Immigration, Foster Care and Tenacious Motherly Love: A Conversation With Gena Thomas & Leslie Verner


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In Gena Thomas’ new book Separated by the Border: A Birth Mother, a Foster Mother, and a Migrant Child’s 3,000-Mile Journey, she tells the harrowing story of Julia, the 5-year-old girl who traveled from Honduras to the United States with her mother. After making their way through Mexico in the cargo section of a tractor trailer, Julia is separated from her mother, who is held hostage by smugglers who exploited her physically and financially. At the United States border, Julia comes through the processing center as an unaccompanied minor after being separated from her stepdad, who is deported.

A Spanish-speaking former missionary, Gena becomes Julia’s foster mother and witnesses firsthand the ways migrant children experience trauma. In this book she shows the human face of the immigrant and refugee, the challenges of the immigration and foster care systems, and the tenacious power of motherly love.

SheLovely Leslie Verner chats with Gena about her book, misconceptions Evangelical Christians might have about immigration, challenges about writing someone else’s story, and why many churches are hesitant to enter the conversation about immigration.


About Gena:

Gena is a writer, a faith wrestler, a wife, and a mom. She and her husband, Andrew, have been married for 10 years and they have two children, an 8-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl. Gena works as an instructional designer at a nonprofit that equips local churches in the area of holistic development. She has written for several Christian publications, and published her first book, A Smoldering Wick: Igniting Missions Work with Sustainable Practices in 2016.