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That first night, when Papa Sahoo who runs the home called him out to meet his sponsor, he was very wooden and shy, and quickly ran off. But moments later he was back, with a Texas cap that my friend and co-sponsor Craig had sent him. Throughout that first trip Santosh was often at my side, to my surprise. Not in general, but specifically — because they are the individual child they are.

Just like our own children or loved ones. To know that they are somebody to someone. That they matter. Then, after a few years, suddenly Santosh was gone from the orphanage. When he was about 15, his father removed him from the home and sent him to live and work with a guardian a couple of hours south in Konark.

I am guessing at the time, that Santosh figured I was history. He would never see me again. Or just how special he was. I bugged Papa for details of where Santosh was, exactly. Craig, his co-sponsor, went to find him in Konark that first time. On my next trip to India, I also went to Konark and found Santosh. Fortunately his guardian, Pravat, is a good and caring man who took Santosh into his home and family. That was five years ago, and since that time I have visited Santosh just as I do the home in Choudwar where he once lived — and where other orphans still live.

On the trips to India he would smile and laugh with us, join us at dinner and even staying in our hotel with us, holding my hand as we walked the streets of India — Santosh always on the street side to protect me from danger. In the last few years, the beauty of technology made our communication even easier: Santosh was on email, and Facebook, and Skype! But then, early this year in , something happened. Exactly what I am still not sure of, but Santosh had some sort of problem. He was attacked and robbed, I believe, and he lost both money and his mobile phone which was his link to communications and the online world.

Suddenly, I stopped hearing from him. I sent messages to his guardian, Pravat, and his friends Kshetra and Mithun who are also in Facebook. They gave me small pieces of information but still, no direct word from Santosh. I was anxious to get back to India in person this fall, to see Santosh in person and re-establish contact. To find out what was going on. To let him know that Mom still cared what happened to him. After not having spoken to him or heard from him in months. I pulled up to the market where he works in the family store, and Pravat brought him out to meet me.

Santosh was wooden, as he was on the first night I had met him nearly a decade before as a child. All these months I have thought of you every day and hoped you were all right. I wanted to hear from you. I came here to see you, the very first thing. Before I went to the home in Choudwar or saw Papa and the other kids. Coming here to see you, to make sure you are all right, was the first thing I did when I got to India. I am your mom, and I love you always. Suddenly, Santosh started crying. The boy who is now a young man, a sometimes moody adolescent who was often stoic and rarely showed a lot of emotion.

Babies stolen in the '70s and '80s find way home

Tears were now streaming down his face and he wiped them away roughly with the back of his hand. My heart felt such a stab. This boy who had lost his mother before he even knew her; whose father took him to the orphanage by the time he was two years old. To lose another parent figure, what must that feel like? Not for one day, one moment. And that I never would. Finally, a smile. Smiles and hand holding and laughter all day. I went with Pravat and Santosh to their home, where I spent the day with their family and ate lunch with them.

The Sound Of Silence - Disturbed cover by Jadyn Rylee feat. Sina

A few days later, after the rest of our volunteer group arrived in Choudwar to spend our week at the orphanage with the kids, Santosh came up on the bus and we picked him up. There was a lot of smiling and love, even dancing and singing. Santosh was back.


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For anyone who ever wonders why we do this — why we go back, over and over and over — this is why. All you ever need to know to answer that question is in this story. That he is part of our family, and always will be. Not because he was an orphan, or a kid at the home that I sponsored. Not because I feel obligated, or sorry for him, or have to. Our blended family. Posted in India.

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Tags: children , home , India , orphanage , Santosh , volunteer. Nov I just returned from my 8th trip to visit my family in India. Ester Herrera, 33, an internal communications specialist with Chile's government, believes she is one of the "children of silence. For starters, Herrera didn't look like her mother, even though Alicia Herrera, who raised her, always maintained that Ester was her biological daughter, she said.

The truth was in plain sight. Her birth certificate is obviously fake, Herrera said. According to the document, her mother gave birth when she was But fertility treatments were in their infancy in Chile at the time, and too expensive for a middle-class woman like Alicia Herrera.

A decade ago, her mother -- who has since died -- confessed that a midwife brought Ester to her home when she was 2 days old, Herrera recalled. Herrera said she was able to confirm that a doctor falsified her birth record. The clinic where she was born no longer exists and, for now, a DNA test is her only hope of finding out more. The answer could lie with a Catholic priest named Gerardo Joannon, who is being investigated by Chilean authorities as a suspect in some of the illegal adoptions. Marcela Labrana, director of Chile's child welfare agency, Sename, said Joannon apparently took babies from their biological mothers, either by deception or coercion, during the s and s to give them up in adoption to wealthy families.

The mothers were unmarried and very young. Gustavo Villarrubia, a journalist who broke the story of the "children of silence," said priests, doctors, nurses and clinics apparently conspired in a scheme that lasted at least two decades. His findings were published by Chile's Center for Journalistic Investigations. The biological mother would be deceived.

She would be told, in some cases, that the child had died. There were gynecologists, priests, nurses, midwives and hospitals or clinics acting in conspiracy so that this would be possible and nobody would know. The order, CNN has learned, forbade Joannon to speak publicly about the allegations. Attempts to locate Joannon at the order's residence were unsuccessful. An employee said he wasn't available. In an interview with Chile's Center for Journalistic Investigations, Joannon said that being a single, pregnant teenager in the s was looked down on in Chilean society and that some parents wanted the girls to have abortions.

Joannon told the center that he merely put the pregnant girls in touch with doctors who, in turn, connected them with families unable to have babies. He said he did so to save the babies from abortions. In his only on-camera interview, in April with Chile's Channel 13, Joannon denied telling women who refused to give up their children that their babies had died.

Father Alex Vigueras, leader of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts order in Chile, said Joannon not only facilitated illegal adoptions but also held memorial Masses for babies who had been stolen and were actually alive. Joannon denied the allegations in his interview with the Center for Journalistic Investigations. Chile adds thousands to list of dictatorship-era victims. Vigueras ordered the embattled priest to acknowledge publicly his role in the illegal adoptions and ask for forgiveness.

Joannon has not. Vigueras also ordered the priest to retire to Spain for a time of psychological and spiritual guidance.

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Chilean authorities originally ordered him to remain in the country, but that order was recently revoked. But Vigueras said he does not agree with some Chilean critics who have called for Joannon to be thrown in jail. The mothers were unmarried and very young. Gustavo Villarrubia, a journalist who broke the story of the "children of silence," said priests, doctors, nurses and clinics apparently conspired in a scheme that lasted at least two decades.

His findings were published by Chile's Center for Journalistic Investigations. The biological mother would be deceived. She would be told, in some cases, that the child had died. There were gynecologists, priests, nurses, midwives and hospitals or clinics acting in conspiracy so that this would be possible and nobody would know. The order, CNN has learned, forbade Joannon to speak publicly about the allegations. Attempts to locate Joannon at the order's residence were unsuccessful.

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An employee said he wasn't available. In an interview with Chile's Center for Journalistic Investigations, Joannon said that being a single, pregnant teenager in the s was looked down on in Chilean society and that some parents wanted the girls to have abortions.

Joannon told the center that he merely put the pregnant girls in touch with doctors who, in turn, connected them with families unable to have babies. He said he did so to save the babies from abortions. In his only on-camera interview, in April with Chile's Channel 13, Joannon denied telling women who refused to give up their children that their babies had died. Father Alex Vigueras, leader of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts order in Chile, said Joannon not only facilitated illegal adoptions but also held memorial Masses for babies who had been stolen and were actually alive.

Joannon denied the allegations in his interview with the Center for Journalistic Investigations. Chile adds thousands to list of dictatorship-era victims. Vigueras ordered the embattled priest to acknowledge publicly his role in the illegal adoptions and ask for forgiveness. Joannon has not. Vigueras also ordered the priest to retire to Spain for a time of psychological and spiritual guidance.

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Chilean authorities originally ordered him to remain in the country, but that order was recently revoked. But Vigueras said he does not agree with some Chilean critics who have called for Joannon to be thrown in jail. Authorities said Joannon has been implicated in 15 cases, but the priest told the Center for Journalistic Investigations that he was only involved in four. Joannon's attorney, Eduardo Novoa, said the crimes his client is accused of were not even on the books until Those crimes include misrepresentation of pregnancy and adoption through deception.

Joannon isn't the lone suspect. Chilean authorities are also investigating several hospitals and clinics where illegal adoptions or theft of babies might have taken place. Labrana, the director of the child welfare agency, alleged that at least three "irregular" adoptions took place there. Karen Lara, 39, said her baby was stolen at Barros Luco 24 years ago. At the time, she said, she was 15 years old, but already married. He was a fully normal baby, and he was warm when they put him on my chest.

I know he didn't die. But hours after she gave birth, a nurse told her the infant had died.