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Kidnapped and Missing Children

Updated on August 18, 2010

Missing Children

For those of you who have children, can you imagine what life would be like if your child was gone? You are not there to help them through the ups and downs of daily life. You can't teach them things you need them to learn. Their birthday comes and you can't hug them and tell them how grateful you are that they are here. Holidays come and go, and you can't give them gifts and see the wondrous joy on their faces. This is what life is like for parents whose children are missing, for whatever reason.

I am a mother whose children were kidnapped to the Middle East by their father almost three years ago. Even though time has gone by, the pain of not being with my children gnaws at my being every second of every day. A missing child is a wound that time does not heal. When I turn on the TV, I see a show and think “My daughter would love this. I wish we could watch it together”. I go to the store and see mothers holding their children's little hands, and I cry out of grief. I cook dinner and lament their absence, wishing I could be cooking for them. I know I am not alone. Even though I have never met another parent who is living the agony that comes from missing your children, I know there are many, many others just like me out there somewhere.

How Children Disappear

For most people, people wonder “How can a child go missing when the parents are always with them?”. There are many ways a child can go missing. Children run away. Predators grab children and take them. But most commonly, children go missing from parental abductions. One parent takes the child/ren and goes on the run. Sometimes the parents are at fault, sometimes not. In either case, the consequences are the same – extreme grief for the left-behind parent, and usually, lifelong trauma for the child/ren. More often than not, the children are harmed emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Child abduction IS child abuse. There is an excellent article about how children are harmed by abduction at


According to the U.S. Department of State, “Child-snatching is epidemic. Well over 200 cases of parental child abduction cases occur each day in the United States”. Children missing for other reasons (e.g., runaways, stranger abductions, etc) raise that number dramatically. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are approximately 800,000 children missing in America today. Other statistics are hard to find. International parental abductions are supposed to be reported to the Office of Children's Issues at the State Department, but I had a hard time trying to find up-to-date statistics on the numbers of children who have been abducted internationally. To me, however, the statistics are of little importance. Even one missing child is one too many.

Why Should I Care?

These days, we are all bombarded with work, personal issues, family and community issues, financial concerns, and a media full of news overload detailing myriad crimes and tragedies happening everywhere all the time. People have become immune and indifferent to the struggles that others are fighting. Especially when your own children are home with you, safe and sound, why should you care about some stranger's child who has gone missing?

There are many reasons, in my humble opinion. For one, children are innocent and defenseless, unable to make their own choices and save themselves when placed in perilous situations. It is up to adults to step in and make a difference for these children. I know firsthand that one adult can stand and scream at the top of her lungs, “Hey! My children are in danger! Please help them!” but remain ignored and unheard. And the children continue to suffer, and the chances that they may be killed or seriously harmed soon increases as time goes by. Literally.

Second, damaged children grow up to be damaged adults who will one day be walking around in our society – maybe living next door to you or your loved ones. They carry their many layers of scars from the abduction and abuse, their sense of abandonment, harboring anger, thinking that no one cared enough to help them when they were defenseless and in peril, so who cares how they release that anger now? Every child is different, of course. Some take their pain and channel it into becoming better people. But oftentimes, it takes a caring adult to help the child take that route. Sometimes, the years of festering anger and betrayal gnaws at their soul, turning them from joyous, innocent children into angry, revenge-oriented adults. It is my opinion that that missing child may not be your problem today, but he or she might become your problem later, when it's too late to help them.

There are many reasons why missing children should concern people, but those are the biggest, in my opinion. I watch the news, and I see stories on the news nearly every day about someone finding an abused animal. The story talks about all the media and how people volunteer to step up and help this poor animal. I love animals, and I am grateful for the stories and the response they gather. But I am dismayed that very little attention is given to missing children, unless it's a high-profile case, usually a stranger abduction. Somehow, if a parent abducts a child, it isn't worth noting or caring about. But oftentimes, the damage is just as great, if not greater, when a parent or relative abducts a child. I just wish the media would air stories about these children as they do the missing and abused animals. I know in my own experience, I spent years writing to all the local and national media, asking for help, and never got one reply. And I'm not asking for me. I just needed help to make my children safe. But no one cared, and as a result, my children grow angrier each day, and they are in more peril today than they were the day they were taken. And no one cares about them or even knows that they exist.

How to Help

  • Be aware. Listen to the parents who are left behind and who are fighting so hard for their children. Take time to look at missing child posters when you see them.Offer support to left-behind relatives or to reputable missing child organizations. Write to the media and ask them to address this issue. Take time to review missing child posters in your area. Go to, select your state, and look at the pictures. You never know when you might see that child at Walmart or walking down a street in your neighborhood. You could make a difference in the lives of many just by taking the time to look.

  • Learn about prevention. If I had read the relevant information about prevention before my children went missing, I would not have made the same choices, and I firmly believe that my children would be with their mother to this day. It may not happen to you, but information is invaluable, and it could help someone you know. Understand the various things people can do to prevent a child from going missing. Be prepared just in case it does happen. Have a child ID kit ready in case your child goes missing to be able to readily assist the police and authorities. There are some good resources online to help you prepare. We buy insurance for our cars and houses, and our children are more valuable than things, so why not take some time to investigate the things you can do today to be prepared for the worst, hoping it never happens, but being ready to prevent it and deal with it if it ever does? Just google “prevent child abduction” or something similar, and you will find a lot of reputable information online.

  • Get involved. Join activities geared for missing children. Various communities have sponsored walks to raise awareness of missing children. If there isn't one scheduled for your area, you can organize one. There's an article about one hosted in Hillsborough County, FL at Be creative and do something in your community to create awareness or help those already involved. Visit websites online about missing kids and learn what you can do. Here are a few, but there are many if you just do a search:

Are You a Parent or Relative of a Missing or Abducted Child?

If you are a parent of a missing child, my heart goes out to you. Email me and I will do whatever I can do to help you. Here are some resources specifically for you:


    This is a new online community where parents and relatives of missing children can meet, get support, share ideas, tactics, and information. It also provides each parent a place to post their own story and ask for whatever help they need at the moment. Instead of many individual voices, this website provides a place where our many single voices combine to become one loud voice that cannot be ignored.

  • The US State Department's "Family Resource Guide on International Parental Kidnapping" (pdf format)

  • Harris Family Law document on Parental Kidnapping

    This document outlines some important steps to take to prevent a kidnapping and also, what steps to take once a kidnapping has occurred.

  • The Minnesota Center against Violence and Abuse has published several useful articles here.

  • Polly Klaas Foundation

    Unlike all the government agencies who hand out generic, not-so-useful information and then blow you off without offering any real help, the Polly Klaas foundation is a wonderful, extremely helpful organization.  They take each and every missing child case seriously.  They will do whatever they can to help, and they don't just give out broad, collective, generic advice.  The volunteers will actually CALL the parent of missing children periodically, ask how things are going, if there's any news or changes, and they always ask "What can we do for you right now to get your child home?".  They provide the kind of help a left-behind parent needs, and they are a group of committed, wonderful, caring people.

Missing Children

Tell Me Why - Declan Galbraith

Love is the Strongest Force

I wish...

NCMEC poster

Missing Child poster
Missing Child poster


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    • JoannaBlackburn profile image

      Joanna Blackburn 

      3 years ago from Texas

      Just wanted to let you know your story is still being read and maybe someday you will get your children back. Never give in, fight every day for the right of your children.

    • kidnappedkids profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from OH

      Thanks for sharing, MissJamieD. I'm glad you got out of the bad situation, but I really feel for you for having to leave your children. It's a pain few can fathom. Thanks again for sharing.

    • MissJamieD profile image


      8 years ago from Minnes-O-ta

      This is unbelievable sad, I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine the pain you endure every moment. I had to leave my children with their father because he was abusive to me and If I hadn't left, things would've gotten much worse. He's an amazing father and he's working on being a better father and cleaning up his act. I had to leave my home with no job, no money, no car. I had a family member drop me off in a city 40 minutes away from my children, so that I could re-start my life OUT of the abusive situation, so that I can eventually take care of them better, and my ex and I can share our children. Of course I'm not comparing my situation to yours, but I definitely understand the grief of not having them with you. I raised all three of my kids at home so we had an extra close bond, but my ex would not let me take them and have them living in some dirty, welfare neighborhood. I guess I kind of agreed, but there was nothing the law could do because he was not harming us physically at the time. So, instead of causing my children more trauma, I just left and I've seen them nearly every single weekend since I left a year ago. It's not what I'd dreamed of, as a kid, but sometimes we have to sacrifice the utmost, as mothers, to give our children happiness. Of course your situation is different, you're unable to see them altogether, I don't know how your ex can sleep at night knowing what he's doing to his children. Parents don't realize how much their children need BOTH parents. As long as there is no abuse going on, both parents deserve and NEED to be in their childrens lives. It's how God intended, one mother, one father. I will pray for you and your children. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • profile image

      Bryan Lee McGlothin 

      9 years ago

      I'm the author of Have You Seen My Mother, shown above. This is a very good article! Thanks for publishing it!

      I am now working on a documentary on parental abduction from the child's point of view. If you were abducted by a parent and would like to speak to me about being interviewed for the documentary, please look for me on Facebook...

      The goal of my non-profit Prevent Parental Kidnap is to educate parents on the abuse inflicted upon their children where a parent abducts....


      Bryan Lee McGlothin

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      My Granddaughter was kidnapped at age 4 bye her father. He disappeared and was found. As soon as he was contacted he packed up and moved again. This went on for over 13 years. Law enforcement did nada. Finally she was found as a 14 yr old on the internet. A pickup order was issued to the local sheriff to pick her up. He refused because his wife worked for the father (Bank President of small town) and he swept it under the rug. Two more years of courts, cancellations, lies, and bribery it finally ended. He had beat her, abused her and she was sleeping on a toddler bed in the basement in the middle of 200 acres in a hunting cabin. She ran away! She met her mother and told him she would testify against him in court. He had her put in a mental institution. (after he hit her and knocked her down) But there is a God and a therapist at the Hospital believed her. Took all rights away from him and put her in the custody of MO. One Judge had to step down because he got caught taking a bribe from the Bank President. Public record. Finally our child is home and safe. Never to be hit again or screamed at. She was told she was stupid. She graduated with honors. Did anything happen to the Bank President father? Not one thing. Justice? No such thing

    • profile image

      Darlene Wigston 

      9 years ago

      There is another way we can help with kidnapping in general. UNICEF estimates that 200 000 children are kidnapped and sold into slavery each year. Coffee and chocolate are the 2 worst industries involved in the slave trade. Every time we buy coffee or chocolate that aren't Fair Trade certified we are paying for these kidnappings and slavery. We can help by refusing to buy coffee and chocolate that aren't Fair Trade certified. Is it really worth that cup of coffee if it means another mother has to go through what this lady is going through?

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Markov, since you were interested in child abduction case of Marianne Grin, here is the latest article issued just yesterday.

    • profile image


      9 years ago


      As a follow up, I have now found multiple independent sites that confirm that in both the cases you mention, Elke Mellersh and Marianne Grin, the abducting parents were diagnosed in the country of the abduction (Germany and Italy) with severe mental illness and were deemed delusional and a risk to their children. What I cannot find is whether the authorities in the countries to which the children were relocated took any steps to protect the children once they arrived. From what I can gather it looks like the danger signs were ignored by Turkey and Russia, and they should be considered responsible for letting these terrible tragedies unfold and the resulting loss of lives.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Excllent article and posts about the long-term impact on children from kidnapping, as devastating as it is ignored. In addition to the article Andie mentions about the Grin case and the book Grace says she is writing about the abductions in her family, are the other articles or websites that focus on the mental illness and psychological profiles of the child abductors/abductressses? Seems that there is a high correlation between abduction and the abducting parent's mental infirmity.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      There should be more discussion and training of the court experts as well as judges to better identify situations where there are risks of child abduction. Preventative measures should also include mandated psychological counseling and protected visits.  The Grin case is a primary example.

      Here is one link to the story, as described at the place where the abduction occurred.

      The story describes an abduction by a Harvard-educated lawyer, Marianne Grin, a dual US-Russian citizen who was being divorced in Italy by her husband, a US citizen. After the court found Ms. Grin to suffer from serious psychiatric illness, "paranoid delusions" posing a danger to her children, sole custody of the couple’s four children was given to the father. The court appointed expert and judge, knowing this, did not feel the need to mandate protected visits. The first days Ms. Grin was able to have the children, she abducted them to Russia. The scary thing is that there was a similar case in Germany where the mother, after having been found to be psychology unfit, also with paranoid delusions, abducted her 2 children to Turkey. Ms. Mellersh then sadly committed suicide taking her two poor children with her.

      We need a better system to protect children.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This was a dark and painful hub to read. Glad you could provide lots of relevant information for those struggling as well.

      Thanks for taking the time and finding the will to write about this.


    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I feel deeply sorry upon reading this article as I am also a mother. Prevention is the key to protecting our children. Of course no one can foresee all the possible dangers our children may face one day, but by teaching them some safety precautions we can prevent these kind of incident from happening. The good news is that there is a very simple and effective way for our children to protect themselves if they will be in trouble. My family found this service from “SafeKidZone” very helpful. Not only that I can track my kids anytime, anywhere but this service also has an easy access to the nearest 911. This is the safety solutions for my kids

    • profile image

      Naishaune D. Spencer 

      10 years ago

      I too simpathize with you not only as a fellow human being but also as a good man and even better father whom this has also happened to. I was with a woman for 4 years and it didn't work out so I terminated our relasionship. It was agreed by both parties involved that the children would live with me until she got herself together. They lived in my care for 2 years until October 15, 2005 when out of the blue she shows up at my home to take them for the weekend. I had no problem with that but I hven't seen or heard from my kids since then and its killing me slowly. I am so tired of women who are vindictive in such a way that they will stoop to any level to get back at a person for not wanting to be with them. Its been 5 years and counting and WE ALL KNOW THAT THE AMERICAN COURT SYSTEM DOESN'T CARE ABOUT what do we do?

    • profile image

      Grace Anderson 

      10 years ago

      Thank You for your article. It touched my soul as I am a mother of 3 and have this profound fear of losing them through an abduction. In 1970, my brother and sister were taken from my mom by my biological father. During their 5 years with him, he raped and abused them both. He also forced them to have sexual relations as he watched. When they were returned to us they were very disturbed and dangerous . I am ashamed to say they were never treated when they returned. As there is a lot more disturbing events to this story , I am presently writing a book about how my biological father destroyed and infected their lives and others as well. Your story gives me courage to continue to write and give me the motivation I need. Thank You!

    • RooBee profile image

      Arby Bourne 

      11 years ago from USA

      Your story touched me deeply and I send my most heartfelt sympathies. I do not know how painful this must be for you. Even imagining it is agonizing.

      Thank you for a very well-written article. It is inspirational and I will most definitely be more vigilant in protecting my own child as well as in being aware of children who are missing.

      My heart goes out to you, brave and loving mother. You are doing a great service to the world by writing of this, as hard as it must be.


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