Who Can Help Locate Your Child
If you are not sure where your child was taken, locating your child is the top priority. Often, the taking parent goes to great lengths to keep this location hidden, and may even change the name of your child. In addition to the assistance that your local law enforcement authorities provide, the following resources are available to help you find your child.
Office of Children's Issues
Once you contact the Office of Children’s Issues in the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs to report a child’s abduction or wrongful retention, the Office of Children’s Issues can access consular databases and other systems that may provide additional resources in locating children outside the United States. The Office of Children’s Issues can also connect with both domestic and foreign partners to locate missing children and can serve as a liaison with INTERPOL and other law enforcement authorities noted below.
State and Local Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officials may be able to assist you on the local level with locating missing children. Please contact your local city, county, or state agency for further information regarding your options and their abilities in such cases.
U.S. Embassies and Consulates
If you know the country where your child may be located, a consular officer from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in that country can work with government officials in that country to try to locate your child. The following information will aid in efforts to confirm or rule out your child’s location outside of the United States:
- Your child's or children's full name (and any aliases, other names by which they may also be known);
- Your child's date and place of birth;
- The full name (and any possible aliases) of the taking parent;
- The names, addresses, telephone numbers of friends, relatives, place of employment, the taking parent’s legal representative or business connections;
- Your child’s last known location.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Field offices across the country serve as the primary points of contact for those requesting FBI assistance in locating missing children. To request FBI assistance or learn more about their services, please contact the Crimes Against Children Coordinator at your local FBI Office.
On the web:
FBI's Crimes Against Children
The International Police Organization (INTERPOL) can assist in the location of your child by producing a Yellow Notice that will notify INTERPOL when your child passes through an international border that is connected to the INTERPOL system. Additionally, INTERPOL Red Notices can be issued on the taking parent based on state or federal warrants. Ask your local police to contact INTERPOL for more information.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
NCMEC offers parents a wide array of resources and assistance depending on where you live and what your situation is. Please contact 1-800-The-Lost for more details.
What You Can Do
Contact the Authorities
Locate Your Child
State Departments Role
Steps You Can Take on Your Own
Learn about the Hague Abduction Convention & Local Laws
State Department's Role
Steps You Can Take On Your Own
What is the Hague Abduction Convention?
Explore Your Legal Options
Prepare for Reuniting with Your Child
Do not Attempt
We strongly discourage trying to take your child and bring him or her back home because this could:
- Endanger your child and others;
- Have a negative effect on any future legal action you might wish to take in that country;
- Result in your arrest and imprisonment in a foreign country where you are subject to local laws.
If you do succeed in leaving the foreign country with your child, you and anyone who assisted you may be the target of arrest warrants and extradition requests in the United States or any other country where you are found.