Ken Connolly is the author of Throwing Stones and an exceptionally special individual not least because he gives insight into what it is like to be a child subjected to abduction - Ken and his brother were abducted as children by their father in the 70's.
This past week in Japan an American father was forced to take action in order to regain his abducted children. Christopher Savoie, a law abiding citizen was apprehended outside of the United States Consulate while trying to enter with his children. The local police placed Christopher in jail on the charge of child abduction. What is most disturbing is that Christopher was attempting to return his children after they were abducted by their biological
mother against a United States court order keeping them in the United States.
Japanese law is not a co-signer to the 1980 Hague Convention on international parental child abduction. Under this confusing, and often webbed convention, the home state has jurisdiction on child custody issues. If a child is taken to another state, that state has an obligation to return the child. Since Japan does not recognize this convention, it allows an open door policy of stealing children to Japan, as long as the parent is a Japanese citizen.
On the other hand, if a child is taken to the United States, Japan is quick to request the child returned. Since Japan has close ties to the United States, this indifference is often overlooked. This unbalanced system of international cooperation has created the picture definition of forum shopping. Basically, if you don’t like the court outcome, move somewhere where you will get the outcome you want.
What must be understood is that Japan is not the only nation to overlook illegal retention of a child against a sovereign state’s right of custody. However what is important here is that there are numerous cases of non custodial parents who have taken their children to Japan and been given protection. What Christopher’s case shows is that if you try to retain your children, you will be locked up, and charged with the very crime that allowed the non custodial parent to enter Japan. So where did all of this start?
Back in January Christopher Savoie was in divorce court from his ex-wife a Japanese citizen. His wife agreed to live within the boundaries of the court ruling. Simply, she needed only to have them back in time for school. Mr. Savoie raised concerns that his ex-wife would try to take the children to Japan. His concerns were overlooked and as a result of poor judgment, his ex-wife was able to secret his children off to Japan. When Christopher discovered what had happened, a warrant was issued in the United States for the mother’s arrest.
Japan has a history of favoring mothers as the sole conservator of small children in divorce cases. What is different in Japan is that when the other parent loses custody, they are completely severed from their children. Given the Japanese family court system, it only promotes cases like Christopher Savoie. What is still often overlooked in these type cases is the children, and the affect it has on them. While the parents, courts and officials slug it out, the children sit quietly behind the scenes falling apart internally.
As a former abducted child and author on parental child abduction I know exactly how these little children feel and what they are going through. For three years I was abducted by my father and lived in two states. On more than one occasion my father considered moving to Australia. There was the constant fear of being uprooted in the middle of the night and whisked away because the feds were closing in on my dad. On more than one occasion I would wake to the shouts of my father, and cries from my fellow kidnapped siblings.
When asked how long it took to become confused and protect my abductor, I often answer within just weeks of the initial kidnapping. What must be understood is that a child unlike their adult counterpart, cannot reason between the crime and the misguided love of their parent. They do not see an outcome where they will be reunited if they go to the police or make a public plea for help. Their circumstance is just life as they know it. When returned home they are confused even further over the ordeal.
What can make the child’s experience worse is when the abducting parent denies communication with the other parent, and tries to distort their view of the other parent. For me, I can see this as the main cause for Christopher’s son freezing in the street, and not following his father, and sister to the United States Consulate. After his father has been apprehended, the abducting parent can then use her son’s confusion as a viable argument in court. Sadly, this is not due to his father being unfit, but from the abducting mother’s grooming of her child.
What should be taken from this is that Christopher and his children’s ordeal could have been avoided back in Tennessee during the divorce proceedings. The judge was fully informed of Mr. Savoie’s concerns, and history of Japan allowing non custodial parents to abduct their children. Next, if Japan wants equal international rights for children taken abroad, maybe they should change their policy, and join the Hague Convention of 1980, or suffer the same results they inflict upon other State’s custodial rights. Lastly, the effect parental abduction has upon the children involved can have greater impact than stranger based abduction; since the loss of trust is so great.
Ken Connelly is an author, speaker, former law enforcement officer and victim of parental child abduction. His book, Throwing Stones; Parental Child Abduction
Through The Eyes Of A Child, is the first book written from the child’s point of
view during an abduction.
Ken Connelly Author/Speaker Throwing Stones; parental child abduction through the eyes of a child 214 364 4181 iPhone mobile