As International Child Abduction Surges in U.S, the Department of State Seeks Lawyers in Hawaii, Alaska, Washington and Oregon to Join 'Hague Convention Attorney Network'

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International parental child abduction originating from the United States may victimize over 100,000 American children from 2009 to 2020 according to a new book published by Peter Thomas Senese and Carolyn Vlk titled "The World Turned Upside Down". In an effort to combat the growth of child abduction in the United States, the Department of State has created "The Hague Convention Attorney Network" and seeks lawyers interested in helping targeted children of abduction become members of the network. Due to the increase of international abduction cases, the Department of State is actively seeking for attorneys from Hawaii, Alaska, Washington and Oregon to join the Network according to the I CARE Foundation.

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For lawyers who participate in the program, the benefits are many ... Peter Thomas Senese

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The I CARE Foundation is urging lawyers located in Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon interested in assisting the parents of children who have been internationally parentally abducted or who may be targets of international parental abduction to participate in the Department of State's "Hague Convention Attorney Network".

Alaska and Hawaii present unique problems since many cases of abduction in these states involved migratory immigration issues for both documented and undocumented resident aliens living in the United States who decide to leave America after their relationship breaks down. Often, these residents have American born children who they attempt to or actually remove from the United States without the other parents knowledge. Countries located in Asia are the highest number of inbound and outbound countries for Alaska and Hawaii.

Washington and Oregon present similar issues as Alaska and Hawaii. However, cases originating from or to Canada are very high as abductions cases between the United States and Canada is only second to the case load between the United States and Mexico.

Presently, according to the I CARE Foundation Directors Peter Thomas Senese and Carolyn Ann Vlk's 'The World Turned Upside Down', the total of reported cases of international parental child abduction originating from the United States is over 1, 640 cases per year. This number is growing at a rate of 20% per year. In addition, the number of unreported cases of international abduction is anticipated to be at least 100% of the reported cases. If the growth rate continues, there will be over 100,000 American children abducted from 2009 to 2020.

In an effort to help children and targeted parents of abduction, the United States Department of State has created the "Hague Convention Attorney Network", which is operated by the DOS Office of Children's Issues. The Office of Children's Issues at the Department of State is urging lawyers interested in assisting children and parents victimized by abduction to join the "Hague Convention Attorney Network."

The Office of Children's Issues in the U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the "Convention"). The International Child Abduction Remedies Act ("ICARA"), establishes procedures for litigating Convention cases in the U.S. The U.S. Central Authority has numerous functions including facilitating the institution of judicial proceedings in the U.S. "with a view to obtaining the return of the child and, in a proper case, to make arrangements for organizing or securing the effective exercise of rights of access." In April of 2008, the U.S.Central Authority assumed the responsibility for all incoming cases, and overseeing a network of volunteer attorneys.

The "Attorney Network" provides critical assistance. Lawyers that join the "Attorney Network" are asked to consider taking Hague Convention return and access cases on a pro bono or reduced fee basis. There is never an obligation to take a case, and legal fees and expenses may be recoverable under the Convention's Article 26 and the implementing statute (42.U.S.C 11607), and under state law when state law remedies are pursued (e.g., UCCJEA). In addition, lawyers with and without Hague experience are welcome to join the Attorney Network, as the Attorney Network offers a host of information and mentor programs. In addition to incoming cases of abduction, attorneys can also represent parents in abduction prevention cases and outgoing abduction cases.

Patricia M. Lee, a Florida attorney practicing in the area of parental child abduction and a Director of the I CARE Foundation states, “I feel privileged to have been a referral attorney for the implementing agency for many years of my private practice. The trauma experienced by victimized children and parents when faced with a child abduction, especially in the international arena, is overwhelming, primarily due to the lack of experienced attorneys, but also, due to the great financial burden, and cultural and language barriers. When they have nowhere else to turn and are so desperate, being able to help these people has been a rewarding experience personally, as well as professionally. It is worth every hour I have spent climbing the learning curve in this little known area of the law. OCI has always been responsive and helpful in the practicalities of dealing with clients living abroad, and the network of mentor attorneys available across the U.S., nothing short of a wealth of information and assistance. My experience in taking these cases has been humbling, to say the least, as I have seen the very best of my profession, which is too often the object of jokes and derision. I would encourage any attorney to join the Attorney Network.”

Peter Thomas Senese, a member of the I CARE Foundation, author, filmmaker, child abduction prevention advocate and the author of Chasing The Cylcone, and, co-author of 'The World Turned Upside Down' commented, "The number of international parental abduction cases originating from or landing in Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, and even Oregon have increased substantially as international abduction as a whole has significantly risen. For parents who are unexpectedly forced to chase after their abducted child, having a lawyer familiar with the complexities of international jurisdiction and child abduction is the difference between having a child returned home or lost forever. The initiative to recruit skilled lawyers to join the Department of State's Attorney Network is critical to the welfare of tens of thousands of at-risk children. For lawyers who participate in the program the benefits are significant."

If you are a lawyer interested in finding out more about the Hague Convention Attorney Network, visit and click “For Attorneys & Judges,” or write to HagueConventionAttorneyNetwork(at)state(dot)gov. You may also call 202-501-4444. To learn more about international parental child abduction please visit To receive an application to join the Attorney Network, please visit

Media Contact:
I CARE Foundation
Maria Gina

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