Families of HOPE: Griselda Gonzalez
Griselda Gonzalez has been searching for her children for six years. 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. Griselda has reached out to almost a thousand Spanish speaking families and provides them with emotional support and empowerment.
I am the mother of Tammy and Diego Flores who were abducted by their father on Oct. 23, 2007 during an extremely difficult divorce process triggered by domestic violence issues.
Tammy and Diego are the most precious gifts that I have had in my life. I live for them and my main motivation in life is visualizing their recovery and our reunification.
This has been a very painful ordeal. The frustration and helplessness is extremely challenging. Trying to find help is a challenge and many times unsuccessful due to the common misconceptions of family abduction.
Many people believe that if a child is with their parent they are not in danger and are being loved and nurtured. In reality, when a child is abducted by a parent his or her best interest is being ignored. The child is usually being used as a weapon to hurt the other parent.
Nothing could have been more painful for me than being separated from my children. There are no words to explain the magnitude of damage caused, to me as a mother; and the fact that my children were wrongfully snatched from their loving mother without any consideration for them is unimaginable.
In 2009, I shared with my amazing NCMEC case manager my interest in volunteering for Team HOPE since there was not much support for Spanish speakers. Cheryl in turn recommended me as a volunteer.
When you are going through the horrifying situation of having a missing child, not speaking the native language complicates everything. I couldn’t even process thoughts in my own language, Spanish. My mind was temporarily weakened due to the trauma of not knowing where my children were and if they were safe so it was impossible to verbalize my thoughts in a second language, English.
Parents who don’t speak English as their primary language are faced with many obstacles at the courts and with law enforcement and other assisting agencies. These challenges can increase their desolation and despair. That is why I am very proud to support Spanish-speaking parents through Team HOPE and provide them with relief and the opportunity to express their sorrow in their own language.
When my children were first abducted I did not speak, write or understand English because I came to the U.S. from Mexico when I married their father, a U.S. citizen. I knew then that I had to learn English quickly so I could be a strong advocate for my children and bring them home. I wanted to be a better person for them so I learned English and now I am a college student studying psychology. My goal is to be the best support I can be to Spanish-speaking families and the best parent I can be to my beautiful children when they are safely returned home.
I love what I do. I realized that while supporting other parents I was also gaining power, hope and purpose in my life. Helping others has helped me heal and transformed my life. I feel strong to face the challenges in life and I’m preparing myself for the miraculous recovery of my children.
If your life has been touched by the heartbreak of having a missing or exploited child and you feel you need support contact Team HOPE at 1-866-305-HOPE.
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