USA: Fair Play police chief finds missing children during traffic stop


FAIR PLAY, Mo A routine traffic stop in Fair Play quickly turned into much more when three missing children were spotted in the back seat.

They had been missing since March.

Chief Ed Morrison was patrolling town last weekend when he passed a vehicle that didn’t have a license plate, and pulled it over.

Morrison radioed dispatch with the information on the woman driving and they radioed back with some shocking news.

“Her and her boyfriend were persons of interest in a case with three missing juveniles. And I told dispatch well there is three juveniles in the back seat of this car.” said Chief Ed Morrison, with the Fair Play police department.

36 year old Valerie Scott had a warrant out of Montana for parental kidnapping after she skipped a court appearance for a parenting plan and took off with the kids.

She was down in the area to visit her father and was unaware of the warrant out for her arrest.

“I actually didn’t do anything that any other deputy or officer wouldn’t have done. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. If she would have had a valid temp tag my PC for the stop would have been gone, I wouldn’t have even have ran her.” said Morrison.

Morrison says in a small town stuff like this doesn’t happen often so helping those kids felt good.

“You have that sense of satisfaction that you have done your job.” said Morrison. “I just did my job and by doing that it worked out the way it should have worked out.”

And his most unique traffic stop of his 18 year career was just days before his retirement.

“For me it is a good way to go out.” said Morrison. “It feels good to end it that way, but I hate to end it.”

He is set to retire on Wednesday, his 74th birthday.

The kids were returned to their father.

And Scott is being held in the Polk County jail on a 25 thousand dollar bond.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding parental abduction to or from The USA, we can help.  Please feel free to contact us 24 / 7.  We are always available at or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)

USA/Algeria: Federal kidnapping charge filed against French national for fleeing US with infant child in Boston custody dispute

BOSTON –  The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed federal kidnapping charges against a French national who last month defied a judge’s orders and fled the country with his 3-year-old child without the mother’s permission.

Malik Benhamza, 33, who had been living in East Boston, is believed to be in Algiers, Algeria. Neither he nor the child have been seen or heard from since July 1.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Monday filed a criminal complaint that charges him with a single count of international parental kidnapping. He is now considered an international fugitive.

The United States has no extradition treaty with Algeria, a country in northern Africa bordering on the Mediterranean Sea.

According to prosecutors, the child’s mother, Jerusha Hall, in February was granted sole legal custody of the child by Essex County Family Court. Benhamza was granted visitation rights but only on specific days and times.

The family court judge also ordered that neither parent could travel outside Massachusetts with the child without written consent of the other parent.

On July 1, Benhamza did not return the child following a scheduled visit. Hall contacted law enforcement when the child was not returned, and officials tracked him by cell phone records to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. A review of flight records showed that he and the child had departed on a Royal Air Moroc flight to Algiers where they disembarked.

If he is apprehended, Benhamza faces a penalty of up to three years in prison for international parental kidnapping.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding parental abduction to of from France, Algeria or The USA, we can help.  Please feel free to contact us 24 / 7.  We are always available at or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)

USA: National Guard Can Do More at the Border

By most accounts, National Guard deployment at the border has been an asset to U.S. Border Patrol operations. With some commonsense adjustments, the Guard could be more useful.

Since Operation Guardian Support began in April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been assisted by the National Guard in carrying out thousands of apprehensions, seizing thousands of pounds of drugs and performing multiple rescues, according to Rodolfo Karisch, CBP’s Tucson sector chief.

In their support role, Guard personnel have demolished a narrative that they would behave like jackbooted storm troopers running roughshod over illegal border crossers. Barred from direct enforcement actions, the Guard has aided in several rescues, and even family reunifications.

In Eagle Pass, Texas, a Guardsman was instrumental in the safe return of a 3-year-old child after a parental abduction in Mexico. Thanks to Guard surveillance, the boy, who had been taken across the Rio Grande by his non-custodial father, was tracked, turned over to the Mexican Consulate and reunited with his mother just hours after an Amber Alert.

The good works could come to an end Oct. 1, when funds for the six-month program run out.

The start-and-stop prospects of Operation Guardian Support have limited its effectiveness, Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, adjutant general of the Arizona National Guard, told a House Committee hearing last month.

“This makes it impossible to schedule any long lead time activities like engineering projects,” McGuire testified.

Operation Jump Start, an earlier troop deployment, showed what continuity of service could do. From 2006-2008, National Guard units built 122 miles of border fencing, among other duties. Nothing like that has been attempted this time around.

The National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents rank-and-file agents, has complained that troops are stationed too far from the border and too often duplicate, rather than enhance, CBP activities.

McGuire agrees that aerial operations need an upgrade. He calls the current eye in the sky myopic — “like looking through a soda straw.”

Further, the general wants Guardsmen to supplement undermanned CBP Air and Marine crews flying MQ-9 drones over the border. At Fort Huachuca, Ariz., only two of the authorized five daily flights are actually in the air.

America’s 2,000-mile southern border is riddled with well-documented security gaps. The Guard is ready, willing and able step into the breach, without overstepping its legal orders. There’s no point in going halfway on this mission.

f you have any questions or concerns regarding parental abduction to of from Mexico or The USA, we can help.  Please feel free to contact us 24 / 7.  We are always available at or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)


India: Option of signing Hague treaty on child abduction still open: Maneka

today said the option of signing the Hague Convention on inter-country abduction of children by parents was still open, and a cell will be constituted to resolve such cases till a decision was taken on signing the convention.
The Hague Convention is a multilateral treaty that seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to bring about their return.
India is not a signatory to the convention. The government had been of the view that the treaty could lead to harassment of women escaping marital discord or 

The Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry has directed the National Commission for Protection of (NCPCR) to constitute a cell to resolve the cases of children taken away by one of the spouses without the permission of the other parent due to marital discord or domestic violence, from overseas to or vice versa.

The NCPCR has also been asked to prepare a parental plan, taking into account the best interest of the child, a statement by the ministry said.

In the statement, Women and also mentioned that the issue of signing the Hague Convention was still open and a decision on it would be taken in due course.

“Till then, the process as notified by the WCD Ministry, should take care of most of the representations received by the ministry. The speaking order of the INA (Integrated Nodal Agency) will be extremely useful for both the parents to get the legal cases resolved or closed,” she said.

The mediation cell will have a and members of NCPCR in fields of laws relating to children and those relating to child psychology-sociology, the statement said.

The cell will develop a parental plan keeping in view the interest of the child and submit its report to the INA. Based on the report of the agency and any other inputs that the INA may seek from the applicants or from or External Affairs Ministry, it will pass a speaking order in the matter, it said.

Gandhi said the purpose of the procedure was primarily to bring all the facts of the case, including the legal proceeding, make an overall assessment of the situation and suggest a parental plan in the best interests of the child.

Currently, there is no specific Indian legislation addressing issues related to abduction of children from and into 

The decision to form the cell was taken after the ministry received a large number of complaints from such parents, the statement said.

Most of these complaints are from women who have had to escape from foreign countries along with their children to come to the safety of their own families residing in India.

Their husbands file criminal cases of abduction of the children in the country where they are residing, which go uncontested as the women in India are unable to present their cases, it said.

In order to resolve the issues, the ministry had appointed a committee under Justice Rajesh Bindal. The committee has since submitted its recommendations which are under examination.

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USA: Woman Accused of Breaking Into Palm Coast Home and Kidnapping Her Two Children

sara Elisabeth Jones

The call came in to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office at 8:21 Saturday morning from 9 Cute Court in Palm Coast.

Two children, ages 3 and 5, had been at the house, in their great-grandparents’ custody. They’d been put to bed the previous night. Somehow, sometime in the night, their mother, Sara Elisabeth Jones, managed to get in the house and take them–or kidnap them, according to the charges she faces. She then drove to Tennessee.

The children’s legal guardians are James and Billie Dean Jones. Kristi Kocer, the children’s grandmother, told authorities that clothing, toiletries and toys belonging to the children were also missing. The children’s parents immediately believed Jones had taken the children–either to a house on County Road 304, where she’d lived before (she was not there when deputies checked), or to their father’s, Philip McGraw, who lives in Tennessee. The Joneses believed McGraw had given Jones access to a vehicle.

Joyce Jones, the mother of Sara Jones, speaking to FlaglerLive by phone from Tennessee on Tuesday, said Sara Jones and McGraw had taken the children together and driven to Tennessee. “The father came and took the children, she went with him,” Joyce Jones said.

Sara Jones was not supposed to drive: she had lost custody of the children, according to the Sheriff’s Office’s dispatch notes, because she’d been in a crash, with the children in the vehicle, and had tested positive for various drugs–methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. The children had been in the backseat. (Joyce Jones said only one child was in the car at the time of the crash.)

The children’s disappearance wasn’t entirely a surprise: Jones two days earlier had told their guardians she would be coming for them, according to what they told the 911 dispatcher–and the guardians had met with Jones and a behavioral specialist at the C-Section home the night before. It was a family counseling session. But beyond that, Jones did not have permission to be in the house, let alone take the children from the house. Still, she had a key to the house.

By noon Saturday the Sheriff’s Office learned that the children had been dropped off somewhere in Tennessee. Locating the mother’s phone through pinging and GPS proved unsuccessful.

As detectives investigated, James Jones got a call from McGraw’s former boss: he had called McGraw and heard children’s voices in the background, leading him to believe those were the missing children. By 2:30 p.m. Saturday, authorities had contacted the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee, and within hours Jones was arrested on kidnapping charges and the children were placed in the custody of Tennessee’s Department of Children and Families. The children had been located with their paternal grandmother at a house on Reed Springs Road in Sweetwater, in the eastern part of the state.

Joyce Jones disputed that account. She said she had called the paternal grandmother and urged her to tell the children’s parents to “do the right thing.” But she defended Philip McGraw, saying he had 50-50 custody of the children, according to a Tennessee judge’s order, even though the same order did not apply in Florida, and that he’d fulfilled numerous requirements of family court to regain custody. “What you’ve got here is you have two different states, two different problems,” Joyce Jones said, blaming Florida’s Department of Children and Families for not being current with the case, and blaming the the Sheriff’s Office and the media for publicizing the story of the arrest–and getting facts wrong, in her view.

Joyce Jones at one point contacted the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office–on whose facts the central accounts of this story were based–and asked the office to contact FlaglerLive to demand that the story be altered. She was told otherwise. “Our facts are what your facts are,” the Sheriff’s Chief Mark Strobridge said Wednesday, referring to FlaglerLive and the agency’s original account of the incident, which appeared on the agency’s Facebook page. “That’s what the court system is for, they’ll be able to bring their facts through their attorneys through the courtroom.”

(On Tuesday, McGraw posted a reaction to this story on FlaglerLive’s Facebook page that disputed the sheriff’s account, saying he was the one who told authorities the children were at his mother’s house. “My children were safe and sound with their cousins when authorities showed up they didn’t want to take the kids away but Florida gave them no choice,” he wrote. “Smh shame on Florida for saying they were in harm’s way me nor Sarah Jones would never hurt our children.. I’ve been waiting three months for Florida to send dcs to my house for home study. None of the paper work I have faxed has been documented. But yet here they are trying to make it out that we are horrible parents.”)

“I’m thankful these children are safe and out of harms way,” Sheriff Rick Staly was quoted as saying in a release. “Our detectives worked quickly with DCF and Tennessee authorities to find these children and track down the mother. You cannot interfere in custody issues ordered by a judge without risk of being arrested. These orders are done to protect children when their parents don’t and are not taken lightly. Parental abduction is against the law in Florida.” (Parental kidnapping of a child in violation of legal custody decisions is a felony in most, but not all, states.)

The Sheriff’s Office is working with Tennessee authorities to extradite Sara Jones back to Flagler County. That usually means deputies from Flagler must travel to Tennessee to bring Jones back, at taxpayer expense, though the sheriff has been adding the cost of such extraditions to a defendant’s bill when it is drawn up in court.

The children, according to Joyce Jones, were flown back to Florida with a Tennessee case worker.

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Press Release HALF THE CHILD: Debut novel by William J. McGee explores custody, child abduction and parental alienation — from a devoted dad’s perspective

Jul. 16, 2018 / PRZen / QUEENS, N.Y. — HALF THE CHILD, a new novel by William J. McGee, tackles the rarely explored and volatile issues of child abduction and parental alienation—when one parent attempts to turn a child against the other parent. The story unfolds over four consecutive summers in the lives of Michael Mullen, a LaGuardia Airport air traffic controller, and his son Benjamin, who ages from 2½ to 5½. The novel chronicles the separation, divorce, custody battle—and heart-wrenching abduction—that threaten to tear apart father and son. Through it all, Mike steadfastly refuses to consider a life where he’d live apart from Ben. Ultimately, father and son write their own love story.

Tens of millions of fathers and mothers—and their children—are victims of parental alienation, which can take a variety of painful forms. Awareness of this issue of “family bond obstruction” has been raised recently in courtrooms, through celebrity break-ups, and by documentary filmmakers.

William J. McGee, author of HALF THE CHILD, received an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University and has taught undergraduate and graduate Creative Writing at Hofstra University. An award-winning nonfiction writer as well, McGee is the author of Attention All Passengers (HarperCollins, 2012), an exposé of the airline industry. He’s following that up with AirFear, a scripted television drama now in development. McGee has worked in airline flight operations management at LaGuardia Airport and served in the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary. He is a native of Queens, where most of the novel is set. McGee now lives in Connecticut, where he is working on another novel. He is also a devoted father.


A Novel by William J. McGee

Published by: CreateSpace

ISBN-13: 978-0692145340 (William J. McGee)

ISBN-10: 0692145346

Available on Amazon: July, 2018

$15.95 trade paperback

$2.99 Kindle

* Semi-finalist, James Jones First Novel Competition

* Semi-finalist, William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition

“Heartbreaking, hilarious, emotionally raw, and still packed with suspense on every page… a laugh-through-your-tears kind of novel.”

—    Katherine Taylor, author of Valley Fever and Rules for Saying Goodbye

“Smart, funny, and deeply moving, Half the Child offers a fresh and refreshing take on the perils of parenthood and the healing of damaged families.”

—    Judith Stone, author of When She Was White: The True Story of a Family Divided By Race

“An irresistible page-turner but at the same time thoughtful, precise, and wise in its observations…It may be the best novel I’ve ever read about a father’s love.”

—    Tom De Haven, author of It’s Superman! and the Derby Dugan Trilogy

Follow the full story here:

Source: Half The Child


If you have any questions or concerns regarding parental abduction, we can help.  Please feel free to contact us 24 / 7.  We are always available at or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)

Is Adoption Legalized Kidnapping?

Kidnap is a verb that is defined as:

To take (someone) away illegally by force, typically to obtain a ransom.  Synonyms include: abduct, carry off, capture, snatch, take hostage.

Yet most kidnappings involve no ransom and many – such as parental “kidnappings” –  involve no force at all. And some illegally, criminally kidnapped children are raised well in every respect, as the child of their abductor:

  • Kamiyah Mobley, who was raised as Alexis Manigo, when found and learned the truth of having been abducted from the hospital defended her kidnapper, saying: She loved me for 18 years. She raised me for 18 years … I will always love her.”
  • Carlina Renae Whitewho was kidnapped in New York, was not recovered for 23 years. She was raised as Nejdra “Netty” Nance by Annugetta “Ann” Pettway in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  Like Mobley, White suspected the “mother” raising her might not be, in fact, her biological mother, just as many adoptees who are not outright told they are adopted, do. Neither woman, however, became really suspicious until they needed a birth certificate.
  • A man who was kidnapped as a baby in China said:  “I never thought she was not my mom as she was so good to me. I don’t really care if they can find my biological parents or not.”
  • Julian Hernandez was abducted from his mother when he was five years old.  Bobby Hernandez, aka Jonathan Mangina, was charged with interference with custody, not kidnapping. 19-year-old Julian Hernandez forgave him.

Conversely, many who are adopted legally are horrendously abused, even killed by their legal adopters. A few recent cases:

  • Janet Solander, who authored a book critical of Child Protective Services,was convicted of 46 counts of abuse of three adopted children in Las Vegas, March 2018. Charges included abuse, neglect and endangerment with substantial bodily harm; sexual assault with a minor under 14; and assault with a deadly weapon.  Solander’s husband Dwight pled guilty to similar charges of abusing the three girls aged 9 to 12.  The abuse reportedly began within a month of adopting the girls.
  • Jennete Killpack, 26, of Utah, was found guilty in 2006 of second-degree felony child-abuse homicide in the death of her adopted daughter Cassandra. June 9, 2002, Killpack put the child on a bar stool, bit the child, tied the girl’s hands behind her back and forced her to drink about a gallon of water as punishment for taking a sibling’s drink.
  • Carri and Larry Williams were charged in 2013 for the death of their 13-year-old adopted daughter, Hana Grace-Rose Williams who died of hypothermia and “a culmination of chronic starvation caused by a parent’s intentional food restriction, severe neglect, physical and emotional abuse and stunning endangerment.” Hana had been adopted in 2008 along with a 10-year-old boy, who is deaf, also from Ethiopia.
  • Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz adopted Lydia and her sister Zariah from Liberia. The Schatz’s who are White were devout Christians and had six biological children in addition to their three adopted children. Lydia was seven when she succumbed to liver failure after being whipped with plastic tubing for several straight hours, interspersed with prayer breaks by her parent in their California home.
  • Former Army Maj. John Jackson and his wife, Carolyn, were convicted in New Jersey July of 2015, of abusing their three adopted children – all under the age of four at the time. They were force-fed hot sauce and raw onions, and suffered broken bones. One two-year-old died. The children born to them did not suffer the same abuse.
  • John and Joyce Bell of Iowa pleaded guilty to abusing one of their nine adopted children after their 21-year-old daughter video-taped the abuse. The Bells adopted children with disabilities who ranged in age from 16 to 18.
  • Jim and Paige Nachtigal of Kansas adopted three children from Peru.  The children were starved and had bruises from being beaten for incorrectly doing the pushups, sit ups, and jumping jacks doled out for punishment. Jim Nachtigal, convicted of three counts of child abuse, had served as the chief executive officer at Kansas Christian Home in Newton for 10 years. His wife, who was charged with two counts of child abuse, was a missionary at World Outreach Ministries when the abuse surfaced.
  • Michael and Sharen Gravelle forced 11 adopted and foster children, ranging from one-year-old to fourteen, to sleep in cages. The Gravelles spent two years in prison for abusing some of the children.

The Heartless Hart Family

  • Sarah and her wife Jennifer Hart adopted two sets of three Black siblings, abused and killed all six and themselves by driving their van off a cliff in California on March 26, 2018. Devonte, 15; Jeremiah, 14; and Sierra, 12 were siblings acquired by the Harts in 2009. Their aunt, Priscilla Celestine, fought to keep the children she had custody of.  They were removed from her care for allowing their mother to visit and allowed to be adopted and removed from their home state of Texas, far from the mother, father aunt and all extended family known to the children, then aged 4, 6 and 9. Markis, 19; Hannah, 16; and Abigai, 14l were also siblings, adopted by the Harts in 2006.

Attorney Steinberg and his common-law wife Hedda Nussbaum were drug addicts who kidnapped, abused, and neglected two children, had them living in squalor and filth, and may have sexually abused the older of the two, a female child they named Lisa who was 6 when she died.

The two unmarried mothers of these children were obstetric patients of Dr. Peter Sarosi who conspired with Steinberg, telling them of a “wonderful,” “professional” couple seeking to adopt.  Steinberg never told the mothers he intended to keep the children.

Neither doctor nor lawyer were ever charged with kidnapping and the case was labeled an “illegal adoption” because Steinberg never filed any paperwork to adopt them legally. Nor was Steinberg charged with the murder of Lisa, just for not seeking medical care for her as she lie dying on the bathroom floor under the watchful eye of Nussbaum, who was exonerated.

Dr. Sarosi, without whom Steinberg never could have obtained the two babies, pleaded guilty to unlawfully placing a child for adoption without court approval. His sentence: “three years probation and 100 hours of community service and fined $1,000” and he resumed practicing medicine until he died.

Legal/Illegal: What’s the Difference?

What Steinberg and Sarosi did was considered an “illegal adoption” and not a kidnapping. Why? What’s the difference? Hoax – the pretense of adoption – was used as the method to trick these mothers out of their babies, as opposed to simply walking out the door with the babies. The mothers, in fact, never suspected foul play and thought their babies were being legally adopted and would be raised by fine upstanding citizens.

Michelle Launders, mother of the 6-year-old named Lisa, and Nicole Smigiel, mother of the toddler boy found after Lisa’s death, as well as Nicole’s mother, trusted both doctor and lawyer who were, in fact, illegally abducting their children. To the mothers, it was a legal adoption.  They were doing, as all mothers considering adoption are told, what was “best” for their child and that their child would be lovingly cared for. In fact, Launders has reported paying Steinberg for his services in placing her infant daughter for adoption.

How does that differ from legal adoption practices? Mothers who relinquish are convinced and given assurances that their child(ren) will be raised by stable, loving couples or individuals. Mothers relinquishing their parental rights believe that to be the case without any guarantees. Some mothers in legal adoptions report being duped with promises of open adoption without being told such promises are unenforceable.  Some mothers-to-be are coerced and pressured by would-be adopters who ply them with gifts and create strong feelings of indebtedness and obligation. Some are held to pre-birth consents, illegal in 48 states as baby selling. Yet all these questionable, unethical practices are within the letter of the law in some states. And perfectly “legally” adopted children can — and do — end up abused and even killed by their adopters as illustrated previously herein.

Mobley very well could have been adopted, not kidnapped. Her mother, Shanara Mobley, was just 16 when she gave birth and believes the perpetrator “preyed” on her because she was a minor at the time. The baby’s father, Craig Aiken, was 18 and incarcerated at the time of his daughter’s birth. The kidnapper, Gloria Williams, was driven by the fact that she had numerous miscarriages and feared she’d never have a baby, so she stole one just hours-old from a hospital nursery and raised her as her daughter. Everything about these facts mirrors many adoptions, except for the method of taking the child.

To the child, what difference does a legal technicality or definition make?

The legal definition of kidnapping includes being taken by fraud:

The crime of unlawfully seizing and carrying away a person by force or fraud, or seizing and detaining a person against his or her will with an intent to carry that person away at a later time.

The law of kidnapping is difficult to define with precision because it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

There are those, such as the members of the Facebook group entitled: “Adoption-Legal Kidnapping?” who believe all adoptions are legal kidnapping. Likewise, the blog Unethical Adoptions makes it clear that unethical adoption IS kidnapping and shares a multitude of cases.

Regardless of the technical, legal difference, adoptees and birth parents, often refer to feeling kidnapped, snatched, stolen, taken, while, adoptive parents use the phrase “Gotcha” (which implies snatched.)

Chris Reynolds’ daughter Brooke was adopted by her maternal great-grandparents. Reynolds says he didn’t sign any paperwork and no one told him until after the private adoption went through. He says:

To me, it’s a legal way of kidnapping.

Robert Franklin, Esq., Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization, writing about Reynolds’ case and others agrees, stating:

The whole sham is a disgrace, but one look at how a PFR [Putative Father Registry] in a foreign state acted to kidnap Chris Reynolds’ daughter makes that word too weak, too mild to do the matter justice. When a father . . . can lose [his daughter] to an adoption he never agreed to, there can be no doubt that the system is rotten.

Adoptee Jennifer Lauck writes, “Abducted Versus Adopted: For 1.5 Million of U.S. Adoptees, What’s the Difference?” Lauck identifies with the feeling of not belonging expressed by kidnap victim, Carlina White. Yet, she notes:

 . . . human beings have sanctioned adoption as a moral act and have given it legal and even religious support.

Adoptee and author Judith Land writes:

Was I kidnapped? Every adoption is different but in my case all the elements of a kidnapping seemed to be present, at least as viewed from the perspective of a small child. I was ripped out of the arms of my beloved foster parents, the only people I had ever known, on my first birthday and handed to strangers.

Adoption day is a big event for the parents, a day they eagerly anticipate for many weeks and months, but for the innocent and unsuspecting child who is radically shaken and dramatically confused by the sudden and unexplained presence of strangers in their life, it is a mysterious day of dissimilarities and variances that radically alters their essence—a day of unexplained upheaval and fear that has the potential to highly traumatize the child. In my case, ‘Gotcha Day’ seems to have had all the psychological elements of a kidnapping.

“The only parents he or she has ever known”

It is interesting how courts will us that phrase to justify keeping a child with “adopters” even while recognizing that fraud had been committed, but take children of any age – even adults – away from kidnappers who have cared for them lovingly as their own. And the courts feel compelled to remove children from unsafe homes – despite that being “the only parents” the child has ever known.  Does the child know or feel the difference? Is a traumatic separation different when one has paid the fees and gone through the proper channels?

In response to Land’s blog, the blog “Adoptees Searching for Self” asks: Is Reunion for Adoptees Like Reunion for Kidnapped Victims?

I think using the word kidnapping is a strong word with a terrible connotation so many people want to reject that right away. I don’t think that word should be the focus of what Judith was trying to get across, rather the emotions from being taken from your parent/s and given to strangers, even though it is accepted and legal.

She writes of identifying with a kidnap victim on an MTV show who is reunited with her family and identifies with the TV characters feelings of “awkwardness” and:

wonder[ing] what her role and place is in this family” as well as the expectation that she feel “grateful to be home” while feeling allegiance to her mother who kidnapped her. . . One thing is for sure, and I think that every one of us can agree on this, is that adoption causes trauma, whether it is recognized at the time or not, the child and the birth family experiences trauma.

An forum ask adoptive parents: Does your child feel he/she was kidnapped from birth family? Carol responds:

One of the things I have heard quite a bit over the years is kids feeling as though they were kidnapped from their birth parents.

Pepperminty says:

Yes, and yes. . . I was really surprised when he told me recently that when he thinks about being adopted, he usually is wondering whether he was really kidnapped. He is 8, and for approx. the past three years he has often mentioned fear about being kidnapped.

Adoptee, “Crazy Woman” notes:

I believe I had Stockholm Syndrome, after I was taken into custody. But I went into care when I was 6 years old, pretty much kidnapped the legal way, meaning it’s just like a kidnapping, but the system did it. If you’re adopting a kid in foster care, they might [have] Stockholm Syndrome. I’ve even heard, when babies are adopted, they don’t always feel like they belong.

Other adoptees have drawn this comparison noting that they are made to feel allegiance, indebtedness, gratitude to their adopters as saviors because they were otherwise unwanted. Society conflates adoption and abortion putting onus on those adopted to be thankful they weren’t aborted.

Momraine writes:

My son does feel like he has been kidnapped, but for him it’s mostly because he believes a fantasy he has made up about both his birth parents and life in the orphanage.

Adoptive mother Desiree Smolin well understands the adoption/abduction connection, saying on Facebook:

I’ve always thought that from the child’s point of view there was no difference … It’s [adoption and abduction] the same thing.

Both Smolin and Dr. Geoffrey Greif recognize that adopted children are often pathologized – diagnosed with an alphabet soup of conditions and syndromes, such as RAD – for having the very same feelings a child who is abducted has.

As I wrote previously on this subject:

In both abduction and adoption, the children are given new identities, and their original legal and genetic identities are destroyed, erased, or hidden from them. In adoption, the law allows and facilitates this deception, in some cases the records even change the individual’s date or place of birth, and all but 19 states deny adopted adults access to their accurate, true, original birth certificates.

The most legal and ethical adoptions involve state committed fraud in terms of falsifying the child’s original and accurate vital records.  But society has very different expectations. An abducted child is expected to “retain fond memories of, and long for reunification with, their ‘real’ families of birth, and reject the abductor raising them” while an adopted child is “expected to bond unquestioningly to non-related strangers, and in some cases are expected or encouraged to abandon any thoughts or talk of seeking out their roots.”

From healing weekend exercise manual by Joe Soll, author of Adoption Healing:

Since I know my mother had no choice, then I was taken from her or kidnapped. A baby’s loss of his/her mother is no different if [the] cause [is] adoption, death or kidnapping. Mommy is here, mommy is gone. A mother’s loss of /her baby is no different if cause, adoption, death or kidnapping. Baby is here, baby is gone. However, there is a huge difference if the loss is due to adoption as it is ignored as a loss. There is no emotional help for those separated by adoption. If I tell someone I was kidnapped when I was a baby, I get enormous support.  If a mom says her baby was kidnapped, she gets enormous support. I was not given away, I was taken or kidnapped. My mother did not give me away, I was stolen from her.

In fact, rather than support for their loss, adoptees report facing societal expectations to be grateful because of the assumption that justifies adoption: that of a “better life” . . . a fact disproven by the myriad cases of adoption abuse. Adoption merely guarantees a different life along with a realization of a lost past, original life.

Look again at the definition at the top of this article. If you remove the word “illegally” from the definition you are left with “taking someone else’s child.” The trauma of separation in adoption is different from kidnapping only in terms of legal definition that is a fluid continuum from gray (legal but unethical) to black market (illegal human trafficking).

If you have any questions or concerns regarding parental abduction, we can help.  Please feel free to contact us 24 / 7.  We are always available at or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)