(Orange, Texas)

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May 9, 2013

Hope can be painful for families of missing kids


The miraculous rescue of three missing women has given hope to many families whose loved ones have vanished. Yet hope, when searching for a long-lost child, can be a dangerous thing.

Thousands of children are missing across the country. The longer they are gone, the smaller the chance they will be found alive. So when three women who had been missing for a decade or more emerged from the house where they had been held captive, it provided an extraordinarily rare happy ending.

"I would definitely say it was a miracle," said Kelly Murphy, who founded Project Jason, after her own son vanished, to help other such families.

Murphy had worked with two of the Cleveland families while their daughters were missing. After they were found, she heard from many others who are still searching.

"The general response is that it gives us all hope," Murphy said. "I'm in the situation, too, with my son almost missing for 12 years without a trace and without clues. It definitely gives us hope that there is a chance. If it happened to those girls, it can happen to us."

"To have hope helps you get through each day, hope that there's a good answer instead of the answer that nobody wants. It just helps you keep going, because it's very difficult to have to live with ambiguous loss."

But how much does it help to hope for a miracle, which by definition is almost impossible?

Some, like Murphy, need to keep that spark alive, however small. Others, like Jody Himebaugh, need to protect their emotions.

Himebaugh knows about what happened in Cleveland but has avoided the details. His son Mark disappeared in 1991 at age 11.

"Every time I watch this kind of stuff, it rekindles the last 23 years," he said. "All it does, it just gives us hope again."

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