Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Woman to Woman: Parental Abduction
It happens to more than a thousand children a year. They're taken away by their own parents against court orders. In tonight's Woman To Woman, we're talking to a mother who's desperately searching for her long lost children, and hoping you can help find them.
Mayra Elsafi reads a poem: "As the winds gentle gale, you always comfort me without fail..."
This is all Mayra has to remember her children by.
She says, "On May 9, 2003, that was the last time I saw my kids. I dropped them off at school, and I haven't seen them since."
Police say Tariq, now 13, and Sarah, now 10 were abducted by their own father after school.
Det. Mary Jo LaMont, Miami-Dade Police Missing Persons Unit, says, "It's definitely a crime. It's a serious crime here in Florida."
Mayra says, "I have to do everything in my power to get my children back."
Beatriz says, "As a mother, I can't even imagine what it would be like having my son taken away from me. I asked Mayra where she finds this incredible strength, she says it's all about this: everyday, all of her energy is focused on finding a way of getting Tariq and Sarah back home."
"This is my children's room," says Mayra, taking Beatriz on a tour, "and this is where Sarah slept, and Tariq slept up there."
But Mayra also spends her days and nights on the computer, and on the road looking for clues.
Miami-Dade police say because they believe her ex is overseas, in a country that doesn't recognize international custody laws.
Detective LaMont says, "Our hope is that at some point perhaps they would travel outside the Sudan, and they would be checked entering another country or re-entering the United States."
If you face a similar crisis, police say prevention is key.
Have current pictures of your children handy... Write down their vital statistics, like hair and eye color and know their social security number.
Plus, keep their passports in safekeeping.
"You need certified copies of your custody decree," says Detective LaMont. "The police can't really act unless we know where you stand in the custody of your children."
Also, make sure you have your spouse's or ex's current information.
"Know his social security number, his passport number where he works," says Detective LaMont.
It will be a year since Mayra last saw her children... But she's not giving up the fight to bring them back home.
Mayra says, "I have that eternal hope to recover them and have them back here as part of my life."
Police say 70 percent of parental abductions are actually committed by women.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Elsafi Children Website
National Center For Missing And Exploited Children
Miami-Dade Police Department