Lead Stories

Yours. Mine. His.

"Yours. Mine. His." Continued...

Guatemala

The Crawfords soon learned that Nolan could not be their son.

They hadn’t been married long enough to meet the requirements of the Honduran government, and at the time there were few places such a young couple could adopt.

In some ways, Robin was relieved. Nolan was black and this was the South. Although she had never known overt racism—the kind with hoods and burning crosses—she’d heard whispers from friends.

She was told that black people were different. They weren’t like her.

How she could bring a child into that environment?

About a year after they began pursuing adoption, the Crawfords received a referral email from their agency.

The message contained a photo of a 2-year-old Guatemalan boy. He had caramel skin and black hair. He wore a pair of denim overalls.

In the first photo, the boy’s nose was runny and his mouth hung open. He looked angry.

“No,” Victor said when he saw the picture. “Honestly, this kid looks rough, real rough. I don’t know. I don’t have a good feeling about this.”

Robin had the opposite reaction.

“All I saw was just a little boy,” she said. “Not to mention he is, like, one of the most gorgeous children I’d ever laid eyes on. … I was like, ‘This is him. This is it.’ I didn’t want to look any further.”

In August 2007, the Crawfords flew to Guatemala for an unrelated mission trip. While they were there, they met the boy in the picture.

Robin had memorized his story. The boy’s father had been a fling and his mother couldn’t afford to care for the child. A rich couple had planned to adopt him, but they divorced and decided against it.

The boy was living with a foster mother in Guatemala City. When they arrived at her house, they brought out a Build-a-Bear and a Thomas the Tank Engine train.

As he stood before them in jeans and a white collared shirt, they marveled at how the photographs weren’t sufficient.

“He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life,” Robin said.

He was spunky, too.

At his foster mother’s insistence, he gave his best impression of Popeye. He opened a can of invisible spinach and scarfed down its contents, then flexed his tiny biceps and hoisted up a toy with the pride of an Olympic weightlifter.

They ate lunch and visited a zoo. The boy might have been interested in the animals if a costumed Spiderman wasn’t walking around. That was his favorite part of the trip.

Although Robin had never been an emotional person—she can think of five times she cried before marrying Victor—she burst into tears when they had to return home without the boy.

The final months of the adoption were agonizing. With the U.S. on the cusp of joining the Hague Convention, adoptions in Guatemala were winding down.

Guatemala had agreed to join the convention as well, but there was no way the country could meet the strict requirements.

Robin feared the adoption would fall through while they waited for their paperwork to be processed.

One afternoon, she felt compelled to pray in the room they’d prepared for their son.

She wasn’t sure why, but she and Victor prayed near the firefighter bedspread.

The next day, the call they’d been waiting for came at 11 a.m. They landed in Guatemala on Oct. 21. They named the boy Josiah.

U.S.-Guatemala adoptions ceased two months later.

Learning to love

The transition from Guatemala was difficult at first. Josiah seemed angry and understandably so. He had been separated from his mother, then his foster mother and now he was living in an unfamiliar place with strange people who couldn’t understand him.

Sometimes Robin would find him sitting on his bedroom floor at night crying as he slammed his Ninja Turtle figurines into one another.

“Te quiero” she would say, using the Spanish words for “I love you.”

He never responded.

For weeks she did this.

“Te quiero” before Victor left for work.

“Te quiero” at bedtime.

“Te quiero” as she tried to play with him.

Nothing. Just more tears and battered action figures.

Robin wondered what was wrong. She felt like a mother in every way, except she couldn’t understand why her love wasn’t being reciprocated.

The breakthrough came as she slept.

One morning, Josiah quietly crept across the carpet and approached her bedside.

She awoke to small lips kissing her cheek.

“Te quiero, Mamita,” he said.

And, for perhaps the 10th time in her life, Robin cried.

Comments

You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading

     

    Darwin made me do it

    Despite obvious facts and contradictions, evolutionary psychologists say nearly every…

     

    Big Hero 6

    Only in an animated film can an obese, mouthless…

    Advertisement