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  • Cedar Koons, LCSW

Were you ever a lost child? Did you ever lose your child?


One of my earliest memories is of losing my mother in a grocery store. I am not sure how old I was, maybe three or four at the most. I remember Mommy was ahead of me in the aisle wearing a grey raincoat and then suddenly she was gone. She had probably just gone into another aisle. When I couldn't see her I began to cry. I ran to the end of the aisle and up the next one in absolute terror. She was no where to be found. I remember someone coming up to me and pulling me by the arm which further added to my panic. Finally, and it was probably less than a few minutes, my mother was found. While seeing her beautiful face brought relief it took awhile for my painful shuddering sobs to subside. I still remember the feeling now, over sixty years later.

How is it possible to be silent when separation trauma is being inflicted on children intentionally, paid for by our taxes and in our name? To separate children from parents to "send a message" to others not to come here is a violation of human rights. It is not unlike what kidnappers do, saying in the ransom note, "I have the power to steal your child to get what I want." Because of this policy nearly two thousand children who've arrived at our border with their parents after fleeing their homes are now in private facilities separated from family. No matter how clean and well-lit these child warehouses are, they are no substitute for the arms of their parents.

As a mother and grandmother I also feel anguish for the mothers and fathers who are imprisoned for the crime of seeking refuge and who do not know the whereabouts of their young children. What fear, anger, desperation and hopelessness they must be feeling! To intentionally and willfully cause such hurt to individuals whose only crime is to seek asylum is brutal. I am afraid for our country that we are doing this. We are sowing seeds of hatred and vengeance that will bear fruit in just a few short years. These families will never be the same. Many of these children will hate the country and people who did this to them.

When I sit to practice mindfulness I must struggle not to hear the children crying. It is not war causing this. These children are not separated because of natural disasters or death. I'd rather not have to write about this. I'd rather just write about inner joy and peace which are real and important but must wait. But my heart says that I must speak up publicly about something so wrong that is now being defended by political lies and shoddy justifications. There is no justification to do this to families whether they come here legally or illegally.

I hope you will join me in a mindful conversation of conscience about this "zero tolerance policy."


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