Milagros Cruz, a case manager from the Hall County office of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, holds a boy during a flight to Honduras Monday where he and his brothers were reunited with their mother.

Georgia reunites three children with deported mother

A deported Honduran mother who has been separated from her four young children for more than a year was finally reunited with three of her children this week, the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services announced Thursday.

The fourth child, a daughter, was delayed due to emergency treatment for an appendicitis. When she has fully recovered, she will also be flown to Honduras and reunited with her mom, DFCS said.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution report published last month about the difficulties deported parents can face when trying to get their kids back included the story of this Honduran mother. The Honduran consul general’s office in Atlanta said the mother had grown desperate over delays that kept her separated for months from her daughter and three sons.

Tom Rawlings, interim director of DFCS, was appointed this summer and began working immediately on the issue of improving the agency’s handling of cases involving children whose parents have been detained or deported over immigration issues. Rawlings is fluent in Spanish and has worked internationally on child protection issues, including serving in Guatemala for the International Justice Mission.

“We must keep up with the increasingly international nature of Georgia so we are prepared to safeguard children and strengthen families from wherever they come and whatever language they speak,” Rawlings said in a statement released Thursday.

The Honduran mother was living in another state when she was deported, DFCS said. She sent her four children to live with a relative in Georgia, but that relative’s financial condition was so dire that she was not able to keep the children fed, clothed and cared for, DFCS said. The agency took custody of the children and placed them in foster care.

The youngest of the four children was born in Utah and is a U.S. citizen. Sending the kids to Honduras was delayed, in part, by the process of obtaining a passport for the U.S. citizen child, DFCS said. The agency said it maintained contact with the mother and partnered with the Honduran consulate in Atlanta on the case.

Saying airport goodbyes are three boys heading to Honduras to be reunited with their mother along with two case managers from the Hall County office of the Division of Family and Children Services. Pictured, from left to right, are Case Manager Claudia Goodwin; Angelina Williams, of the office of the Honduran consul general to Atlanta; and Case Manager Milagros Cruz. Their reunion is part of an effort by the state agency to work closer with the more than 50 consulates in Georgia. The children’s identity is obscured in the photos because Georgia law prohibits identifying children in foster care.
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Two DFCS case workers accompanied the three boys on their flight to Honduras on Monday.

“Trying to reunite a family over these distances is more complicated than our usual case, so I’m proud of the cooperation we got from the Honduran officials and the work of my staff to get these children back with their mother,” said Latisha Flesher, DFCS Hall County director.

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