Redefining Normal: The Headline Regarding Savanna Todd

Savanna Catherine Todd

There’s something strange about this headline found in NBC news: Woman found living ‘normal life’ in Australia 19 years after abduction as an infant in SC.

When an infant is taken from her home in the U.S. by her non-custodial mom and raised in another country, away from her custodial parent and her country, I don’t know that I’d call her life normal. The definition of normal is

a)conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.
serving to establish a standard.

b)approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional from any mental disorder; sane.

Then today I saw the story of a man reunited with his mother for the first time over thirty years.

Thirty years! Can you imagine?

David Amaya no longer speaks his mother’s language. Raised in Mexico after his father took him, he was told that his mother hadn’t loved him and had left him in an orphanage. It’s troubling that when an abductor is a family member there is an assumption that the results are less devastating to the child.

It is not normal to have a forced separation from family, no matter who the culprit is.

It is not normal to be lied to by a parent about the family’s history.

It’s not normal to have missed all of the birthdays and other holidays because one parent thought more of themselves than the well-being of their child.

Parental child abductions are on the rise. The impact of it is crushing to left-behind parents, family members, and friends. It’s anything but normal.

If you’re interested in hearing first-hand accounts of the what it’s like to be a recovered child, take a look at’s site.

The Tiffany Rubin Story/ New Solutions to International Parental Child Abduction

Q. What happens when your child leaves for a visit with their other parent and ends up on the other side of the globe?

A. Nothing good.

Just ask Tiffany Rubin, a school-teacher from Queens, New York whose son Kobe was abducted by his non-custodial father and taken to Seoul, Korea in 2007.

Tiffany Rubin and her son, Kobe

I watched Tiffany’s story with great interest on Lifetime television this evening. My own daughters were also snatched and taken to a foreign country in 1994, and in some ways, our stories mirrored one another.

Our kids were taken to a country whose language they didn’t speak and immediately surrendered to relatives who didn’t know of the child’s existence.

The teachers in the school where the child(ren)were taken to begged for them to be returned to their home land due to the maltreatment they experienced by their abductors.

But in the thirteen years between our children’s abductions, much has changed. Though the incidents of international parental child abduction have increased with the ease of global travel, the recovery from abduction is also enhanced by this age of technology.

Tiffany Rubin smartly posted information about her son’s disappearance using social media, and sure enough, a resident in South Korea eventually reached out to her with her son’s current whereabouts. She also connected with a non-profit organization that didn’t yet exist when my daughters were taken, The American Association for Lost Children.

(I, on the other hand, went into obscene amounts of debt, traveled overseas twice by myself, and was arrested when attempting to leave the country with my girls. Can I just admit that Tiffany’s story gave me child-abduction envy?)

Fueled by the love of her son and supported by the help of many around her, this mother flew to South Korea and reunited with her son at his school within a year of his disappearance.

Tiffany Rubin’s story is available on instant view at Amazon. It’s positively inspirational.

Do you know someone who worries their child will be kidnapped by the other parent?

Refer them to the the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-The Lost for prevention tips.

The problem of parental international child abduction is growing, but the solutions to the problem are more accessible than ever.
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When Vacation Beckons/ Three of my Favorite Travel Blogs

What signs do you see in yourself when you need a vacation?

I don’t know how much is the increasing darkness or the legitimate need to unplug and focus on rest and relaxation, but I’ve definitely seen the signs in myself.

Sign #1) Small frustrations are out of scale.

Today I got a text from a friend. “You’re tail light in the car is burned out.”  It’s a small, cheap fix, but I thought I might cry.

>Sign #2) None of my day-to-day life holds my interests. Not my job. My volunteer work. Not Household chores. Not even my fun weekly rituals with friends.

Sign #3) I go to favorite travel blogs over and over. Right now, here’s what I’m looking at:

Legal Nomads

Budget Globetrotting


I leave on New Years Day for a long jag of solo travel.  France and Italy are on the agenda, a time for lots of fun and photography. There will be time to visit some old friends. The challenge? Enjoying it while on a budget.

Do you have any must-see recommendations for Italy and France?

What places populate your bucket-list?

I love hearing from you.