Reuinted After Four Years
by Polly Klaas Foundation
In 1999, a mother asked for our help. She had arrived home to find the house emptied. Even her purse and car keys were missing, and her children had been taken by their non-custodial father.
For the next four years we worked with the mother and with law enforcement to get the children's pictures all over the country. We sent out more than 30,000 flyers, placed their photos on our website and featured the children in our We Still Care campaign for children missing a long time.
And we followed up often with their mother, who found it so hard to talk about her children that she preferred email to telephone calls. In May 2003 she wrote:
"It was rough seeing my children's pictures among so many other families of abducted children that have been missing longer than my babies. It broke by heart to think of the road ahead of me. Again, thank you for replacing some of the emptiness inside my soul with the hope of being reunited soon."
Finally last fall she sent a joyful message:
"I just received the news everyone has been waiting for since it seems like forever! The children have been found and their father is in custody."
But the story never ends with just finding a child.
The mother's next emails brought less enthusiastic news, as the trauma of family abduction was coming to light. She was not able to bring the children home immediately. They had new identities and the youngest didn't even recognize her birth name.
The children had received no medical treatment for four years. They had not seen a dentist. They needed glasses.
They had been told their mother didn't want them anymore.
Long road to recovery
The children are home with their mother now, but recovery can be a long, heart-breaking process.
As we do for all our families, we will continue to help as long as they need us, making referrals for counseling, helping them line up support for counseling and for legal challenges to their custodial orders, and just checking in to see how things are going.
"The children need us"
Very often we at the Polly Klaas Foundation never know exactly what elements combine to bring a child home. In this case, we were gratified to learn that the woman who led authorities to the missing children recognized one of them from a television show, found her picture on our website, and called in the tip.
She, too, emailed us:
"I just wanted to write and thank you for this website. You are making a difference for the lost children of the world. I want to continue to help get your message out. The children need us to take the extra step and to be their voice."
We have other cases going back to the time before Amber Alerts, before a description of a missing child and abductor could be flashed to highway signs, computers, radio and television stations-children abducted before a speedy response was possible.
But sometimes, hope, love and diligence pay off. A single person recognizes a picture. And children missing three years, or four or five years... come home.
The Polly Klaas Foundation has compassionate and professional case workers who can help you prevent family abduction and recover a child who has been abducted by a family member. If you have any reason to believe you and your child are in danger of family abduction, contact us immediately at 1-800-587-4357.