Missing Mila, Finding Family
An International Adoption in the Shadow of the Salvadoran Civil War
288 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 8 b&w photos
Sales Date: November 1, 2011
In the spring of 1983, a North American couple who were hoping to adopt a child internationally received word that if they acted quickly, they could become the parents of a boy in an orphanage in Honduras. Layers of red tape dissolved as the American Embassy there smoothed the way for the adoption. Within a few weeks, Margaret Ward and Thomas de Witt were the parents of a toddler they named Nelson—an adorable boy whose prior life seemed as mysterious as the fact that government officials in two countries had inexplicably expedited his adoption.
In Missing Mila, Finding Family, Margaret Ward tells the poignant and compelling story of this international adoption and the astonishing revelations that emerged when Nelson's birth family finally relocated him in 1997. After recounting their early years together, during which she and Tom welcomed the birth of a second son, Derek, and created a family with both boys, Ward vividly recalls the upheaval that occurred when members of Nelson's birth family contacted them and sought a reunion with the boy they knew as Roberto. She describes how their sense of family expanded to include Nelson's Central American relatives, who helped her piece together the lives of her son's birth parents and their clandestine activities as guerrillas in El Salvador's civil war. In particular, Ward develops an internal dialogue with Nelson's deceased mother Mila, an elusive figure whose life and motivations she tries to understand.
- Prologue. Dalila's Hammock: San Salvador, El Salvador, February 2005
- Part One. Our Story
- Chapter One. Adoption: Tegucigalpa, Honduras, May–June 1983
- Chapter Two. Rediscovery: Massachusetts, August–December 1997
- Chapter Three. Reunion: Heredia, Costa Rica, December 1997
- Part Two. Their Stories
- Chapter Four. Putting the Pieces Together, 1952–1992
- Interlude. Mi flor favorita/My Favorite Flower
- Chapter Five. Imagining Mila: New Hampshire, Summer 2007
- Interlude. La Guerra verdadera/The True War
- Chapter Six. The Disappeared Children of El Salvador
- Interlude. Perfect World
- Epilogue. One Story
- Appendix I. Abbreviations and Acronyms
- Appendix II. Family Names
- References and Suggested Reading
The publication of Missing Mila, Finding Family was made possible by the support of the Louann Atkins Temple Women and Culture Endowment.