Congressman Smith seeking co-sponsors for Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013

October 8, 2013

Cosponsor the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013

From: The Honorable Christopher H. Smith
Bill: H.R. 3212
Date: 10/8/2013

Cosponsor the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013

Co-Sponsors:  James Moran, Michael Burgess, George Holding, Joseph KennedyDan Lipinski, Mark Meadows, Juan VargasBrad Sherman, Frank Wolf

Organizations:  National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Bring Sean Home Foundation, BacHome, Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion, The Japan Children’s Rights Network, iChapeau Association, Children’s Rights Council of Japan, James Moran, Michael Burgess, George Holding, Joseph KennedyDan Lipinski, Mark Meadows, Juan VargasBrad Sherman, Frank Wolf,

Dear Colleague,

I urge you to cosponsor the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013 (H.R. 3212).  Please respond by Thursday, October 10, at 10 am.

Most, if not every, member of Congress has constituents suffering the pain of separation, crippling worry, and interminable waiting caused by international parental child abduction.  More than one thousand outgoing international child abductions are reported to the State Department Office of Children’s Issues every year.  Abducted children are at risk of serious emotional and psychological problems and have been found to experience anxiety, eating problems, nightmares, mood swings, sleep disturbances, aggressive behavior, resentment, guilt and fearfulness, and as adults may struggle with identity issues, personal relationships, and parenting.

In 1983, the U.S. joined the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction in order to have a non-criminal, legal framework for the quick and orderly resolution of abductions.  However, 40% of abductions occur to countries where the Hague Convention does not apply.  Even where it does apply, less than half of our children are coming home.

David Goldman and his son Sean know this only too well.  Sean’s mother took him on a two week vacation to Brazil only to arrive and call Sean’s father to tell him that their marriage was over, that she was staying in Brazil, and that she was keeping Sean there regardless of David’s custody rights as his father.  It was a textbook case of “wrongful retention” abduction—a clear violation of the Hague Convention.  Although Brazil was a signatory to the Hague Convention and should have returned Sean to the United States within 6 weeks, David and Sean suffered numbing setbacks and delays in Brazil’s courts for 4 years.  David was never allowed to see his son; Sean was deprived of his right to see his father.  Even after David’s wife died and David was the only living parent, Brazil still would not return Sean to the United States.

The House of Representatives intervened and passed legislation (H. Res. 125) spotlighting the issue of international child abduction and calling on Brazil to abide by its commitments under the Hague Convention and immediately return Sean Goldman to the United States.  There were multiple press conferences, congressional letters and trips to Brazil.  Multiple levers were pulled and eventually Sean came home.

While the State Department’s cumulative case numbers are conceded to be incomplete and unreliable, we know there are at least one thousand new international abductions every year in which children are taken from the U.S. to a foreign country and separated from their American parent.  All of these children need assertive intervention from our government.

To that end, I have introduced H.R. 3212, to empower the President to respond with a range of a dozen mutually reinforcing sanctions against a country that has been persistently non-cooperative in the resolution of abduction cases.  My bill would also empower the Secretary of State to enter into Memoranda of Understanding with non-Hague countries for the quick and orderly return of American children who have been abducted to countries that are not signatories to the Convention, including the children of U.S. servicemen and women who are kidnapped from parents serving overseas.  H.R. 3212 will also ensure that the State Department, which is already designated by U.S. law to facilitate Hague Convention cases, is more accountable to parents and is reporting all relevant information that will assist U.S. judges in determinations of custody and travel for children when abduction is a risk. The State Department must advocate on behalf of U.S. citizen and left-behind parents and their children.

Now is the time to act.  We can and must do more when a country refuses to return abducted American children.  We can and must do all we can to bring our children home.

If you have any questions about the Goldman Act, please feel free to contact Piero Tozzi at (202) 225-3765 or piero.tozzi@mail.house.gov or Allison Hollabaugh at ahollabaugh@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Member of Congress

JIM MORAN

Member of Congress

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