M2M (Ministry to Ministries) engages in ministry leadership, serving basic needs and helping others. M2M shares a tearful plea from Keyla’s caregivers in their pursuit to get her the care she desperately needs.
Keyla was born on August 22, 1999. There was such trauma during her birth that she has been diagnosed and treated for “partial and complex epilepsy, cerebral palsy, static encephalopathy, pseudo-bulbar palsy, and microcephaly —- all these neurologic conditions as a result of insult early in her life.” They are permanent and cause Keyla to have cognitive and developmental impairments as well as convulsive seizures. Her seizures are life threatening. The diagnosis of a pediatric neurologist who has volunteered with us many times and who with my wife, Dr. Nancy Rodriguez Cox, was able to control Keyla’s seizures —- “a stable home environment with adequate medical follow-up, medications, and rehabilitative and educational therapies,” all critical to her future growth and development and her neurologic health.
When Keyla was born no one knew who the father was. He could be a Mexican citizen, or he could be a US citizen. He was one of 5 young men who raped Keyla’s mother, Nereyda, when she was just 12 years old. Keyla’s mother was not involved in caring for Keyla and disappeared a few year later. Keyla’s great grandmother, Antonia, told us that Nereyda was dead. Keyla’s maternal grandfather is Sergio. He has lived for years in the USA and has had no contact with Keyla, except for one telephone call with her in the fall of 2011. Sergio’s wife, Eulalia, died giving birth to Nereyda. That left Antonia, Keyla’s great grandmother, as Keyla’s sole caregiver.
Antonia really loved Keyla. She was by her side almost all the time. I met them on an unpaved road near a former Matamoros garbage dump which had been settled by several hundred families. This was March of 2001. It was obvious that Keyla had many problems. Antonia had stopped me to ask for help. She needed anti-seizure medicine for Keyla. I bought the medicine immediately. From that March of 2001 encounter until June of 2005, Nancy and I bought and delivered anti-seizure medicine to Keyla every 21 days. Since Antonia and Keyla did not have a home, we usually had to search amongst 4 or 5 homes to find them.
During the summer of 2005, I noticed that Antonia was struggling with her health a little bit more than usual. Nancy gave an invitation to Antonia to stay at our refuge, Casa Bugambilia, where she could rest, and we could help her with Keyla.
We all began to grow closer. And Keyla began to develop. She began talking. She began dancing. It was a surprise to see these developments. It just seemed so much better for both Antonia and Keyla. On December 28, 2005, after the baptism of my son, Jesse, Antonia asked Nancy and me to find someone to baptize Keyla (she had tried and been denied by several pastors) and to take Keyla into our family (as we had done for Jesse) should anything ever happen to her, Antonia. Nancy and I discussed this and committed to do both. Antonia was in her early 60’s and appeared fit enough. So I placed my attention on the baptism.
On January 12, 2006, Antonia had an infection serious enough that Nancy felt it better to have her treated at Pumarejo Hospital. Antonia was there for 3 days when she passed away. This was a shock. We considered Keyla part of our family already, but our commitment to care for Keyla was reshaped by Antonia’s death. The first conversation I had with Keyla was to explain to her that Antonia was living in heaven. I told her she was right beside my mother who had also gone to heaven, when I was 7 years old, practically the same age as her age. We had that in common. And they were both doing very well.
I do not believe a day passed when we failed to have (in Spanish) this exchange many times:
Papi, where is Toñia?
She is in heaven.
And your mama?
Right beside Toñia. And they are well.
What is her name?
Tony, almost like Toñia. They love us.
And guess what, Keyla?
We love you, too.
Somehow this reassured Keyla and we went on to the next activity.
We had that stabile family environment for several years until June of 2011. Perhaps Keyla met as many as 1,000 volunteers in that 6 year stretch. She really loved being with the volunteers, singing with them and posing for photos. And it would not surprise me at all if each one of those volunteers had been profoundly changed by being with Keyla. She just lit up the room. Keyla was able to go to special schools, one run by the government, one private and our Las Estrellitas classroom at Casa Bugambilia. And Keyla was baptized and enjoyed sitting on the front row of the churches she attended 2 or 3 times a week.
Nancy and I had to leave Matamoros on May 28, 2011. The violence in Matamoros made it too dangerous to live there any longer. On June 7, 2011, after receiving the counsel of our State Department and an US representative and the knowledge of the Department of Homeland Security, I took Keyla to the bridge and asked for humanitarian parole so that she could be with Nancy and me in Texas, and we could pursue adoption of Keyla in the USA.
This request for parole was immediately denied.
Keyla was detained by the Office of Refugee Resettlement on June 7, 2011. She has been detained on the date of this note for 1,243 days. She has been in an unknown psychiatric facility for 53 days. We have had no contact with her since June 7, 2011.
Based upon comments made directly to Nancy and me or to attorneys representing us, this is what we know about Keyla.
We were told that she slept at the bridge for at least one evening, that she stayed at a group detention center in Los Fresnos, Texas for several days, that she was sent to Chicago to a non-profit called Heartland Alliance, that she was sent to another non-profit called Lutheran Family Services in Pennsylvania and placed with a foster family, and that she was sent to an unknown California psychiatric facility on September 8, 2014.
We were told in the summer of 2011 and the spring of 2013 that she was having seizures, but that she was receiving appropriate medical care. We have been told that she was hospitalized in July to control her seizures.
We were told in November of 2012 that she was with a loving, compassionate foster family and receiving the therapies that she needed.
In those 1,243 days, it appears that Keyla has lived in at least 5 different places, that her seizures have continued and that she now requires hospitalization in a psychiatric facility. That is all that we know.
At present there are federal lawsuits to get Keyla back to us. The attorneys representing the federal government are maintaining that we do not have standing. If they prevail, I am not sure that we will have any legal options left.
Please be certain that Keyla is part of our family. Antonia, Keyla’s great grandmother and primary caregiver, asked to be her family. Her grandfather has granted us this privilege. The State of Texas has made Nancy and me her guardians. We gave her a stabile family environment where she was striving. We will take her back no matter what her present condition is. She is alone and broken in that psychiatric facility. This is the message that I am trying to get to that facility and to someone who will give a compassionate response:
Please consider this as a request to allow us to help Keyla Eulalia Ruiz Guajardo. She may be in your facility. My wife, Dr. Nancy Rodriguez Cox, and Dr. David Franz, a pediatric neurologist with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, were able to control Keyla’s seizures. Both wish to help Keyla.
From the time Keyla was almost 6 years old until she was almost 12 years old, my wife served the role of being like Keyla’s mother. Here is a photo of Keyla with Nancy in our kitchen in Matamoros. I believe it depicts the love between the two of them. And it is this, the love a mother has for her child and the child for her mother, which we believe could be so important for Keyla’s healing, especially at this time of Keyla’s hospitalization in California.
Please allow Nancy to be by Keyla’s side and help the doctors help Keyla. She can provide that sense of security which Keyla needs. She also has an extensive history, medically and otherwise, of Keyla’s condition.
Thank you for your consideration.
Please help Larry and Nancy through prayer and sharing this message with your network of friends.