Before leaving the Santa Lucia Children’s Home with his newly adopted family, Jonathan Luis* had one important stop to make. He needed to thank the orphanage’s adoption lawyer who had worked so tirelessly for seven years to help him find a forever family. “When I grow up I want to be just like you,” Jonathan said. “I want to become an adoption lawyer and help kids find a family.”
Jonathan’s lawyer still gets a little choked up when recalling that moment. “Being an adoption lawyer is so emotionally difficult because you feel for these children,” says Santa Lucia’s lawyer, Pablo Alvarez.* “Jonathan’s case had so many ups and downs. Even though it required hard work and long hours, a moment like that makes everything worth it.”
Jonathan’s adoption was not easy. He arrived at Santa Lucia Children’s Home when he was just 2 years old. Pablo worked with Jonathan’s biological parents, arranging for them to go through rehabilitation in hopes of bringing the family back together again. After trying for over six years with no success, Pablo and Sor Maria del Cisne—the head nun at Santa Lucia—decided to pursue another avenue: adoption. Because Jonathan’s parents had never signed away parental rights, adoption would be very difficult.
Overcoming the Odds for Adoption
“At best, this case had a 5 percent chance of success,” Pablo recalls. “Most orphanages can’t afford to help any child who has less than a 30 percent chance at adoption. Fortunately, Santa Lucia has the support of the Melaleuca Foundation. This longstanding relationship gave us the confidence to move forward on a patch that could possibly help Jonathan.”
Thanks to the Melaleuca Foundation, Santa Lucia was able to take the case to court and help Jonathan become eligible for adoption. It was an arduous process, but everyone at Santa Lucia worked together to help Jonathan.
Jonathan was eventually paired with a family for adoption. Because Jonathan’s new family lived in a different country, he would need to learn a new culture and a new language.
Reassuring a Scared Little Boy
As excited as Jonathan was about the idea of a family, going to a new place was scary. He began acting out in school, and his usually high grades started to slip. Sor Maria and a social worker at the orphanage sat down with him and asked what was going on.
“I worried, ‘What if it falls through and I don’t get a family?'” Jonathan says. “What if the kids at my new school think I’m dumb because I can’t speak the language?”
Sor Maria gave Jonathan a big hug and assured him: Not only would he have a family, but he would learn the language and make new friends. As Jonathan worked with a social worker to prepare for his new home, he gradually overcame these fears.
When the time came for Jonathan to leave Ecuador with his new family, there was only one last hurdle: the plane. Jonathan had never flown before. H e was terrified he would fall out of the plane when it was in the sky.
“Jonathan had never even seen a plane, so the idea of flying was scary,” Sor Maria recalls. “It took Pablo and me a few talks with him before he revealed what was scaring him. Somehow, we were able to help him become comfortable with the idea.”
A Successful Family TransitionJonathan’s journey to his new family wasn’t easy, but it was well worth it. After being with his new family for two years, Jonathan feels their love and excitement for him every day. As Sor Maria predicted, he has quickly picked up the new language and made many new friends. Not only is he excelling at school, but he has also become the star of his youth league basketball team.
A Christmas Miracle
This Christmas, Jonathan will receive a special present. His famil plans to get together with two other families whose children were also recently adopted from Santa Lucia and live in the same country.
Amazingly, both of these girls stayed in Santa Lucia’s “House 4” with Jonathan, where they all lived together for several years. Under the loving care of a “house mother,” the eight children in House 4 took care of one another, ate meals together, and grew in heart and spirit as a family unit. Although they technically don’t share the same bloodline, Jonathan considers them his sisters.
“I didn’t think it was possible to have a better Christmas than the one I had last year with my new family,” Jonathan says. “But this year, I get to spend Christmas with my family as well as two of my Santa Lucia sisters and their families.”
Sometimes it’s easy to forget what your monthly donation does: the lives you help change and the families you create. Thanks to your support and contributions, the Melaleuca Foundation not only helps children get a warm meal and a safe bed, but also gives them a chance to feel loved, to have a mom and a dad and to be a brother or sister.
Jonathan is just one of many adoptions made possible by you.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy in accordance with various adoption laws.