Guest Post: The I CARE Foundation’s Travel Consent Form Created To Prevent Christmas Holiday International Child Abductions Supported By Hague Secretary General

The following article is a guest post from Peter Thomas Senese, the I CARE Foundation Executive Director.

Each year there are literally hundreds of thousands of children who will be targeted for international abduction by one of their parents. The reality is that children of abduction, regardless if they are taken by a stranger or a parent, are emotionally, spiritually, and often severely physically abused. Too many children never come home: they can’t. They’re gone forever. The world in international parental child abduction is an unforgivable nightmare!

With the Christmas holiday season being one of the most prominent times of the year for international parental child abductions to occur, the I CARE Foundation is preparing for the onslaught of families that are going to be needing help over next few weeks. As part of our outreach program, we are always trying to raise awareness in the parent community with the hope of preventing abductions, but right now, it is extremely crucial that parents are getting the information that they may need to perhaps prevent an abduction. Parents that are at-risk need to be aware of the WARNING SIGNS of international parental child abduction now, as well as know what to do if international parental child abduction is in progress… this information is critical in protecting your children this holiday season.

As we live in a world today, that embraces the idea of global citizenship, we have individuals from different countries that travel abroad. These individuals may meet someone, enter into a relationship and eventually have a child. A very real part of our society today is that separation and divorce also occurs. In cases where we are dealing with a multi-cultural relationship, the non-national individual often wants to take the child of the relationship and permanently relocate to their country of origin. Knowing that the other parent is not going to accept or allow this, the parent seeking to leave often creates an elaborate scheme and illegally removes the child from the country outside of a court order and without permission from the other parent. Additionally, and this is the biggest concern over the Christmas holiday season, the scheming parent can trick the other parent into holiday travel (often inviting that person to travel abroad with them and the child to visit family) without any intent of ever returning.

With that being said, we can stop parental abduction. We can protect our innocent children. The key is awareness!

How Can You Prevent International Child Abduction? Utilize The I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Consent Form

One of the best tools that parents can use to protect their children this holiday season is the I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form. The Travel Consent Form was created to prevent international child abduction by focusing on the wrongful detention of a child while traveling abroad, and with an estimated 85% of all international parental abductions dealing with wrongful detention, it is geared at potentially stopping the majority of these parental kidnappings.

For those parents that are allowing or are required to allow a child to travel to a foreign country need to strongly consider having the other parent sign the International Travel Child Consent Form. Should that parent not be willing to, this is a very serious warning sign that they may be planning an abduction.

In the short time that this ground-breaking abduction prevention tool has been in use, not only has it made an enormous impact in the world of international child abduction, but it has also been acknowledged by major child abduction prevention stakeholders around the world, including Hague Conference on Private International Law Secretary General Mr. Christophe Bernasconi, who stated:

“I have had the possibility to look at the travel form and must say that I am impressed: this is the most comprehensive document of its kind that I have seen so far and there is little doubt in my mind that this is a most valuable and important effort to prevent child abduction. I applaud your efforts and wish to congratulate you and your team . . . It is really impressive to see how quickly your international travel child consent form has started to yield practical results and how well you monitor its operation – this really is remarkable.”

Peter Thomas Senese, the I CARE Foundation’s Executive Director, reports on the success of the Travel Consent Form thus far:

To the best of our knowledge, since the creation of the I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form, all children traveling abroad from Hague Convention signatory countries who were expected to return to their country of original jurisdiction have come home. There have actually been several cases where one parent initially refused to sign the International Travel Child Consent Form, and in each of those cases, the overseeing judge would not permit travel. At that point additional measures were put into place in order to prevent a future parental abduction.

It is critical for all parents who are allowing a child to travel abroad to understand is that there are numerous traps and schemes that a would-be abductor will use in order to legally keep a child abroad. Most of these schemes revolve around Articles 12 and 13 of the Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Defending against these potential strategies is critical. It is the thrust of the I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form. And with tens of thousands of children around the world targeted for international parental abduction each year, our travel consent form may be the most effective tool that could help prevent abduction or help return a child to their country of original jurisdiction under the spirit of Article 2 of the Hague Convention.

In the fight to end parental abduction, the I CARE Foundation, along with our remarkable colleagues around the world will continue our efforts associated with the Special Commission created to report to Secretary General Bernasconi on the utilization of the Travel Consent Form in an effort to create such a document that will be used for all children when traveling abroad.

More On Abduction Prevention From Mr. Christophe Bernasconi, Secretary General Of The Hague Conference On Private International Law:

While the winter holiday season is often one which presents many opportunities for festive family celebrations, it is also a period in which sadly more parental child abductions occur. As a result, it is more important than ever to take steps to prevent the wrongful removal of children so that abductions which are covered by the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction do not occur in the first place.

Prevention can be achieved in several ways. For example, when one parent intends to travel with his or her child without the other parent, the other parents consent to the travel should first be obtained. One of the ways a parent can demonstrate that they have the approval of the other non-travelling parent is by having him or her sign a clear, comprehensive travel consent form which includes a statement that the non-travelling parent agrees to the travel but also that the child is to return to his/her place of habitual residence on or before a specific date. A model travel consent form for this purpose has recently been developed by the I CARE Foundation and is, I understand, already widely used by parents in various jurisdictions. Use of the I CARE Foundation’s comprehensive Hague-centric travel form that addresses key aspects of the Hague Child Abduction Convention pertaining to a child’s international travel are central to protecting against a child’s wrongful retention abroad. The I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent form and similar comprehensive models deserve further encouragement so as to prevent child abduction and perhaps even limit instances of child trafficking in general.

The Hague Conference on Private International Law, the Secretariat for the Hague Child Abduction Convention, wishes the I CARE Foundation and its constituents a happy holiday season and hopes that precautions such as the one described above are able to prevent unnecessary anxiety and trauma for parents and children who are affected by holiday travel plans.

With Best Wishes,
Christophe Bernasconi, Secretary General
The Hague Conference on Private International Law

A recent press release regarding the International Travel Child Consent Form not only shares the support from Secretary General Bernasconi but also other top lawyers and judges from around the world. You can view this release HERE.

The Warning Signs of International Parental Abduction:

ALL parents should be aware of the WARNING SIGNS of international parental child abduction, but you should be most diligent if you are a parent in a high-conflict relationship, especially if your partner has ties abroad. These are parents that would be considered at the highest risk. If you are in such a relationship, you need to think carefully and be very aware of any travel plans… and know the risks involved for your child in relation to international travel.

Something to be very aware of is that as part of the would-be abducting parent’s scheme, they will begin to live a life of deceit. As part of their elaborate plan for abduction, the would-be abducting parent may create a facade of being happily married and committed to their relationship, all while planning on how to get the child abroad.

A common scenario might be for the would-be abductor to state that it would be nice if they could travel to their country of origin for what might appear to be a family vacation to visit a sibling or parents over the holidays. When the family arrives in the foreign country, the would-be abducting parent may file false claims of abuse and neglect against the other parent. Once this is done, they notify the other parent that they and the child will not be returning back to the country of original jurisdiction. At this point, the targeted parent is generally forced to return back home without their child where they then need to seek legal assistance.

Studies have demonstrated that an unprecedented number of abductions have occurred where one parent took action to deprive the other parent of contact with their child. The majority of abducting parents typically use the child as a tool to cause the targeted parent great pain and suffering. Their intent is simple: to make the other parent suffer as much as possible by depriving that targeted parent with the love and connection to their own child. Nearly every published study on this subject has concluded that an abducting parent has significant, and typically, long-term psychological problems and may in fact be a danger to their child.

Parents that are involved in child custody disputes, separation or divorce must be proactive in protecting their children. Often, parents that are involved in international child custody disputes and who may be targeted for abduction think that their child is best protected from abduction when there is a court agreement in place for the child to return if the other parent is granted travel. The truth is that unless there is an International Travel Child Consent Form that has immediate ramifications attached to it, the parent and child targeted for abduction are at serious risk.

Abductions Originating From The U.S. Decline Over Two Consecutive Years:

In 2011, the I CARE Foundation commenced formal operations with the mission to protect children from abduction.

Now, the I CARE Foundation is not alone in our efforts, however there is no question that our outreach efforts have made a tremendous impact on the lives of the extensive number of families that we have voluntarily assisted.

In the United States, in contradiction to the forecasted 25% increase in the abduction growth rate for 2011, the actual reported rate declined by over 15%. During the year, 2012, the actual reported abduction rate dropped by over 16%. This is pretty remarkable considering that there has been nearly 30 years of growth in international parental child abduction cases reported in the United States since America became a signatory of the Hague Convention.

With the 2013 fiscal year end just around the corner it is expected that the reported numbers will show another significant decline in the international parental child abduction rate. And, as an organization that fights to stop international parental child abduction, this is something that is truly amazing!

Worldwide abduction rates have not been reported since 2008. This has little to do with the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference, but instead a failure by signatory countries to report their inbound and outbound abduction rate. However, it is believed that the global rate of abduction continues to steadily climb out disturbing rates. With the worldwide launch and utilization of the I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form, the global rate of abduction is expected to decline.

Programs Helping To Prevent Abductions

There are two critical programs available to U.S. parent citizens that may aid in the prevention of their U.S. child citizen from being internationally abducted.

The Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) is one of the Department of State’s most important tools for preventing international parental child abduction. Parents are able to register their U.S. citizen children under the age of 18 in the Passport Lookout System. If at some point a passport application is submitted for a child that is registered in the CPIAP, the Department of State contacts and alerts the parent(s). This system provides the parent(s) with advance warning of possible plans for international travel with the child.

The Charleston Passport Center is responsible for administering the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program:

U.S. Department of State
Passport Services, Charleston Passport Center

Attn: Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program
1269 Holland Street, Building D
Charleston, SC 29405

E-mail: ChildrensPassports@state.gov
Phone: 1-888-407-4747
Fax: 843-746-1827

The Prevent Departure Program (PDP) is another critical tool used in the fight to protect children from international abduction. In the past, American parents at risk of having a child illegally removed from the United States had to deal with the reality that it was extremely difficult to stop an international child abduction if the other parent possessed a right of American citizenship (sole or dual citizenship). Part of the problem is that the United States has limited exit controls and government published information regarding programs that could be utilized to stop international parental child abduction such as the Prevent Departure Program require a suspected international parental child abductor to not have a right of American Citizenship, among a host of other requirements.

Today, parents who are at risk of having a child internationally abducted by a parent who possesses citizenship to the United States of America or who has dual citizenship may be able to protect their children from abduction.

If you should happen to be an at-risk parent that believes your child’s other parent is planning or is in the process of an international parental abduction, please contact the United States Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues Abduction Prevention Bureau to discuss potential measures that may be available to you to ensure the individual parent suspected of an international child abduction threat does not illegally depart the United States and remove your child in violation of a court order or in breach of your right of custody.

Similarly, be sure to contact the Office of Children’s Issues Prevention Bureau to discuss if there are potential prevention techniques unique to your case that may allow the Department of State to work with other federal agencies so to secure your child is not a victim of international parental child abduction.

Individuals that are seeking the assistance of the Department of State and the implementation of the Prevent Departure Program should make sure that they have the following information ready to submit to the Office of Children’s Issues:

  1. Full name, date, place of birth of Potential taking parent.
  2. Full name, date, place of birth of Potential left behind parent (and PLBP’s contact info, including a surface address).
  3. Passport number and issuing country (if available, and not U.S.) for both parents.
  4. Full name of child.
  5. Date, place of birth of child.
  6. U.S. passport number of child.
  7. Passport number and issuing country of any dual national passport of child (if available).
  8. Copy of court order with travel restrictions.
  9. Full contact details, including a 24/7 phone and email (to email court documents, we do not have after hours fax access), for law enforcement contact.
  10. Details of potential travel plans.

To contact the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues Prevention Bureau please contact:

The United States Department of State
Office Of Children’s Issues
Abduction Prevention Bureau
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Phone: 1-888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
Email: prevention@state.gov

To contact the I CARE Foundation concerning abduction matters please email us at legal@stopchildabduction.org.

Protecting Children From Parental Abductors:

Outside of the I CARE Foundation’s International Travel Child Consent Form, the United States government and agencies such as the Department of State continue their remarkable work attempting to protect children from international parental child abduction.

It is estimated that the Department of State successfully requests placement of 8-10 individuals on the Prevent Departure Program each month while also overseeing an estimated 60 applications for utilization on the Passport Issuance Alert Program. This has played an incredible role in the 15% and 16% decline in international parental child abduction rates during 2011 and 2012 respectively.

If you think about it, that’s a lot of innocent lives that are protected… and according to a report from the Department of Justice, children who are kidnapped by a parent face severe physical abuse and are also put at an extreme risk of being murdered.

In fact, Dr. Phillip Resnick, the Director of Forensic Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland stated in an article that was published by the Denver Post a few years ago about parental child killing, “Historically, one out of 33 homicides is a parent killing a child younger than 18.” Dr. Resnick, who conducted a study on filicide in 2005 states “Filicide, the deliberate act of a parent killing his or her own child, is the third-leading cause of death in American children ages 5 to 14.”

Filicide is not a term that we talk about alot, but the reality is, we need to talk about it more. The third leading cause of death in American children. Can you imagine? According to the Denver Post reports, “Researchers estimate 250 to 300 children are murdered by their parents each year in the U.S. Now, filicide occurs everywhere… it is not a phenomenon isolated within American borders. Simply put, parents do kill children! And we can’t put our head in the sand and think this does not exist.

The common misconception that parental abductions are considered a family matter has to end.

Parental child abduction is a serious crime. The act of abduction leads to ongoing forms of abuse toward a child.

When a child is abducted they must be immediately considered to be in great danger! It is that serious!

The Impact of Chasing The Cyclone:

Peter Thomas Senese, author of the critically-acclaimed novel ‘Chasing The Cyclone,’ about a father searching for his internationally abducted son, has had a far-reaching social impact. It is being called both a call-to-arms against the wide-spread epidemic of international child kidnapping, as well referred to as a blue-print on how to either prevent a child from being abducted, or how to reunite with your child.

In addition, Chasing The Cyclone has enabled something remarkable: it has helped reunite children with their parents, as Peter Thomas Senese has so generously donated 100% of his author royalties to the I CARE Foundation.

To quote Peter Thomas Senese, “The I CARE Foundation is actively trying to reunite other children who have been internationally abducted with their families. I think my readers have a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that when they purchase one of my novels, they are making a measurable difference in the life of a defenseless child – and that is pretty cool.”

Peter Thomas Senese: His Advocacy And Volunteer Work Helping Children and Families In Crisis:

Clearly, protecting children from parental abduction requires an indefatigable commitment to stand unbowed so children and their families may never know the nightmare that is the world of international abduction. Peter Thomas Senese has proven time and again that he is deeply committed to his goal of preventing child abduction.

There are numerous sworn testimonial letters from individuals regarding the advocacy and volunteer work that Peter does each and every day. Many of these letters are related to recovering and bringing home children who were abducted or who were targeted for abduction, however there are also several letters that share his deep desire for helping others who may be facing severe medical issues.

Ultimately, each one of these sworn letters shares not only a little insight, but also a unique perspective of who Peter Thomas Senese is.

If it were not for Mr. Senese, the real threat of the abduction of my daughter would still exist today. However, this is no longer the case due in part to the actions of Mr. Senese and the I CARE Foundation.

Change is occurring, and Mr. Senese and the I CARE Foundation are clearly responsible for a significant part of this by the development and worldwide release of their Hague-Convention-oriented International Travel Child Consent Form that has been publicly cited by the Secretary General of the Hague Conference as a landmark child abduction prevention tool . . . Peter has not only been a warrior and angel, but he has also become a most treasured and trusted friend.

Well, to put it mildly, I was very uncertain about my future: I was fighting Stage 4 cancer, my doctors told me I was dying, I was financially in bad shape, and I didn’t feel well. I had no hope. Enter Peter Thomas Senese. And my world immediately changed for the better. And this is truly what has happened. … I went from being left alone to die at a small-time local hospital to having a dozen of the world’s best doctors by my side from Memorial Sloan Kettering, telling me they were going to do everything possible to help get me better.

So please, take a few moments and educate yourself about the WARNING SIGNS of international parental child abduction. It not only protects your children but perhaps other children you might know.

To learn more about the criminal act and schemes of parental child abduction, or to download a free copy of the International Travel Child Consent Form visit the I CARE Foundation website.

If an international parental child abduction is imminent or is in progress, click here.

And lastly, to purchase your copy of Chasing The Cyclone, please visit Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Wishing you the best of the holiday season!

 
I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 

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