My child was internationally abducted

International Kidnapping

International abduction and getting your child returned

Recently on our forum a user ask what she could do if the father of her U.S. born children took them to Mexico without her permission and refuses to bring them back home. International child abduction is a federal crime in the United States. Unfortunately, they can also be the most difficult to resolve as police and other law officials struggle against the judicial systems, lack of jurisdiction by law enforcement agencies, issues of the right of a minor, and the legal definition of custody, all of which can vary from country to country.

In recent years the number of children which have been abducted into Mexico has increased. Officials note this could be due to "strong cultural and social and economic ties with Mexico, lots of cross-border relationships, lots of immigration back and forth, and a very long border." In response to the growing issue, the state department has increased the number of people they have working on international abductions. Mexican officials have also been working with their U.S. counterparts to return abducted children.

Hague Convention ineffective

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is the primary instrument for addressing international abduction cases in Mexico. The convention was supposed to assist with the return of abducted children but has been criticized and is widely viewed as completely ineffectual in Mexico, which has been unable to meet Convention compliance.

What steps should you take after abduction?

According to the FBI there are methods which can be used to retrieve a child after an international abduction. The information provided below was extracted from the FBI website:

  • The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) of 1993
  • Under this agreement the U.S. government can issue a criminal arrest warrant again the parent who abducted a child under the age of sixteen and took them outside of the U.S. without the custodial parent’s consent.
  • Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution (UFAP)
    States can ask the FBI for help to capture a parent who has taken a child to another state or country.
  • The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

This agreement is used between countries who have agreed to participate and who have signed the Hague Convention. Under this agreement processes have been outlined which are supposed to help return children who have been abducted to their home country.

What can the FBI do?

Keep in mind the FBI must work with existing international partnerships outside of the U.S. If you believe your child has been abducted you need to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation immediately. The Crimes Against Children coordinator at the FBI field office in your geographic region will be able to assist you. The contact information for the nearest FBI field office in your area is available at

The U.S. State Department will then handle coordination of efforts with foreign officials and law enforcement agencies to try and have your child returned. Mexico has signed the Hague Convention and is supposed to work with the U.S. State Department to return children, but as mentioned above, this process has met with limited results. Keep in mind, the U.S. Department of State receives approximately 1,200 new Hague and non-Hague each.

More information can be found on the following website: Department of Justice’s International Parental Kidnapping webpage.

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