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abduction, in which the grandmother had written repeatedly, for every day that the children were away, “no car, no (daughter), no grand-children”. In cases where the child(ren) has not been returned, the interviewed parent has spoken of the additional burden of having to watch aged parents coming to terms with the permanent loss of their grandchildren, knowing that they will probably die without ever seeing them again, which the interviewed parent has identified as “the biggest pain of all” to bear.

Most of the interviewed parents believe that other family members have been affected. Non-abducted siblings have been affected in terms of the loss of family life they have suffered, the change in their relationship with the searching parent who, in the view of the non-abducted child, “is obsessed with” the abducted child, and the tensions in familial relationships when the abducted child has been returned and where the searching parent, who has given all his/her attention to the non-abducted sibling, now has to attend to the needs of the newly found and returned child. 38

New partners have been affected as the relationship is coloured by the abduction and the weariness of the continual litigation spawned by the abduction itself. Some relationships have been unable to survive the stress. In one case, where the new relationship resulted in the birth of a child, the abduction, in the view of the interviewed parent, resulted in the breakdown of the new relationship and thus the loss to the new partner of his new family.

Friendships, too, have been affected because, as one parent explained, “no-one wants to be in the middle of this fighting”. One friend of the interviewed parent, who no longer has contact with the abducted child, in spite of undertakings which provide for him to do so, spoke of his shock at finding out how the system works and how vindictive people can be.


See further Greif and Bowers, Legacy, supra.


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