There is, of course, the other side of the abduction.
Not all children are dragged reluctantly to foreign lands where they mope for Little League, malls and M & Ms.
Not all abducting parents are total sinners.
Because not all their former spouses are absolute angels.
While researching this story, The Times located and interviewed a woman who grabbed her son and fled abroad. That was five years ago.
As a condition of the interview, they cannot be named. Their home state and the country where they now live will not be revealed. Nor, it was agreed, would there be publication of any details of their new lives that might pinpoint their identities.
‘The Last Thing I Want’
“To say anything beyond a broad statement, even to say little, innocent things is to risk antagonizing my ex-husband should he be able to find me,” she said. “The last thing I want is for him to be angered, for that would produce more harassment, more upset in my life. . . .”
Their separation and divorce, she said, were far from peaceful. There were constant arguments over money and division of property. There were physical assaults, she said.
She tried legal remedies. She was told there was nothing that could be done and “I felt a bit victimized by the whole court system in the United States.”
In the end, fearing for her own life and aware of the effects the turmoil was having on her son, she began planning an escape.
“When I made my decision to leave the United States, it was not an impulsive decision,” she said. “It was a premeditated move and as part of that, I told my son that I was leaving and that I had to leave for my own safety and sanity.
“I proceeded to discuss what he could do and who he could live with when I went. We discussed what his alternatives were. Then he chose what to do, and he decided to come with me.”
That, she said, a departure based on a free choice exercised by her son, does not qualify as “an abduction, a kidnaping . . . and I do not consider myself a criminal, absolutely not.”
Further, she said, every six months, she and her son discuss their life together, his happiness and his possible return to a life with father. So far, she said, he chooses to remain with mother.
There were, of course, prices to pay. She and her son have been forced to forget a network of close friends and happy places in the United States. There is the constant threat, she acknowledged, of arrest by the FBI. She has not been able to explain her side of the disappearance to some people who matter.
Believe the Worst
“So I’ve just had to let everybody think the worst of me, at least all those people not intimately connected with me and my decision to leave the United States,” she said. “Obviously, for my own safety, I’ve had to keep quiet. Because the most important thing has been just to survive and to get on with my life.”
At this point, she said, life is secure and her son is happy, emotionally healthy and doing well in school.
One day, she said, there may be a new relationship between the boy and his father--if and when the son decides.
Then, she said, she will be free to return from exile to the United States--if, indeed, that is what she decides.
“You see, I’m so much happier here. In fact, if it becomes known how happy I’ve been here for five years we just might start a fad of American women doing this.”