Friday, September 28, 2012

Peter Thomas Senese Makes Significant Donation To The I CARE Foundation: Helps Protect Children

                                          THE I CARE FOUNDATION 
I am pleased to share that I have made another significant donation to the I CARE Foundation as the organization prepares to move on new legislative initiatives that will help protect children. Like anything, financial resources are vital to the ability of making things happen. And I can't think of anything more worthwhile in my advocacy than protecting children from abduciton and trafficking.  

Incenitve to do so? Reminders of why this was important?

Perhaps my fellow I CARE Foundation Board member Joel S. Walter, who I think happens to be one of the best family law attorneys in New York City said it best when he shared, "Your continual financial support and dedication to children through your generous financial support of the I CARE Foundation has had a great influence on so many lives. Truth is, our work continues to protect at-risk children. Thank you for your support and effort my old friend."

Well, Joel, if you're reading this, you know I am happy to play my role to help others. 

At the beginning of the 2012 New Year, I made a series of financial donations to the I CARE Foundation for operations expenses as well as providing some resources to assist children of international parental child abduction.  In addition, I pledged to donate 100% of my e-book royalites from my international thrillers including 'Chasing The Cyclone', 'The Den of the Assassin', and 'Cloning Christ' to the I CARE Foundation outside of any other contributions I intended.

Here is what some of the results of what we've been able to accomplish so far:

2. The I CARE Foundation has helped prevent a large number of international kidnappings.

3. The I CARE Foundation has continued to build a national pro bono network of attorneys willing to assist at-risk children.

4. The I CARE Foundation has worked hard to continue to create new laws that will protect at-risk children.

5. The I CARE Foundation has created various campaigns to help raise awarenss of child abduction so children can be protected. 

Please find below is part of the promise I made nearly a year ago to help others: the donation of my book revenue generated from Barnes & Noble to the I CARE Foundation.  

Here are sworn testimonials from other parents who I and the I CARE Foundation have helped along the way. They speak loud and clear. 

Best-selling Author Peter Thomas Senese Donates 100% of Earnings Generated From Barnes & Noble Nook Sales Of Chasing The Cyclone To Stop International Child Abduction

Peter Thomas Senese is pleased to announce that Barnes & Noble Nook readers now have the ability to purchase an e-book copy of his critically acclaimed novel Chasing The Cyclone, and in doing so, make a difference in the fight against international child abduction as 100% of the author's royalties from all Nook sales of Chasing The Cyclone will be donated to the I CARE Foundation.

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Chasing The Cyclone, Peter Thomas Senese, GAO, Joel Walter, Patricia Lee, Eric Kalmus, No fly list, international parental child abduction prevention, carolyn vlk
Peter Thomas Senese' CHASING THE CYCLONE
Quote startI am pleased to share that Chasing The Cyclone is now available in e-book for Barnes & Noble Nook users ... Peter Thomas SeneseQuote end
Los Angeles (PRWEB) March 10, 2012
Best-selling geopolitical thriller author Peter Thomas Senese and Pacifica Publishing are pleased to announce the critically acclaimed international legal thriller Chasing The Cyclone is now available atBarnes & Noble in e-book for Nook readers. Previously, Chasing The Cyclone was made available exclusively on Amazon as Mr. Senese donated 100% of his royalties to the I CARE Foundation, an organization created to assist parents 
and children targeted for abduction.
Peter Thomas Senese commented, "I am pleased to share that Chasing The Cyclone is now available at Barnes & Noble for Nook users for download. Barnes & Noble is a vital institution for readers and writers alike. As we prepare for Chasing The Cyclone's upcoming international hardcover release, along with some other important news related to this story and international child abduction, I am pleased to share that 100% of my author royalties earned from Chasing The Cyclone e-book sales at Barnes & Noble will be donated to the I CARE Foundation.
Critics have praised Peter Thomas Senese's Chasing The Cyclone.
The 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 Examiner stated, "Peter Thomas Senese is a gifted storyteller who takes readers on a heart pounding journey around the globe through the eyes of Paul Francesco, a father whose 7-year old son is abducted by his mother. The writing is raw and the emotions are real . . . The story is filled with twists and turns that will leave readers scratching their heads, seething in anger, and hugging their children a little tighter . . . I highly recommend Chasing the Cyclone as a must-read. You will not be able to put it down. It may very well change the way you look at life, child custody, and interactions with your child's other parent. I cannot endorse this book strongly enough."
Peter Thomas Senese's inspirational legal thriller is one that perhaps few other writers could have written with such intimacy, familiarity, and depth of understanding: it is a story of a father doing everything possible to find and reunite with his internationally abducted child that is Peter Thomas Senese's Chasing The Cyclone, which is heavily inspired by the writer's own experience chasing into the cyclones of international child abduction. Since his own experiences ended, and fulfilling a promise that he made, Mr. Senese has had a significant impact on creating various tools to assist targeted children and parents, including the creation of The I CARE Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to stopping child abduction that has successfully reunited numerous internationally abducted children with their parents, or has assisted in the prevention of an abduction. In fact, Peter Thomas Senese is donating 100% of his author royalties to the I CARE Foundation. One of the major successful undertakings of the I CARE Foundation's is the public campaign to build the Department of State's Hague Convention Attorney Network of pro bono lawyers willing to assist targeted children of abduction,

Thursday, September 27, 2012

United Nations Display Of Iran Hate-Monger Ahmadinejad Give 'Dances With Stars' Producers Something To Think About?

Is this possible?
  Next Season's 'Dancing With the Stars'
Unemployed Former Iran Troll
    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
         Should He Audition?
          (Watch the Vidoe below)

On September 26th, 2012, the day the Jewish people celebrate Yom Kippur, the hate-filled troll known as Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was seen dancing outside of the United Nations after he addressed the world's leaders in the General Assembly (well, he actually addressed those who remained and did not walk out on him).

In my historical fiction novel 'The Den of the Assassin' I touch significantly on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his desire to destory the west, including Isreal. Much more revolving around this Ahmadinejad will be shared in 'The Den of the Assassin's' sequel, 'Predators Games'.

The troll's view has not changed. In fact, while he has remained in New York and holed himself up at the disgraceful Warwick Hotel ("Boycott the Warwick Hotel"), Ahmadinejad has spoken loud and clear that he anticiaptes a new world order, one with the United States having no voice in it whatsoever, and Isreal not existing.

What a bafoon.

Watch Ahmadinejad ...

Now here is a question: should the troll audition for 'Dances With The Stars'? Hmmm . . .

In reflection, I can't see any other hotel housing this troll the way the Warwick Hotel of New York did. Perhaps it is best that he lay on top of some camel dung.

For more on The Den of the Assassin, please visit Amazon.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Peter Thomas Senese & Carolyn Vlk: Parents Must Be Aware of Cruise Trip Travel in Cases Of International Parental Child Abduction

International Parental Child Abduction and Cruise Ships: Parents Need To Be Aware That Children Under The Age of 16 Can Travel On A Cruise Ship Outside of The U.S. or Canada Without A Passport.
(Excerpt From Peter Thomas Senese & Carolyn Vlk's 'Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and Human Trafficking Report')

Sea Travel Closed-Loop Voyages

We are also very concerned that the documentary requirements for a “closed loop” cruise ship or other water vessel’s voyage or itinerary to contiguous countries or adjacent islands allows travelers to be exempt from the documentary requirements necessary for other types of travel. The CBP defines “closed loop” as occurring when “a vessel departs from a U.S. port or place and returns to the same U.S. port upon completion of the voyage. U.S. citizens who board a cruise ship at a port within the United States, travel only within the Western Hemisphere, and return to the same U.S. port on the same ship may present a government issued photo identification, along with proof of citizenship (an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization). A U.S. citizen under the age of 16 will be able to present either an original or a copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by DOS, or a Certificate of Naturalization issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”

Travel requirements for children traveling at sea are quite alarming. The porous documentation controls in place due to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative facilitate child abduction opportunity at sea in unthinkable ways. For example, there are certain cruise ships that have ports of call in other countries that cater specifically to children. These cruise ships hold over 5,000 passengers and typically have weekly departures. With thousands of children boarding one of these cruise ships, we acknowledge it is clear there is substantial opportunity for a parental or non-parental child abduction to occur.

In a likely scenario for cruise ship related international parental child abduction or child trafficking, an individual could presumably board a cruise ship with a targeted child with limited or fraudulent documentation for the child, travel to WHTI designated foreign ports, disembark with the child at a port of call and simply choose not to re-board the ship, effectively circumventing the necessity of a passport which is required for other types of travel.

The potential to illegally remove a child across international borders via cruise ship travel is substantially magnified because currently there are no systematic data base controls and other security measures that would prevent a child's illegal departure from the United States. Exemplifying this grave concern are direct statements made from the security departments of two of the world's largest cruise lines operators. In statements made by both companies, neither have a security database that would enable a parent nor a court of law to place a child's name on a 'no embarkment' list due to specified court order. So even if a court order is issued that either directly names the cruise ship company as part of the action or if the court order references the cruise ship company to prohibit a child's departure but does not list the cruise ship as part of the legal action, the cruise ship companies have nothing in place that would enable them to comply with the court order.

When representatives in the security departments of both cruise ship companies were asked what could be done with a court order prohibiting a child's departure, each spokesperson suggested that if the targeted parent knew what cruise ship and departure date their child was scheduled to travel on, then it would be up to the parent to contact local law enforcement.

Obviously, the ability for a single parent trying to protect their child's abduction to run from cruise ship port to cruise ship port hoping to determine if their child is traveling on one of the ships is more than daunting and unrealistic, particularly since the vast majority of international child abductions are well planned, and cleverly orchestrated.

In a time of increased international security concerns, it is inconceivable that the only type of data bases most cruise ship operators have in place is a data base that flags previous passengers from traveling on their fleet due to past conduct on board one of their ships.

Remarkably, there is no systematic check to determine if a child’s name has been placed on any law enforcement or government travel alert lists. However, if a U.S. passport was required and the U.S. passport was scanned, then a border patrol agent would have immediate access to potentially critical information regarding the safety of the child. We call upon the cruise ships to act responsibly by establishing security procedures including a 'no-embarkment' database that would assist in the prevention of international parental child abduction and human trafficking.

When we consider there are approximately 760 cruises scheduled to depart from the U.S. and travel in a ‘closed loop’ to the Caribbean during fiscal year 2011, this becomes very concerning. Our worry increases after we consider there are 47 "closed loop" cruises scheduled to depart the U.S. to Canada during the same period. And finally, our concern surges when we realize that there are 379 cruises scheduled to depart the U.S. and travel in a "closed loop" to Mexico.

As previously discussed in this report, Mexico is a hotbed for ‘reported’ and ‘unreported’ incoming and outgoing international parental child abduction cases.  A substantial number of U.S. parents have filed a Hague application due to the criminal international abduction of their child or children.  Unfortunately, very few abducted children return to the U.S. despite court orders demanding the child’s return.  These opinions are substantially backed by the U.S. Department of State, as Mexico has repeatedly been reported to Congress as a non-compliant member of the Hague Convention. In addition, Mexico’s record as a country known for its criminal activity of human trafficking is substantial.

We express our grave concern that cruise ships may be utilized to transport children illegally to and from the U.S., Mexico, and Canada as well island nations of the Caribbean.

It is inconceivable that U.S. children are still permitted to travel to specific foreign countries in accordance with the WHTI without a passport.  Today, nearly 30% of all U.S. citizens possess a passport. As that number continues to grow substantially each year it is unthinkable not to require a passport for a child to travel abroad.  In 2011 cruise ships are scheduled to originate from the U.S and travel to 63 ports of call in Mexico, 48 ports in the Caribbean, and from 20 ports of call in Canada. We contend that a failure to require children to present a passport for all international travel is an act of misguided negligence.

Closed-Loop Foreign Destination        Number of Cruises       Number of Ports

Caribbean                                              760                                63

Canada                                                  43                                  20

Mexico                                                  379                                48

                                               Watch Peter expalin the issues of WHTI

The CBP does state that a U.S. Citizen “may” be required to present a U.S. passport if disembarking at a foreign port but that this requirement is up to the individual ports-of-entry. We must also consider that smaller personal watercrafts traveling to foreign ports under a “closed-loop” journey offer distinct opportunity for child abductors and human traffickers to circumvent our nation’s laws or court orders. The lack of formidable travel documentation for cruise ship or other water vessel excursions originating from and returning to the United States is a black hole for would-be child abductors or traffickers.

The fact that cruise ships are being utilized in human trafficking is not unrecognized within the U.S. or in other countries. The following statements come directly from a human rights watchdog organization in Belize.

The Belize Organization for Responsible Tourism (ORT) issues this appeal to cruise lines bringing passengers to Belize, a superhighway for human trafficking. “We are asking for your help in stopping human trafficking in Belize. In particular, we appeal to Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Lines, which bring a combined 700, 000 tourists to Belize annually.

Cruise lines have a moral responsibility to help stop human trafficking in Belize. Each year thousands of human trafficking victims are transited through Belize via its porous and corrupt borders. Many are exported to other countries and never seen again by their families. Many endure lives of forced prostitution in Belize ficha bars.”

As these serious challenges come to light, we need to create a comprehensive short-term and long-term strategy that will prevent child abduction and human trafficking from occurring due to limited WHTI child travel documentation requirements for land and sea travel. There remains a significant amount of work necessary to enhance border security so that current weaknesses will no longer be available to be exploited. Our children must become a priority and the risk of abduction and human trafficking be lessened through mandating legitimate and uniform travel documentation.

The issues of child abduction and child slavery have received relatively limited public exposure. There has been limited government reaction directed toward changing public policy, government agency operations and protocol, and reform of laws that may facilitate or enable international abduction. It is important to recognize that over the past two years there have been over 1,000 ‘reported’ cases of U.S. child citizens being criminally abducted to Mexico and untold numbers of unreported cases. Imagine how our nation would act if:

1.     25 school buses containing 40 defenseless 5th grader American students disappeared in Mexico; or,

2.     4 Boeing 757 passenger jets containing 250 middle school children each was hijacked; or,

3.     A cruise ship with 1,000 high school students on a spring break trip was pirated off of Mexico’s borders; or,

4.     A train traveling with 1,000 students and their teachers was hijacked.

Undoubtedly, there would be public outcry and reform at every level. However, our public and government concern has not reached levels that it should. The many voices of this unthinkable crime tend to be diluted due to the singular reporting methodology. It is imperative that immediate revisions in law and government policy be initiated including reform of the WHTI land and sea travel requirements for minors.

One of the great challenges at-risk parents of international parental child abduction face is that the cruise ships do not presently have a centralized way of determining if a child embarking on their ship has a legal right to depart.  The United States does not have any exit controls. The only way a child could be flagged is if their passport is flagged.  However, if a child's travel documentation only requires presentation of a naturalization document such as a photocopy of a birth certificate, it is up to targeted parents to contact the security departments of each potential cruise ship a child may be put on and request that the cruise ship company review its reservation manifests.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Who Are The Top International Child Custody & Matrimonial Lawyers In New York City? Joel S. Walter of New York City Is Outstanding

The I CARE Foundation
International divorce and child custody cases are incredibly complex, particularly when their are adversarial parties litigating with one another. 

In my role as the Founding Director of the not-for-profit 'International Child Abduction Research and Enlightenment Foundation', (the 'I CARE Foundation'), I have had a ring-side seat to an enormous number of difficult and highly complex international child custody cases stemming from the nightmare of international parental child abduction. In this capacity, I have had plenty of opportunity to see some of the best and quite frankly some of the less desirable lawyers in the United States litigate these highly sophisticated cases. 

Top New York City
Matrimonial Attorney
Joel S. Walter
Clearly, New York City based attorney Joel S. Walter is in my opinion one of the best international matrimonial lawyers in the country and surely at the top of my list of international divorce and child custody attorneys practicing in New York City and the surrounding area. 

Again, my vantage point comes from my activity as a board member of the I CARE Foundation.  In all due fairness and with transparency, Joel S. Walter also sits on the I CARE Foundation's Board of Directors. 

Mr. Walter was nominated to the I CARE Foundation's Board of Directors one year ago, and was selected with good reason: he is a brilliant lawyer whose practice primarily revolves around complex federal court cases, including challenging international matrimonial disputes and cross-border child kidnapping.  In addition, Mr. Walter, outside of being a highly skilled litigator, possessed an unbowed desire to help children, particularly those who were or may be targeted for abduction.  Combining his legal skill set and desire to make a difference on behalf of others, there was one other trait that Mr. Walter has, and one I know is critical and important for parents dealing with international custody disputes: he knew and respected the law, and in that knowledge, he was able to obtain positive results for his clients. 

"Outside of being a great lawyer, Joel is brutally honest with his clients and does not act with chicanery before the courts."were the words used to describe Joel S. Walter by my good friend, the highly respected Honorable Ronald Aiello, who was the Chief Administrative Judge for New York State Supreme Court in both Kings Country and Richmond (and the inspiration for the character Judge Ronald Pitt in my novel 'The Den of the Assassin') nearly twenty years ago, when Joel and I first became friends.

The sentiment shared by Judge Aiello, who sadly passed several years ago, are sentiments felt by other judges who preside over either cases in New York State Supreme Court or the United States District Courts.   

For those of you who are not aware of the I CARE Foundation, our primary mission, as cited from our official website is as follows: 

 The International Child Abduction Research and Enlightenment Foundation mission is to participate in social and political dialogue that will assist in the prevention of children targeted for international parental child abduction or in the reunification of children who have been wrongfully abducted. At the core of our mission is our ongoing activity to conduct research in the area of international parental child abduction and use our findings to assist policymakers create and uphold laws and policies that will prevent innocent children from abduction. It is our further goal to educate government administrators and lawmakers of our research findings so that this information can assist direct initiatives and policies. We believe it is critical that judges overseeing abduction prevention or reunification cases must become more educated of the complexities that evolve around child abduction cases. It is our intent to play a role in educating the judiciary as well as officers of the court, including lawyers who practice family law. Finally, it is our mission to educate all individuals interested in protecting children from abduction, including parents who have children targeted for abduction so that they may be able to protect their children. At the core of the I CARE Foundation is our mission to help prevent children from being internationally kidnapped through research, education, and empowerment to create and uphold policies that will help children.

What makes me say that Joel S. Walter is one of the best international matrimonial lawyers in New York City and the United States, particularly when it comes to international disputes regarding children?

A Rare Event:
A child comes home
The answer may be found in realizing that Joel S. Walter has been heavily influential in reuniting a large number of internationally abducted children or preventing an even larger number of abductions.  Or maybe it is due to his ability to assist divorcing families resolve highly litigious and complex family court cases in a civil and amicable manner due to his no-nonsense, yet elder-statesmen character that is clearly backed by a great deal of knowledge. Or maybe it is because Mr. Walter is very involved in the I CARE Foundation's federal legislative initiatives concerning two initiatives that will, if passed into law, protect children from abduction or trafficking.

I am proud and honored to work with Joel S. Walter in our fight to stop the growing pandemic of international parental child abduction as a co-member of the I CARE Foundation's board of directors.

Joel S. Walter is not only a top litigator who knows and understands the complexities of international law, and who is highly respected by those he works with or litigates before, but he does something really impressive: he does what he says he is going to do.

Based on the number of children of abduction Joel S. Walter has either helped reunite or prevented abduction from occurring, based on his long-history of practicing complex legal cases before numerous United States Federal Courts for 40 years in consecutive good standing, based upon his willingness to give of himself and come to the aid and protection of defenseless children, and based upon a wealth of knowledge that allows him to work toward successful outcomes for his clients while also working diligently toward creating and implementing new laws that will protect children from abduction, Joel S. Walter is in my opinion one of the best international matrimonial and child custody lawyers in New York City and the United States. 

Mr. Walter is licensed to practice law in New York State. He is also admitted to practice in the following courts:

  • Appellate Division, First Department of New York
  • The four Federal District Courts of New York (Southern, Eastern, Northern and Western)
  • The Federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals

For more information on New York City Attorney Joel S. Walter, please visit his website at: 

Friday, September 21, 2012

International Parental Child Abduciton In The Gay and Lesbian Community

Gay & Lesbian Unions:
An Increase In International Parental Child Abduction Cases


As same-sex partnerships, unions, and marriages become more commonly visible as an integral part of our society,  the I CARE Foundation has been contacted by numerous parents of these unions who have expressed concern surrounding their particular partnership’s failure and how the end of their relationship may impact the child or children of the relationship, particularly when one of the partnering parents desires to remove the other partnering parent from the child or children’s lives, and relocate to another state or country.
In another set of words, what I am referring to is 'Inter-State or International Parental Child Abduction'.

On occasions, the communication exchanges the I CAREFoundation receives include queries by a parent seeking insight concerning issues such as jurisdiction, parent-rights, mobility, relocation, and tragically – though not directly stated – legal defenses on interstate or international abduction should a parent be inclined to violate a court order pertaining to parental rights (I offer a heart-felt plea to those who are considering illegal removal of a child: I speak from experience as a chasing parent - please do not do this. The ramifications on your child will be severe).

Obviously, the challenges all children face during divorce or separation are harsh.  When one of the child’s parent’s attempts to break the child’s bond with their other parent, including relocating from one state to another, or in certain cases, relocating without permission to another country (this is abduction), the challenges and hardship that child faces grows exponentially.  Clearly, in all child custody cases, the longer the litigation takes the more strain that is placed on an innocent, defenseless child of a failed relationship.  Unfortunately, there exists a new frontier in family law: how local, federal, and international courts uphold the rights of children to both of their parents in failed gay and lesbian legal unions and marriages.  To say that a legal minefield exists, would be an understatement.

Tragically, in cases of high-conflict separation that include issues of jurisdiction and the upholding of a non-biological ‘birthing’ parent’s rights, the conflict can become extreme.  Everyone suffers. The child suffers. The former partners suffer. And from what I have seen, the pain and anguish for all is extraordinary.

In my capacity as the Founding Director of the  not-for-profit International Child Abduction Research & Enlightenment Foundation (the “I CARE Foundation”), our foundation has seen and assisted numerous high-conflict families challenged by issues of both mobility and abduction.  Our activity includes conducting extensive research in the area of child custody and cross-border conflict, working to create (successfully) new laws and government policies directed to help protect children from cross-border conflict, and when possible, assisting in the reunification of internationally kidnapped children.

These cases are never easy. 

In reflection, when I think of the hardships involved in any case concerning mobility or child abduction regardless if we’re addressing a heterosexual or homosexual partnership, the reality is all parties involved face severe emotional, spiritual, and financial hardship no words could ever accurately express.

However, it appears that children caught in the cross-hairs of gay or lesbian partnership custody disputes where there are contested questions of mobility or risk of abduction, or an actual instance of abduction face potentially greater hardship than heterosexual partnerships because of the legal minefield of litigation their parents must navigate through due a wide range of legal issues, including but not limited to questions revolving around local, federal, and at times, international law (or lack of laws and policies) that is specific to same-sex unions.

So if you are a mother or father who is involved in a child custody dispute that originates from a same-sex union, remember that the longer the litigation goes on, the more your child will suffer because litigation of any kind does have a direct, ugly impact on the lives of all involved.  

Now, I do not have my head in the clouds and think that all separations will end amicably.  

However, sharing my birds-eye view of witnessing some of the most difficult, extreme high-conflict family disputes, many involving international litigation, I can undeniably attest that in all of these cases, it is the child who will always suffer no matter what any of the child’s parents thinks (obviously cases of abuse are the exception and should never be tolerated under any circumstance).

Recently, I have been following Erik Eckholm’s of the New York Times fascinating, yet heart-breaking coverage of the story of ten year old Isabella Miller-Jenkins. 

The young girl has two mothers and is the product of a same-sex union that took place in Vermont between Ms. Lisa Miller and Ms. Janet Jenkins in 2002. Isabella was conceived by Ms. Lisa Miller in 2002. The coupled separated in 2003. 

However, since 2009, the child has been living the life of a fugitive in impoverished Nicaragua with one of her mother’s, Ms. Lisa Miller, who under American law, is considered to be a fugitive and an abducting mother now wanted for international abduction.

Unfortunately for Ms. Jenkins, Nicaragua is not a signatory country of the Hague Convention on theCivil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and legal reach under international law appears to be limited.

According to Mr. Eckholm’s New York Times coverage, Ms. Miller no longer desired to allow Janet Jenkins any contact with their daughter Isabella. Since the former couple’s separation, Ms. Miller apparently violated Ms. Jenkin’s rights of custody on numerous occasions that were previously established under Vermont law and upheld in Virginia (where Ms. Miller relocated with Isabella). 

So three years ago, in another act to separate Isabella from Ms. Jenkins, Ms. Miller decided to flee the United States and relocate to Nicaragua without Ms. Jenkins knowledge or permission.

Like the vast majority of international parental child abductions, Ms. Miller had a great deal of help. 

You see, Ms. Miller sought and received the assistance of Mr. Kenneth Miller, the leader of the conservative Beachy Amish Mennonite Church of Stuarts Draft, Virginia.

Under the religious beliefs of the Amish Mennonite, gay and lesbian life is a sin, and apparently Ms. Miller embraced this idea during the child custody dispute she had with Ms. Jenkins.

So it appears that perhaps, and I say this with some reservation, that the possibility exists that Ms. Miller may have adapted a condemnation of her lesbian lifestyle she previously shared with Ms. Jenkins in order to defend against the criminal act of abduction and her desire to not obey a Vermont judges court orders regarding Ms. Jenkin’s access and co-parenting of Isabella once the couple separated prior to the abduction.

Of course, it is conceivable that Ms. Miller actually now believes that her anti-gay or lesbian lifestyle is correct and in accord with her new found Christian beliefs?

However, what is of interest is how religion or persecution for following your religious beliefs will inevitably be used to defend against the act of international parental child abduction by a taking parent.

Today, from what I understand, the child Isabella remains on the run, living a life of a fugitive in Nicaragua (or perhaps someplace else) with Lisa Miller, while the child’s other mother, Ms. Janet Jenkins, continues to seek legal remedy to have her rights of parenthood that were established under Vermont law, and upheld in Virginia enforced.  I would imagine Ms. Jenkins is also deeply concerned about how her daughter is holding up considering that she is being wrongfully detained by Ms. Miller.

According to numerous child psychologist, the Isabella could be seen as a prisoner of a fugitive parent who has been highly abused and neglected, as child abduction is considered child abuse.

Is Ms. Miller using religion and new-found religious beliefs as the basis for her to continue to flee, or could it be possible that Ms. Miller has actually rejected all things connected with a gay or lesbian lifestyle and actually believes living a same-sex lifestyle to be sinful?

Is Isabella safe, or is the life she has had to live for the past three years had a deep and troubling influence on her, and if so, can the impact be reversed or treated?

As for the Beachy Amish Mennonite Church leader Kenneth Miller, he was found guilty of abetting an international parental childkidnapping this past August and is facing up to three years in federal prison.  Mr. Miller’s sentencing date has not yet been determined.

As for the legal issues that present themselves in this case, it is going to be interesting to see if Ms. Miller will be able to remain outside of the United States and the reach of law established by its courts.  Of course it is also going to be interesting to see how a parent’s religion and sexual orientation will be viewed from country to country with respect to international parental child abduction cases.

For example, in cases where a child is abducted to a Hague signatory nation, will a parent who once lived a gay or lesbian lifestyle who had a child from a same-sex union seek protection for an act of abduction under Article 13 B of the Hague Convention by making a claim in a country they abduct their child to that they are unable to receive fair treatment under the laws of the child’s nation of original jurisdiction based upon religion and how their religious beliefs juxtaposes itself with their past or present sexual orientation.

Is the situation for Isabella and other children of abduction who will come after Isabella a mess?

You bet it is. All international parental child abductions are terrible.

Did Ms. Lisa Miller really reject her lesbian lifestyle or is she using her newly embraced Mennonite religious beliefs to push away Ms. Janet Jenkins from Isabella’s life?

I don’t think anyone really knows.

However, one thing cannot be dismissed in cases of international parental child abduction, and that is that in many of these cases, the taking parent carefully creates a plan of abduction that is well thought out, and typically involves the assistance of others. 

Lisa Miller’s abduction of Isabella was certainly well thought out and she was certainly aided as demonstrated by the conviction of Mr. Miller for aiding in Isabella’s abduction.

Again – it is a mess and one terrible tragedy for this innocent child – who remains on the run . . . perhaps in Nicaragua or perhaps someplace else.

Of course there is the argument presented by Ms. Lisa Miller and her supporters that she was acting to protect her daughter from a gay and lesbian lifestyle that she no longer participated in and rejected as sinful.

Not too long ago, one of my pals whom I have been very close friends with for all of my adult life recently separated from his partner.  Together, these two wonderful fathers, ‘Dad’ and ‘Papa’, raised one incredible little girl together who I am convinced will one day have a far-reaching and positive impact on our wonderful world.  Dad and Papa were the definition of two loving, dedicated, kind, nurturing, and caring parents.

Then something happened, and the relationship came to an end.

Did the relationship end because of some ungodly act by one of the men? No.

The relationship ended because their needs and expectations of one another and what they desired from life had changed.

Was there hurt and anger?

Of course, particularly by the father who did not want the relationship to end.

So, what did that upset father do?

He decided at first that since he had some legal leverage associated with the young daughter both fathers raised, that he was going to relocate to another state and severely limit the other father’s rights of custody on their daughter.

And in fact, that is exactly what happened.

Sadly, the relocation occurred without the other father knowing.

And as you may imagine, the situation became rather ugly. Then uglier.

Caught in the cross-hairs was their little daughter who I would often take to the Magnolia Bakery for a “perfect cupcake.”

And my heart broke for my little friend who was more interested in Dora The Explorer and Cinderella than the fighting that took place between her two fathers, who mind you – are both truly remarkable, amazing, loving individuals.

But these child custody cases – they sure know can make anyone look terrible.

I will never forget that while my two friends volleyed in a sea of nasty litigation (that cost them such an enormous amount of EVERYTHING), I had the opportunity of visiting the parent who had relocated with their daughter four months after the initial separation.

It was my first visit since their unexpected relocation.

As you may imagine there was a great deal of frustration that was vented by this particular father (similar to the other father). He shared his feelings about the failed relationship, what was best for his daughter, what was best for him, and the awful litigation that took place.

As we spent the late morning together, I sensed that my friend had a little sense of paranoia that perhaps I came to visit him in my capacity as a director of the I CARE Foundation. 

This was not the case, as I expressed that I came to visit because he too was my friend, and that I was concerned about the overall ugliness that was depleting so much from his daughter’s family’s life.

The key words being that both the young girl had a family: a ‘Dad’ and a ‘Papa’, and that no matter what would occur, both ‘Dad’ and ‘Papa’ were loved by their child, and that as this lovely child’s fathers, they had an incredible responsibility to stop their feuding and to truly act like the remarkable, compassionate, understanding, brave, courageous, and intelligent individuals they were.

Well, as there was a long history between us, one that included my friend knowing I am very direct, my words were accepted.

So too was my suggestion.

I asked my friend if he would excuse himself from the room (and make us lunch) so that I could talk to his daughter alone. I also suggested that he hear the truth of her heart, and asked him to listen in so he could hear my conversation.

And that is exactly what happened.

What was heard?

This little amazing girl just six years old shared that she missed both of her fathers and loved both of them very much.  Remarkably, she understood that parents get divorced sometimes. But she said that even when parents do not live together any more, they should be nice to one another. Real nice.  And she also said that she was taught that her family was different than other families. That her family was really special.  Super Special. Then she said that they weren’t acting really special.  Then she asked me why her ‘Dad’ and ‘Papa’ would lie to her and say that she was part of a special family, when they were so mean to one another?

Now let me say this. Her words about how special her family was resounded within like Quasimodo’s Notre Dame’ bells would cover Paris. 

Indeed her two fathers were both incredibly special individuals. As I saw and still see it, they were brave in saying to the world, “this is who I am” and living the life they each believed in. They were both caring and compassionate and active members of their micro and macro communities. They were successful. They had many friends. And they were incredible – no incredibly ridiculous – as in amazing – fathers.

And somehow these incredible parents, these incredible individuals . . . forgot how incredible they were.

Now as you can imagine, my friend who was in the kitchen hearing my conversation with his daughter realized what his daughter was saying: that it’s okay to not live with my other father, but remember, we’re still a very special family because the two of you are both very special, and the two of you – your my ‘Dad’ and my ‘Papa’, and you have to continue to be special because of me.

I must say, that later that afternoon, after his daughter decided to take a little nap, my friend said something to me that I think is truly remarkable.  And I wrote it down. 

This is what he said. “Sometimes it is easy to forget how special we are.  Raising a daughter as a gay couple requires being special – and holding ourselves more accountable to one another, even in separation for our child’s sake.”

Fast forward four months from the time of that conversation and a true, sound parenting plan was created and actually was working, and working well. Both fathers – my friends – were peacefully and civilly rebuilding the trust that was necessary so they could in fact continue to be the special persons they were.  The healing had begun . . . and in fact the healing really started as soon as the messy, ugly litigation stopped.  In fact, they live in the same town and in the same community (again).  They have embraced the wonderment of being fathers – their daughter’s ‘Dad’ and ‘Papa’.

And though my little friend does not live with both of her fathers at the same time, she is being raised by both of them, and she does see each of them equally, and regularly.

And thank God peace, friendship, and good parenting is prevailing.

As I write this, I can’t help but think how my two wonderful friends acted with great courage and bravery and love for their daughter and found a way – to act in their love of their daughter.

Before I go, I would like to simply say that the nasty  litigation that occurred between my two friends was not necessary.  And they will be the first ones to say this.

But sometimes, when in the midst of child custody cases, parents can get sucked into the vortex of the cyclone of litigation. 

When they do, it is easy to forget the good things you are litigating about: the love and rights of your child.

Breaking the magnetic pull of continuing to litigate is not an easy task. It takes courage. It takes fair play. It takes putting your ego in check. And it takes acting in fairness for your child.

And it may not be easy to do.

But it can be done.  And your child or children will be much better off if you do.

Of course this is not to say that working things out in order to co-parent is easy.  Each separation has its own challenges, and as I stated, it appears that child custody cases regarding mobility present an even harder burden onto the child.

I would like to add this: please remember that open and honest dialogue is always the best choice if your choice revolves around what is best for your child or children.

So in parting, I would like to share that all child custody cases concerning mobility and/or abduction cause extreme hardship on children of the relationship, and this is particularly true in same-sex partnerships in part due to the challenges in law all parties must face.  If at all possible, try to mediate your differences reasonably, fairly, and respectfully with one another, and remember . . . you do not have to be a biological birth-giver, regardless if you are gay or straight, to be one great, loving parent.

One last thing . . . Thanks B and Z for letting me share a part of your story. I am very proud of the two of you  . . . and so happy for your daughter.