Indian-American parents of abducted children joined by other South Asians, and parents from around the country, walked down Embassy Row in Washington, stopping before the Indian Embassy among others, to make a point about bringing their kids home. The “Embassy Walk” was part of a three-day lobbying effort in Washington, D.C. to further pressure lawmakers, the Obama administration, and the Indian government to make moves favoring the American parents.
Ravi Parmar of New Jersey, whose son did not return after his former wife went for a five-week trip ostensibly to attend a wedding in India four years ago, is a case in point. He founded and leads Bring Home Our Kids, which is seeking a long-term mechanism between the U.S. and India to combat what these parents see as a growing crisis.
Along with the umbrella organization, Coalition to Stop International Parental Child Abduction, Parmar’s group came to Washington D.C. April 20-22, pressing not just the U.S. but also foreign governments, including the Government of India to get their children back.
Bindu Philips of Plainsboro, New Jersey, whose child was abducted to India, testified at the hearing along with several other parents, a number of them Indian-Americans, who have suffered a similar plight, such as Ravi Parmar, founder of Bring Our Kids Home, joined the day-long lobbying effort in Washington, D.C. They met the State Department’s Director of the Office of Children’s Rights Issues Henry Hand as well as senior staffers of the Judiciary Committee and the Chief of Staff of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill to make their case. About 25 parents of abducted children representing 5 organizations also held a candlelight vigil before the White House.
“My world and that of my innocent children, was violently disrupted by my ex-husband, Sunil Jacob in December of 2008, when he orchestrated the kidnapping of the children during a vacation to India,” Philips said. “I would note that the children, my ex-husband and I are American citizens and that the children were born in America, which is the only nation they identified with as home.” Philips was accompanied by a Plainsboro law enforcement officer to the Capitol Hill hearing.
Despite the New Jersey Superior Court awarding her sole legal and residential custody of the children in December 2009, she has not been able to see or communicate with her children. “My children have lost six years of their mother’s love and care and I have lost 6 years of my children’s childhood that neither of us can ever get back. I have put everything I have into my mission to be reunited with my children.”
“We want to impress upon our Governments that parental child abduction is not a “child custody” issue, and just because a parent wrongfully removes their children from the United States, it does not make it right,” Parmar said.