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since June 19, 2001


Parental Abduction

Parental Abduction Conference, Washington, DC, 2001 : Divorce & Separation in Germany,

Introduction by Karin Jäckel, Dr. Phil., to her presentation:

Divorce and Separation in Germany:
Causes and Consequences, Endeavor of Explanations

Washington, D.C., June 7-9, 2001, at the

Parental Abduction Conference

Organized by P.A.R.E.N.T. International, at the Hilton Garden Inn.

One day in the first week of March 2001, I found an e-mail message in my In-box, informing me about an annual event in Washington D.C., actually from the 7th to the 9th of June, the >>Parental Abduction Conference<<.

The organizer was a self-help association called "P.A.R.E.N.T. International", founded by a mother named Maureen Dabbagh.

It was a very interesting message, and I was asked to present a speech.

A speech, no problem – normally – but in English, about a very special subject, including lots of judicial terms? Oops..., in addition, my publishers (Rowohlt, Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag and Luebbe) refused any support, so I was on my own, with respect to the costs as well as to the work.

Hesitating, I had to think it over for some weeks. After that I contacted Maureen Dabbagh – and things were on their way.

There was no doubt that I would fly with my youngest 14-year-old son, Yannic, who had holidays until the 10th of June and for almost two years had been taking English at school.

Being a mother, I always had to co-ordinate my professional life with my private one, favouring regularly the very best for my children and making sure that they are either with their father, with me or sometimes with their grandparents, but never gave them into the care of strangers.

Maybe I’m a rather old-fashioned mother in that regard, but my three boys are the very best witnesses of how well that objective by us two parents worked out.

When we came to Washington D.C., both of us, Yannic and I, looked with wide-open eyes at that city. It seemed as familiar to us as Paris, for example in the way of its architecture, street-layout and flair, but somehow as if transported from a dwarf’s into a giant’s world. Europe and the USA. Our European eyes – accustomed to look at the lovely hills and vineyards of the Black Forest, half-timbered houses in narrow streets, and the towers of the old castle upon our small town hiding between dark firs and golden curled chestnut-trees - these eyes had to change focus to take in different perspectives. But it was wonderful. And in the end we left a little bit of our hearts back in the streets and parks of Washington D.C., took a coin and threw it into one of the fountains, wishing to be back one more time.

The motto of the "Parental Abduction Conference" was that every state has now criminalized parental abduction under their custodial interference- or child snatching laws. Removing a child from a state or the country can result in federal felony charges being brought against the abducting parent. But what happens to the child…

That is left open to parents, lawyers, law enforcement, social workers, missing children’s agencies and everyone interested in children.

Many speakers offered their knowledge, their advice and presentations:

  • Albert Schloegel, Ph.D., founder of a non-profit missing-children's organization, discussed what a parent should look out for in a recovery agent;
  • David L. Levy, president of the "Children's Rights Council" (CRC), addressed efforts to stop the kidnapping of children, input on legislation to affirm a child's contact with both parents and a new CRC proposal to establish access (visitations) sites in foreign countries.
       Mrs. Levy has appeared in various national TV-shows, testified more than 20 times before Congressional committees, and is editor of the 1993 book "The Best Parent is Both Parent, A Guide to Shared Parenting in the 21st Century". Levy received a Lifelong Achievement Award from the federal child support office in 2000;
  • Scott Word, Parental Alienation Research Foundation;
  • Nancy Salam presented the intimate story of a mother’s search for the six years old daughter that was stolen from her by her Jordanian husband and the young woman she finally rediscovered a decade later;
  • Barbara Steinberg, Ph.D., licensed psychologist, presented some facts about an unleashing of Solomon’s Sword, exploring the social phenomenon of parental alienation from two perspectives. One is within the context of an culture that created an imbalance of power between the parents which supports the alienation process. The other is within the dynamics of a family in which the interpersonal parental influences abuse the child psychologically;
  • Doug Darnall, Ph.D., author, talking about his book "False Allegations of Alienation";
  • Maurice Elfeke, Secretary General of "SOS Germany," a non-profit-agency dealing with parental abductions to Germany but based in France;
  • Phillipe Paquay, teacher and member of "SOS Belgium." His presentation was titled "The European Front" and showed how Europe is addressing international child abduction;
  • Linda Shay-Gardner, Masters and Doctorate from Columbia University and a J.D. from Timple University School of Law. She worked as an attorney on interstate and international abduction cases, represented clients in over 20 countries and has a number of published opinions in abduction cases. She also attended the Hague Convention session in 1997 as a private law delegate;
  • Stewart Rein, children’s human rights advocate and author of a book "Betrayal of the Child," showed his film titled "Wednesday Children," a special report on Parental child abduction, made with the participation of the "United States Office of Children’s Issues" (Ray Clore), "NCMEC" (Nany Hammer) leading psychiatrists, John W. Jacobs, some lawyers and victim parents. Following the film there was a question and answer period;
  • Ronald E. Lais, international attorney and expert consultant on children’s issues, Member of the District Bat Association of Sonepat, India, and has been involved in several highly publicized contests custody cases, including the O.J.Simpson case.
       He addressed the issue of child abductions to Germany;
  • Nagi Kheir, Foundation Executive Director of an International Alliance of Christian and Jewish Human Rights Organizations, Director of Middle-East Affairs. His topic "Our Silence Kills, Please Speak" addressed religious persecutions of children abducted abroad;
  • Fred Rooney, Esq., discussed the plight of Americans with limited resources and how the justice system fails them at their time of greatest need. Are there solutions? Buying Back your Baby is not just a cheap slogan;
  • Nancy Faulkner, Ph.D., author of "Parental Abduction is Child Abuse", first presented at the United Nations, Human Rights Commission, Geneva, Switzerland, 1999 on behalf of P.A.R.E.N.T and parents of children that have been abducted.
       In her presentation she reviewed the potential constellation of development and psychological problems that may result from parental child abduction;
  • Maureen Dabbagh, founder of P.A.R.E.N.T International, Mother of four kidnapped children, three of them found and recovered, with one daughter still lost, designated as an expert witness by family law courts in a dozen states.
       She presented the film "Faces of Recovery," a stark collection of unedited actual video footage covering the first moments of many children’s recovery;
  • Karin Jäckel, Dr. Phil., Divorce and Separation in Germany: Causes and Consequences, Endeavour of Explanations;

An exhibition of art created by abducted children was on display at the conference facilities.

A traditional candle-light vigil was held in front of the White House from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday night.
   Parents and supporters were invited to this solemn occasion to remember the children all over the world that are denied access to their parents.
Battery operated candles had been donated for the event.
   Some musicians performed live at this highly emotional meeting. Especially Richard Vikstrom, whose child is kidnapped by the mother to Germany, took all the parents, supporters and viewers under his spell when he played on the violin a classical peace of music typical for almost each nation of the world. The strong feelings in the sounds of music made a lot of parents cry, remembering their children and the lost opportunity to show them their love. One of the mothers has been looking for 27 years for her kidnapped daughter
   Craig Deanto performed a song on the guitar, with the question "Who Hears the Cries," Most of the annually returning parents were able to hum- or sing-along with the refrain.
   The event closed with a huge circle of people standing hand in hand.  They pledged to overcome their fear and tears by singing "We shall overcome."

Some journalists showed interest, taking photos of mothers in tears and fathers in despair, asking some questions. No great effort, but better than nothing.

Some people surrounded our group, showing reactions that ranged from laughter to surprise; parents feeling with parents, young lovers shaking heads and trusting in their so much stronger love and their knowledge of eternal devotion that all of the lost parents in the group once felt in their own early days of looking at things through the pink glasses of never-ending love.

President Bush never showed himself at any of the numerous windows or on the balcony of the White House. But one of his guards, waiting in cold silence in the shadows of the ornamental bushes or patrolling through the open garden in front of the house, had nothing better to do than to forbid the touching of the garden fence.

"But all the power is coming from the people," I tried to explain to Yannic, while we strolled back to the Hilton Garden Inn, where the conference took place.

Karin Jäckel's Presentation...

Index to Karin Jaeckel's Web pages at Fathers for Life (English)

Karin Jaeckel's Website (German)

Posted June 2001
2007 12 23 (reformated)