Saturday, May 12, 2012

guest post: peter thomas senese best selling author of chasing the cyclone

good morning friends! hope you're saturday is off to a great start! i have a coffee in hand & i am ready to go.
today we're changing things up a bit, getting serious around these parts. i was recently contacted by the author of the following :

Peter Thomas Senese contacted me & asked if i would be interested in reviewing his book [to which i said yes & can't wait to start reading, so be on the lookout for that review soon] & also asked if he could do a guest post on the blog.

i said absolutely. the internet is a big, big place & maybe just maybe his article being on my blog can help someone somewhere, so please, take a couple minutes of your time & read the following ....

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Best-Selling Author and Child Advocate Peter Thomas Senese & The I CARE Foundation Share Insight On International Parental Child Abduction While Creating A Few Miracles

There is a wonderful, loving mother who is a senior officer with the United States Navy reserve who is desperately trying to prevent her daughter from being potentially illegally detained in a foreign country located in South America who is considered a non-complying signatory of the Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

There is a caring father who is at wits end trying to figure out how he can reunite with his abducted son who was internationally abducted recently from Tampa, Florida to the non-Hague signatory nation of Bolivia.

There is an incredible mom living in south western Florida who fought for nearly two years to ensure that her two young daughters would not be abducted to Saudi Arabia – a country where women have minimal rights, and where children who are wrongfully removed there are never returned to their home country. The risks of abduction to her children still remain.

And a father from Tampa, who successfully reunited with his abducted child under the rules of the Hague Convention is once again desperately trying to prevent another abduction from occurring.

These are but a few of the many parents residing in Florida who have been impacted by the threat or act of international child abduction. Tragically, there are many, many more.

International Parental Child Abduction (herein referred to as ‘IPCA’) is a growing pandemic that the citizens of Florida, the United States, and the world are facing.

If you think this may not impact you, consider yourself very fortunate, but perhaps you should think about this again.

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.

Recovery of parentally abducted children is quite difficult, and is expanded upon later is this article.

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. IPCA is a crime under the federal 'International Parental Kidnapping Crimes Act'. In addition, each state, including Florida,  has its own criminal statutes concerning this act. Furthermore, law enforcement and leading child therapists as child abuse.

Ann Marques, who is a highly trained and skilled family law attorney and fierce child advocate who practices family law in New York State and who was formerly trial 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 200,000 children – that is nearly the population of St. Petersburg, Florida - disappearing. Gone. Lost forever.  

So what does a parent who has a child abducted do?  They must pay attention to the warning signs of abduction.

St. Petersburg based attorney Patricia M. Lee, who I personally consider to be one of the most knowledgeable lawyers and child advocates in the country and who is a Senior Mentor to the United States Department of State’s ‘Hague Convention Attorney Network’ and a Board of Director of the I CARE Foundation provided some insight when she recently stated, “As a family law practitioner who frequently deals with international issues, I see the risk of, and actual incidences of child abduction growing proportionately to our world shrinking. The failure, or inability, of courts to aggressively pursue reasonable precautions to proactively prevent such abductions is a crime in and of itself. Once abduction has taken place, the left behind parent faces a morass of legal issues that are not only difficult to surmount due to language and cultural differences, but are also prohibitively expensive for the ordinary parent. The backlash is often permanent, and goes without any redress at all. Our best recourse is to prevent the removal of children at risk prior to it occurring, and we absolutely must have laws and procedures in place that allow us to do so. Anything less is simply irresponsible, and inhumane on a global scale. Children across the world deserve these simple safeguards from such abduction and victimization.”

In Florida, the Child Abduction Prevention Act (CAPA) law went into effect on January 1st, 2011. The law was written by child advocate Carolyn Vlk that I worked hard advocating for its passage, including providing testimony to the Florida Senate’s Judiciary Committee (To view the CAPA law, please click here to visit the official website of Patricia M. Lee).

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? Wrong.

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, your ability to reunite with your child is very difficult.

Furthermore, 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.

Patricia Lee commented, “The legal environment for parents whose children are at risk of abduction is daunting. To begin with, targeted parents are often not aware of the other parent’s imminent plans to abduct their child. All too often local courts may not realize the complex issues involved in these types of cases, and the challenging legal remedies that a targeted or left behind parent faces in order to prevent or attempt to reunite with their child, not to mention the incredible financial burden.”

What else could go wrong? Well, I am only scratching the surface. Remember, a parental child abductor is kidnapper. 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?

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.

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 later in this article.

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:

Select Reviews of Peter Thomas Senese’s Chasing The Cyclone

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."
At the end of the day, what is critical is that parents first pay attention to the Warning Signs of Abduction. If even one of these warning signs exist, there may be an abduction scheme in the process, and I strongly urge any at-risk parent to seek legal advice and protection under the CAPA law. Here is a list of warning signs:
Warning Signs of International Parental Child Abduction
1.       Be aware of the possibility of any abduction. Although there are no foolproof warning signs for abduction risk, some indicators should not be ignored. Do not stick your head in the sand and pretend that your child is not at risk.
2.       The vast majority of international child abductions occur by a parent who is determined to cause hardship and harm to the other parent. The instrument that they use in order to cause this harm is the child or children of the marriage. A significant number of leading therapist and government agencies from around the world have stated in numerous reports that revenge is the primary and leading reason why one parent will try to end the other parent’s relationship with their own child. Therefore, if you are involved with a person who has jealous or revengeful tendencies, you must be aware that these characteristics are common in the vast majority of would-be parental child abductors.
3.       If the issues raised in Section 2 are true in your situation and your spouse or former spouse has in the past used the child of your marriage or relationship to cause you harm, pain, and suffering, or, has tried to control and manipulate your actions, then your concern should be magnified ten-fold. If the same individual has family members in another country or has lived in another country and has expressed a desire or threat to move there with your child, your concern should be magnified one-hundred fold.
4.       If there is evidence of previous abductions, disappearances, or threats to abduct the child by your spouse or ex-spouse, these indicators demonstrate that any new abduction threat is real and in more likelihood already planned.
5.       If your spouse or ex-spouse has citizenship in another country and strong emotional or cultural ties to their country of origin. This is particularly true due to the ability of traveling on a foreign passport, which I discuss later.
6.     Unexplainable removal of cash deposits and diminished assets, or unexplainable increases in credit card or bank debt.
7.       Concealment of new credit cards or bank debt.
8.    Concealed, hidden, and abrupt communication with individuals or family members living in a foreign country.
9.     Concealed, hidden, and abrupt communication with a lawyer.
10.    Frequent previous trips with child to a foreign country without other parent.
11.    Family and friends living in a foreign country.
12.    No strong ties to a child's home state.
13.    Strong foreign support network.
14.    No financial reason to stay.
15.    Possible use of the child as a pawn in order to gain access to non-joint assets.
16.    Engaged in planning activities such as quitting job; selling home; terminating lease; closing bank accounts or liquidating assets; hiding or destroying documents; or securing a passport, a birth certificate, or school medical records.
17.    A history of marital instability, lack of cooperation with the other parent, domestic violence, or child abuse.
18.    An announcement of an unexpected trip to another country with the child.
19.    The taking of easily transportable high-valued items such as jewelry upon departing to another country.
20.    Adamant unwillingness to leave the child behind with you while spouse travels to a foreign country.
21.    Shipping of personal items to a foreign country.
22.    A past tendency of your spouse or ex-spouse to relocate and live abroad.
23.    In certain jurisdictions – whereas both parents have a joint-right to custody – it is conceivable that a parent possessing a right of custodial authority over the child (this can be joint or sole custody) can legally remove the child of the marriage/partnership to another country for an undetermined period of time (claiming a holiday or short-term trip) without needing permission or actually informing the other parent if a pre-existing travel agreement is not in place already with the court. Essentially, a parent exercising their right of custody over their child can legally remove the child of the marriage/partnership without permission from the other parent if a court order is not issued previously. Not surprisingly, many international parental child abductions occur when one parent takes the child of the marriage to another country for an alleged short ‘family visit’ – however, in reality that person has no intention of ever returning with the child to the place of habitual residency. What typically happens next in these scenarios is that the abducting parent, unknown to the left behind parent, files for a divorce in the country they have abducted to. The divorce motion and affidavit filed makes claim to all sorts of cruel and dangerous behavior against the spouse (thus the reason why they are able to file under an ex parte [without notice] motion). Once the divorce law suit is filed, the abducting parent usually will go underground with the assistance of family and/or friends who usually assisted in the planning of this act. It is critical to note that deception is a critical element in these typical scenarios: the left behind parent is left to believe that their partner and child are on a short vacation (typically to visit family of the partner) at the time of their departure. A few days or weeks later, reality sets in with either a phone call or a letter saying that the partner and child/children are not returning, and that a divorce action has been filed. So, even if you think you are happily married, it is greatly advised to have a legally binding and court registered travel agreement in place prior to either parent exercising a right of custody is granted permission to leave the country with your child.
24.    Trust your instincts: if something feels wrong, it probably is. And remember that most international parental child abductions are carefully planned and typically involve the help of others.

25. BEWARE that the other parent may be trying to prepare an Article 13 Defense while remaining in the country prior to abduction. This may include the other parent filing false police reports or making false claims to social service against you.  REMEMBER that if the international courts have reason to believe that the return of your child may put the child in grave danger, they will not order for a return to the country of origin under Article 13. The use of false reporting right prior to international child abduction is a strong indicator that abduction is planned.

26. If a parent living as an alien citizen of one country but has limited roots to that country and is intending to travel with the child abroad, the risks of an abduction are great. MORESO, if the parent who is planning to depart, say on a few week vacation, does not have the ability to purchase a return ticket back to the child's country of origin and/or does not have employment and/or does not have housing, then you can bet that upon departure for the so-called 'vacation', that parent is not returning. Remember, Intent and Sustainability issues are critical. If a person can't sustain themselves in the country that their child was born, and, they have no deep roots, why in the world would they want to stay?

27. If an alien-parent has deep connections to another country, and has deep connections to that country's senior government officials, there is a clear risk. Recently, I have been advising on a situation where the potential abductor has immediate family members in charge of overseeing a fleet of aircraft owned by a Middle East family (or you could say government). Obviously, access to aircraft and departing under immunity of a foreign government are very concerning.
28.  If you are the victim of online slander, defamation, and identity theft, whereas an anonymous or unknown blogger tries to discredit and defame you in a public light, this is a major warning sign. Often, the Internet is used by a parent who is planning on abducting a child under the concealment of anonymity in order to publicly portray you in an untruthful, but negative light. The reason being that once they abduct the child, they will turn to the public statements on the Internet that maliciously defame you and steal your identity and use this under Article 13’s ‘Best Interest of the Child’ defense.  Tragically, under U.S. Federal law, so long as a third party posts onto a hosted website, the site administrator is not required to remove the blog EVEN if it is deemed defamatory, slanderous, or malicious by a court. So, the slander will stay on the Internet, regardless of the legal action you may take. And the abductor, using anonymity, can and often will use various alias names to create a new and unfavorable persona for the targeted parent.
29. Many abducting parents who have deep connections to another country, for example, such as being born in a foreign country and/or having strong family ties will use the idea of a ‘family vacation’ as a means to abduct a child abroad. In essence, the targeted parent is not led on to believe that the relationship is broken, and in fact, the intended abductor will go out of the way to portray a solid relationship in order to have the other partner travel abroad for a ‘family visit’.  Then, upon arrival to the destination country, the abductor will make a claim of child abuse or spousal abuse (and it happens equally amongst men and women), and seek immediate relief in their country of origin (where they are supposedly on a vacation seeing family). The relief sought will include a restraining order against the other parent, and immediate separation/divorce proceedings.  By stating mistreatment, the abducting parent begins to lay the foundation for an Article 13 defense.  Sadly, in countries that are not members of the Hague Convention, a child’s return to their country of origin or original jurisdiction seldom occurs. This is true too for Hague participatory countries, too.  And since there was no previous court order issued by a court who had jurisdiction of the child prior to the vacation, the abducting parent has not violated any initial laws. In fact, some of the defenses used by abductors inclusive of false claims of abuse include statements that the targeted parent was aware of and had consented that the child was going to be relocated to a new country. So, beware of vacations to your spouse’s country of origin particularly when your child’s other parent has strong ties to that country and is shipping many valuables that were in the household under the guise of that person trying to support and provide assistance to their family living abroad.
30. A child who has a right to citizenship from another country due to one of its parents being a national of that country has the right to receive a foreign, secondary passport. In some countries, particularly in the Middle East, the passport for a child possessing a right to citizenship may be obtained by only one parent: typically the father. For other countries, only one parent is required to obtain the child’s passport. If you know that your child has a secondary passport that has been issued due to the child’s other parent’s right of citizenship to another country, this is a major concern because that passport can be used as the passport for illegal travel. Equally alarming is that many targeted parents who have a child with a person who has a right to another nation’s citizenship may never know if the other parent obtained a passport from their home country for the child of the relationship. And no U.S. court can take possession of the foreign passport unless an actual crime has been committed. Furthermore, foreign embassies generally will not answer a court subpoena requesting information about whether that nation has issued a passport for a specific child. They are uncooperative.  To put it as simple as possible: the issuance of a second passport to a child by the abducting parent’s country of origin is the most dangerous and severe warning sign of an intended abduction.
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 (www.chasingthecyclone.com) 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.

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