http://www.bachome.org/wordpress/2012/04/dos-and-child-abduction/

 

DoS and Child Abduction

Monday, April 16th, 2012

To the attention of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, the Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and all employees in the State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues:

This letter was received by Congressman Smith’s office during the week of the introduction of H.R.1940, the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction, Prevention and Return Act.

March 26, 2012

 

Dear Congressman Smith:

By now you are aware that Japan has agreed to sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction (the Hague treaty).  By now you are also aware that while Japan has “agreed” that it will sign the treaty, it does not seem to have any intention to actually honor it.  This fact can be gleaned from Japanese press articles and Parliamentary sessions that extol the virtues of several “exceptions” the Japanese plan to implement upon their joining of the Hague.

The ambiguity of these loopholes reveals that Japan’s accession to the Hague will be, at best, a misrepresentation of the country’s true intentions and, at worst, an outright fraud.

 

U.S. Department of State disregards the welfare of abducted children

On May 24, 2011 while sitting as Chairman for the Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights Subcommittee, you remarked that parentally abducted children lose half of their identity and half of their culture and “are at risk of serious emotional and psychological problems [including] anxiety, nightmares, mood swings, sleep disturbances, aggressive behavior, resentment, guilt and [fear]” and that these struggles continue on into adulthood.

Despite the litany of childhood problems you detailed in your speech, I deeply fear that the U.S. Department of State (“State Department”) has failed to research, or even acknowledge, the harm that can befall a child who has been parentally abducted.

For years, several organizations, including the American Bar Association and the U.S. Department of Justice, have maintained that parents with narcissistic personality disorder and/or sociopathic personality traits are more likely to kidnap their children than those who are emotionally “healthy”.  While countless researchers have examined the long-lasting consequences of being raised in these circumstances, it appears that the State Department has chosen to ignore this research in its entirety.

In 2011, the State Department Office of Children’s Issues met with parents of children who have been abducted to Japan.  At this meeting there was a guest speaker—a child welfare “expert” hired by the State Department to convince a group of grieving and traumatized parents that they should not worry about their children so much because abducted children are “resilient”.  Aside from the fact that this “expert” seemed to completely ignore all of the research that led to the implementation of the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act and the Hague treaty in the first place, the State Department’s flagrant disregard for the pain and emotional damage that these children suffer was unconscionable—to say nothing of the feelings of the parents who were seated in that room while having to listen to that discussion.  It is reminiscent of the radiation scandal where the poisoned victims were told that the version of chromium they were exposed to was actually “good for them”.  It is positively unthinkable.

 

Living with an emotionally unhealthy parent

Children who are raised with an emotionally unstable parent do not reach adulthood unscathed.  Indeed, children who have been parentally kidnapped are often raised in an emotionally abnormal environment without the benefit of a healthy parent to counter-balance the abductor’s erratic or destructive behavior.  Several researchers have examined the emotional fallout experienced by children who have been raised with parents who suffer from narcissistic or borderline personality disorder, and they have found that the impact of this damage is both deep and long-lasting.

 

Narcissistic personality disorder

Several publications have described that narcissism is a personality trait that increases the risk of parental abduction.  Narcissists often rationalize their violation of court orders and feel no remorse if they bend the rules to benefit themselves.1

A child of a narcissist can suffer severely because narcissists have “limited or no ability” to recognize their children as separate individuals with free will and needs of their own. Children who are raised by a narcissistic parent often feel extremely lonely and isolated because the parent can, to the outside world, appear to be self-confident and self-controlled, but in private can unleash a battery of constant criticisms and have difficulty controlling their anger.3  Eleanor Payson, a licensed family therapist, describes this nightmare as “a private one that can only be stopped by outside validation”.4  A child raised by a narcissistic parent must grow up quickly, repressing his or her true feelings in order to serve the narcissist’s needs.5

 

Borderline personality disorder

Bill Eddy is an attorney, mediator and clinical social worker.  He is an expert in child custody issues that arise when someone divorces a spouse with narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder.  He explains that parents with borderline personality disorder often “desire the elimination of the other parent as much as possible”.6  Researchers have found that a borderline parent will often use “I’ll never speak to you again” as a primary method of solving interpersonal conflict, and the child will thereafter feel forced to agree with his parent’s opinion, even if his opinion or recollection is not the same.7  These parents “enmesh” themselves with their children8 and rather than being allowed to feel, the borderline parent convinces the children how they are supposed to feel.9

In Eddy’s experience, parents who kidnap their children are unwilling to share parenting with the other parent and “decide they were above the law”. 10  The risk of abduction is exacerbated by a borderline’s impulsivity and the fact that they feel superior to a court’s orders.11

Borderline parents hold their children captive to onslaughts of verbal abuse followed by the silent treatment.  They criticize and belittle their children, causing the children to suffer great confusion, pain and silent anger.12  Life with a borderline parent can bring “constant chaos” and is typified by the borderline’s verbal abuse, unpredictability, denying the child’s perception of events, the need to dominate, threatening to get her own way, making abusive comments and setting unrealistic expectations.13  Denying the feelings and needs of others and trying to get the child to engage in illogical arguments only exacerbates the pain, loneliness and confusion.14  While it is impossible to discover exactly how many international abductions have been committed by narcissistic or borderline personality disordered individuals, this research cannot and should not be ignored.

 

The State Department is obstructing justice and minimizing a federal felony crime

Through their complicity, the State Department is unnecessarily prolonging the pain of these abducted children and their parents.  The State Department needs to acknowledge that crimes have been committed by these Japanese nationals and that the Japanese government has done nothing to rectify the situation.

The Justice Department has acknowledged that parental abduction is damaging and that “the worst damage is imperceptible to the eye, occurring deep within the child, leaving traces that last a lifetime”.15  The State Department should be admonished for using taxpayer money to pay a child welfare “expert” to cajole left-behind parents to think that parental abduction is not such a bad thing after all because kids are “resilient”, and to offer up such fiction in front of the F.B.I, the very agency that should be assisting these bereaved and aching parents in the recovery of their children.  The State Department needs to be severely questioned as to why it is devoting its efforts to obstructing justice rather than fighting for it.

 

Thank you for your time and attention.

 

Amy J. Savoie, Ph.D.

 

Resources

1  Payson, Eleanor D., M.S.W.  2002.  The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists.

Royal   Oak, Michigan: Julian Day Publications, p. 19.

2  Payson, p. 30.

3  Payson, pp. 16, 30.

4  Payson, p. 16.

5  Payson, p. 66.

6  Eddy, Bill, LCSW, JD and Randi Kreger.  2011.  Splitting: Protecting Yourself   

   while Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  

  Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., p. 263.

7  Roth, Kimberlee and Freda B. Friedman, Ph.D., LCSW.  2003.  Surviving a 

   Borderline Parent: How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds & Build Trust,  

   Boundaries, and Self-Esteem.  Oakland, California: New Harbinger

Publications, p. 120.

8  Eddy, p. 249.

9  Roth, p. 121.

10 Eddy, p. 248.

11 Eddy, p. 249.

12 Lawson, Christine Ann.  2000.  Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping  

    Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship. 

    New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., pg. 207.

13  Mason, Paul, MS and Randi Kreger.  2010.  Stop Walking on Eggshells, 2nd 

    Edition.   Oakland, California.  New Harbinger Publications, Inc., pg. 61.

14  Mason, p. 109.

15  The U.S. Department of Justice, from the publication The Crime of Family

Abduction, a Child’s and Parent’s Perspective, First Edition.  May 2010.

 

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120221hn.html

 

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012

 

HOTLINE TO NAGATACHO

Focus on ‘exceptions’ waters down abduction pact

 

By AMY J. SAVOIE

For the attention of the Japanese government:

 

News photo
Divided family: Christopher Savoie is seen in June 2009 with his son, Isaac, and daughter, Rebecca, at a park near their home in Franklin, Tennessee. The children were later taken to Japan by their mother, in violation of a U.S. court custody decision. Savoie was arrested in Japan in September 2009 during an unsuccessful attempt to regain custody. AP

 

Like many other court hearings that follow a divorce, a court transcript out of Tennessee reflects testimony concerning a couple’s two children:

Attorney: Ms. Savoie. … You have known all along that Dr. Savoie’s biggest fear is that you’re going to take those children to Japan and he’ll never see them again; you know that?

Noriko Savoie: I’ve never split (the) children and (their) father. I know how important (a) father is for children, and I am not going to do that. I keep telling him I’m not going to do that.

Noriko Savoie spoke these words shortly before she did precisely what she promised under oath not to do: In August 2009, she kidnapped Isaac and Rebecca Savoie from their father’s home in Tennessee — away from their school, their friends, their church, and away from their loving father.

They were taken from a country whose laws say it is in a child’s best interest to know and be loved by both parents, and they were abducted to a land that prefers a “clean break” after the dissolution of a marriage — where one parent is expected to disappear forever.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction would provide a remedy for the prompt return of these and other abducted children, if only Japan would sign it.

For too long, Japan was “considering the possibility” that it might join the Hague treaty someday, and the government promised to think about it after some further study.

As the only G-8 nation that has still refused to sign the Hague despite relentless international pressure, Japan has been under attack by human rights groups, psychologists and ambassadors to Japan from several countries, all of whom insist unequivocally that it is in the child’s best interest to have access to both parents -regardless of a divorce.

Acquiescing to foreign pressure, Japan has finally announced, amidst great fanfare, that it would soon sign the Hague treaty, perhaps even within the next few months.

Growing up in Japan’s culture of uso mo hoben – “lying is also a means to an end”- many Japanese abductors, upon a divorce, may have felt justified in giving false testimony in order to gain access to their children’s passports.

However, for the scores of left-behind parents who have been lied to (“I would never kidnap the children”) and who suffer daily through the agony of having lost a child, Japan’s recent promise to sign the Hague is being studied with an abundance of caution and a large dose of skepticism.

Their concern is well-founded: Recent Diet session videos reveal that rather than finding ways to return children after signing the Hague, Japan’s efforts are focused on creating “exceptions” that would allow its courts to refuse the return of abducted kids.

This begs the question: If Japan is going to sign the Hague treaty in good faith, then why focus only on creating loopholes?

The nonprofit group Bring Abducted Children Home (BACHome) brought its concerns to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell.

Working in conjunction with several Japanese left-behind parents, BACHome warned Campbell that Japan is writing legislation that will allow it to essentially seize jurisdictional control over any new and existing abduction cases in order to ensure that children would, in fact, not be returned to the countries from which they were taken.

These loopholes would allow the abducting parent to coach (or brainwash) a kidnapped child, encouraging that child to develop the “opinion” that he/she does not want to be returned, and that child’s purported “wish” would be upheld.

Kirk Weir, an internationally-recognized psychologist, has researched this issue and found, more often than not, that a child’s alleged “opinion” that he or she does not want to see a left-behind parent is completely unrelated to the child’s actual “wish for a relationship” — in other words, the child is taught to have the opinion that the left-behind parent is “bad” based only on the taking parent’s version of events.

Mr. Weir states that during the parent-child reunions that he studied, “very young children easily resumed a good relationship with the nonresident parent (i.e. left-behind parent) once a visit took place.”

He suspected that the children enjoyed “the immediate pleasure of love and affection from the (left-behind parent) and were quick to forget the influence of their family’s views.”

Unfortunately, under Japan’s new rules an abducting parent can claim that the child does not want to go home (when, in fact, it is the parent who coached the child into voicing this opinion), or an abductor can claim domestic violence as a means of justifying her actions.

The problem with the latter is that Japan has taken this frightening (and very serious) Western phrase of “domestic violence” and broadened it into something unrecognizable.

Around the time that Japan announced a decision to join the Hague, Dr. Numazaki Ichirou devised a list of domestic violence scenarios that could be used to justify the refusal of a child’s return under a “domestic violence exception.”

Within his list, Dr. Numazaki suggests that even if a father is not at all violent or dangerous, “just one” of the following accusations could prevent a father from being reunited with his child: if the father ever criticized the mother’s shortcomings, if the father was ever annoyed when the mother “talked back” to him, or if the father ever “felt hurt” when the mother pushed back at him.

In other words, interpersonal marital strife is being defined as “domestic violence”.

The Japan Times recently quoted Japanese attorney Takao Tanase’s opinion of this: “Japanese family court judges sometimes recognize domestic arguments as verbal violence, but what couples who are facing divorce don’t argue?” (“Bills Could Render Hague Toothless,” Feb. 8).

Of course a child should be protected from actual risk of domestic violence, and this column is by no means an attempt to diminish the importance of protecting children who are at risk of grave and imminent harm by an abusive parent.

The problem is that Japan will allow temporary, inter-personal (nonviolent) disagreements to justify the permanent abduction of a child.

Given this inhuman standard of behavior, even Jesus, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi could not hope to prevail against such guidelines, for even those “heroes of peace” frequently disagreed with those in their midst — often quite vociferously.

In other words, it seems that Japan’s domestic violence “catch-all” provision will only allow the return of an abducted child if the left-behind parent is abnormally docile or, indeed, is a robot.

Like the Japanese saying, kaden rika (“if you really don’t have bad intentions, then don’t act like you do”), if Japan truly intends to abide by the Hague treaty, then why does it appear that the government is planning to sign the Hague Convention but has no intent to actually honor it?

Amy J. Savoie received her doctorate from Dartmouth College and is currently a third-year law student at the Nashville School of Law. Dr. Savoie is married to Christopher Savoie. In August 2009, Christopher Savoie’s children were abducted from the U.S. to Japan by his ex-wife. A few weeks later, he was arrested while trying to reclaim his children. Send submissions of between 500 and 600 words tocommunity@japantimes.co.jp

It is the one year anniversary since Christopher Savoie was released from Japanese prison.  His wife has published a brilliant article in the Japan Times debunking all the arguments used to excuse those who use Japan as a sanctuary for  international parental kidnapping.

Here is the link:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101109hn.html

This segment offers some good background about the legal situation in Japan and also an interesting interview with Christopher Savoie about his experiences in Japan.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/33788543/ns/today-parenting_and_family/?ns=today-parenting_and_family

He’s coming home, heartbroken, without his children.

http://www.newschannel5.com/global/story.asp?s=11323615

embassy rally

On Saturday, October 3, 2009, Children’s Rights Council of Japan organized a “Free Christopher Savoie” Rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C., demanding that the Japanese government immediately release Christopher Savoie and reunite him with his children, and also acknowledge and resolve all other cases of child abductions in Japan. Speakers included CRC of Japan co-founder Walter Benda, U.S. Navy Commander Paul Toland, Amy Savoie (Christopher Savoie’s wife), Kay Kephart (an American grandmother imprisoned while trying to find her grandchildren), David Levy (head of the national Children’s Rights Council nonprofit organization), and 2 U.S. left-behind fathers, Randy Collins and Lance Litwiller. Media included CNN, NBC, CBS, NHK, FUJI TELEVISION NETWORK NEWS, TV TOKYO, KYODO NEWS, and documentary film maker Matt Antell, fromtheshadowsmovie.com. A candlelight vigil was held that evening in front of the White House.

Link to Video Slideshow of Oct. Rally and Vigil for Christopher Savoie (Music sample:  Trabryu “Road”)

Rally to Free Christopher Savoie, Washington, Oct. 3

Children’s Rights Council of Japan is organizing a Rally and Candlelight Vigil in Washington, D.C. on October 3, calling on Japan to free Christopher Savoie and reunite abducted American children with both sides of their families.  The Rally will be held in front of the Japanese Embassy, 2520 Massachusetts Avenue, starting at 2:00 PM, with a Candlelight Vigil in front of The White House starting at 7:00 PM.

Christopher Savoie was arrested and imprisoned in Japan after trying to recover his two American children, who were kidnapped to Japan in violation of U.S. law by his Japanese ex-wife.  Christopher’s wife, Amy Savoie, will speak at the Rally, as will other victims whose children are being held in Japan.

Scheduled Speakers:

Walter Benda, Co-founder, Children’s Rights Council of Japan and father of two American daughters who were abducted in Japan in 1995.

Commander Paul Toland, US Navy, sole surviving parent of a daughter, Erika, who was abducted in Japan in 2003.

Amy Savoie, wife of Christopher Savoie and stepmother of two children abducted to Japan this year.

Kay Kephart, a grandmother whose grandchildren are being held in Japan.

More speakers to be added later.

The public is invited to attend.

Please direct media inquiries to crcjapan@yahoo.com and check our website at http://www.crcjapan.com for updates and further details.  Phone inquiries:  276-637-0117.

Click the one titled American jailed in Japan over custody battle.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/33068613#33086474