A FAMILY FOREVER
This Thanksgiving will be extra special for 11 new families who welcomed 17 children into their forever homes days before the holiday on Monday during Cameron County Adoption Day in Brownsville.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month.
For Brownsville residents Francisco Reyes and Nelda Delgado, the adoption of 2-year-old Abdias Emmanuel left both parents without words on Monday as the long process and hard times seemed to finally be over.
“We got him when he was two months old,” Reyes said. “He was born with drugs in his system, so when we got him, he was going through withdrawals. It was something very difficult. We’ve been through maybe 15 court cases over the past two years and since we first saw him, we fell in love with him. My little girls love him. Thank God we have him. He completes our family.”
Abdias is now the baby brother for 6-year-old Adlen and 3-year-old Arlette, Reyes’ and Delgado’s daughters.
Reyes said when he first married his wife nearly eight years ago, he wanted nine children.
Yet, when he came back home from his service with the U.S. Navy in 2015, he was tasked with taking care of his two daughters while his wife worked full time and that might have changed his mind for a while.
“I told my wife, ‘You know what, I’m done. I’m not having more kids,’” Reyes said. “I had to take care of them, going to school and my wife working full time. I told her, ‘Forget the nine kids. I’m done with two.’ However, our phone rang one day for him and as soon as we saw him, we couldn’t say no. We took him in right away and we thank God for that opportunity.”
Harlingen residents Jose and Graciela Pagan shared a similar feeling as Reyes and Delgado.
The Pagan family officially welcomed Destiny, 13, and Guillermo, 11, to their forever home on Monday as well.
“We’re very excited,” Graciela Pagan said. “We’ve had the children in our home for almost three years. We went through a lot with the adoption because there were a lot of times when they were going to terminate the father’s rights then he appealed so they had to do another long trial.”
Destiny and Guillermo said they are happy the day finally arrived and will always remember it as a special one.
Tiffany Brown and her wife, Aimme Rodriguez, drove from Edinburg Monday morning to officially welcome 1-year-old Jonah to their growing family.
Although the Edinburg couple is not a stranger to the adopting process, the feeling did not change.
“We adopted Gilbert, (a 2-year-old), in February, so to grow our family, we adopted his brother so they can be together,” Brown said. “We just wanted them to be together.”
She added that she wants her family to keep growing and although her wife jokingly said she is ready to quit, Rodriguez said she is going to support her and their family no matter what.
“They were part of our family from the get-go,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve loved them from the start. We gave them all the love and attention they need to help them grow and become healthy.”
Currently in the Rio GrandeValley, there are 81 children who are seeking to become part of their forever family: 32 in CameronCounty; 46 in Hidalgo; two in Starr; and one in Willacy.
In South Texas, which includes 19 counties, 342 children are still waiting to be adopted.
Last fiscal year, however, 252 children found a forever home in South Texas, including 28 in CameronCounty, 28 in Hidalgo, three in Starr and four in Willacy.
State 444th District Judge David Sanchez, who finalized the 17 adoptions Monday morning, said he considers granting adoptions one of the greatest duties he gets to do on the bench.
“The days my children were born were the happiest days of my life,” Sanchez said. “I could only imagine how these parents must feel getting this officially done where these kids are now their children. I’m sure they’re experience that same level of happiness that I did when I became a dad.”
Asked what message he would like to provide for the children to read in the future, he replied he wants them to know how much their parents care for and love them.
“I want them to know how much their parents truly love them to come forward and ask to make them a permanent part of their lives,” Sanchez said. “It’s also important for them to listen to their parents growing up because their parents love them and they want what is best for them.”