International Parental Child Abduction,
Wrongful Removal & Wrongful Retention
The Department of State's Office of Children's Issues, which serves as the Central Authority of the United States for the purposes of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, has received thousands of requests since 2007 for assistance in the return to the United States of children who have been wrongfully abducted or wrongfully retained by a parent or other legal guardian to another country.
More than 1,000 outgoing international child abductions are reported every year to the Central Authority of the United States, which depends solely on proactive reporting of abduction cases.
Only about one-half of the children abducted from the United States to countries with which the United States enjoys reciprocal obligations under the Hague Abduction Convention are returned to the United States.
The United States and other Convention countries have expressed their desire, through the Hague Abduction, "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 of their habitual residence, as well as to secure protection for rights of access."
The iSTAND Parent Network, along with our affiliates, aim to help prevent child abduction and help secure the safe return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence.
Preventing Child Abductions
Below are a few ways to help prevent parental child abductions. Contact your local authorities if you feel at risk of abduction.
Obtain detailed custody orders that specify beginning and ending visitation dates; relocation restrictions; supervised visitation for the potential taking parent; court’s approval to take the child out of the state or country; court stipulations which require a neutral third party to hold passports.
Consult your attorney about the drawbacks to joint-custody orders in parental abduction cases, if ordered. Ensure that you clearly specify the child’s residential arrangements at all times.
Do not ignore any abduction threat. Notify police and give them copies of any restraining order on your ex-spouse. You may also request restricted locations for visitation rights if you can prove potential harm to your child.
Be on the alert for sudden changes in the other parent’s life. Changes, such as quitting a job, selling a home, or closing a bank account, may be signs that the parent may be planning to leave the country.
Don’t delay action if you think your child has been taken by the other parent. Make sure that if your child is abducted, the police take a detailed report and that your child is entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system right away (a warrant is not required)
Be aware that if one parent is a citizen of another country, your child may have dual nationality. Contact the embassy of that country and inquire about passport requirements for minors.
There is a specific process to getting a potential abducting parent & child at risk registered on the DHS/CBP prevent departure program. This includes contacting the Dept of State's Office of Children's Issues Abduction Prevention Team at 1-888-407-4747. They function as the liaison to Dept. of Homeland Security's Customs & Border Protection
We also recommend you obtain a DNA Kit for your child(ren). DNA Kits are available for purchase on various websites and at your local pharmacies, including Walgreens and CVS.
We pursue a robust public policy agenda. Our parent community has friends on Capitol Hill who are committed to assisting constituents in returning or gaining access to their children and to exerting its oversight role to promote accountability and enhanced response in the U.S. Depts. of State, Justice and Homeland Security--- three key stakeholders in the fight against IPCA.
We offer continuous Congressional education, sharing information and resources to aide members of Congress in constituent casework on this issue and in fostering policies that return children and keep them safe at home.
We regularly enage with senior officials in the U.S. Dept. of State Office of Children's Issues and with foreign embassy officials and nongovernmental organizations that have a stake in reuniting families who are victims of IPCA.