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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On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights they had live music. We sat there enjoying the music when the band started playing an old Mexican folk piece. The kids said they knew that one and in their village, they had learned all the dance steps to it. There was no one on the dance floor.
I said to Carlos and Maria Theresa, "Why don't you two show me how the dance goes."
They said okay, went to the middle of the dance floor, and took up positions to start the dance. When the bandleader saw them out there and the position they were in he stopped the band and had them start the piece again. Carlos and Maria Theresa were doing some very intricate dance steps in time to the music. All of a sudden, the patrons in the restaurant became dead silent and were watching the dancing. At the end of the dance, Carlos bowed to Maria Theresa as she curtsied to him.
The bandleader turned and applauded the two children. With that, the entire restaurant gave them a standing ovation. I think it startled them and slightly embarrassed them as they rushed back to our table and huddled up against me. I assured them everything was okay and the patrons were just expressing how much they enjoyed watching them dance.
I noticed across the room a couple with two little girls about the ages of Tomas and little Pablo. They had their heads together in a serious conversation. They suddenly arose and approached our table as a group. The father congratulated Carlos and Maria Theresa on their dance and asked if they knew any more folk dances. He explained that his two girls had been taking lessons for about a year and asked if little Pablo and Tomas would dance with them. The boys looked at me and sort of shrugged their shoulders as if to say, "I guess if we have to."
Introductions were then made all around. The girls were Eva and Elena. Their father asked, "Is there any particular dance you boys wanted to do?"
They said it did not matter to them. The girls named one that they liked and the boys said, "Fine."
The father went over to the bandleader (they were on a short break) and talked with him for a few minutes then came back and said the band would start in a minute. The band returned to their stand, the bandleader tapped his mic and said, "It seems we have a few more folk dancers here tonight, so here goes."
Tomas and Eva, little Pablo and Elena took their positions on the dance floor and started dancing as the music began. Again, a very good job was done by the four and the restaurant erupted in applause at which the four bolted for our table. We had a large table so by adding a few chairs everyone was comfortably seated. We all had a nice conversation to end our evening. I explained the situation with my four, the flood, how they lost their parents, and how I had been helping the village for some time now. The man said, "You are a big hearted person and I am proud to know someone like you."
I could tell the little ones were getting sleepy so I excused us and we headed up to the suite. After arriving back in the suite, I complemented all four of them on their dancing and conduct during dinner. They hung their heads as if I had embarrassed them, but were all grinning widely.
Tomas said, "It was fun." The others agreed with him.
I got them settled in and they were soon fast asleep. I woke the next morning the same as in the past few days, Carlos right in my face stating, "I'm hungry." With that, he began waking the others. We dressed and went down for breakfast. I told them we did not have to be at the Court House until 1:00 PM, so how about a quick trip to the pool for an hour or so. They all agreed.
After our swim, we returned to the suite to get dressed. I stuffed all four of them in the shower (not at the same time) to rinse the chlorine off. We all got dressed and I sat them down to explain what would happen with the judge. First, our attorney would explain to the judge about the petition for adoption. Then the judge would probably ask me a few questions. He would then take the four of them into his chambers to make sure that is what they wanted. Of course, they all said that is what they wanted.
The boys put their coats on and they really looked handsome. Maria Theresa had on one of her frilly dresses and was as cute as a button.
We left and arrived at the Court House about 12:30 PM. Our attorney, Luis, was there waiting for us. He briefly explained to us what was going to be happening. It was the same thing I had told the kids earlier. He took me aside and said he had already talked with the judge (his brother-in-law) and this was going to be a piece of cake.
We entered the courtroom and took our places at a table in front. We all rose when the judge entered the courtroom. He told us to be seated. He said, "My, my, what beautiful children." My four, of course, grinned and slightly blushed.
The judge then explained to me that he had limited English, particularly when it came to legal words. I told him I was just the opposite, I had limited Spanish, but if he wanted to conduct the hearing in Spanish, anything I did not understand I would have Luis explain it to me. He said, "Okay, let's begin."
As predicted our attorney got up and explained about the floor, how the children had lost their parents, what I had done for the village before the flood, even living with three of them while working in the village. He stated that I had become very close to them even before they lost their parents. He further said that I was not that close to Tomas, but since he was a cousin to the other three I did not want to separate the family and was requesting adoption of all four.
The judge then said, "Mr. Jones, would you please stand." I did and he went on.
"Mr. Jones, I have your financial and net worth statement and I certainly have no problem with you being able to financially care for them. I have also talked with your three references in the US and they all speak very highly of you. I had a quick criminal investigation done and there is no problem there. The only question I have is to your living accommodations.
I said, "Your Honor, I have a small album with me that shows my home both outside and inside. I have five bedrooms so each child can have their own. "
The Judge said, "Yes I would appreciate seeing the album. "
I got the album out of my briefcase and handed it to the bailiff who took it to the Judge. He looked at it for a few minutes and said, "I now have no reservations about their living conditions.
He then said, "We will recess for a few minutes while I talk with the children in my chambers."
I told the kids to go with the judge, as he wanted to ask them a few questions. They rather dragged their way following the judge. I was anxious while they were gone. After about 15 minutes, the chamber door opened and three boys rushed to my side. Little Maria Theresa was being carried in the judge's arms. He walked over to the table and set her down. He said, "You have four wonderful children and I hope you appreciate them." I told him I certainly did.
He returned to behind the bench and stated, "I see no reason to delay this. Petition for adoption approved, may you all have a long and prosperous lives." With that, he banged his gavel and said, "Court's adjourned." We all stood while the Judge exited.
Marie Theresa looked up at me and said, "Now can we call you Papa?"
I picked her up, kissed her button nose and with tears in my eyes said, "Yes!"
She asked, "Why are you crying, Papa?" I told her those were happy tears as I now had four wonderful children to call my own. With that, she wrapped her arms around my neck and gave me a big hug. Of course, the boys had to join in the hug as well.
I asked Luis, "When will we get the official documentation as I have to go to the US Consulate to obtain passports for each of the children."
He said he should have all the paperwork by about 4:00 PM that day, but did not know the hours of the Consulate. I used my satellite 'phone, obtained the number for the Consulate, called them and explained the circumstances. They said they were open until 5:00 PM, but there was no way they could have the passports done today, that it would probably take three or four days. I told them I would try to get the documentation to them by 5:00 so they would at least have it to start the process on Monday. They said that would be okay.
It was now about 2:30 PM and I realized we had not had any lunch. I was surprised that Carlos had not said his famous words, "I'm hungry."
I said, "Is anybody hungry?" Immediately I saw four hands go up.
I said, "Where do you want to eat? " Of course, they said McDonalds. We left and I found a McDonalds with a play area. I figured this would fill in the time before we had to go to Luis' office, pick up the documents and find the US Consulate.
The usual was ordered, Quarter Pounders, fries, drinks, etc. The children inhaled their food so they could visit the play area.
I noticed Tomas was sort of hanging back. I asked him what was wrong.
He said, "I think I am too old for the play area."
I said, "Look there are two other children that look about your age and they seem to be having a good time, I don't think you are too old."
With that, he grinned and joined his brothers and sister. It seems strange calling them brothers and sister, but since the adoption, they are.
I let them play for about 45 minutes, and then gathered them up to go to Luis' office. He seemed to be waiting for us in the main area of the office.
He said, "Come with me. I have all the documentation including 2 copies translated into English." He handed me a stack of paper about 3 inches thick. I stuffed them in my briefcase, profusely thanked him for what he had done for me, but said I had to run, as I wanted to get to the Consulate before it closed. He said he understood and gave me directions to the Consulate. It turned out to be quite close and only took about 10 minutes to get there.
We entered the Consulate and I explained why I was there. She immediately called one of the aides. He came out and introductions were made. He said to come back to his office. I presented him with the English version of the documentation covering the adoptions.
He said that it helped that I had the documentation in English, but he wanted to make a copy of the original in Spanish just in case. Of course, I said no problem. He made the copies and said the passports should be ready by the end of next week. I said that would be fine, but probably would not pick them up until the following week. He also made a copy of my passport so he would have the correct address for the kid's passports.
We left to go back to the hotel arriving there about 5:15 PM.
I said, "Since we had such a long day and a late lunch maybe we should also have a late dinner." They agreed. I called and made reservations for 8:00 PM.
"Why don't you take off your good clothes, hang them up, and we will relax for a while. Of course, I had to help Maria Theresa unbutton her dress since the buttons were in the back. I hung it up for her. The boys were very responsible in taking care of their clothes.
They turned on the TV and stretched out on the bed to watch. Soon all were asleep. I woke them at 7:45 PM.
"Get dressed for dinner and you can go casual this evening, shorts, shirts, socks and sandals." They were agreeable (when are they not!) and were soon dressed. We went down to the dining room and were soon seated.
"Why don't you try something different for dinner this evening? Do you all like fish?" They said yes, so I ordered salmon steaks, baked potatoes and a salad for all five of us. The kids had to have their Shirley Temples, which was okay with me.
Our dinner arrived and was enjoyed by all. I suggested something different for dessert.
"Instead of ice cream and cookies do you all like chocolate?" Immediately I had four heads nodding up and down. I ordered four pieces of chocolate cake with whipped cream on top. It was soon inhaled! I skipped dessert (have to watch my waistline), but had my coffee.
I could see that the kids were not sleepy since they had had their late nap, so I suggested we take a walk to burn off some of the calories. They all said okay. We left the hotel and walked about two blocks when we found a small park with a playground, swings, climbing bars, etc. They wanted to stop and play for a while, which was okay by me. I found a bench and just watched them having a good time. I was thinking how fortunate I was to have four wonderful children.
It was almost 9:00 PM and starting to get dark. I gathered them up and we returned to the hotel.
After arriving and going up to our suite, I told them we would be leaving in the morning to go back to San Pedro to see if I could be of any help there. They said that was fine, as they wanted to see some of their friends.
So, the next morning it was off to San Pedro.
Paul Jones, myself
Padre Juan Phillipe, Baltimore parish priest
Padre Miguel, San Pedro parish priest
Jerry Smith, Student
Carl Folsom, Student
Tommy Kauffman, Student
John and Theresa Santiago, married couple
Jose Gomez, farmer
Mercedes Gomez. his wife
Pablo Gomez, age 9
Carlos Gomez, age 7
Maria Theresa Gomez, age 5
Tomas Gomez, age 11½, cousin of Pablo, Carlos and Maria Theresa