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Jeanne M. Hannah

Sherri, thank you for taking the time to write about your family's personal experience with the aftermath of parental kidnapping. Unfortunately, in the case of your child, she was taken at the most vulnerable time in terms of childhood development. Children from 1.5 to 3 years old are at serious risk of reactive attachment disorder when separated from a primary caregiver. I agree with your statement that the effects can be lifelong.

I will be writing soon about the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act ("UCAPA"). This Act would have been very useful to you if it had been in effect in the state where you live because it covers abductions where the child is not taken out of the state. UCAPA fills in the gaps between the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act.

For others wondering about the effects upon abducted children and their families, visit the Polly Klaas Foundation’s parental kidnapping Web site at Click the link for “Families and Their Stories.”


Thank you for bringing this issue to light. I have found that while there is plenty of information out there regarding parental abduction and the legal issues, there is almost no info about the after-effects.

In our situation, our child (my stepdaughter that I'd co-parented since she was an infant) was taken by her biological father and hidden away for a year. During that year she was abused and neglected, and told her mom was dead. She was 2, almost three when she was taken.

The after affects have been tremendous. It has been a few years now, since she was found and returned, but the damage will last a lifetime.

We found out the hard way that the only real way to get help was with money, and we had none. All of the systems in place to assist the left-behind parent seemed to apply only to international situations, or situations where the child had crossed state lines. In our case, since the child was somewhere in our state (as far as we knew) and since the biological father had court ordered visitation privileges, no one would help. The police repeatedly said "the child is with their father, we can't help you". National organizations couldn't help without police reports. It took us almost an entire year to convince an attorney to offer his services pro bono.

It is time for more focus on how damaging this sort of thing is for the child and the family unit.

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