The forgotten victims of International Parental Child Abduction

Over the years we have been very vocal about the impact, of both domestic and international parental child abduction, on the children, the left behind parents and even the abductors, but a recent gut wrenching email from a relative of a client thanking us for a recent recovery really made us think about the impact to the forgotten victims of IPCA and DPCA – the grandparents, the aunties, uncles, cousins and close family friends.

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Quite often we find that children who have been abducted, not only from a loving parent, but also from a very close knit family. In some cases the extended family have helped to raise and care for the child to support the parent and in one moment an abductor snatches that whole family from a child.

When a child is abducted the family are thrown into a roller coaster emotions. There is the desperation to seek help, researching every avenue to try and get this child back into their loving fold. There is the helplessness that nothing works fast enough.

Law enforcement won’t act without a court order. Even then enforcement is extremely rare and difficult. The court process can take months. The Hague Convention (if applicable) is another layer of uncertainty and another lengthy process. These are facts any parent who has experienced IPCA will contest to.

They feel a sense of protectiveness toward the left behind parent and always feel they have to explain and justify that the left behind parent is a good person.There is the fear that they have no idea where the child is or whether the child is safe and in good health. They have to hold on to the hope that the abducting parent will care for the child as much as they did but due to the deceitful tactics used to abduct the child, having any faith in the abductor is not a source of comfort.

Many families feel like they have been thrust into a sense of mourning. From one day they have a child that is a regular part of their lives, to suddenly nothing. The abducted child leaves an empty hole in the family that cannot be filled, leaving a sense of loss and emptiness. Families rally around the left behind parent and become a strong force to help the left behind parent, find the strength to fight for the recovery of the child holding back their own emotions and sense of loss with a brave face, but crumble once they are alone.


We sometimes take for granted how much the little people in our life are such a major influence in our family structures and our world ultimately evolves around them. They are a source of laughter, joy and hope for the future. We plan special events like birthdays and Christmases with them at the forefront of our minds. First days of schools, sporting events and other extra curricular achievements are a cause for a family celebration and suddenly nothing, the centre of your family’s universe is gone, disappeared without a moments warning.

We always say at CARI our highlight is always to watch the reunion between a parent and a child, after a recovery and there has been occasion where we have seen the reunion with the extended family. In those moments you see a family unit come together, like a jigsaw puzzle that has just found the missing piece. The collective relief and sheer happiness you feel being witness to the reunion of a family unit makes everything we do all the more worthwhile.

So whilst our core business is recovering a child with the aid of a left behind parent, CARI appreciates the trauma that a left behind family face and works with the motivation of putting the fractured family unit back together. It takes a village to raise a child and the selfish actions of an abductor, not only deprive their child of the other parent but also grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and friends and no child ever deserves this.

Abductors impact and destroy more than their ex partner and we call those family members, the forgotten.