Today is National Missing Children’s Day; dedicated to encouraging parents, guardians, caregivers, and others concerned with the well-being of children to make child safety a priority. If you are faced with the terrifying scenario of International Parental Child Abduction, here is what you need to know.
National Missing Children’s Day was proclaimed by president Ronald Regan on May 25, 1983. This was to honor Etan Patz, a 6 year old boy who disappeared in New York City on May 25, 1979.
Every year for national missing children’s day, the Department of Justice commemorates Missing Children’s Day by honoring the heroic and exemplary efforts of agencies, organizations, and individuals to protect children.
Here, Masters Law Group covers the Hague Convention – aimed to protect children from international parental child abduction. Let’s take a look at the Hague Abduction Convention, and what you should know in honor of national missing children’s day.
HAGUE CONVENTION & ITS BACKGROUND
The Hague Convention is a treaty that many countries, along with the US have joined. On May 29, 1993, the Convention established international standards of practices for intercountry adoptions. The United States signed the Convention in 1994, and the Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008.
The overall purpose of the Convention is to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent by encouraging the speedy return of an abducted child to their country of habitual residence. As well as to organize and secure the effective rights of access to a child.
BECOME AWARE OF CHILD ABDUCTION
Awareness is one of the most important things you can do to prevent the unthinkable from happening. Oftentimes, the people who you least expect are capable of abducting your child are family members. It’s not unusual for a parent who abducts their child to believe that they know what is best for the child.
Young children are the easiest to abduct because they don’t know to go for help or do anything to bring attention to their parents taking them. Some other warning signs and factors that are important to be aware of are:
- A parent with no source of income/job.
- A parent who is financially independent.
- A parent with no real ties to the community they live in.
- A parent who abruptly quits their job, sells their home, applies for passports.
- A parent who starts collecting the child’s medical and school records.
- A parent who has domestic violence and/or child abuse history.
Some additional steps to lower the risk of parental abduction or increase your odds recovering your child if they are abducted would be:
- Have up-to-date pictures of your child.
- Fingerprints of your child.
- Have a written detailed description of your child including: height, weight, hair color, eye color, birthmarks, and noticeable physical characteristics.
- Copies of your child’s Social Security card and passport.
- Register your child with the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP).
THINGS YOU CAN DO THIS MISSING CHILDREN’S DAY
While all of the things mentioned above are great things to keep in mind, another layer of safety would be having child custody and visitation matters in place. Having a system that works for you and your child as well as the other parent involved can make it easier to keep accountability.
Whenever a Child custody or visitation issue arises, you should report it to state or local law enforcement authorities or a state judicial officer. In addition to contacting the Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues, law enforcement or left-behind parents should also contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (“NCMEC”): www.missingkids.org.
NCMEC works closely with the State Department and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime and administers its Victim Reunification Travel Program. Eligible parents can request financial assistance so they can be reunited with a child located in another country or obtain travel support for the child’s return to the United States.
Lastly, seeking a family law firm who are highly experienced in cases involving international child custody disputes (in both courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system) could be an invaluable resource in this incredibly stressful time.
The commemoration of National Missing Children’s Day serves as a reminder to continue our efforts to reunite missing children with their families and an occasion to honor those dedicated to this cause. It’s important for the US along with other countries to be a part of the Hague Convention. By doing so, we can negotiate treaties to help streamline international justice.
It is essential to have the help from a knowledgeable family law attorney who understands all of the legalities that go along with international child custody cases.
Our attorneys, Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph, have extensive knowledge and experience with The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“The Hague Convention”) that was enacted into law through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (“ICARA”).
See Our Featured Hague Decisions Here:
- Sulcaite, Memorandum Opinion and Order
- Ho, Memorandum Opinion and Order
- Hinnendael, Decision and Order
Contact us here today to learn more.