Man helps parents recover their children
By Susan DeMar Lafferty firstname.lastname@example.org June 7, 2014 1:02AM
After Anselmo Llobera recovered his children — who twice had been abducted, first to the Dominican Republic and then to New York — it has been his mission, his business to help other “left-behinders.”
“Left-behinders” are the parents who are “left behind” when their spouse flees to another country with their children.
Dave Bernat, of Palos Heights, whose children were taken to Mexico, was one of the “left-behinders” Llobera was able to help recently.
Once Llobera successfully recovered his own kids in 1999, other parents begged for his help and inspired him to launch the International Expertise Center Childabduction.com (IECC) in the Netherlands.
He estimated that “thousands” of children are abducted from the United States by a parent every year, and “thousands” more from Europe.
“We are, as far as we know, one of the very few organizations that can successfully recover internationally abducted children,” Llobera wrote in an email interview. He knows “exactly” how these parents feel, he wrote.
“Our success rate is more than 90 percent. Personally, I never give up because I see every case as if I am again recovering my kids,” he said.
He said he uses a variety of legal, safe and sometimes “strategically unorthodox” methods, but urges clients not to use the Hague Convention on Child Abduction or another convention or treaty because “you will end up spending years in court.
“Hague is a tool for an abducting parent to throw sand in the eyes of the foreign judges,” he said.
With his network of professional attorneys and mediators and “strong contacts” among police, judges and lawyers in various countries, Llobera’s team works within the local criminal justice system and never resorts to force or violence.
“The difference between us and other missing/abducted children organizations is that we physically travel to the abducted-to state to solve the problem from there, with our network,” he said. His team handles 15 to 25 cases each year and continuously monitors and pushes each one forward, he said.
It is more challenging when faced with few financial resources, “hard-headed, uncooperative authorities,” clients who are not completely honest, and “lazy uninvolved people,” he said. The more money his client can afford, the more contacts, resources and options he can use.
He tries to work with local judges and authorities to return the children or uses mediation to work out an agreement between both parents.
If the child is in danger, his team may negotiate with local police or other authorities, or plan and execute a fast rescue-recovery with assistance from local authorities. If the parent and children are illegally living in another county, he may enlist immigration authorities.
He has found no country is more difficult to recover from than another.
“The most important thing to remember is that every country is different, and every case is unique. No plan goes exactly according to the way it is envisioned. Time cannot be a factor. We never take anything for granted, and are very flexible,” he said.
“Achieving the safe and prompt return of any abducted child is a complex task that must never be undertaken lightly. There are many and varied issues that can and will arise at any given time. All parties concerned must have the knowledge and flexibility to adapt and deal with all eventualities,” Llobera said.
He follows up to make sure his families are safe and secure once they are home.
Throughout the recovery process it is difficult to keep parents “calm,” he said. Many clients wonder if the IECC is for real.
“Even after 15 years, it is a pity that we still need to convince people that we are operators and not otherwise,” he said.
“We receive hundreds of emails from people who usually have no budget at all. This is very sad,” Llobera said, wishing that someone would start a foundation to raise money to help these “left-behinders.”