The Atlantic

Some Immigrant Parents Fear Losing Their Children Forever

Immigrant children separated from their parents can spend months, even years, in American foster homes. There have even been rare cases in which state officials have authorized permanent adoptions without notifying deported parents.
Source: Rebecca Blackwell / Reuters

Samuel arrived in Michigan wearing black sweatpants and a black hoodie with the drawstring pulled so tightly his new foster parents could hardly see his face. The 10-year-old gave off an overpowering stench—he was so afraid of the ICE agents who had separated him from his dad that he refused to use the bathroom during the trip from the Southwest border, and instead defecated in his government-issued clothes.

His new foster parents, Jen and Karl, scrambled to locate his father, Anacleto, in one of the detention centers scattered throughout the country. detention center in Texas, he sounded suspicious of them—were Jen and Karl trying to keep his son forever? They weren’t, Jen told me. They were only caring for him temporarily through a government contractor, called Bethany Christian Services, that houses unaccompanied child migrants and kids separated from their parents at the border. Still, when she put Samuel on the line, Anacleto implored him to repeat, “I’m Samuel, I’m your son.” Anacleto pleaded, “Remember me, remember the mangoes, the avocados, your grandparents,” Jen recalled. (Bethany introduced me to the foster parents on the condition that their last names be withheld.)

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