Just in time for Christmas, a Wisconsin girl has been reunited with her father, ending a four-year-long international parental kidnapping ordeal.  The young girl traveled with her grandmother from Japan to O’Hare airport, where she was met by her father, his lawyer, law enforcement officials, staff of the Japanese Consulate in Chicago, a psychologist, representatives of the U.S. State Department and advocates for other American left-behind parents whose children remain in Japan. 

The girl’s mother, who fled with her to Japan in 2008 shortly after her husband filed for divorce, had been in a Milwaukee jail since April on contempt and custodial interference charges.  She was released after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor and returning the girl to her lawful custodial parent.  The child’s mother will have the opportunity to seek visitation or a modification of custody through the family court, though it may be some time before she is permitted unsupervised visits with her daughter.  The girl’s father has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in his efforts to bring his daughter home. 

According to the Sentinel, “[this] is believed to be the first time one of more than 300 children kidnapped to Japan has been returned to the U.S. via legal intervention.”  Japan appears to be moving toward ratifying the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, but the treaty would not apply retroactively to kids abducted prior to its entry into force. 

READ MORE: Fox Point man reunited with abducted daughter, Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel – JSOnline (December 23, 2011).