Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Family Story

Miguel and Maria (not their real names) are both in their mid thirties and both are mentally challenged. They have had a relationship for many years, though they aren’t married and don’t live together. Twelve years ago they had a son Luis who until recently lived in an orphanage.

There are two versions of how Luis came to be in an orphanage. In one version the government became aware of “a suspect family situation” and legally took the child and placed him in the orphanage. Miguel has had problems with alcohol and drugs which gives credence to this explanation. In the other version Miguel and Maria realized they could not take care of a child and voluntarily gave him up. It’s probable that even they are not clear on what took place. Whatever the case, every Sunday afternoon the family was together at the orphanage.

Some time ago a family from Spain visited Chiclayo with the intent of adopting a child. After several meetings with Luis the family was sure he was what they were looking for. And Luis apparently felt strongly about them also. Adoption is a lengthy process in Peru as in other countries. As the process was nearing a close Luis made a request of his new family to be. He asked to be allowed to communicate with his mother, and that when he was old enough to work he wanted to be able to send money to his parents. Luis is normal in all respects and knows that his parents are handicapped. Legally, agreement to the adoption was not required from Miguel and Maria, but they were asked and both consented.

I don’t know when the parting took place or what was said. I do know that Luis is in Spain and has started email communication with his parents. I also know that Miguel has said he misses his son but is happy Luis will “maybe be a engineer”. Maria has printed the emails from Luis and proudly shows them to friends.


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