of The Hague Convention in the jurisdiction you know your child was taken to.

32. Become familiar with the laws and customs of the country that your child has been taken to.

33. Consult with The International Center For Missing And Exploited Children, The National Center For Missing And Exploited Children, the governing agency who acts as The Hague Signatory for your country (in The United States, the U.S. State Department acts as the official Hague representative for The United States Government).

34. Try to keep yourself physically active, eat a healthy diet, and rest on a regular basis.

35. Never give up Hope that you will be reunited with your child.

36. Remember, you must know everything that everyone involved with your child’s recovery is doing. Do not be concerned about any or your actions other than one: finding your child. In essence – do whatever you have to do in order to protect your child – but remember, your actions must not place your child in any harm’s way. That is why it is important for you to consult with the experts – but remember – you must know everything – including as much as possible on family law, and the rules of The Hague Convention.

37. Allow and trust in The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Hague Courts do work!

38. If your child or children have been issued a passport and you have access to it, make sure you hold it and secure it in a safe place. If your child has not been issued a passport, then immediately contact the agency overseeing passport issuances, and appraise them of the present situation. Typically, law enforcement or an officer from the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues overseeing your Hague Application will do this as well.

39. In the event that your child does not have a passport from the country they habitually lived in, and no passport has been requested or issued by your local government, then make sure that law enforcement contact the local embassy of the country your spouse was originally from, and inform them of the litigation taking place.

40. One of the most important things you can do in the early stages of an international child abduction is to establish friendly contact with the relatives and friends of the other parent, both in your country and abroad. The fastest and most effective way to resolve international child abductions is for the abducting parent to return the child voluntarily. While there may be good reasons for you to believe that this approach won’t work, it is important that the effort be made.

41. Make sure you have a cell phone with you at all times, that it is fully charged, that you keep a charged back-up battery, and a back-up phone charger.

42. If you are traveling abroad to search for your child, make sure you send yourself back-up ‘emergency’ money via Western Union (Western Union is reliable, serves most locations around the world, and funds can be accessed immediately).

For more information about international parental child abduction or to read excerpts from Peter Thomas' critically acclaimed 'Chasing The Cyclone', please visit www.chasingthecyclone.com.

Friday, August 21, 2009

As an writer, I have been asked by many individuals what drives me to write, to create, and concentrate my effort as a storyteller. Well, as complex as a question as this is, my answer is actually fairly simple: I actively pursue the things that I do in for one person: my son.

I consider my fiction work to evolve around 'currency', meaning the subject matter I choose to write about is topical to society's present interests. Writing under either my given first and middle name, Peter Thomas, or under my first and last name, Peter Senese, I like to present the kaleidoscope of perspectives on any issue I write about, clearly I do take a personal position on the material I present. The subject matter I have been drawn to study and write about is very diverse. Nevertheless, I do write about my life and my experiences.

As you may or may not know, I am a 'Chasing Parent' who successfully raced into the most devastating, incomprehensible, and unexplainable of storms during the time that my own child was internationally abducted. It took a great deal of resources and time navigating the unchartered dark waters of international child abduction; however, I am one of the few parents who faced this tragedy that actually recovered and reunited with their criminally abducted child. Now, very openly, I do feel a great responsibility in assisting the hordes of other victimized children and their equally victimized Chasing Parents in trying to reunite with one another. I was blessed with the resources and ability to act in order to search the world over for my son.

The entire ordeal, even today, is mind-boggling. I am compelled to help others who face the same ordeal while also raising the publics awareness on just how complex, tragic, and dangerous international parental child abduction is.

One of the many ways I am going about trying to help other Chasing Parents is through my writing. I have penned the novel Chasing The Cyclone, which essentially is the story of my own child's recovery. It is a blueprint on what I did and how I acted in order to recover my son.

Now, let me say this: at first I was very hesitant to share what was occurring with others outside of my most immediate circle during the long period of time of my son's abduction. There are grave risks associated with international parental child abduction, and I was fully aware of the murders of abducted children, their Chasing Parents, or hired recovery agents. So, advised by a team of lawyers, peace-keepers, and private investigators, it became apparent that my own son's safety was in grave danger, and that it was critical that I did my best to keep his abduction out of the press. To best explain this, there is a phrase that perhaps best says it all: 'When a bad act occurs, evil soon follows'. And till this day, I still find it incredibly hard to grasp everything that had happened. And yet, ironically, as an activist for children's rights, I have become aware of even more challenging stories than the one my son and I faced.

Nevertheless, at the time of my son's abduction, I was actively involved in several major projects I had invested significant resources into. Then he was taken and disappeared. And nothing else mattered. I set out to find him and bring him home. And I eventually did. Of course, during the time he was gone, my team and I attempted to share with those we needed to share things with what we could; however, when you're running around the world looking for your child, and also being advised that for the child's safety, it is critical that the situation is kept off the grid, it was not my top priority to come out and say to the professional 'media' world that I live in 'my child was abducted, but don't say anything because he is at great risk'. Fearfully, I knew that if I shared with others outside of those who I trusted most, I could have put my son's life in even greater danger than what it already was. So essentially, I kept quite. I address all of this in Chasing The Cyclone.

One thing that I do address is how, during the time of my child's abduction, my name was slandered by several parties who were attempting to sanction their criminal act of abduction.

A majority of these blog posts that were written were by anonymous posters or written under alias names in an effort to defame my character so to defend against the criminal acts against my son. The parties involved with his abduction have either been found guilty under international law of child abduction or have ongoing investigations pending against them. Fortunately, the international courts that had jurisdiction of my son's situation were able to see through these false and malicious attacks (slander of character is one of the most common forms of defense for an abducting parent under Article 13 section b of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction) when determining my son's kidnapping (for more information on Article 13 please visit: http://www.chasingthecyclone.com/Reunification_Challanges.html) In addition, there were several individuals that I choose to remove from my life who took advantage of my son and my situation, and used this vulnerable time to attack me. I address this as well in some detail in
Chasing The Cyclone as well as in A Message From Peter.

The fact that the courts ruled in my favor and ordered for my son's return says everything about the truth of such slander. At the end of the day, my son is safely and joyfully with me in America. Incidentally, and critically, the main blog site that slandered my name is based out of New Zealand. Not so coincidentally, New Zealand is the location where my son was first abducted to, and where I first filed charges of international child abduction under the Hague Convention. Now, of all the places in the world to have a blog posted against me - 9,000 miles away from my New York home - and originating from a little island country that my son was originally abducted to - there was no coincidence! However, at the time of my son's abduction and disappearance, the last thing that I wanted was to remove any clues that may provide insight as to where he was. So my investigators monitored the website in hope that it might lead me to my son.

I am presently the plaintiff on a host of legal actions, including taking action against those who have defamed my name.

I ask you to take the time to read A Message From Peter as well as review the material on the Chasing The Cyclone website in order to better understand the multiple horrors of international child abduction on both child and parent. And if you do choose to read Chasing The Cyclone, I am sure you will come aware with a deep and healthy understanding of international child abduction. You may also appreciate this story that I may best summarize as a love story of father and son.

In addition to my commitment to raising awareness with respect to international child abduction, I have a deep fascination with the gnomic debate; and, the historical Jesus movement coupled with the early formations of Christianity; and, the sourcing of the soul and the dynamics of faith. These interests led me to write Cloning Christ. It will be followed by the publication of Quest in the fall of 2010.

As I consider myself an American global citizen, I have been very interested in our global cultural differences and similarities. With focus, and perhaps due to my experiences during September 11th, 2001, I have concentrated on international terrorism and its relationship with the financial markets. The outcome of this interest is The Den of The Assassin and the upcoming sequel due out in 2010 titled Predators Games.
One of the important things I have learned a long time ago, and one that hopefully is displayed through my writing, is the fact I make no apology for what I choose to write about or how I go about my work. I am proud of the fact I control all of my artistic projects in full. I do not see this changing in the short or long term future. Beside, I am having a great deal of fun doing things the way I do!

I would like to comment on my writing process for a moment, and this is particularly meant for the eyes of some of my fellow writers who I have spoken to a length about my particular style of writing. In the past I have always stated that it is imperative to stay focused on the craft of writing one story at a time since the layers of good storytelling require such concentration to plot detail, character interaction, and setting development.

Several of you may know that the story came to me during a horrific moment while I was in New York's Ground Zero. I lost my faith in God that day. However, something pretty amazing happened to me inside Trinity Church (on Wall Street and Broadway), that all my anger and fear disappeared. Unknown to me, for I was in a state of shock, I sat in a church pew for several hours writing the story that has become Cloning Christ. I titled the book Cloning Christ because of the simplicity of the message: to follow the teachings of Christ as well as all great, courageous teachers who live in love and peace.

During this time, there were many miracles. One of the more meaningful one's to me was that a former mixed-up colleague who I met due to the Cloning Christ project was able to find and reunite with his father after nearly thirty years due to my financial efforts to locate him (in, of all places, New Zealand [I even went so far as to purchase this fellow, Brad Weller, his round-trip airline ticket and gave him nearly Ten Thousand dollars spending money so he could have a one-month holiday visiting his father]) ... but that's a whole other story, and I speak about this in A Message From Peter.

Personally, almost everything in my life evolves around my son. He is growing up to be an extraordinarily kind and considerate young man. As a Father, I could not be more proud of my son. Through every breath I take, my son is always the center of my life. Most of all, he is a happy, secure little boy whose laughter fills my heart and whose smile makes me melt. I could never properly express how much meaning and love he has brought to my life.

It is due to my desire to share whatever wisdom I have with ny son that I have chosen to write. I attempt through my works of fiction various settings that hopefully one day may provide him with insight on this wonderful world and the beautiful people that live in it. If you listen carefully to my written words, you will hear the voice of a father speaking to his son about how much he loves him, and how magical and amazing life really is. Hopefully, I have also provided entertaining, provocative, and interesting stories to my readers.

In addition, now that the storms have finally ended, and I no longer need to concentrate on my son's situation, I am pleased to return back to the film and television production I was concentrating on prior to my need to drop everything and search the world over for my son. Very candidly, I never knew if these days would ever return. However, through the help and support of my close friends coupled with my determination to share the projects I had initially embarked on, it is very nice to be in the position I am now in. Having faith that things will turn out the way the are suppose to sure helped along the way.

Finally I will say this: I have been very blessed to have a group of loving friends to share my life with. To those who I speak of, and you all know who you are, I Thank You!!