Authorities search for family of abandoned toddler
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 07:52:11 PM CST
It's not often that you find something before you begin searching. But that's how the past few days have gone for authorities who recovered a 2-year-old boy Saturday -- abandoned in the New Mexico desert -- and must now locate the child's family.
Sunland Park, N.M., police said a woman claiming to be the boy's grandmother was at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry on Monday but wasn't able to provide any documentation proving her relation to the boy known as Adrian.
ABC-7's Mexican news partner said the woman is not a blood relative. So Adrian's birth certificate and photo she brought weren't enough for authorities to give her custody.
"We're not gonna just release him to anybody," said Sunland Park Police Chief Jaime Reyes.
U.S. Border Patrol apprehended about 25,000 unaccompanied minors around the country in fiscal 2012. Nearly 14,000 of those were Mexican citizens. But authorities working the case of little Adrian -- who speaks only Spanish -- are still not clear on his citizenship status.
"So we're trying to make sure that when we do release this child, it's somebody that is blood-related and somebody that is gonna take care of him," Reyes said.
But the woman told Channel 44 in Juarez that Adrian has lived with her for about eight months. She said she's the mother of the man who's living with Adrian's mother -- in Colorado. She said she recently handed Adrian to a smuggler -- the man who told Border Patrol he was Adrian's uncle Saturday before fleeing back to Mexico. The goal was to get Adrian to his mom, she said.
"Obtain the information -- the contact information of the mother or father -- so we can actually start the process," said Consul General of Mexico in El Paso Jacob Prado.
Prado said Adrian's mother needs to come down to the Borderland to pick up the boy herself, or authorize a blood relative.
"The idea is to make sure that these kids are re-unified with their family members," Prado said.
Border Patrol this past weekend turned Adrian over to Sunland Park police -- a more natural middleman to the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department. Reyes said Adrian's picture has brought a lot of attention to the department's Facebook page.
"They've all said, 'We'll adopt him, we'll adopt him,'" Reyes said. "You all will have to stand behind our sergeant, because he's the first one that is gonna be in line to adopt him if he can."
Multiple Mexican and American agencies will need to coordinate to get Adrian back to his family. Prado said there's no telling how long it could take.
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