Human trafficking seems like one of the distant social problems reserved for documentaries. But the problem is real, it's present and it's an issue for Oklahoma.
Major Wendy Morris of the Salvation Army delivered a presentation on human trafficking to the Rotary Club Wednesday afternoon at Dornick Hills Country Club. Morris said Oklahoma is one of the highest trafficking states in the country because of its location as a crossroads.
"It is not a problem that is far away from us," she said. "It is very close."
Morris has a connection to the problem because she views herself as one of the lucky people in life. Given up for adoption, she landed in the home of a loving family in New York. And while she has never contacted her birth mother, she has dealt with the issue of adoption. The Special Services arm of the Salvation Army facilitated the adoption, ironically enough.
"Because of the Special Services arm of the Salvation Army, I have the blessing of the life I have lived," she said. "It was a natural part of who I was. But I wondered what happened with my biological past."
Morris said she found out through documentation she was given up for adoption because her biological mother was unable to financially or emotionally care for her.
"She made a choice that saved my life," Morris said.
Morris said there are children who are not as fortunate, and some of those children are born into conditions that are ripe for abuse and far worse.
"In this day and age, human trafficking is a real issue," she said. "Children are born into this condition."
Morris and her husband, Major Steve Morris, are divisional commanders for the Salvation Army Arkansas-Oklahoma Division. They have also worked as field officers in Florida, Georgia and Washington D.C. She said the Salvation Army is actively involved with other groups in combating human trafficking, as well as raising awareness.
"We try to find ways to identify victims in places we would not expect," Morris said.
Major Jeff Daniels, Ardmore corps officer and incident commander, was asked about incidents of human trafficking in Ardmore.
"We have all kinds of stories of women that come into our shelters in different situations," he said.