Cruel realities of "parental" child abduction, 34 years later: stolen from one parent, abandoned by the other

This horrifying story has several elements that I have seen in my parental child abduction cases over the years. Especially, (1) the child was told that the left-behind parent had abandoned him, and (2) the child soon ended up without either parent. As I've seen in many cases, once the abductor has managed to deprive the other parent of  the child, he or she loses interest, other priorities intervene, and the child is left with relatives, friends, or worse.

Man surfaces at San Diego church 34 years after abduction to Mexico

US rightly refuses Hague Convention case for child-stealing, but state court can return child

I've never heard of a nation's government refusing to process a request for return of a child under the Hague Convention on child abduction, and to let the petitioner then go to a court for a decision on whether to return the child. It must happen sometimes, but you don't tend to hear of it. But the U.S. State Department is absolutely right to do that in the case of Anyeli Hernandez, who was abducted from Guatemala over a year before the Convention went into effect there. "Hernandez, now seven, was abducted in November 2006 and wound up, illegally, with an adopting American couple. ... Guatemalan authorities have prosecuted three people for kidnapping and for placing Anyeli Hernandez up for adoption." ("U.S. will not return illegally adopted Guatemalan girl" - Agence France-Presse, Tuesday, May 15, 2012)

The Hague Convention very clearly says that it only applies to cases where the Convention was in effect between both countries at the time of the abduction. But as the State Department points out, the real mother in Guatemala can still go to the local courts where the child lives to enforce her custody order and undo the adoption. That is not just a theoretical cop-out by the State Dept. - it is something that we and other lawyers do all the time, using a uniform state law, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. It helps many parents in cases where the Hague Convention does not apply.


Aussie great-gram on the lam w/4 kids; gov't refuses to assist abduction

This sounds like a very straightforward child abduction case without any of the typical defenses or complications. The parents had joint legal and physical custody in Italy, the mother took the kids on vacation to Australia, and kept them there. The father won a Hague Convention suit for their return nearly a year ago, but the mother appealed and lost, and then her grandmother disappeared with the children. Her family has gotten local media and politicians involved on her side, but the government is defending the treaty and the independent judiciary that enforces it.


New Calif. law for gay divorce also fixes interstate problem, honoring marriage as contract

A new law signed by Governor Jerry Brown not only allows gay divorce; it allows it for couples married in California who have moved to states where gay divorce is unavailable. Until now, jurisdiction for divorce has been based only on the spouses' residences at the time of the divorce, regardless of where they got married, which meant that same-sex couples could be left with no state that is willing and able to divorce them. 

This new California rule is actually more compatible with the contractual nature of marriage. As a specialist in interstate and international family law working in a cosmopolitan area, I already get calls and e-mails from people who assume that they need to get divorced in the same place where they married even though they no longer live here (including expats and diplomats who cannot get divorced anywhere else, because many countries are reluctant to divorce foreigners, and displaced Lousianans who had no idea that their Covenant Marriages mean nothing across state lines). After all, contracts generally -- even prenups -- are governed by the law of the place they were made. The rule, unique to family law, that your case is governed by the law of the state where one party goes and files, does not sit well with a lot of people. Nor should it. That rule is actually at the root of the centuries-old American problem of "migratory divorce" -- people getting out of a marriage by running to a state with easier divorce laws -- which made it mostly futile for states to restrict divorce, which in turn led to practically universal quickie no-fault divorce laws. Likewise, it inspired and facilitated interstate and international child abductions -- taking a child to another state or country to obtain a favorable custody ruling -- which it has taken my entire lifetime to bring under control with several Uniform Laws and treaties, beginning with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act in 1968.

I hope this new California law rings in a new openness towards treating marriages as contracts when deciding when, where and how they can be dissolved.

Are some Chinese adoptees actually abducted, trafficked? - NYT

"For Adoptive Parents, Questions Without Answers" - New York Times 9-16-11 reports on the effect on international adoption families of an earlier Times story from China:

Chilling news for many adoptive parents: government officials in Hunan Province, in southern China, had seized babies from their parents and sold them into what the article called “a lucrative black market in children.”

... the latest in a slow trickle of reports describing child abduction and trafficking in China. ... Child abduction and trafficking have plagued other international adoption programs, notably in Vietnam and Romania, and some have shut down to stop the black market trade.

Congressional testimony: What long-term child abduction feels like

Thanks to Michigan international family lawyer Jeanne Hannah for posting some of the testimony from yesterday's Congressional hearing on international child abduction, which can be found in its entirety here on the Bring Sean Home Foundation site. Excerpt:

"For five and one half years, I walked in the shoes of the Left-Behind Parent. I lived in a world of despondency and desperation, with a searing pain throughout my entire being. Everywhere I turned I saw an image of my abducted child. Sleep was hard to come by and never restful. If I smiled, I felt guilt. When I saw children, whether it was in the store, a park, on television or even on my charter boat, where clients often take their families for a day on the water, it was more than painful. For the longest time it was too painful to be around my own family members. I couldn't even be around my nieces and nephews. It was too painful. Where was my son? ..."

I know how true this is -- I didn't get to see the hearing because I was in a two-day trial of an equally heartbreaking international abduction case that has gone on for 11 years now.

Pastor Charged in Parental Kidnapping in Miller-Jenkins Gay Custody Case -

Pastor Charged in Kidnapping Involving Girl at Center of Gay Custody Case -

Good story about the latest developments in the age-old Miller-Jenkins case. Just a couple quibbles:
- NYT still puts  “international parental kidnapping” in quotes? It's only been the subject of a treaty & a federal criminal law for about 30 years.
- It says "Lisa Miller, the girl’s biological mother and a newly fervent Baptist, was championed by conservatives" -- I don't know of conservatives in general flocking to her cause. She's been supported in her politically significant legal battles by Liberty Counsel and other fundamentalist groups that are against gay marriage etc.