I CARE Foundation Helps Create A Miracle: Family Reunification For Young American Child Living In The Ivory Coast For The Past 8 Years

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The reunification of a young child living in the Ivory Coast and apart from his parents occurred in New York City after 8 years due to a cooperative agreement negotiated by author Peter Thomas Senese and the I CARE Foundation.

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Eugene Pothy Reunites With His Son After 8 Years

If there is a lesson to be learned today, it is that parents should never use a child as a pawn or a tool, but should always embrace the privilege they have in loving their children ... Peter Thomas Senese

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It had been 8 years since Eugene Pothy had last seen his now ten year old son when the child departed from Newark Airport on what was initially planned as a few month visit so the child could see his mother's family living in the Ivory Coast. As it turned out, the short family visit became an incredibly long, frustrating, and near impossible attempt for Mr. Pothy to reunite with his son after the relationship between the child's two parents ended. On Tuesday afternoon at John F. Kennedy airport, Mr. Pothy did something he has been dreaming about all these years but was not able to do: he lovingly held his son in his arms on American soil.

Amidst allegations that his child was wrongfully detained in the Ivory Coast, Mr. Pothy sought assistance from both the New Jersey Superior Court and the Department of State's Office of Childrens Issues, which oversees international child abduction claims under The Hague Convention On The Civil Aspects Of International Child Abduction; however, Mr. Pothy had little legal ground to stand on. Unfortunately, the Ivory Coast is not a member of the Hague Convention, which limited his ability to seek legal remedies under international law to assist him reunite with his son. Additionally, since the child had not been in New Jersey for 6 consecutive months, the New Jersey state court had no jurisdiction on the child (New Jersey Superior Court File Number: FD-0700483-7). To add to Mr. Pothy's difficulties was the reality that the Ivory Coast has been in constant and at times dangerous political turmoil that made it unsafe for him if he had attempted to travel to the country in an attempt to bring his child home. In essence, Mr. Pothy had very little hope that he would see his son again despite seeking the legal assistance of both the New Jersey courts and the United States Department of State - who actively monitored Mr. Pothy's plight, but due to the Ivory Coast not being a member of the Hague Convention, had limited ability to aid in the child's return.

Today, the nightmare of Mr. Pothy is over. His son is home, and a sense of peace has been established between the child's parents due to the I CARE Foundation, and the assistance of Mr. Joel Walter, Mr. Peter Thomas Senese, Ms. Patricia Lee, and Dr. Alex Gimon.

Eugene Pothy stated, "It has been 8 years since I last had last seen my son before today. Without the extraordinary assistance of the I CARE Foundation and Joel Walter, Peter Thomas Senese, Patricia Lee, and Dr. Gimon, and their effort that created the path and facilitated all things necessary, my son would not be home today. But he is, and I am extremely grateful to each of them for their compassion and effort that made this day possible. Without their complete assistance, my son would have remained in the Ivory Coast. But today, he is now home, and I am so grateful."

During a scheduled court hearing in New Jersey Superior Court between the child's two parents, where Mr. Pothy was attempting to have the court obtain jurisdiction of his son, opportunity arose that a negotiated return may be possible.

Acting in the best interest of the child while understanding the challenges the child's mother faced, the I CARE Foundation's directors sat down with both parties in hope to create a co-parenting plan that included the return of the child to the United States, while also creating a peaceful parenting partnership that would allow for the young child to return to America, where he would see for the very first time, his 6 year old sister.

I CARE Foundation director and the author of the critically acclaimed 'Chasing The Cyclone', Peter Thomas Senese commented, "Today was a great day for this young child. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Eugene and the fact that despite the difficulties he faced, he never stopped trying to have his son in his life. But this day would not have been possible if it were not for the remarkable act of the child's mother, Judith, who too, had not seen her child in many years. What we have seen today is two parents who love their children come to a point that they were willing to put their difference behind them in the name of the best interest of their children. And so, under a court ordered agreement that both parties freely entered into before the New Jersey Superior Court, not one, but two children miraculously will not only have both of their parents in their life, but a brother and a sister separated their entire life will finally be reunited. I am so happy for everyone involved, and am deeply appreciative to the children's aunt, Ginette, who was willing to travel from the Ivory Coast to the United States with the young child, and return him to the loving arms of both his father and his mother."

New York based attorney Joel Walter, a director of the I CARE Foundation and a member of the Department of State's "Hague Convention Attorney Network" added, "I am so pleased to know that Eugene and Judith's son will now be able to have and embrace the deep love that both his parents have for him. For several hours today while attending this family's long-awaited reunion, I saw with my own eyes the love that a father and a mother have for their child. I am thrilled for both parents, but in truth I am most happy for their son, and their daughter, who finally met this evening. On a personal level, I am deeply satisfied that the considerable time, resources, and effort the I CARE Foundation put forth to assist this family come to a peaceful resolution and reunite with their children makes all the effort we put forth worth it. When Peter Thomas Senese strongly suggested that the I CARE Foundation try to assist this family, it became clear to us all that we needed to help. And so, the foundation's efforts to assist Eugene and Judith included direct assistance from my fellow directors Patricia Lee and Dr. Alex Gimon. Today was a great day, and I am so thankful to have been able to help this family. I am also pleased to share that through the foundation's efforts, and that of Peter Thomas Senese and Patricia Lee and myself, today marks the 3rd child this week that we were able to reunite with their family. And as much as this is deeply satisfying, it is sobering to know just how extensive the problem of international child abduction really is."

International Parental Child Abduction is a growing problem in the United States and elsewhere. According to statistics cited in 'The World Turned Upside Down' written by Peter Thomas Senese and Carolyn Vlk, the current international child abduction forecast for the next 10 years, including projected 'reported' and 'unreported' cases of abduction is expected to reach over 100,000 children. Presently, a targeted parent who has their child internationally abducted by the other parent from the United States is solely responsible for all financial costs associated with their legal efforts to bring back their child. Generally, the primary remedy available for a targeted parent is the Hague Convention, however, many nations, including the majority of countries in Asia and Africa are not signatories of the convention, while many other nations who are signatories of the convention, including Mexico and Germany, are not considered complying members according to the most recent Department of State Hague Convention Report To Congress.

Frank Mattoni, a loving father who is desperately trying to bring his young daughter home who is presently living in the Philippines while the child's mother also lives in New York added, "My congratulations to Eugene and Judith on the safe return of their son to the United States.  I'm sure he and his sister will have an amazing time getting to know one another.  Aunt Ginnette did an amazing job bringing Eugene and Judith's son back to New York happy and healthy.  The I CARE Foundation truly did a wonderful job establishing positive communication between all parties involved, orchestrating the necessary travel arrangements, and laying out a plan that has ended with a child being reunited with his family.  The actions of Judith have given hope that one day soon, my daughter's mother will bring our daughter home to New York where she was born."

For more information on international parental child abduction, please visit Peter Thomas Senese's official website for Chasing The Cyclone or visit the I CARE Foundation website.

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