LETTER: Pain of separation never ebbs

At age 5, I went on a Greyhound bus from Chicago to a cabin near Lake Superior with my grandmother.

The further we traveled, the deeper the homesickness emerged.

A terrible anxiety overwhelmed me to to the core.

My parents were coming on the weekend.

Hiding between trees, I kept checking the driveway.

Three days later, they came up to it.

Mother hugged me.

The growing anxiety disappeared.


Yet, I still remember its pain — a whole lifetime later.

I earned degrees in psychology and child development.

Classic studies of babies in institutions, understaffed, with minimally engaged adults show serious distress and deterioration over time.

Stress hormones can spike and persist, inhibiting intellectual development and functioning.

Apathy, listlessness and failure to thrive can result.

Mental health problems spout.

What was the recent U.S. immigration policy causing?

The separation of parents and children, depriving innocent children of the attachment figure needed to thrive.

After working many years with very young children I learned they don’t always know their parents’ names.

They are simply “mommy” and “daddy.”

Had both non-verbal and verbal children been given identity trackers, as hospitals do?

Recent news indicates not.

Re-unification plans were not in place.


The crisis has halted, but how are all those affected parents and children, including babies, ever going to find each other?

Deepest thanks go to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray for her outspoken leadership in helping respond to incognizant separation of loved children from their parents.

Susan Lynch-Ritchie,

Port Angeles

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