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Kids Survive Ordeal in Nigeria

Texas youngsters were allegedly abandoned by their adoptive mother.

August 18, 2004|From Reuters

HOUSTON — Seven Texas children were recovering Tuesday after surviving for 10 months in a Nigerian shack after their adoptive mother abandoned them, child welfare authorities said Tuesday.

The mother had taken the children, ages 8 to 16, from Houston to Ibadan, Nigeria, last year and told them they were going to a boarding school, said Estella Olguin, a spokeswoman for Texas Child Protective Services.

The woman then left them with a friend's brother and returned to Houston. They briefly attended a boarding school but were told to leave when their tuition payments ended. They then lived in an insect-infested shack until July, when Nigerian authorities placed them in a shelter.

This month, the Rev. Warren Beemer, a youth pastor at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, was delivering donated supplies to the shelter in Nigeria when he heard the children speak with American accents.

The children told Beemer they were from Houston, said the Rev. John Hagee, senior pastor of Cornerstone Church.

"The 16-year-old girl gave her Social Security number, she gave school names, she gave the name of the agency that they were adopted from," Hagee said. "Then they all stood together and sang the national anthem."

Hagee contacted Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Tom DeLay, the House majority leader. The Republican lawmakers raised the matter with the State Department, which arranged for the children to be returned to the child protective agency.

The children are now living with foster families in Houston. State officials were still deciding whether criminal charges would be filed against the adoptive mother, who was not identified.

"From the time we heard the story to the time we got them home took seven days," Hagee said. "This time, the good old USA came through."

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