Searching for Your Child

If you are not sure about where your child was taken, locating your child is the top priority. Frequently, the abducting parent goes to great lengths to keep this location hidden, such as changing the name of the child. You are not alone, however, in this search.  There are resources available to help you find your child.  Some of these resources are listed below. Our office will work with you to access these resources to try to locate your child as quickly as possible.

  • U.S. Embassies
    If you know an address where your child might be located, and your child is an American Citizen, our office can request that the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate in that country conduct a welfare and whereabouts visit to the child.

    To request a welfare and whereabouts visit, fax a request to us at 202-736-9132. The request must contain the following information:
    • 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 aliases) of the abducting parent; and
    • Any information that may assist the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in locating the abductor, such as the names, addresses, telephone numbers of friends, relatives, place of employment, or business connections.
    • The consular officer is required to request permission of the taking parent to conduct the welfare and whereabouts visit. If the consular officer obtains the other parent's permission to visit the child, the officer will conduct the visit and report back to you about your child. In some instances, consular officers are also able to provide you with letters or photos from your child.

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
    The FBI can help you locate your child. Its field offices across the country serve as the primary points of contact for those seeking FBI help 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

  • International Police
    If law enforcement issues a warrant for the taking parent, the International Police Organization (INTERPOL) can conduct a search for your child in the country where you believe your child has been taken. Request that your local police contact INTERPOL.

  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
    NCMEC can help you circulate your child's photograph to the media in the country where you believe your child was taken. NCMEC can also assist you in creating a missing person's poster of your child. A poster may assist foreign authorities in attempting to locate your child.

Further Steps to Take in Your Search

Relatives and Friends of the Other Parent - One of the best ways to find your child in another country is through establishing friendly contact with relatives and friends of the other parent, either in the United States or abroad. You may have more influence with such persons than you suspect, and their interest in your child's welfare may lead them to cooperate with you.

School Records - You can contact the principal of the school your child was attending to obtain information that might help you. The abducting parent may have requested that the school transfer your child's records.

United States Postal Service Mail Cover - By contacting the United States Postal Inspection Services, you may be able to obtain a "mail cover" for United States mailing address that you know the taking parent would write to, like a family member or close friend.  A mail cover is when the Postal Service scans the outside (or "cover") of mail that is sent to an address for up to 120 days. This service may help you discover the new address of the abducting parent.

Credit Card, Telephone, and E-mail Records - It may be possible for your local police to obtain (by subpoena or search warrant) credit card records, telephone records of the taking parent’s friends or relatives, cell phone records, or e-mail records. This information can be vital in pinpointing the location of the taking parent. Check with state and local authorities to see if this investigation can be done for you.

Respond to Abduction: Step 1 | Step 2 | Step 3 | Step 4 | Step 5