- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2002

Gorgeous weather, caviar and champagne, top-notch guests and even an old-fashioned barrelhouse piano player from Greenville, Miss., weren't enough to turn Parents and Abducted Children Together's benefit into a joyous occasion at the British Embassy Tuesday night.
Not that anyone would have expected that at an event highlighting a cause so dear to British Ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer's wife, Catherine, whose own two sons were abducted and taken to Germany in 1994.
After fruitless attempts in various European courts to be reunited with the children her former husband had taken from her, Lady Meyer decided to use her tragic experience to raise awareness of parental child abduction as an international issue requiring urgent attention. In 1999, she founded PACT to battle criminal transportation and victimization across borders, help retrieve missing children and fund research projects to better understand and treat the long-term psychological damage to the victims.
"We are the 'left behind parents,'" she told guests, nervously transferring her microphone from one hand to the other as a hush descended on the flower-filled ballroom after dinner. "Thousands of children are abducted across international borders, and we face an inescapable web of legalities trying to get them back. It's a nightmare for parents but worse for the children in the end."
Lady. Meyer said she has seen Alexander, now 17, and Constantine, 15, "a total of 24 hours in the past eight years," the last time from the other side of a German courtroom two years ago. With no one not even heavyweight advocates such as first lady Laura Bush, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Henry Kissinger able to influence German authorities to remedy the situation, she must rely on personal friends for help.
They have come through handsomely.
"Your strong, deep, generous support has helped her to move on in the face of an international scandal," her husband told the 130-strong crowd who helped raise about $50,000 that night, including Catherine B. Reynolds (who added a $100,000 matching grant); Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Mel Martinez; Sens. John Warner and Gordon Smith; Reps. Steve Chabot and Robert Matsui; President Bush's sister, Doro Bush Koch; Houston socialite Lynn Wyatt, with her son Steve Wyatt and daughter-in-law Cate Magennis; Selwa S. (Lucky) Roosevelt; Kuwaiti Ambassador Sheikh Abdullah Al-Sabah; Colombian Ambassador Alberto Moreno; Arturo and Hilda Brillembourg; Brittain Cudlip and John Damgard; Lolo Sarnoff; Mel and SuEllen Estrin; Mandell and Mary Ourisman; Lloyd Hand; Ina Ginsburg; Marlene Malek; and John and JoAnn Mason.
Many of Lady Meyer's friends support her cause both here and in the United Kingdom, where a second fund-raising ball is being planned for October. Willee Lewis said she already had booked an entire table for that event, in addition to her $500 ticket for Tuesday's dinner.
Friends provided moral support as well. Like many others, Mrs. Lewis emphasized that Lady. Meyer faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her efforts to retrieve her children from the bureaucratic entanglements of the German justice system.
"Her ex-husband is a well-respected doctor from an old family in a small town, and that's why it's so tough to get people in Germany to help her," Mrs. Lewis noted, sounding hopeful that Lady. Meyer's sons soon will be old enough to decide for themselves if they want to see her. "They'll change their minds," she predicted, "when they find out she's written a book ("These Are My Children"), appeared on TV and is married to a prominent ambassador."
A number of guests came because they suffer the burden of having abducted children of their own.
Joseph Cooke and his wife, Rosemarie, traveled from New York City to help draw attention to the plight of Mr. Cooke's two daughters, who were abducted by his former wife 10 years ago and also taken to Germany. The couple have been unable to get them back, even though the children must live in a foster home because their birth mother is mentally disabled and unable to provide care. Both were born in the United States, and the Cookes have legal custody, but nothing seems to matter.
"The bureaucracy wears you out mentally and exhausts all of your funds. They think you are going to go away," Mrs. Cooke said, on the verge of tears, her eyes flashing, "but we are never going to go away."

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