A couple of years ago, we mentioned in a blog about our friend Kelly’s desire to adopt Antonio, the most recent addition to the Love & Hope family. Today, we are happy to announce that Antonio’s adoption has been made official! Antonio and Kelly are now a family! Over the next few posts, we want to share Antonio and Kelly’s story with you.
Kelly first met Antonio about three years ago while she was volunteering as a long term missionary at Love & Hope and Antonio was just six-years-old. After receiving a call from a local government children’s home about a child with special needs, Rachel and Kelly went to meet Antonio and subsequently bring him to Love & Hope. Kelly and Antonio still both remember the day they met: she tickled and played with him in the office of the home as they spoke to a staff member there. As they were leaving the government home, Antonio was handed a telephone to say goodbye to another caregiver. He joyfully announced into the phone, “I’m going to the crystal house now!” despite having no idea what his new home would look like. He continued to call our house in Los Planes de Renderos – which was made out of concrete, not crystal – “la casa cristal” until the day we moved. Just another sign of Antonio’s bright and positive spin on the world around him.
Kelly and Antonio clicked immediately. Kelly offered to take Antonio to his weekly pool therapy sessions and began noticing shortly after that Antonio sought her out constantly – lunch time, homework hour, playtime, bedtime, etc. Kelly began to take a special interest in Antonio’s care, getting more involved in his therapeutic and medical needs.
Eventually, Kelly started thinking about Antonio’s future, and realized that she wanted to pursue adoption. She began the process as a missionary living in El Salvador, but finished the process in Ohio. During the years that the adoption was in process, Kelly visited Antonio whenever she could, but was unable to tell him that one day she would be his mother. When she wasn’t in El Salvador, Kelly and Antonio talked via Skype, sometimes for hours at a time.
Without knowing what was happening behind the scenes, Antonio would always say, “One day I’m going to Ohio to visit Kelly.” “Kelly lives in Cleveland.” At times he referred to Kelly as, “Mamita Kellita.” We even taught him to sing “Hang-On Sloopy” and chant “O-H-I-O.” His favorite shirts to wear sported the Cleveland Cavaliers and The Ohio State University logos. At home, we worked on Antonio’s English skills to prepare him for what was to come. As he learned to read in Spanish, he also learned the English alphabet and phonics and practiced his speaking skills with visitors.
Kelly arrived this June to spend another summer with Antonio, thinking there was only a small possibility that she would be able to take Antonio home with her in August. But three days after she arrived, Kelly received some great news: a court date that would make the adoption official was set for July! At last, she could reveal to Antonio that she had been pursing his adoption this whole time, and that very soon he would be able to go home with her to Ohio. He was so excited: Kelly would become his mom, he would move into a new house, he’d have new cousins, new grandparents, he’d get to ride on a plane, he’d have a pet cat, and a go to a brand new school!
We are so excited for Antonio and Kelly! As they get ready to leave in August, we also reflect on the great memories we have of Antonio here at Love & Hope. His always (always) joyful demeanor will be missed, but we are so excited that he now has his forever family!