Back from El Salvador, overwhelmed, excited and exhausted.

Update: This was originally posted April 5th, on Kickstarter but since not everyone gets those updates I’m reposting it here.

John Films/Directs an interview

Wow, what an amazing week. When John and I first started this project we had no idea what to expect. In fact, after completing kickstarter in the Fall, we debated a lot about the best way to start this project. Then about a month and a half ago I received an email from Pro-Busqueda telling me about the Day of The Disappeared in March. John and I weren’t sure what to expect but we knew we had to be there.

This week has been beyond anything either of us could have imagined. For 7 days, we met other disappeared youth and their families. We talked with government officials including the president of El Salvador and the first lady. We interviewed survivors from the war who told us personal stories of suffering and loss. It was an emotional roller coaster.

Amazingly, despite all the terrible things that have happened to this country and its people, there is still so much beauty. The strength and courage of the people who live here is unbelievable. While many remain skeptical about the possibility of long term change, their view of what happened is remarkable.

I was floored when a survivor of one of the bloodiest massacres in all of Central America said to me: “Maybe I have suffered more than others, maybe others have suffered more than me, but what’s important is finding the missing children.” This is coming from someone who as an 11 year old child witnessed his entire village wiped out and then was tortured by military forces. He is not bitter or angry. All he wants is for the disappeared to be found.

John and I know that the footage we got was special. These stories are truly amazing and deserve to be heard. Our initial reaction was to post the videos online, as soon as we got home, so you could see for yourself. However I’m not sure if this does the stories justice.

One thing I have learned from John is that the way you introduce people is important. We want to make sure everyone understands the significance of what was said and it is presented in the best way possible. This of course means sitting on the footage while we sort through it, clean it up and edit it.

Balancing the editorial process with the excitement we both have for getting these stories out there is hard. From the start, we wanted this project to be as open and transparent as possible. All of our footage would be online right now if we thought it was the best way to approach the subject matter. As we work on the next steps we will be looking for creative ways to share our experiences and footage with you. I’m not sure what form that will take but we will let you know as soon as we can.

A Couple of Updates

Our Network Grows

A couple months ago I wrote about how myself and other Salvadoran adoptees are working to build a support network for Salvadoran adoptees looking for their families. As I said in the post, people adopted from El Salvador during the war face a lot more emotional challenges than other adoptees. I know for myself it took several years to really reconcile everything that happened. Our hope is that we be a resource and a support system for each other.

Saturday night we will be having a dinner to welcome some new adoptees to our group. I’m really excited about meeting everyone and continuing to develop the group. I think this is an important step for the group and everybody attending.

We are planning more events in the future, including a conference type event that will focus on some of the human rights violations that took place in El Salvador at that time.

New Facebook Page

I’m a big fan of Facebook. I was the third person at my school to sign up (thanks to Caroline.) It’s a great platform for connecting and interacting with people. I set up a fan page for this site because it’s a great way to connect with everyone interested in this story and the upcoming book. If you are on facebook, we would love to hear from you.


Telling the Story

I’ve been asked to give a talk at Wentworth about story and hows its influenced my life. The talk will be tentatively be at 12pm on October 14th. I realize most people won’t be able to attend, but I am planning to stream the event live. More details about the talk and how you can watch coming soon.

Building a Support Network

In the past few years I have met some more people who, like me, were separated from their families during the Salvadoran civil war. It’s great meeting them as we have a lot in common.

One aspect of our adoption that makes it unusual from other types is the fact that we come from a war torn country. Besides dealing with the identity issues that come from being adopted, there are a whole separate set of issues that come up in this situation. I won’t go into those right now, but they can be very difficult as we try to reconcile what happened to us and how it fits into our lives. Lets just say if we are lucky enough to find our families, sometimes that is only the beginning of the journey.

Since these issues can be very complex and hard to deal with we have been working on building a support network for Salvadoran adoptees. We are hoping to form a bigger group of people who have been reunited and those still looking. The idea is that we will be able to help each other through what can be a difficult process.

Not every child that was adopted during the 80’s was separated due to the war, but it’s impossible to tell when someone is starting out. We want to reach out to those looking for family or who have found family in El Salvador. If you know anyone that was adopted from El Salvador during the 80’s that is looking for family maybe you can help by pointing them to this site.

We are planning an event in the near future to bring us all together. More on that soon. If you are interested in hearing more about the network or the upcoming book, you should subscribe to the blog here or follow me on twitter here.

Reestablishing Family Ties: Our Press Conference in The Boston Globe

Here is the article that appeared in today’s Boston Globe:

Reestablishing family ties – The Boston Globe: “Tears welled in Imelda Auron’s eyes before she began speaking.

The 31-year-old West Roxbury resident was one of thousands of Salvadoran children separated from their families during the 1980s, while the country was engulfed in civil war.

She had never spoken publicly about her situation or her reunion with her birth family.

But yesterday, sitting next to two other Massachusetts residents who have had similar experiences, Auron finally felt comfortable enough to discuss the joy, heartache, and anxiety that marked her quest to find her family.”

The article appeared in the City/Region section and had a couple of pictures that you can’t see as part of the online version. One of those pictures features half of my ear. 🙂

I only just met Imelda the other day, but I give her a lot of credit. I know it wasn’t easy for her to talk about what happened to her family. She did great. I hope talking about it will help her hear and deal with some of the feelings surrounding the death of her parents.

My sister and I have gotten a lot of comments on our video that we made, but what people may not realize is that it took many years of healing to be able to talk about everything so openly.

People may also not realize how lucky we are to live in a county that protects our freedom of speech. We may not always agree with our leaders and we may speak negatively about them but we don’t have to worry about the government storming into our homes and killing our loved ones.

I’m really happy we were able to get some press and I am very exited to work with everyone on building this network and getting our story out there.

E-Book and Press Conference

Over the past few weeks I have been working on putting together an e-book of our story. I am taking some of the posts from the blog and organizing then in chronological order to make it easier to follow. I hope to be done with this project very soon and I will be posting it here for people to download. Be sure to check back!

On a slightly different note, I took part in a press conference today. This press conference was set up to announce the formation of the Pro-Busqueda Network that I blogged about earlier. We had a lot of help from Physicians for Human Rights to organize the conference.

Myself and two other people who had been separated from their families gave statements. We shared a little about our stories and what we are hoping to get out of the network.

Check tomorrow’s Boston Globe for coverage!