When a parent kidnaps a child long-term problems begin
Most recently, and working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), I completed interviews with 8 people (now all over 21-years-old) who were parentally kidnapped when they were children. The focus of the interviews (the report is available on the NCMEC website) was to learn what would help families reunify with each other after a kidnapping. For today’s blog I will focus on the impact on children. Some of this information appears in my co-authored book (with Rebecca Hegar), When Parents Kidnap. Imagine a child being taken by a parent with whom the child does not feel particularly close, moved away from friends and other family members, and living in changing residences. Imagine the state of mind of the abductor who is the primary caretaker. Add these two together and the stage is set for a difficult time for the child. While the child is on the run, the left-behind parent is often frantic and expending all his or her time involved in the search. The left-behind parent’s well-being, relationships, and work life are put at risk and, upon recovery of the child (not all children are recovered) the parent struggles to get things back to normal when such a hopeful vision may not be possible.