This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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After entering our suite I told the kids I had something I wanted to talk to them about. I sat all three on the couch and I sat on the coffee table in front of them. I told them I loved them very much, but before long I had to go back to the States. The boy's faces fell and Marie Theresa started crying. I quickly said, "How would you like to go back to the States with me?" All three jumped up and said, "Si, Si, Si." They all tried to climb into my lap at the same time.
I got them back on the couch and said, "What I want to do is adopt you. Do you know what the means?"
Little Pablo said, "Does that mean you want to become our father?"
I said, "Yes, I want to become your father and take care of you for the rest of your lives, is that okay with you?"
Of course, they were all excited and kept saying yes over and over. I explained how we would have to go before a judge and he would probably talk with them to be sure that is what they wanted. They all said that is what they wanted.
They were so excited I had trouble getting them to sleep, but they finally drifted off. I had trouble getting to sleep myself with thinking about all the things I had to do, but finally drifted off myself.
I woke the next morning with Marie Theresa right in my face.
She said, "Does this mean we can call you Padre now?"
I told her that after the adoption they could call me Padre or Papa or, in English, Daddy or Dad. She just giggled and grabbed me around the neck. Carlos came over and both boys snuggled up as close to me as they could get. I lay there awhile enjoying the snuggle and the warmth of their bodies. I thought, this must be heaven. I eventually said it was time to get up and have some breakfast. I asked what they wanted to do that morning. They didn't have any idea. I said they have a small zoo here would you like to go there. They immediately said yes. We had breakfast and spent about 3 hours at the zoo.
When we arrived back at the hotel I was given a message from Luis that the hearing before the judge about the adoptions would take place on Friday afternoon and I needed to stop in and sign some papers. As it was now Monday I thought we should go back to San Pedro for a few days.
I then told them we should go back to San Pedro and see if there was anything we could do to help out. They really wanted to stay at the hotel, but I said we would be back in a few days to see the Judge concerning the adoptions. On our way out of town I stopped at the lawyer's office and signed the necessary papers.
On the way to San Pedro my cell 'phone rang. It was the contractor who said he had the estimate which could be $1,000 either way. I told him to come out in the morning and look at the site and I would handle it the same as I did for the school, I would give him a check for 1/2 so he could purchase the necessary supplies. He said that would be fine.
The roads were much improved and we arrived at San Pedro a little after 3:00 PM. I had had the children change back into their "San Pedro clothes" as I didn't want them showing off with their new clothes. Both padres came up as I parked the Hummer. My three immediately jumped out and went to find their friends. We walked around examining everything from the washed out homes next to the river to the school building. I told Padre Miguel that I had made arrangements with the supply house to let him have anything he needed and send the bill to me. He was very grateful. I also filled them in about adopting the children.
As we went around we ran into the children several times. I noticed an older boy hanging around my three and sort of picking at them, nothing serious, but just enough to make me wonder. I remembered him from last summer when we were working here. I asked Padre Miguel who he was. He said that is Tomas Gomez. He is a cousin to your three. His father was a brother to Jose'. I asked about his parents and he said they were also lost in the flash flood, and he, like my three, had no other relative. I said their family, I can't separate them. Fix up the paperwork for Tomas as you did for my three. He just looked at me and said okay.
After dinner that night we all just sat around talking. After awhile I noticed my three starting to yawn. It was about 9:00 PM so I figured it was time to settle in for the night. Thomas was sitting on the floor on the other side of the school all alone, but kept glancing over at us. I put my three down and then found an extra mattress which I placed next to mine.
I sat down and called, "Tomas, come here, please." He sort of haltingly came over and stood in front of me.
I said, "I remember you from when I was here last summer. If I was told you were a cousin to my three, I had forgotten. I understand you lost both of your parents also."
He just hung his head and said, "Si."
"You have no other relatives do you?"
He again just said, "No." I could tell he was on the verge of tears.
"You have three cousins so that makes you a part of this family I am creating. Go get your personal belongings and bring them over here." I patted the mattress next to me. He immediately went over and got his stuff. I sat him down on the mattress next to me. He still kept his head down. I reached over and gently lifted his head. His eyes were glistening with tears.
I kept my hand under his chin and said, "Tomas, I am adopting these three and taking them back to the U.S. with me. Since you have no one else, would you allow me to adopt you as well so you can come with us?"
He just threw himself at me and begin sobbing. He was holding on so tight I could hardly breathe. Carlos and Marie Theresa were already asleep, but little Pablo was still awake and heard everything I said to Tomas. He sat up and said, "Say yes, Tomas, say yes." He was still crying so much he couldn't say anything, but just vigorously nodded his head up and down.
It took about 15 minutes for him to quiet down. I put him down on the mattress and laid down on mine. I put my arm around him. He immediately scooted as close to me as he could get and pulled my arm tight against his chest. That's the way we awoke the next morning. I gently tried to extract my arm from around him, but when I did he just held on tighter. After a couple of minutes he turned over and looked into my eyes and said, "Are you really going to adopt me, or did I just dream that last night?"
I assured him it was not a dream and I was going to adopt him along with his three cousins and take them all back to my home in the U.S. He again started gently crying. I said, "I hope those are happy tears and not sad tears." He begin shaking his head up and down so hard I thought he would hurt his neck.
After a few minutes I was able to get up and get dressed. All four kids immediately arose and also got dressed. I decided I had better do something about breakfast. So I went into the kitchen and got out bacon and eggs. About that time everyone was getting up and dressed. I figured I needed to cook a lot of bacon and eggs. I found a large bowl and started cracking four dozen eggs. Tomas was right beside me and insisted on helping. So together we mixed up the eggs for scrambling. I also started on about three pounds of bacon. About that time some of the women came in, shooed us out and took over fixing breakfast.
When we finished breakfast, I thought I would take a walk around and survey the situation while waiting on the contractor. Little Pablo, Carlos and Marie Theresa went out to play with some of their friends. Tomas stayed glued to my side.
I said, "Why don't you go out and play also."
He answered, "No, I want to stay with you."
I decided he thought I might leave him, so just let him alone. I got on my 'phone and called the lawyer and explained about Tomas and I would deliver the appropriate paperwork to him on Thursday if that was not too late. After a couple of questions about Tomas' full name, age, etc. he said that would be fine, he would add Tomas' name in with the other three. After a short while the contractor arrived. I introduced him to Tomas and told him he was a cousin to the three I was adopting and was going to adopt him also.
He just shook his head and said, "You are a glutton for punishment in taking on all four children."
I answered, "He's family. I can't take three and leave him here."
He gave me the written estimate plus a more detailed drawing of the building. I perused the estimate and drawing, approved it, pulled out my checkbook and wrote him a check for half the estimate and asked when he could start. He said how about tomorrow. I am between jobs and my men would really appreciate the work. I said that would be great. I told him I was going back into Veracruz Thursday as I had some things to take care of, but he could coordinate everything with Padre Miguel. He said that would be fine and he would be there a little while longer making some notes. He would then go back to Veracruz, order the supplies he needed, load up the necessary equipment and be back in the morning to start.
I found Padre Miguel and told him he could answer any of the contractor's questions and make the necessary decisions concerning the construction of the orphanage. About that time Padre Juan walked up. I told him that on Thursday I was going back to Veracruz for a couple of days as I had some things to take care of. He said he would stay there and help out as best he could. Padre Miguel said he would have the paperwork for Tomas ready the next day.
Of course, Tomas stayed glued to my side for the next two days.
On Thursday, late morning, I looked for little Pablo, Carlos and Marie Theresa and told them to get ready as we were going back to Veracruz for a few days. I felt a tug on my pant's leg and looked down.
Tomas was there with tears in his eyes and said, "Are you coming back for me?"
I said, "No." With that his chin hit his chest.
I knelt down in front of him, lifted his chin so I could look him in the eyes and said, "You are coming with us." With that he grabbed me around the neck and held on for dear life.
I told him that anything and everything I did with little Pablo, Carlos and Marie Theresa also included him. I decided then and there I was going to stop referring to "my three" as it was now "my four."
We started for the SUV. I put Tomas in front with me since he had never been in any kind of vehicle, car, truck, bus, etc. He was so excited and bouncing around I could hardly get his seat belt fastened. I belted in the other three in the back. We left for Veracruz about Noon.
On the drive in I explained to Tomas what was going to happen. First, we would stop at a McDonalds for lunch, then drop off his papers at the lawyers office. After arriving at the hotel I would take him to get a haircut, then a bunch of new clothes including a bathing suit as they had a pool at the hotel. His eyes kept getting bigger and bigger as I explained everything to him.
Things were quiet for a while when suddenly Tomas said, "Are you really going to do all that for me?"
I said, "Of course, I did it for the other three and you are just as important as they are."
A few minutes later we entered the outskirts of town and I could see McDonalds just ahead. I ask everyone what they wanted. Little Pablo and Carlos immediately said, "Quarter Pounder meals with a coke." Maria Theresa answered, "Chicken Tenders with a coke." I told Tomas since he wasn't familiar with McDonalds I would order him the same as for Pablo and Carlos. He agreed. After ordering and finding a table Tomas took a tentative bite of his Quarter Pounder. He chewed for a minute, swallowed and then inhaled the rest along with the French fries.
Tomas said, "That was good."
We climbed back into the SUV, dropped the papers off at the lawyers, went to the hotel, got him a haircut, then clothes. Tomas' eyes were as big as saucers the whole time. When we got back to the hotel from our shopping, we entered the elevator to go up to our room. When the elevator started up, Tomas grabbed my arm and looked at me with alarm. I explained that the elevator was going up so we wouldn't have to walk 10 flights to get to our room. Once we got off on the 10th floor he looked at me and said, "Can we ride it again.?
I laughed and said, "We'll be riding it a lot, every time we want to go out."
I showed Tomas around the suite pointing out everything to him. His eyes were like saucers. I explained that one bedroom was for us and the other was for Padre Juan when he was not staying in the village.
I told 'my four', "Get your bathing suits on and we will go to the pool for a little while before dinner."
They headed to the bedroom and were back in about 2 minutes with their bathing suits on. I went in to change into my bathing suit and purposely took my time, watching them the whole time I was changing. They were all dancing around wanting me to hurry. Finally, little Pablo said, "Please hurry up so we can go swimming." I sped up a little and we then headed to the elevator. I told Tomas to push the button with an "L" on it as that was the button to take us to the lobby.
We got to the pool and I at first watched Tomas closely as I wasn't sure of his swimming abilities. I had nothing to worry about. He, like the other three, had lived along the river all his life and was as much a fish as they were. We played around for awhile in the shallow end of the pool and then I took them to the deep end so they could use the diving board. A good time was had by all.
It was getting close to 6:00 PM so I told them we had to go back to the suite to get ready for dinner. Back in the suite I told them we at least had to rinse the chlorine off and out of their hair. I ran bath water for Carlos and Maria Theresa, put them in and shampooed their hair. At the same time I started the separate shower and told little Pablo to get in. After finishing with the two in the tub, I told little Pablo to stick his head out so I could do his hair. I told him to leave the water running for Tomas after he rinsed off. I combed out Carlos hair and started on Maria Theresa with the in-bath hair dryer.
Little Pablo got out and I combed his hair. Tomas got in. I figured he was old enough to do his own hair while I continued to work on Maria Theresa. I got her hair mostly dry just as Tomas was finishing. I told him to leave the water on for me and to comb out his hair. I did a quick shampoo and wash. I rinsed off, dried myself and went into the bedroom. All four of them were stretched out on the two beds, watching TV. As this was his first experience with TV, Tomas was really engrossed with the cartoon show that was on. I told them we would have to leave for dinner before long. I suggested to Marie Theresa that she pick out a nice dress to wear to dinner, and to the boys I said, "Remember that dinner is pretty formal so wear your light grey slacks, light blue dress shirts and ties, dark socks and your loafers. You can put your dark blue blazers on as we leave for the dining room." I, of course, would be a little more formal, dark suit, shirt and tie.
I knew this would be a real experience for Tomas as it would be his first time in a formal restaurant. I was not disappointed. As soon as we walked in and were greeted, he stop dead and tried to take everything in at once. I had to prod him a little bit to get him to follow the waiter who was leading us to our table. I made sure he sat next to me so I could explain everything to him. Little Pablo, Carlos and Marie Theresa wanted the same thing they had last time. Those "pink" drinks (Shirley Temples), salad and grilled hamburger steak for the boys and chicken tenders for Marie Theresa, along with French fries. I reminded Maria Theresa that she had chicken tenders at lunch and she said that's okay, I like them. I suggested to Tomas that he get the same think the boys were having. He nodded his head yes. We all inhaled our dinners and the kids were having ice cream and cookies as I drank my coffee.
It was now around 8:30 PM and I told them we would go back to the suite and they could get ready for bed and watch TV for awhile as we had a big day tomorrow with our hearing before the judge about their adoption.
I had everyone get ready for bed including going to the bathroom and brushing their teeth. I told Tomas that since Padre Juan had stayed in San Pedro that he could sleep in the other bedroom and have his own bed. He vigorously shook his head no and stated he was sleeping with me. Hoping little Pablo would not get jealous, I said "okay." Since both beds were queen size I put Tomas in mine and the three in the other bed. Little Pablo didn't seem to mind not sleeping with me at all. I think he realized that Tomas needed some special attention.
After using the bathroom and brushing my teeth, I stripped to my boxers and climbed into bed. Tomas immediately snuggled up to me as close as he could get. We could have been in a twin bed and had room to spare.
I awoke the next morning with Carlos leaning over me saying, "I'm hungry."
I said, "When are you not hungry."
With that he just giggled and said, "Get up and let's go eat." He then starting waking the other three.