Parental Child Abduction {Guest Post by Peter Thomas Senese}

Today's guest post was written by best-selling author, Peter Thomas Senese.  To find out more about the author, you can scroll to the bottom of this post.

Thank you, Peter, for sharing your heart with us and spreading awareness about the impact of parental child abduction.


Imagine having your child disappear in a sea of 7 billion faces.

This thought makes every parent shudder at such a notion. Unquestionably, having a child internationally abducted is an event no parent ever wants to happen. I speak from personal experience.

In order to educate other parents on the growing issues of international parental child abduction, I have created a large consortium of education tools such as the critically acclaimed Chasing The Cyclone, the novel on international parental child abduction deeply inspired by events in my own life.

If you think this cannot happen to you, you may be mistaken.

Sadly, there exists a growing pandemic known as international parental child abduction, and it is destroying the lives of tens of thousands of families each year. In fact, recent studies estimate that as many as 125,000 American children, 20,000 Canadian children, and a total of 200,000 defenseless children living in North America will be internationally, criminally abducted by one parent from another in contradiction to court orders over the next decade.

Alarmingly, only 10% of children abducted or illegally detained abroad will ever come home.

All you need to do is ask any parent who unexpectedly chased into the storms of international parental child abduction to understand how this terrible act is the result of a well-planned scheme by the other parent, and how they, the targeted parent was caught off guard and did not know that there existed a plan to abduct their child until their child was gone.

Incidentally, the wrongful removal of a child from the country or illegal detention of a child in a foreign nation in contradiction of a court's order is the criminal act of international parental child abduction as stated in the federal 'International Parental Kidnapping Crimes Act'. Each state has its own criminal statutes concerning this act, which has been widely proclaimed by law enforcement and leading child therapists as child abuse.

Ann Marques, a highly trained and skilled family law attorney and fierce child advocate who practices family law in New York State and who was formerly a litigator for New York’s Administration of Children’s Services and who presently serves as a Special Advisor to the I CARE Foundation Board of Directors provided insight on IPCA by stating, “International Parental Child Abduction is a malicious, cruel, and inhumane act perpetrated by the ‘taking parent’ to sever the relationship between the ‘left behind’ parent and the child. The abductor uses the child as a pawn in a vengeful manner, and such an act is a form of child neglect.”

To give you an idea of the magnitude of the size of this problem, think about five professional baseball stadiums filled with innocent children disappearing. Gone. Lost forever.

Now you may be thinking to yourself, well if it is a crime, then I will file a complaint with law enforcement and the police will go and get my child. Well, you surely are entitled and you should file a police report, but realistically if you think that your child is going to be brought home from another country because of a law enforcement action in your home state and country, you better think again. Truth is that the vast majority of nations will not uphold a pick-up order for parental abduction because of jurisdictional laws in their own country. Which means an action in the United States will have very little bearing in Japan, or Brazil, or Saudi Arabia or in essence almost every country you can think of.

So what does a parent who has a child abducted do?

One of the remedies available to them is to turn to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction which the United States and Canada are signatory members of. The Hague Convention in essence is an international treaty that established civil international court protocols parents who have had their child abducted can turn to for relief in order to bring their child home.

Perfect, right?


The truth is there exist many problems when thinking you can turn to the Hague Convention. The first issue is that many countries such as those found in Asia, Africa and the Middle East are not members of the convention. So, if your child is stolen to Japan for example, you do not have an international treaty to turn to. And using Japan as an instance, to the best of my knowledge no American child criminally abducted to Japan by the other parent has ever been returned to America by the Japanese government. Another example of this is to assume a child is stolen from Denver, Colorado to Nigeria (this is a recent case), well Nigeria is not a member of the convention. And in Nigeria, mothers have no real rights of custody. So, your ability to reunite with your child is very difficult.

Abduction to non-signatory nations such as Japan and Nigeria are not the only problem. Many countries who are signatories do not comply with the spirit or intent of the Hague Convention. For example, countries such as Mexico, Brazil, and Germany are, but a few nations that present serious challenges for a parent trying to legally reunite with their child.

What else could go wrong? Well, I am only scratching the surface. Remember, a parental child abductor is an abductor. They purposefully and knowingly kidnapped a child and fled to another country where they sought refuge under another nation's laws. And as I said, men and women appear to equally abduct: the abusive act against an innocent child is not bias to gender.

Adding a serious amount of fuel to the fire is the fact that in the United States, if your child is internationally parentally abducted, you, the Chasing Parent, are responsible for all financial costs associated with your recovery attempts, meaning you are responsible for all legal costs, private investigator costs (you may need to first find out where your child is), and every other cost you can think of.

Are you starting to become overwhelmed?

You should be, particularly when that number - 200,000 children possibly taken from North America looms large. And though this may not happen to you and your child, three degrees of separation will bring you in touch with someone who has had a child taken.

Perhaps I should add a little fuel to the fire. Under the Hague Convention’s Article 13, there exists a clause that creates a loophole for an abductor to legally get away with the kidnapping. In essence, if the abductor can prove that the kidnapping of the child is in the best interest of the child, the international courts could in fact sanction the abduction!

How is this done? That’s easy. In most cases, the kidnapper will use the internet to slander and defame the targeted parent, citing anything and everything you can imagine in order to put the other parent in a poor light. Defamation and slander and libel acts are the abductors best friend. And sadly, due to federal law, an online post made by a third party does not have to be removed. In fact, there are websites that exist solely for the purpose of allowing slander and defamation. Unfortunately, the trend for an abductor acting to slander the target is that they use an assortment of social media outlets to do so.

The final impact? The targeted parent is not simply slandered and defamed, but their identity and persona if stolen, and there is very little you can do about it.

Now, are you beginning to understand the grand scheme of things?

New York State litigator Joel S. Walter, who has represented numerous targeted parents who have been defamed by their child’s other parent added, “The evil intent of an abducting parent is illustrated by the abductors overall pure intent to destroy the targeted parent’s life. Not only is the abductor not satisfied in using a child as a pawn for abduction, but the abductor’s true desire to cause irreparable harm. There is no better way to do that other than simultaneously stealing a person’s child and stealing their identity. And that is the reality that parents facing abduction must deal with. Fortunately, states where Peter Thomas Senese worked feverishly to have online impersonation laws passed, such as New York and California criminalize online impersonation. But every other state outside of these two and Texas have not yet formally put specific Internet impersonation laws on their books. It is a serious issue.”

Of course you may be asking yourself, "Why is this occurring at such a large scale?"

There are a few immediate and straight-forward answers. First, the rise of international child abductions is occurring because our world is becoming closer together and individuals from different nations and cultures enter into relationships and eventually have children. However, divorce is a reality for all partnership and marriage.

Unfortunately, there are many times when a divorcing or separating parent who was not born in the country where the child has habitual residence lives decides that they want to return to their country of origin. And when they do, they want to take their child with them. Which of course typically does not go over very well with the child's other parent. And knowing that a court will typically not grant for the parent to take the child abroad if the other parent does not consent, the non-national parent will create a scheme to abduct the child.

Another serious problem is that all too often a judge and a court possessing a right of local jurisdiction of a child does not realize the true intent of another parent's intent to abduct. Nor does the court realize and understand the complexity of international law and the reality that once a child is taken abroad, their court's orders mean very little, if anything at all.

So what can you do if you are a parent who might have some concern about international parental child abduction?

In order to assist you, I have provided a List Of Warning Signs that I urge you to consider. If the abduction of your child is imminent, please view the list of actions provided on the Chasing The Cyclone Official Websites' Imminent Action section.

Truth is no person is an expert on international parental child abduction. Cases go from crazy to bizarre to unbelievable. Yet that is the reality of international parental child abduction.

The key to protecting your children is to educate society of the risks involved. In order to help other parents do just that, I have created a handful of tools that may be of use. This includes creating the online educational documentary film titled 'Chasing Parents'. I have also co-authored the most up-to-date and current resource guide on international child abduction titled 'The World Turned Upside Down', and I have recently published the novel 'Chasing The Cyclone' that I am pleased to say book critics are speaking very highly of.

Patricia M. Lee, who I consider to be one of the world’s most skilled international family law attorneys, and who is a Senior Mentor of the United States Department of State’s ‘Hague Convention Attorney Network’ and my fellow Board of Director member of the I CARE Foundation, reminded me of the importance of our work when she said during in a recent press release, “I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Senese first, not as an acclaimed fiction writer, but as a dedicated child advocate helping victimized parents work through the morass of financial, legal and practical issues in their attempts to reunify with their children. To tell you the truth, I first contacted Mr. Senese while doing research for a left behind parent, without even being aware of his other publications. Since then, Mr. Senese’s resource guide for child abduction victims has been wealth of information that I keep on my desktop. When I learned of Mr. Senese’s personal experience and trauma which inspired “Chasing the Cyclone,” I was shocked, and simply sat down and cried. Now I understand first hand why he is so committed to helping others victimized by child abduction, and works every day to help other victims. I am humbled by his fierce dedication, and am looking forward to his continued support, and the donation of his funds, time and talents to the I CARE Foundation.”

Here are a few review excerpts for Chasing The Cyclone I think may be useful:

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 renowned 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 nationally syndicated Examiner stated, "Peter Thomas Senese is a gifted storyteller who takes readers on a heart pounding journey around the globe through the eyes of Paul Francesco, a father whose 7-year old son is abducted by his mother. The writing is raw and the emotions are real . . . The story is filled with twists and turns that will leave readers scratching their heads, seething in anger, and hugging their children a little tighter . . . I highly recommend Chasing the Cyclone as a must-read. You will not be able to put it down. It may very well change the way you look at life, child custody, and interactions with your child's other parent. I cannot endorse this book strongly enough."

In parting I would like to simply say that of the tens of thousands of parents who are targeted each year to have a child internationally stolen, very few parents thought this crime would happen to their child. So please take the time to consider what I am sharing.

Perhaps the highly respected New York City international family law attorney and fellow I CARE Foundation Board Member Joel S. Walter said it best when he said, “Parents really need to understand of the possibility that IPCA is a real threat, particularly in cases where there are multi-cultural relationships or when one parent has demonstrated enough mental instability that they could conceivably use the child of the marriage as a pawn, and disappear to the other side of the world in order to cause hurt to the other parent. The number of abductions occurring and predicted speaks for itself: we have a sizeable pandemic on our hands mothers and fathers alike need to protect their children. One of the most important tools ever created to educate society of the severity of the problems at hand that is also of great benefit to targeted parents of abduction is Peter Thomas Senese’s Chasing The Cyclone.”

About The Author:
Peter Thomas Senese is a child abduction prevention advocate and a successful chasing parent in accordance to the rules of international parental child abduction law established under the Hague Convention. Mr. Senese is the Founding Director of the not-for-profit International Child Abduction Research & Enlightenment (I CARE) Foundation. In his volunteer advocacy, Mr. Senese has provided testimony to various government committees and courts regarding child abduction. Under Mr. Senese's guidance, the I CARE Foundation has built a national network of highly trained pro bono lawyers willing to assist parents and children who are either targeted for abduction or have been illegally abducted, and has led a secondary campaign recruiting attorneys to join the United States Department of State's 'Hague Convention Attorney Network'. In addition, the I CARE Foundation is behind two federal legislative initiatives that if passed is anticipated to dramatically reduce the number of child abductions and instances of human trafficking. The new legislative initiatives revolve around modification in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, and, the implementation of Prevent Departure Program - II. In addition, Mr. Senese advocated for the passage of the State of Florida’s ‘Child Abduction Prevention Act’ (CAPA) that was enacted on January 1st, 2011. Mr. Senese successfully sought for the implementation and dissemination of what was previously a widely underutilized federal child abduction prevention program; specifically, the ‘Prevent Departure Program’ (PDP) that is now highly utilized in order to protect targeted parents and their child from abduction in certain case scenarios. Mr. Senese advocated for the passage of both the states of California and New York's online impersonation bills that are now law. Peter Thomas Senese is the creator/writer/producer of the educational documentary film series ‘Chasing Parents: Racing Into The Storms Of International Parental Child Abduction’, a multi-best-selling geopolitical author whose upcoming world-wide book release that focuses on international child abduction titled ‘Chasing The Cyclone’ has been critically acclaimed as a call-to-arms against child abduction. Peter is the co-author of the highly informative, extensively researched book on IPCA titled 'The World Turned Upside Down'. In addition, Peter is the writer of an extensive number of influential articles and essays pertaining to IPCA. He has created and oversees a comprehensive website dedicated to child abduction prevention and good parenting ( where numerous essays may be found, including the eye-opening report ‘Crisis In America: International Parental Child Abduction Today’ Peter co-authored with Ms. Carolyn Vlk. Dedicated to bringing about new child abduction prevention laws while creating dialogs that may reform certain government programs and protocols so that they may better serve targeted children and their parents, Peter Senese is a strong supporter of The Hague Convention and The Department of State’s Office Of Children’s Issues. Paramount to all things, Peter is a loving father deeply dedicated to raising his young son. 100% of Mr. Senese's royalties generated from the sales of any of his e-books, including ‘Chasing The Cyclone’, ‘The Den of the Assassin’, and ‘Cloning Christ’ will be donated to the I CARE Foundation, which has used these monies to successfully reunite children internationally kidnapped or prevented an abduction from occurring.

Related Websites:
The Official Website Of Peter Thomas Senese
The Official Website of Attorney Joel S. Walter
The Official Website Of Chasing The Cyclone
The Official Blog of Best-Selling Author Peter Thomas Senese
The Official Website of Peter Thomas Senese's Documentary Film: Chasing Parents
Peter Thomas Senese's Books On Amazon
Peter Thomas Senese's Books On Barnes & Noble


  1. It's a mother's worst fear and I feel I am so over-protective because of all the stories I hear .. I have a similar post going up tomorrow if you would like to have a read hun x x

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  3. A link to your post concerning international parental child abduction and advocate Peter Thomas Senese was forwarded to me by one of my cousins two days ago. She thought I should read more about the topic of international child abduction. My family has previously said that I should be very mindful of my former husband since my filing ofdivorce with him has not been pleasant and I have two toddler-age children with him that I know he wants for himself. I alslo know he wants to return back to the country he was born and raised.

    I was blind to not think that he wouldn't take my children away from me after reading your post and then following the links to Peter Thomas Senese, Chasing The Cyclone, and the I CARE Foundation. Of particular benefit to me is the Warning Signs of Abduction on Mr. Senese's 'Chasing The Cyclone' website. Clearly, my former spouse's behaviour meets so many of the warning signs he intends to abduct. Fortunately on the Chasing Th Cyclone website (, there were outlined important steps I can take to prevent this from occurring. So I began to do so.

    One of the things I also did was send an email in the contact section located on the site hoping to speak directly to Mr. Senese. Well, yesterday I received a telephone call from him! The author is incredibly knowledgable and gave me an education I will never forget. Now I am armed with information, and have a plan that I will follow through on.

    In parting I would like to say a few things. First, thank you for sharing this information. I have strong thoughts my children were about to be abducted, and intend to go to court this week to prevent this from happening. Also, I think to many parents like myself do not realize just how serious of an issue we face, particularly as Mr. Senese said, "we live in a new global society filled with inter-cultural relationships that create a host of issues of their own." Which leads me to realize we need to become more aware of international child abduction and do something about it.

    So thank you for posting this information. You may have just save my children from a terrible fate.



I L.O.V.E each and every comment. Keep them coming!


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