Parental Child Kidnapping


“He took my daughter and won’t give her back. I’m afraid I’ll never see her again. I think they’re out of the country.” Words like these will be sobbed many thousands of times each year when marriages break up. I heard them from my bride of two weeks in 1974. She was weeping uncontrollably.

Mostly good sense, court decrees and residual goodwill dictate the handling of the children, who, of course, are loved by both moms and dads.


Sometimes divorce custody outcomes are not amicable and one parent or the other decides to punish by taking the children; no matter what. The aim to hurt the ex-spouse is clear. Child abduction is seldom about the parenting ability of the victims, but that is the most frequent excuse.

It happened to my wife Daisy and me. She had two daughters, one by her first husband and the second by her Lebanese/American, second husband, David Younes. Their divorce decree gave her custody of their daughter. He turned out to be an impossible marriage partner for her, and an even worse ex-husband. When she told him that she was going to marry again he went into an emotional orbit. He was a bully. He threatened and harassed her after their divorce.

Then, taking vengeance after we got married, he took his four-year-old daughter to Lebanon and left her to be placed in a boarding school since his life and his work were in the United States at that time. He told his family in Lebanon that Daisy did not want the toddler.

David wanted Daisy back and declared that the only way she’d ever see her daughter again was to divorce me and go back to him as his wife. He planned to have Daisy live in Lebanon.

David kidnapped the child twice. Our daughter, my step-daughter, was taken a second time and hidden in Bahrain. At that time we had never heard of the country and didn’t even know that it is a island nation off Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. It is not a part of the United Arabic Emirates.

Daisy and I were lucky. We were able to locate him there quickly through keen detective work and good luck. Our tale moves through Miami, Beirut, Bahrain, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi and back to Beirut. We journeyed to Bahrain and stole her back, but our troubles had just begun. We wound up in the Sharia court in Manama, Bahrain and lost custody when he changed his religion from Catholic to Islam. For the record, the Islamic people we encountered while in the Middle East were kind to us. Since then David has done the same thing to other women and their children.I believe his behavior is a cultural phenomenon.



With the miracle of the internet you can Google “Divorce” and/or “Child Custody” in the country of your choice as easily as you can research your intended marriage partner. It is more than worth the effort. In 1974 there were no parental kidnapping laws in the United States or a Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Interna- tional Child Abduction. We were on our own.

The story of getting our daughter back from Lebanon is related in the first part of the book we wrote. Stealing Ali, a novel, is based on our true story. If you want the story of our adventures and troubles in the Middle East, read the book. It is available at Amazon, on Kindle, or right here at

Email or tweet me with your experiences.


Copyright © Bill Serle 2011