Christopher Savoie isn’t the only one

My novel, Losing Kei, features a foreign woman who, after losing custody/access to her bicultural son, decides to kidnap him. In real life, American Christopher Savoie is in a Japanese jail for kidnapping his children – the children he was granted custody of by an American court, the children his wife brought back to Japan without his consent and wouldn’t allow him to see.

This case has attracted media attention abroad, but not so much here in Japan, where it is not uncommon for custodial parents to deny their exes access to their children. Japanese courts do not grant joint custody, perhaps because they believe shuttling a child from house to house is disruptive. In spite of international pressure, Japan has not signed the  Hague Convention on International Child Abduction which seeks to standardize laws among participating countries to insure that custody decisions protect the rights of access of both parents. According to an article in today’s Japan Times, “The government has argued that signing the convention may not protect Japanese women and their husbands from abusive foreign husbands.”  To me, this sounds like a lot of bunk. Although abuse is no doubt the cause of some divorces, it’s not the only reason partners break up.  And I’m sure it’ s not the only reason that some custodial parents refuse their exes to see their children.  How about instituting something called a “restraining order” and allowing the rest of the mothers and fathers to see their children?

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2 thoughts on “Christopher Savoie isn’t the only one

  1. I’m sorry you lost your son. I lived in Japan for two years while serving in the military in the early 90s. I was shocked that Japan didn’t have visitation rights for non-custodial parents. That said, I’ve also been the kid in a custody battle, and I was kidnapped twice by my abusive father. The first time,”Dad” found out my mother was planning to divorce him (after years of verbal and phsical abuse). He kidnapped me, told me she was dead, and ran off for two months. Eventually, my mother found out where he was and convinced him to come back. She stayed with him for 3 more years out of fear that he would do it again. Of course, she couldn’t take it anymore, filed for divorce, and beggged the courts not to allow him unsupervised visitation. The courts allowed it, and “Dad” kidnapped us again. Luckily, he was caught and thrown in jail for six months for violating a court order. My mother got sole custody, but I still had to endure visitations with this man for the rest of my childhood. Believe me, it wasn’t in my best interests. I know what left behind parents can go through, and it was hell on my mother. She never knew if or when he might attempt abduction again. OTOH, I lived in Japan for two years, worked on a maternity ward in a military hospital, and I saw a lot of American men/Japanese wife marriages. I was appalled at the way a lot of these men treated their Japanese wives. I’ve seen military men brag that they wanted a Japanese wife because they bought into some stupid submissive Asian wife stereotype. I can well understand why some Japanese women take their kids and flee back to Japan. Honestly, I do think the majority of them may well be victims of abuse. I’ve read Christopher Savoie’s testimony in the court records. He comes across as arrogant and possibly abusive. He accused his ex-wife of violating the parenting plan while doing so himself. He threatened to have her father jailed in Japan for the sale of a car (the same father-in-law who co-signed his student loans). Sorry, but his testimony sent up some red flags to me. I just don’t feel sorry for this guy. He whines that he got a divorce in the states because it was the only way to guarantee visitation rights with his kid. I don’t buy that. I think his relationship with his second wife, Amy, was more of a factor than visitation with his kids. After all, Amy wasn’t free to leave the states due to her own divorce and custody issues. I sincerely doubt that he would’ve attempted to bring Noriko and the kids to the states for a divorce if it wasn’t so he could be with Amy. Again, I think Japan should enforce non-custodial parent’s visitation rights, but I think Savoie is more to blame for the mess he is in than he lets on. I read somewhere that Savoie was lamenting about how terrible it is for a child to lose his or her father. I found that interesting because Savoie’s father died when he was about 6 years old (he was raised by grandma I think). However, Savoie’s mother died a few days after his birth. Since Savoie never knew his mother, it’s understandable how the loss of the father he remembered would have impacted his life. However, I think he misses the fact that his children spent their entire lives with their mother while Savoie floated in and out of their lives due to his work or the seperation from their mother. I think he’s delusional if he thinks his absence in their lives is worse than the absence of their mother. His charging over to Japan to “reclaim” his children and taking them away from their mother would’ve been more traumatic for them than he would ever realize. I know this from personal experience. Hiring four thugs to kidnap two screaming kids (by all accounts yelling help) while holding down the mother (throwing her down by some accounts) is going to stay with those kids the rest of their lives. While my father didn’t hire four thugs, he did something similar (with the help of his brother). Honestly, I feel bad that you don’t have your son, and I hope you can get some kind of visitation. However, nothing is going to convince me that Savoie’s kids are better of being raised by Amy (and that’s who would be primarily raising them-make no mistake)than in Japan with their mother. Unfortunatley for Savoie, his actions in both the states and Japan isn’t going to convince their mother to let him see them any time soon. I don’t blame her.

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