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Rep. Chris Smith vows to fight abduction of U.S. kids

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December 26, 2009

Rep. Chris Smith vows to fight abduction of U.S. kids
Before he boarded a jet in Rio de Janeiro with his 9-year-old son Sean on Thursday, David Goldman wrote a letter.

His note was released the same day by Rep. Chris Smith, the Republican from New Jersey's 4th district who became an active supporter of Goldman during the Tinton Falls father's five-year fight to regain custody of his son from his Brazilian in-laws.
Goldman's former wife, now deceased, took their son to Brazil in 2004, and his struggle to bring Sean home garnered international attention.

"I hope the momentum keeps growing and the attention does not fade," Goldman wrote in the letter, after thanking the people who supported him during the long custody battle, "because there are more fathers and mothers and children to reunite."

The family's flight has since touched down on U.S. soil, but Smith and others have vowed to keep up the fight against what officials say is a growing problem in the United States and elsewhere: the abduction of children, often by one of their own parents, to other countries.

In 1980, the United States joined 67 other countries in signing a treaty that established guidelines for returning children taken from one member country to another. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction hasn't stopped parental abductions from rising, however, even in member countries.

According to U.S. State Department reports, more than 1,000 new cases involving children abducted from the United States by a parent or guardian were reported in the government's 2008 fiscal year, compared to fewer than 800 reported cases in fiscal year 2007.

Of the 2008 abductions, 776 were to Hague Convention member countries, an annual report said. Overall, 2,800 children currently are being held by family in foreign countries, according to a report by Congress.

In June, Smith introduced a bill that he hopes will turn around those statistics. If enacted, the International Child Abduction Prevention Act of 2009 would appoint an ambassador whose sole duty is to pursue abduction cases. It also would give the president and State Department the power to punish noncompliant countries with sanctions.

"Our current system is not providing justice for left behind parents or for children whisked away from their mom or dad," Smith stated in a recent news release. "Congress must act so that more children are not further traumatized by parental abduction."

Other New Jersey lawmakers have weighed in, too. Rep. Rush D. Holt has pressured House leaders to support the legislation. After Goldman was reunited Thursday with his son, the 12th District Democrat said in a statement that "the problem of international parental child abduction did not start with this case, and our efforts to end it must continue, even as David and Sean Goldman resume their life together."

No action has been taken on the bill since September, but Smith said recently he hopes Goldman's success is a "harbinger of a whole new era" of reuniting parents with abducted children.

"David Goldman has launched a human rights movement that will help others," he said.

Now that is great news!

Wonderful man he is!

The problem of international parental child abduction may not have started with this case but it most certainly helped bring it to light and made the world aware that it's real and that there are other left behind parents who need help to get their children back.  David's love and determination to win Sean back clearly paved the way.  There's hope!

Saw this on the front page of the Asbury Park Press this a.m.
GREAT news!!


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