Smith and Left Behind Parents Intensify Fight for American Children Abducted Overseas
Push Obama Administration to Use 'Goldman Act' Sanctions Against Worst Offending Countries
A congressional hearing to help the thousands of American children and brokenhearted “left-behind” parents from across the U.S. who are victims of international child abduction and to find out how the U.S. State Department is using the 2014-enacted “Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act” to bring them home, was held Wednesday.
“Every year, approximately 1,000 American children are unlawfully removed from their homes by one of their parents and taken across international borders. Less than half of these children ever come home,” said Smith, who traveled repeatedly to bring back Sean Goldman, then 9, back to the U.S. in 2009 after a five-year abduction to Brazil, and author of the bill. “Most of the left-behind parents in the audience today have not seen their children in years and know all too well the financial, legal, cultural, and linguistic obstacles to bringing their children home from a foreign country.” Click here to read the congressman’s remarks.
The Congressional hearing entitled “The Goldman Act to Return Abducted American Children: Reviewing Obama Administration Implementation,” saw testimony from Ambassador Susan S. Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children's Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and ‘left behind’ parents Jeffery Morehouse, Executive Director of Bring Abducted Children Home, or BAC Home (a Washington State father of abducted child to Japan); Bindu Philips, (New Jersey Mother of Abducted Children to India), Deven Davenport (North Carolina Father of Abducted Children to Brazil), and Scott Sawyer, (father of an abducted child taken to Japan). All the witnesses testimony can be read or watched by clicking here.
David Goldman, the father whose five year-battle to bring his son Sean home in 2009 and is now an advocate for left behind parents, was one of the dozens of parents attending the hearing. David Feimster, of Jackson, N.J., who with his wife Gail fought to assist their daughter when her children were abducted overseas, also came to the hearing. Smith pointed out the Feimsters’ hard-fought case to recover their two grandchildren from Tunisia in 2011. He also recounted the case of Michael Elias of Rutherford, N.J. whose children Jade and Michael remain in Japan.
Philips, of Plainsboro, N.J., was accompanied by a Plainsboro law enforcement officer who came to Washington to hear her testify about her still-abducted children.
“My world and that of my innocent children, was violently disrupted by my ex-husband, Sunil Jacob in December of 2008, when he orchestrated the kidnapping of the children during a vacation to India,” Philips said. “I would note that the children, my ex-husband and I are American citizens and that the children were born in America, which is the only nation they identified with as home.”
Despite New Jersey Superior Court awarded her sole legal and residential custody of the children in December 2009, she not been able to see or communicate with her children.
“My children have lost six years of their mother’s love and care and I have lost 6 years of my children’s childhood that neither of us can ever get back. I have put everything I have into my mission to be reunited with my children.” Click here to read Mrs. Philips testimony.
Ambassador Jacobs testified that of over 900 cases of international child abductions and parental access in 2014, 260 were returned or resolved. Smith noted that meant approximately two-thirds remained abducted overseas. She promised the present left behind parents that she would enforce the Goldman Act.
“We will implement the law,” Jacobs said. “You have my commitment.” Click here to read her statement.