A Family Resource Guide on International Parental Kidnapping

A Family Resource Guide on International Parental Kidnapping

U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs

810 Seventh Street NW. Washington, DC 20531

Alberto R. Gonzales

Attorney General

Regina B. Schofield

Assistant Attorney General

J. Robert Flores

Administrator Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Office of Justice Programs

Partnerships for Safer Communities


Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention



When a child is abducted by a family member, the parent who has been left behind faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The emotional, legal, and financial difficulties precipitated by the abduction can be among the hardest challenges a parent will ever encounter. For parents whose children are taken to or retained in foreign countries, these hardships can be particularly overwhelming.

Given the complex nature of international abductions, a swift and informed response is often difficult. Unfamiliar languages and laws, compounded by the vast psychological and physical distance of the separation, can frustrate recovery efforts.

Despite these obstacles, however, left-behind family members can marshal an effective response and this book is a resource that can help them do so. It offers descriptions and realistic assessments of available civil and criminal remedies, explains applicable laws, identifies public and private resources, and identifies strategies to help left-behind parents recover their children or reestablish meaningful contact with them in another country.

This is the second edition of A Family Resource Guide on International Parental Kidnapping. It covers important developments in policy and practice since the publication of the first edition in February 2002, including:

  • Establishment of the AMBER Alert program by the PROTECT Act.
  • Amendment of the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act to make “attempted international abduction” a federal offense.
  • Use of child abduction (CA) and AMBER Alert (AA) flags on missing children records in National Crime Information Center.
  • Widespread enactment of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which addresses jurisdiction and enforcement in child custody, visitation, and abduction cases. Many states have included provisions authorizing prosecutors, and law enforcement acting at their request, to assist civilly in the location, recovery, and return of abducted children, and in civil enforcement of custody and visitation orders.
  • Creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after 9/11. DHS assumed responsibility for border protection, including a role in the recovery of missing and exploited children. This work used to be handled by the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
  • Online access to many useful resources via the Internet.
  • Steady growth of the number of U.S. treaty partners under the Hague Child Abduction Convention.



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