Parental Abduction Conference, Washington, DC, 2001 :
Divorce & Separation in Germany,
Introduction by Karin
Jäckel, Dr. Phil., to her presentation:
Divorce and Separation
Causes and Consequences, Endeavor of Explanations
Washington, D.C., June 7-9, 2001, at the
Parental Abduction Conference
Organized by P.A.R.E.N.T. International, at the Hilton Garden Inn.
One day in the first week of March 2001, I found an e-mail message in my In-box,
informing me about an annual event in Washington D.C., actually from the 7th to
the 9th of June, the >>Parental Abduction Conference<<.
The organizer was a self-help association called "P.A.R.E.N.T.
International", founded by a mother named Maureen Dabbagh.
It was a very interesting message, and I was asked to present a speech.
A speech, no problem normally but in English, about a very special
subject, including lots of judicial terms? Oops..., in addition, my publishers (Rowohlt,
Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag and Luebbe) refused any support, so I was on my own, with
respect to the costs as well as to the work.
Hesitating, I had to think it over for some weeks. After that I contacted Maureen
Dabbagh and things were on their way.
There was no doubt that I would fly with my youngest 14-year-old son, Yannic, who had
holidays until the 10th of June and for almost two years had been taking
English at school.
Being a mother, I always had to co-ordinate my professional life with my private one,
favouring regularly the very best for my children and making sure that they are either
with their father, with me or sometimes with their grandparents, but never gave them into
the care of strangers.
Maybe Im a rather old-fashioned mother in that regard, but my three boys are the
very best witnesses of how well that objective by us two parents worked out.
When we came to Washington D.C., both of us, Yannic and I, looked with wide-open eyes
at that city. It seemed as familiar to us as Paris, for example in the way of its
architecture, street-layout and flair, but somehow as if transported from a dwarfs
into a giants world. Europe and the USA. Our European eyes accustomed to look
at the lovely hills and vineyards of the Black Forest, half-timbered houses in narrow
streets, and the towers of the old castle upon our small town hiding between dark firs and
golden curled chestnut-trees - these eyes had to change focus to take in different
perspectives. But it was wonderful. And in the end we left a little bit of our hearts back
in the streets and parks of Washington D.C., took a coin and threw it into one of the
fountains, wishing to be back one more time.
The motto of the "Parental Abduction Conference" was that every state has now
criminalized parental abduction under their custodial interference- or child snatching
laws. Removing a child from a state or the country can result in federal felony charges
being brought against the abducting parent. But what happens to the child
That is left open to parents, lawyers, law enforcement, social workers, missing
childrens agencies and everyone interested in children.
Many speakers offered their knowledge, their advice and presentations:
- Albert Schloegel, Ph.D., founder of a non-profit
missing-children's organization, discussed what a parent should look out for
in a recovery agent;
- David L. Levy, president of the "Children's Rights Council"
(CRC), addressed efforts to stop the kidnapping of children, input on legislation to
affirm a child's contact with both parents and a new CRC proposal to establish access
(visitations) sites in foreign countries.
Mrs. Levy has appeared in various national TV-shows, testified more than 20 times before
Congressional committees, and is editor of the 1993 book "The Best Parent is Both
Parent, A Guide to Shared Parenting in the 21st Century". Levy received a Lifelong
Achievement Award from the federal
child support office
- Scott Word, Parental Alienation Research Foundation;
- Nancy Salam presented the intimate story of a mother’s
search for the six years old daughter that was stolen from her by her
Jordanian husband and the young woman she finally rediscovered a decade
- Barbara Steinberg, Ph.D., licensed psychologist,
presented some facts about an unleashing of Solomon’s Sword, exploring the
social phenomenon of parental alienation from two perspectives. One is
within the context of an culture that created an imbalance of power between
the parents which supports the alienation process. The other is within the
dynamics of a family in which the interpersonal parental influences abuse
the child psychologically;
- Doug Darnall, Ph.D., author, talking about his book
"False Allegations of Alienation";
- Maurice Elfeke, Secretary General of "SOS Germany," a
non-profit-agency dealing with parental abductions to Germany but based in France;
- Phillipe Paquay, teacher and member of "SOS Belgium."
His presentation was titled "The European Front" and showed how Europe is
addressing international child abduction;
- Linda Shay-Gardner, Masters and Doctorate from Columbia University and
a J.D. from Timple University School of Law. She worked as an attorney on
interstate and international abduction cases, represented clients in over 20
countries and has a number of published opinions in abduction cases. She
also attended the Hague Convention session in 1997 as a private law
- Stewart Rein, childrens human rights advocate and author of a
book "Betrayal of the Child," showed his film titled "Wednesday
Children," a special report on Parental child abduction, made with the participation
of the "United States Office of Childrens Issues" (Ray Clore),
"NCMEC" (Nany Hammer) leading psychiatrists, John W. Jacobs, some
lawyers and victim parents. Following the film there was a question and
- Ronald E. Lais, international attorney and expert consultant on
childrens issues, Member of the District Bat Association of Sonepat, India, and has
been involved in several highly publicized contests custody cases, including the
He addressed the issue of child abductions to Germany;
- Nagi Kheir, Foundation Executive Director of an
International Alliance of Christian and Jewish Human Rights Organizations,
Director of Middle-East Affairs. His topic "Our Silence Kills, Please Speak"
addressed religious persecutions of children abducted abroad;
- Fred Rooney, Esq., discussed the plight of Americans
with limited resources and how the justice system fails them at their time
of greatest need. Are there solutions? Buying Back your Baby is not just a
- Nancy Faulkner, Ph.D., author of "Parental Abduction is Child
Abuse", first presented at the United Nations, Human Rights Commission, Geneva,
Switzerland, 1999 on behalf of P.A.R.E.N.T and parents of children that have been
In her presentation she reviewed the potential
constellation of development and psychological problems that may result from
parental child abduction;
- Maureen Dabbagh, founder of P.A.R.E.N.T International, Mother of four
kidnapped children, three of them found and recovered, with one daughter still lost,
designated as an expert witness by family law courts in a dozen states.
She presented the film "Faces of Recovery," a stark collection of unedited
actual video footage covering the first moments of many children’s recovery;
- Karin Jäckel, Dr. Phil., Divorce and Separation
in Germany: Causes and Consequences, Endeavour of Explanations;
An exhibition of art created by abducted children was on display at the conference
A traditional candle-light vigil was held in front of the White House from 9 p.m. to 11
p.m. on Saturday night.
Parents and supporters were invited to this solemn occasion to remember the
children all over the world that are denied access to their parents.
Battery operated candles had been donated for the event.
Some musicians performed live at this highly emotional meeting. Especially
Richard Vikstrom, whose child is kidnapped by the mother to Germany, took all the parents,
supporters and viewers under his spell when he played on the violin a classical peace of
music typical for almost each nation of the world. The strong feelings in the sounds of
music made a lot of parents cry, remembering their children and the lost opportunity to
show them their love. One of the mothers has been looking for 27 years for her kidnapped
Craig Deanto performed a song on the guitar, with the question "Who
Hears the Cries," Most of the annually returning parents were able to hum- or
sing-along with the refrain.
The event closed with a huge circle of people standing hand in hand.
They pledged to overcome their fear and tears by singing "We shall overcome."
Some journalists showed interest, taking photos of mothers in tears and fathers in
despair, asking some questions. No great effort, but better than nothing.
Some people surrounded our group, showing reactions that ranged from laughter to
surprise; parents feeling with parents, young lovers shaking heads and trusting in their
so much stronger love and their knowledge of eternal devotion that all of the lost parents
in the group once felt in their own early days of looking at things through the pink
glasses of never-ending love.
President Bush never showed himself at any of the numerous windows or on the balcony of
the White House. But one of his guards, waiting in cold silence in the shadows of the
ornamental bushes or patrolling through the open garden in front of the house, had nothing
better to do than to forbid the touching of the garden fence.
"But all the power is coming from the people," I tried to explain to Yannic,
while we strolled back to the Hilton Garden Inn, where the conference took place.
Posted June 2001
2007 12 23 (reformated)