A Parent's Worst Nightmare: Kidnapped and Taken Abroad

An 8-year-old American boy is stuck in an Italian orphanage.

ByABC News via GMA logo
August 16, 2009, 8:44 AM

Aug. 16, 2009— -- It's been more than four months since Michael McCarty has seen his 8-year-old son, Liam. Today the young boy sits in an Italian orphanage, the product of an international custody dispute gone terribly wrong.

"Every day is a struggle," McCarty told "Good Morning America's" Chris Cuomo. "You wake up. There are good days, there are bad days. You just get through it."

Two years ago, Liam was kidnapped by his Italian-born mother after American courts gave custody of the boy to McCarty. Italian authorities soon deemed her unfit to care for her son. But despite being an American citizen, the Italian courts won't send Liam home.

"He has been traumatized by this experience," McCarty said of his son, who has been in the care of Italian social services since February. "You can only imagine what it might be like for a 5-year-old child to be torn away from everything he knows."

But McCarty is far from alone. New Jersey father David Goldman has spent five years trying to bring his son, Sean, home from Brazil. His ex-wife traveled there and never returned, remarrying before she died last year leaving Sean with his stepfather.

"I'm his only living parent," Goldman told "Good Morning America" in June. "And it's our God-given right to be together."

A report by the U.S. Department of State said last year alone more than 1,000 American children were abducted to a foreign country by a parent. That's a substantial increase from three years ago, when 642 children were taken out of the country.

State Department officials said the rise in binational marriages combined with the unstable U.S. economy may be factors in the increase as laid-off foreign-born workers return to their home country with their children, dividing more families.