I can't believe I'm posting about my stupid Oscars stuff when this is going on. I know this family very well -- Rainbow and her kids have been an integral part of my ECFE experience for the last 18 months.
Much of what follows has been copied and pasted (simply meaning I didn't write it), but please read on.
A friend of mine from ECFE, Rainbow Espinoza, is in the middle of a terrible crisis -- the details are below. The Dayton's Bluff ECFE network is trying to get the word out in support of her family. As parents, all of us fear something like this happening to our own families. I am sure it is very difficult for her to ask for help in this way. If a monetary donation would be possible, a pay-pal account has been set up: http://sites.google.com/site/mayaandrojocomehome/ It doesn't need to be much - $5 and $10 adds up within a large group.
If giving money is not an option, please consider sending this to others who may help. Rainbow has said it is ok to share the information as it may aid their search. Prayers and positive thoughts go a long way!
It takes a village...
Unfortunately I have some bad news about my step-kids, Maya and Rojo. Those of you who know the story, you can skip to the bottom of this message where I'm making my ask. Background:
My husband, Rafael, has had full legal and physical custody of the kids (Meg interjects: Maya is about 7 and Rojo is about 5) for the past 2 years and they have lived with us for the past 3 1/2 years. The mother, Cindy Adler, appealed the decision twice and was denied both times. Over the past year things with Cindy have deteriorated quite significantly, and it has become quite obvious that the purpose of all Cindy's visitation with the kids has been to interrogate and drill them about what we do in our family. Last fall we filed for supervised visitation during her parenting time. Rafael and I also pulled the kids out of school and my mom and I have been job-sharing the duty of home-schooling this year.
After many trips and countless calls to several different police departments in the area, apparently the mom decided she wasn't going to get anyone around here to believe her story of the children being abused and neglected by Rafael and I. So she began the process of planning to run away with the children.
On February 6th, she picked the kids up after school and hasn't been seen or heard from since. This would have been her last time to see the kids before the court day where the judge would hear our argument to limit her visitation rights. It becomes clearer every day that this was very pre-meditated and calculated, not simply a last-minute plan to run off. There's a friend of hers who, willingly, came to the cops last Thursday (after seeing there was a felony warrant out for her arrest on the news) saying that she drove them to Missouri and dropped them off in a rural, mountainous region north of the Ozarks.
There is a large team of local cops and US Marshals working on the case, going house to house, searching places and questioning people. They are not finding people to be helpful or coopertive, even though they have information. It seems a lot of the people mainly involved are connected through a church group of evangelicals that have done this sort of thing before and are good at it.
Today (this was last Thursday, Feb. 19)
Two important things happened today. The first was the court hearing happened and the judge made a very favorable ruling for us.The other thing that happened is we had a meeting with the cops in charge of this investigation. They gave us a run-down of what they can tell us about what has happened so far and advised us of some next steps. They feel confident about the ability of the Marshals to find them, since this is their job and their only job: to find people. They have the technology and resources to find murderers and lots of other people who need to hide out. They are taking this very seriously and still have leads they are following.
However, the people there in the region have been less than willing to cooperate as of yet. Here comes my ask...
What I'm asking you to do... if it's possible:
First of all, the cops are telling us that since money is the universal language, a reward might be helpful in encouraging people to talk. We, clearly, have pretty much exhausted our funds in legal fees at this time and still may need to hire a Private Investigator down the road. The cops don't think it needs to be much, because money goes a long ways down there and the money is only rewarded in the event that the information leads to finding the children.
We don't want to make a hardship for anyone, but if you can, we would REALLY appreciate any amount of money to help put up a reward. We will keep track of who gives what and in the event that it doesn't get used, we will quickly return it to you.
The second thing we are asking is if you would forward this email to people you think would be able/willing to donate a few dollars for this cause.
The third thing we are asking is that if you, or anyone you know, has contacts in south-central Missouri we would ask you to contact them and send them the flyer with an ask to post it around their community. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is flyering their network (apparently pretty actively) but it always helps to have more than one way to get information into a closed community. Especially important (because of the religous connection) are people who are involved in a church organization in that area. You'll see on the flyer information that she might be disguised in a Burka and using Muslim names for the children, however, the cops believe that this tactic was only used to transport them from here to there and is not currently accurate. Clearly, she would stick out like a sore thumb in this area wearing a Burka.The link to the flyer is here: http://www.missingkids.com/missingkids/servlet/PubCaseSearchServlet?act=viewPoster&caseNum=1116002&orgPrefix=NCMC&searchLang=en_US
Our home address is:
Rainbow and Rafael Espinosa
661 North St.
Saint Paul, MN 55106
Please let me know if there's more information you need about this that might help and we really appreciate anything you can do. Also, if sending any money causes any hardship at all (these are not easy economic times for anyone) please do not do it. This is a horrible ask to make, and I really hope nobody is put-off by it. We will, of course, keep you updated, should anything significant change. Thank you for your support and we hope to bring an end to this very soon.
Rainbow, Rafael and family