Separated by the Border: A Birth Mother, a Foster Mother, and a Migrant Child's 3000-Mile Journey
In February of 2018, my family began fostering Julia, a 5-year-old from Honduras. Separated by the Border is the story of Julia and her mother Guadalupe—their trip up to the U.S., their separation, and their reunification eight months later.
From Honduras to Mexico to the United States and then back again to Honduras, Separated by the Border parallels the lives of two mothers: one Honduran and one American, and the journey that brought them deeply into each other’s lives. Immigration, foster care, machismo, and faith permeate this story about Guadalupe and her daughter Julia—not actual names—who were separated in their attempt to cross the Mexico-U.S. border in late fall of 2017. In early 2018, Julia was taken into custody by the State of North Carolina where she began living with her foster family (including her foster mother who is the author of the book). In July 2018, Gena Thomas and her husband traveled back to Honduras with Julia to reunite her with her mother and brothers. Much of the book is written in first person from Gena's perspective, along with third-person narratives from interviews with Guadalupe.
Podcasts & Radio Shows
NPR Morning Edition — interview with Rachel Martin (November 12, 2019)
WUTC Scenic Roots — interview with Ray Bassett on Chattanooga's NPR station
The Happy Hour — Podcast interview with Jamie Ivey
OtherWISE podcast — Podcast interview with Casey Tygrett
This Good Word — Podcast interview with Steve Wiens
Seminary Dropout — Podcast interview with Shane Blackshear
Can I Say This At Church — Podcast interview with Seth Price
Open Door Sisterhood — Podcast interview with Alex Kuykendall & Krista Gilbert
Puddcast — Podcast interview with Jonathan Puddle
Roots & Branches — Podcast interview with Bud Winderweedle
Her Story — Podcast interview with Andrea Miller
Spark My Muse — Podcast interview with Lisa Colón Delay
Fierce & Lovely — Podcast interview with Beth Bruno
Making Room on the Pew — Podcast interview with Bailey Jo Welch
National Immigration Forum — Podcast interview with Ali Noorani
WFAE Charlotte (NPR) -- Te Quiero, Te Quiero. The Story of A Mother and Daughter Reunited
Articles & Print Interviews
Psychology Today — Interview with Dr. Jamie Aten
Publishers Weekly -- New Parenting Books Foster Faith & Resilience.
Evangelicals for Social Action -- Family Separation and the Mother Love of God
Fathom Magazine -- I want to know: has God forsaken us?
The Salt Collective -- White Evangelicals We Cannot Ignore Children Separated at the Border
Lifesomethings -- Interview with Dan Salerno
Christianity Today Women -- My Foster Daughter Was Separated from Her Family at the Border
Gena writes with such love and humility. She shows what family separation looks like: the border, the push and pull factors. She does such a beautiful job with such a hard story.
— Lisa Van Engen, author of And Social Justice for All
Endorsements for Separated by the Border
When women honor the stories of those whose stories may not otherwise be told, it unravels a song that is sung for centuries. Gena Thomas not only gives us facts about immigration and separation, but she honors story. Separated by the Border is critical because it is the story of a child who goes home and it is the story of two mothers who are forever changed by a miracle. This is a story to be sung for many years to come. Blessed be the mothers.
Separated by the Border is an essential book as our country has been failing at opportunities for compassion, morality, and wisdom on our southern border. Thomas illuminates the complexities and the human suffering. The stories she shares makes the issues deeply personal. Our hearts are broken—but we're also inspired by the incredible love in these pages that isn't restricted by borders. Like me, you'll likely be moved to tears, to hope, and to committing to help.
Gena’s book is beautiful and godly. It’s full of pain and inspiration. And sometimes, it’s even hard to read (but for the right reasons). As a latino, I am grateful this book exists. As an American citizen, I am grateful this book exists. As a follower of Jesus, I’m truly grateful this book exists! Por favor: read it, share it, and most of all, dare to be like Gena and her family… and live it.
CARLOS A. RODRIGUEZ
When headlines and public policy debates filter down to the story of one mother, one child, and one US citizen willing to walk through the process, our focus changes from the macro to the micro. A story of grief, pain, politics, faith, endurance, laughter, separation, and reunification, this steps us out of the policy debate and into the individual experience. I wholeheartedly recommend Gena Thomas as a voice that has walked through real, sacrificial relationships using her Christian faith as a guide for each step of the process. If we want to understand how the policies and politics of the immigration debate impact real people, this is the place to start. This is a humanizing story that takes us beyond the talking points.
The US has a mortifying history of separating families, dating back to the transatlantic slave trade. History reveals how racism and unjust laws have particularly decimated families of color—from Native American boarding schools, to mass incarceration, and our present immigration crisis—producing death, suffering, and trauma. While Thomas's book explains how this horrific narrative continues, it does so in a deeply redemptive way. Thomas tells a riveting story of personal transformation, detailing how God is using her family to bear witness to our Savior's love, mercy, and grace, in a time of fear. Separated by the Border will move you to tears, inspire you to learn, and empower you to act on behalf of the least of these.
DOMINIQUE DUBOIS GILLIARD
Gena Thomas guides us across various borders, helping us encounter and learn from a mother and daughter living the horrors and complexities of our immigration crisis. These insider accounts will move you emotionally and spiritually as you read this real-life story of two different families separated by borders but at the same time united by them. This beautifully written book gives voice to the many voiceless, nameless immigrants longing for a better life and risking everything for it. It's an important narrative that takes us beyond our news clips and political reads; these are lives forever changed by the dreams and horrors surrounding immigration in this country.
NATALIA KOHN RIVERA
Today's faith-based communities are being called to help God's children. Gena Thomas's story of how she answered this call is both powerful and inspirational. At the same time, she sheds light and brings awareness to the realities of how children continue to suffer around the globe and how we can all help even the least of these, God's children in need. Separated by the Border is a book that will empower and inspire the reader.