Families of HOPE: Susan Morrow
Susan Morrow was reunited with her children 13 years after they were abducted by their father. Read about her experience in our ongoing series from volunteers with Team HOPE, a peer support program for families with missing or sexually exploited children.
On Nov. 2, 1987, my two children, Monica, 6, and David, 1½, were abducted by their father and taken to Mexico. I did not know about the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. There was no Team HOPE to provide support at that time. I did not know where to turn or what to do.
What I fervently did know was that I would find and be with my children no matter the obstacles. Above all, I vowed I would never give up hope.
During the almost 13 years it took for me to locate and reunite with Monica and David, my journey had many twists, turns and often heartbreaking dead-ends.
For a long time, I was unable to look at or touch my children’s toys and clothes that were left behind. I would drive by the school where Monica had attended kindergarten and start to cry. A child in a stroller would remind me of David.
There were numerous calls to and conversations with law enforcement and attorneys in both the United States and Mexico. There were repeated futile attempts to find organizations that would help. There were disreputable private investigators who claimed they would find and bring Monica and David home if I just paid inordinate amounts of money.
I connected with NCMEC in 1992. I finally felt that I found an organization that understood and would undertake the steps needed to find my children.
As the years went by, I knew that I had to take care of myself in order to be a strong parent when I reunited with Monica and David.
I met a man, Earl, who is now my husband. He has been my rock and support through all the ups and downs of searching for and reuniting with my children. My husband and I learned together how difficult it was to explain to other people, including mental health professionals, about Monica and David.
Through the relentless efforts of several at NCMEC and two attorneys in Mexico, Monica and David were found in Toluca, northwest of Mexico City. I will never forget April 4, 1999, when I received the incredible news!
Except it was not a fairy tale reunion. I was a stranger to Monica and David. They had been told I was dead. When they saw I was still alive they asked why had I waited all these years to come for them? Both stated that we would never be friends and, definitely not family.
My journey in searching for my children was not over. It had actually just begun. And, I was determined, more than ever, to remain hopeful and patient that one day I would have a relationship with my children.
Gratefully, a year before I located them, I had connected with Abby Potash, Team HOPE’s program director. Abby provided tremendous support as did one of the group’s volunteers. When Abby asked me to become a volunteer for Team HOPE in 2004, I did not hesitate to say yes. I had found a “family” who truly understood how I felt and the tremendous challenges I faced since reuniting with Monica and David.
And, nine years after we reunited, on February 4, 2008, my birthday, David called me.
“Happy Birthday, Mom, I love you!”
The following year, Mother’s Day 2009, Monica sends me a card.
“Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Love, Your Favorite Daughter!”
Today, Monica calls me Favorite Mom and she is Favorite Daughter. And David calls Earl “Dad” and signs his cards, emails and texts: Love, Son.
For more information about the work we do to help families of long-term missing children visit www.missingkids.com/LongTermMissing.