Life · Mommy Duties · Nicest & Dearest

What to do if your child gets lost

My daughter, Adele

JULY 9.

I cannot forget this date; one unfortunate date indeed. What happened stuck with me like a magnet, a tattoo. I almost lost my #adelemyadele. Yes, it’s my fault, and I [still] felt bad about it.

Here’s what happened.

Around 9 AM last Sunday, while I was folding clothes, I heard my daughters playing outside. When I hear them scream, that means they’re fine. Nothing to worry about, so I do the household chores as usual.

My elder daughter went inside to put back the toys they are playing with. I ask her, “Where’s Adele?” Sasha said, “She’s outside waiting for me.”

She then proceeded to where her sister was. She came back running. It was so sudden that I felt something’s wrong. She blurted out, “Ma, Adele’s gone!”

I jumped out of bed and sprinted outside as soon as I heard what Sasha said. Panic set in faster than I realize. I’m naturally a lunatic—so many awful buts and what ifs on my mind. Fear consumed me, but I cannot let it get the best of me. Not now.

Outside, there was no sign of Adele whatsoever. I asked my neighbor selling viands if she saw my daughter passed by. No. I went to the sari-sari store Adele frequented and asked if someone saw her around. No.

I ran until I reached the second store. An old man sitting in front of the store saw me and asked, “Are you looking for the little girl?” I answered, and he said, “She went there.” while pointing to the direction going to the main street.

I sprinted again with all my might. My elder daughter was following me; I know as I glanced back to check on her.

Looking at the right side from where I stand, I didn’t find her. I looked on the other side, then I saw this tiny figure from afar. That’s #adelemyadele! I run again as fast as I could.

When I was already a few inches from her, I scooped her from the ground. I hugged her so tight fearing I might lose her again. And obviously, my daughter had no idea how far she was from her sister and me.

That temporary separation is insane. And I sincerely pray that no parent will experience that ever. I cried as soon as we got home; my hands still shaking. That was so close. An almost that I will never want to happen again.

I was lucky because I found her quickly. But that was one of the most frightening 10 to 15 minutes of my life that felt like a lifetime (and all because of my negligence).

——————————————————————————————————————————

Well, I may not be in the position to say this, but let’s be a community of concerned parents who may learn a thing or two from one another. Shall we?

If ever you face the same July 9 situation, would you know what to do?

1) Try not to panic

It’s kind of difficult, but you really need to try hard not to panic. Don’t be hysterical. Hyperventilation is possible, and you won’t be able to focus on the task, which is finding your missing child. So, stay sane.

2) Do a quick search

A cursory search is a must. Think of the places where your child may go and check the areas that come to mind. Think of what might catch her attention and go there. If you live near a creek, fountain or any bodies of water, check there first.

3) Call her/his name

Some people say that it’s unwise to call your child’s name out loud because a child predator may take advantage of the situation. On the other hand, experts say that calling your child actually deters the predator from doing anything harmful. If your kid is within earshot, he or she will respond to your call.

4) Get help fast

Ask the people around. Also, once they become aware of your situation, they will offer to help. They can also give out information, so more people will come looking for him or her.

5) Call the police

If not the police, you may report about your missing child on your barangay help desk. Don’t wait for 24 hours before you do this. That’s a ridiculous idea. The sooner, the better.

These are some of the things that you can do if ever you lose your child. However, the above only applies to a small community setting like where we live. It will be a different scenario if your child gets separated from you on the park or shopping mall.

Just the same, though. Be alert. Do something. Or be proactive about it. If you go somewhere crowded, make sure you brief your kid what must be done in case he or she gone missing. Put an ID bracelet on him or her. And, make sure your child knows your real name.

In the US, there are AMBER Alert and Code Adam. The first one is a child abduction alert system while the second one is a missing-child action plan of retailers.

When a child is believed to be abducted, an AMBER Alert must be issued so that all the citizens may spot the abductor quickly based on police information. An AMBER Alert mainly consists of the name and description of the abductee and description of the abductor. A description of the vehicle and its plate number is also included if available.

At the stores, when a Code Adam is called out, the management needs to mobilize its employees to comb bathrooms, fitting rooms and aisles and check and guard exit points. No child leaves the premises without the authorities questioning the adult and the child.

How I wish we have something like these in the Philippines. Losing is a child is a nightmare. But the concept will seem surreal until that nightmare-ish incident actually happens to you. And when you are in that situation, you’ll appreciate each, any and all the help you can get.

So, thank you to my #sashabelle for telling me about the situation as fast as she could. Thank you to the old man sitting in front of that store. I don’t know him, but he is a familiar face. Thank you to my neighbor who told me to look after my daughter better. It was an eye opener. Finally, thank you God for letting me find her.

I am really just so thankful…

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