Maureen Dabbagh

By Saleem Rana

Interview by Allen Cardoza
May 28, 2012

Maureen Dabbagh, a VA Certified Supreme Court Family Mediator who is internationally accredited through The Hague, Netherlands, spoke with Allen Cardoza, the LA talk radio host from Answers for the Family, about her newly released book called “Parental Abduction.” This groundbreaking book on child abduction offers a refreshingly candid exploration of parental kidnapping in America.

As far back as the eighteenth century, parental alienation and child abduction cases influenced American social, political, legal, and religious perspectives. Today, it continues to exacerbate family conflict and parental alienation. Some parental rights advocates believe the situation may be even worse now in family courts that America has become a melting pot of many cultures from around the world.

The statistics on parental alienation and missing kids in the US are alarming. According to a survey conducted in 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice reveals an average of 200,000 parental kidnapping cases reported each year. Parental abduction is much more than just a custody dispute in a family court, and the event usually traumatizes a child, leading to emotional disorders like separation anxiety, overwhelming depression, and chronic anxiety. In fact, it can be classified as a form of child abuse. In some extreme cases, cases involving missing children due to child abduction have even resulted in the abandonment or death of children.

Dabbagh is well-versed professionally with parental abduction cases and has worked on about 1,500 cases within a span of 15 years as a specialist in cross-border child custody disputes.

The author has also had a very personal connection with this emotionally-charged issue of parental alienation: Her ex-husband abducted her daughter to the Middle East and she did not speak to her daughter for 17 years. They were finally reunited in 2010 after her daughter contacted her. By that time, the daughter was a young woman and it was very difficult to reestablish the long-lost relationship. Fortunately, through patience and persistence mother and daughter have finally healed much of the emotional pain associated with their separation.

Asked about the history of parental kidnapping in America, Dabbagh said the first pre-colonial laws in America dealt with parental kidnapping. So early on in its history, the United States immediately had to address the issue because large numbers of children were abducted by parents. Most of the earliest parental abduction cases were associated with religious and immigration movements.

In closing, Cardoza asked Dabbagh how someone who needed her help could contact her. She said that people could contact her through her Facebook or LinkedIn pages or call her office telephone number at 430-658-3050.

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