lost shoe

Parental Abduction and the Hague Convention, Part 2: What to Do If It Happens to Your Family

In the previous post, I shared a little background on the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Convention” for short). This post, part 2 on “Parental Abduction and the Hague Convention,” will cover several concrete things you need to know and do in the event this happens to you and your family.

First and Foremost …

Before you do anything else, call your local law enforcement agency.

I cannot possibly over stress this point.

So I’ll say it again:

Before you do anything else, call your local law enforcement agency.

You may be tempted to do one of two things, either of which would be a mistake:

  1. Underplay the event and attempt to negotiate directly with the absconding parent; or
  2. Give way to your rage and start a massive call-campaign aimed at enlisting the aid of people and organizations on the national and international level.

Instead, take a deep breath, and call the police, immediately.

Your local law enforcement agency has connections, methods, procedures, and training in place specifically designed to put into place a system designed to help you. That system will almost certainly not move as quickly as you want it to. But it is the strongest ally you will have. Start local.

Before you do anything else, call your local law enforcement agency.

Next, contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

NCMEC was established in 1981 by John and Reve Walsh, in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of their son, Adam Walsh.

With over 30 years of hard experience on the ground aiding parents of abducted children, NCMEC has an invaluable support network already in place to help you through the nightmare of an abducted child.

Calling them after contacting the local police – and having received a copy of your filed report – is to your benefit.

Yes, You Need an Attorney …

… and preferably one with experience dealing with parental abductions and the complicated legal mechanisms involved in getting your children back home safely.

The Office of Children’s Issues

Every signatory to the Hague Convention is assigned or has designated a “Central Authority” to serve as the clearinghouse office in abduction cases where the Convention may apply.

In the United States, the Central Authority is the Office of Children’s Issues within the Department of State.

Ask your attorney to contact the OCI as soon as possible.

Get Whatever Help You Need to Cope

Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to professional counselors or therapists in order to help you withstand the immense and often overwhelming stress you will inevitably face.

Getting your children back home safely is possible. But this is a marathon – not a sprint.

Be prepared for the long haul by making sure you take the steps necessary to surround yourself with a team of experienced professionals – law enforcement, legal, political, diplomatic, medical and emotional/psychological – who will be part of your team.