On Unaccompanied Children



I lay on the kitchen floor a couple evenings ago, with Cosmo our new rescue puppy standing on my chest. I had come home after work to teach him to poop outside (an enactment he and I had also done at lunchtime), and somehow, before leaving for a dinner gathering, got detained on my back. Two paws on my clavicles, two paws on my sternum, having my face licked, I found myself having quite a bit to say to Cosmo.  I spoke to him aloud—not a few doggie phrases uttered in a pet-lover voice, but a veritable soliloquy as if he were a comprehending human. (Is this what Empty Nesters do, I wondered, having recently become one.) “You were abandoned behind a church in Georgia, and somehow you wound up here,” I told Cosmo, looking into his eyes as he nipped my nose. “You could have died, or been a wandering skinny, hungry, flea-ridden stray. But instead, here you are in a cozy house a thousand miles from there, safe, fed, having gotten all your shots. Living with people who adore you. How did that happen Cosmo?” He wagged his tail, but I got teary.  I was moved by his stroke of fate, and ours.

I had no idea how prescient my conversation with Cosmo would turn out to be.  (Is the preposition “to” when only one party is talking?  My conversation to Cosmo?)

One hour later, I found myself at a dinner surrounded by an intimate collection of inspired adults, whose careers are devoted to helping unaccompanied children. Children whose lives differ from Cosmo’s in at least two crucial ways.  One) they are human beings, not dogs. And two) they have no adults to care for them.  

Our borders are loaded with children separated from their parents. Children who may or may not speak English. Children who need legal representation yet have no ability to broker a lawyer on their own. Children who are detained by the thousands upon thousands (a recent statistic shows upwards of 59,000 unaccompanied children apprehended at our country’s Southwest border alone). The plight of these kids is heart-breaking, considering how many are escaping situations of violence, persecution, and even trafficking in their home countries—only to find themselves separated from parents, siblings, family, and living in detention centers in the U.S..

But the work of the people I was blessed to eat dinner with moved me deeply. Socially-conscious media people, using journalism and film to bring attention to the plight of these kids. Representatives from Unicef, RefugePoint, and the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights—an organization devoted to championing the best interests of children who arrive from all over the world in the United States on their own. The Young Center employs lawyers and social workers to advocate for these kids, and trains volunteers to visit them at detention centers regularly in order to build the trust necessary to support the children in telling their stories.   

Every child deserves the love and care of a trustworthy adult.

The increasing number of children who do not have this is an epidemic in our country.   

I wish I had the bandwidth to adopt not just a rescue puppy, but children who need a home, who need and deserve the love and care of trusted adults. (It could be argued I do in fact have that bandwidth, just chose not to use it.) In the meantime, I am issuing a shout out to support the inspired organizations that support these unaccompanied children.


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