She grew up in Romania, where, she said, children often disappear to be sold to others. Some are adopted by rich parents in another country who have no children of their own. Many wind up as sexual slaves. Still others become the source of spare parts for people with more money than health or scruples. Such people might have used her liver or her kidneys or some other organ to save their own lives. In order to secure health for themselves, they were willing to take the life of a child.
But the story took a turn. When I met her, she was in her twenties, very much alive and well, making her own way in the world for one reason: her father’s love and determination. When she was taken, her dad pursued her to another country, tracked her down and brought her back. Her father’s affection and resolve changed the course of her existence, giving my friend her life back. She lives free and full of choice because of her father’s faithful love.
I have no doubt it’s a true story, although I doubt it’s a story a three-year-old would remember on her own. It was probably part of the family myth, a tale told and retold in family circles and, as in my case, to people outside as well. What an exhilarating account for a woman to relate: the love of a father who risked himself and his safety to find a missing daughter and bring her home.
It’s an exciting legend, to be sure, filled with danger and determination and dedication. It’s a story a child would never tire of telling, whether she was in her second, third or ninth decade of life. That she told me her story is proof of that. A child who is lost, helpless and alone is brought back home so she can have the life she was intended to have instead of the one some outside person or contingent tried to force upon her.
After she shared her story with me, I had two thoughts which jockeyed for preeminence in my thinking. First I thought about how fortunate she was to have such a father. Second, my heart went out to all the children who didn’t make it back home, either because their fathers didn’t care enough to search or because they were unsuccessful in their attempts to rescue their children.
Today my world has been broadened by meeting this young woman. I am thankful for her successful return to her home twenty-some years before. And I am mindful of the many who did not make it back. Both are worthy of our thoughts and deserving of our prayers.