Thursday, July 17, 2008

Welfare and Whereabouts report

Dear Chloe,

Yesterday, your Papa sent me a copy of the Welfare and Whereabouts report from the State Department. We were so very glad to find out that you're safe and healthy! It was so strange to read the report because it was almost like being with you there.

I have to tell you, though, made me very sad to know that your mother is working so hard to make your Papa disappear. There was no mention in the report of any of the pictures of you and Papa playing together. (I'm not even sure if they gave you those pictures, baby.) There was no indication that Papa was even mentioned during the visit. And it broke my heart to know that you don't speak English any more.

I miss you so much, little Chloe. Papa cries a lot, I know, but he doesn't want anyone to know it. Maybe soon your mother will change her mind and remember that it's important for little girls to know, and grow up with, a father who loves them as much as yours loves you. Maybe soon, she'll understand that your life is as important as her own?

I love you Chloe,


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Well, a week ago today I went with Jeff to court again. I sometimes just don't understand how the court system works. Although the judge we saw last week didn't officially find Naoko in contempt, she did issue a warrant for Naoko's arrest (should she come back to Washington). I can only assume that means that Naoko has a right to appear before the court and explain why she refused to bring Chloe back for visitation. There is no excuse. On the other hand, Naoko's attorney officially filed paperwork to resign from the case.

Yesterday was Jeff's birthday. If I could've wished anything in the world for him, I would've wished he could have spent the day with his little girl.

Chloe's Grandma

Monday, May 26, 2008

Saturday was Chloe's third birthday. Happy Birthday, Baby!! We miss you so much. I hope your mommy let you have the birthday card we sent. I so wish we could've been with you. I wish we could be with you right now.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Japan to sign parental-abduction treaty


"Japan will sign a treaty obliging the government to return to the rightful parent children of broken international marriages who are wrongfully taken and kept in Japan, sources said Friday.

The Justice Ministry will begin work to review current laws with an eye on meeting requirements under the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the sources said. The government plans to conclude the treaty as early as in 2010.

The decision was reached amid criticism against Japan over unauthorized transfer and retention cases involving children. The governments of Canada and the United States have raised the issue with Japan and cited a number of incidents involving their nationals, blasting such acts as tantamount to abductions.

In one case, a Japanese woman who divorced her Canadian husband took their children to Japan for what she said would be a short visit to let the kids see an ailing grandparent. But the woman and her children never returned to Canada.

Once parents return to their home countries with their children, their former spouses are often unable to find their children. In Japan, court rulings and custody orders issued in foreign countries are not recognized.
Under the convention, signatory parties are obliged to set up a "central authority" within their government. The authority works two ways.
It can demand other governments return children unlawfully transferred and retained. But it is also obliged to find the location within its own country of a child unlawfully taken and retained, take measures to prevent the child from being moved out of the country, and support legal procedures to return the child to the rightful parent.

Sources said the Japanese government will likely set up a central authority within the Justice Ministry, which oversees immigration and family registry records. The ministry has decided to work on a new law that will detail the procedures for the children's return.

In 2006, there were about 44,700 marriages between Japanese and foreign nationals in Japan, about 1.5 times the number in 1996. Divorces involving such couples more than doubled from about 8,000 in 1996 to 17,000 in 2006.(IHT/Asahi: May 10,2008) "


2010 seems a very long time to wait. Especially as a lot of these children having been missing for so many years already. However, if this is true, it's wonderful news! It won't bring them home instantly, but at least the left-behind families will have some semblance of a support system within the government.

Chloe's Grandma

Friday, May 9, 2008

Name: Chloe Lynnette Lusian
a.k.a Kyuroi Takamoto
Birthdate: 24 May 2005
Abducted: 15 April 2008

On July 17th, 2006, Jeff took some time on his lunch break to stop at home. Naoko and Chloe were gone. For days he didn't even know if his child was alive and safe. The following week, he was served with paperwork for a restraining order. Though the police had never been contacted and no charges were ever filed, Naoko had claimed that Jeff was abusive to her, and that he did not provide for them.

Following three court appearances and a few short months of weekend visitations, Jeff’s rights as a father were suddenly restricted. After the first few court dates, he could no longer afford an attorney. He was told he could only see Chloe in supervised visits for which he was required to pay. While he tried to set up the visitation on his end, Naoko and her State provided attorney were dragging their feet on their end.

Finally, in July of 2007, Naoko's attorney offered a settlement conference. Despite Jeff’s misgivings about the settlement - most disturbing of which was Naoko’s insistence that she had to return to Japan - Jeff was coerced into signing the settlement. The attorney told him that if the case went to court he might not get to see Chloe at all and that Naoko would be allowed to take the her to Japan anyway. Because they'd been able to keep him from Chloe for so long already, he honestly believed they could deny him his rights for even longer if he didn't sign. The only things he managed to salvage from the settlement was that he would be allowed unsupervised weekend visitation for the 7 months before Naoko could take her away, that Chloe was to have 3 two week visitations per year with her father, and that Naoko was to provide a mental evaluation to Jeff before leaving the country with Chloe. He never did receive the evaluation.

In February of 2008, on the Friday of what was to be his last weekend to spend with Chloe, Jeff received an anonymous call stating that Naoko and Chloe had already left for Japan. He wasn't even allowed to say goodbye to his little girl or tell her how much he loved her. Coincidentally, after a brief - and less than complete - email explanation regarding the anonymous call, Naoko's attorney completely cut off all communication.

Following the court’s final orders to the letter, Jeff began emailing Naoko and her attorney suggested itineraries for Chloe's first visit in April. He never received confirmation. When he finally scheduled the flight and paid for the tickets, he sent copies to Naoko and her attorney via registered mail but, though the copies were signed for, he did not receive a response.

On April 10th he waited for Chloe to arrive at Seatac Airport. 4 hours later he found an airline official who confirmed that Naoko and Chloe had never boarded the plane in Japan and had not re-booked. Jeff’s daughter had been abducted to Japan, as he had told the courts she would be, and he never even had the chance to kiss her goodbye.

Chloe's Grandma

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Kyodo News, Sept.17, by Alison Brady

"Experts identify several factors in Japan that have created a haven for parents who kidnap. First, Japan is not party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a civil legal mechanism to deter parents from abducting their children to other countries.

More than 75 countries worldwide have affected the treaty, thereby agreeing to return any child abducted from his or her country of habitual residence to a party country in violation of the left-behind parent's custodial rights, according to the U.S. Department of State website.

Another factor is that parental kidnapping is not considered a crime under Japanese law and Japan refuses to extradite parents who have kidnapped their own children and face arrest in other countries.

Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare statistics show that since 1976, the time of the Hague treaty's inception, the rate of marriage between Japanese nationals and foreign spouses has increased more than 800 percent.

As a result of the increasing number of international marriages, more than 21,000 children are born each year in Japan to couples of mixed Japanese and non-Japanese descent. Add to that the number of children born to Japanese who live abroad and are married to a non-Japanese.

What becomes of these bi-national children when the parents separate or divorce?"

Ms Brady states the problem much more clearly than I ever could. And on top of the problems already inherent in dealing with a foreign government, there are also those in dealing with our own.

Just this week, Jeff asked if I would help him find out how to get copies of the police report he filed when Naoko did not bring Chloe back. Thus far, I've spent aproximately 4 hours being shuffled from one court department to another, and even between courts. I used to think how much easier this would be if Jeff could afford an attorney. And then I found story after story of left-behind parents who not only had an American attorney, but one in Japan as well. Sometimes it just feel so hopeless.

Chloe's Grandma

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The problems in Jeff and Naoko's marriage are their own business. Everyone has a different opinion on why it didn't work out. The bottom line is that it didn't. But just because people stop being a couple, they don't stop being parents. And neither the State of Washington nor the Nation of Japan has the right to steal Jeff's rights as a father or Chloe's right to two parents.

Jeff and I have written to several state officials. Last week I finally got a response from Washington State Representative Rick Larsen. Thank you Representative Larsen for being kind enough and compassionate enough to answer personally. Your letter meant a lot to us. But despite your words to the contrary, I honestly believe there are things you could do to help children like Chloe and parents like Jeff. I'm just a mother and grandmother, so I have no clue about the workings of government. But there has to be something.

My younger son says the government won't help with this issue as they don't want to rock the boat with Japan. I hope that's not true.

Chloe's Grandma

Thursday, April 24, 2008

To begin with...

I've never bothered with blogging before. Don't get me wrong....I love to write, and I've been posting on bulletin boards and the internet for longer than I care to mention. But blogging just seemed (to me) to be for people who actually had a message to get across.

Well, now I have a message. Now I know that, as heartbreaking as divorce and custody issues can be for all involved, it's even more tragic when a child is taken entirely out of the reach of one or the other parent. I've learned, firsthand, how frustrating it can be when even the government can't seem to help. And I'm learning just how many children are victims of parental abduction every year. Maybe if more people know about these issues, something can be done to guarantee all children a right to both parents.

So, this is a beginning. In the scheme of things, our Chloe has only been gone a short time. But as little as I know about this issue thus far, I know enough to understand that the longer we wait to take action, the harder it becomes to get our kids back. And when you're only almost three years old, even a week away from the people you love can feel like forever.

Chloe's Grandma