My name is Harold Remiraz, and I live in OshKosh, Wisconsin, with my wife, Penny (Penita), and our four sons, ages twelve, ten, seven, and four.
Our sons are obviously adopted. You can tell that right away, as our sons are black while we are Hispanic. Yet they are ours; we legally took custody of them, and they are now ours, forever and ever.
Our journey with adoption started over eight years ago, when our oldest, Icarus, was three. We wanted a child; after finding out we couldn't have any children, we turned to adoption. We decided to adopt a child that was in desperate need of a home or a family.
There were so many waiting children, it was shocking. We didn't realize just how big the problem was, particularly for children with special needs.
Most people, when they adopt, want a baby who is blonde haired or blue eyed, or healthy, when there are plenty of older children (by "older", I mean older than the age of two years), children with disabilities or emotional trauma, or children of different racial background (Hispanic, African-American/Black, Native American, etc., or a combination of different races) who are just as needy for a family or a home.
We decided to take in a child with special needs. We didn't care if it was a boy or a girl, where they came from, or if they were disabled or part of a different race: we had an awful lot of love to give, so we set out to get the required paperwork and go through the adoption process.
It was an unbelievably long process, full of frustrations and fears. When we had the home study and the interview, we were shaking-scared: we were terrified that we would be deemed unfit as parents and that the adoption would not go any further. We did make it through with flying colors (plus a lot of prayer on our part), though, and next came the waiting.
Oh, God, the waiting!! That was the hardest part, as well as seeing if the adoption would go through.
When that call came, the call that told us we'd been accepted, we then waited to see what child we would get. My wife wanted a little girl, I wanted a boy; we both didn't care, as long as we got the news we wanted to hear: that the adoption went through, that we were to get a child in need of a loving family.
The call came a few weeks later. We would be getting a little four-year-old boy from Kenya, in Africa. The boy's name was Icarus, and he was healthy, but was an orphan and lived in an orphanage. At the news, we cried. We couldn't wait to get little Icarus to America, to love on him, as though he had been born to us. We were more than ready to give this needy child the love and security he needed.
About six-to-nine months later, Icarus arrived from Africa. He was even more beautiful than the picture the orphanage director had sent us. He was tall, thin, almost too thin, dark as midnight, and shy in temperament. He did speak English (much to our relief), but he was incredibly timid. It took a long time for him to warm up to us, to his new surroundings.
It didn't take him very long to adjust to life here. He's now twelve, our oldest, and he's a typical "American" boy, who loves pizza for breakfast, soccer or any contact sport type game, handheld electonic games, Instant Messaging or talking on the phone, or spending time with his friends (or brothers).
After Icarus, three more little Kenyan boys joined our family. Edgar, Griffith, and Tumu. Like Icarus, their brother, they were very small when they came to America, and we had to go through the whole painful ordeal of uncertainty, mounds of paperwork (plus the interview/home study), waiting, and fear. We were so afraid that Icarus wouldn't have any brothers.
Like Icarus, Tumu, Griffith, and Edgar were orphans. In fact, they came from the same orphanage where Icarus resided earlier in his life. They were healthy, but Tumu, our youngest, did have a deformed face that required some surgery. Other than that, he was a very loving, sweet natured boy, and we were more than ready to take him in as our own, deformed face or not.
Tumu and Griffith were as loud as Edgar and Icarus were quiet: they were polar opposites of one another. They also adored soccer or any sports, electronic games, or playing with friends. They were a perfect matched set; Penny and I couldn't be more pleased.
Now we have four beautiful boys, and they've grown so much. Icarus is nearly six feet tall at the age of twelve, and still is as skinny as ever. No matter what we feed him, he just cannot seem to get any meat on those bones of his. Griffith is seven now, tall, too, and skinny. (All African kids seem to be skinny.)
As for Edgar, he's ten, our second oldest, our resident theologian, our resident preacher, with a heart for church or learning about God. He's quiet in nature, would rather spend time by himself, so he can think of ways to make our world a much better place. He's whip-smart, scores A's in all of his classes at school; we couldn't be more proud of him.
Meanwhile, our baby, four-year-old Tumu, he is a typical preschooler: curious as a cat, a sucker for playtime or watching "Caillou", "Jay Jay The Jet Plane", or "Barney" on television every day, singing his heart out, and learning about the world around him. He is very smart, and in the fall, he will attend preschool. He already knows how to read, write his letters, name animals (and make their sounds), and name all his colors.
Whenever we go out in public, people are always drawn to our family. I guess it's because our sons are so dark. They don't look like us, but that's okay. They're still our sons, and most people are very receptive to adoption. We've had a few boneheads who ask stupid or inappropriate questions (some while the boys were with us), and this is when Icarus will stand straight and look the person in the eye as he pronounces, "We are family. This is my mom and dad. You have a problem with that?"
That usually shuts the person right up. And then we're silently cheering for our son, who has grown up into a fine young man who is going to make a mark in the world.
We are proud of all of our sons. We may adopt another one; however, that's still in the talking stages. We may do it, and we may not. It all depends on how things fall into place. I would love to add a girl to the family, but right now it's just Penny, myself, and our four boys who are the lights of our lives.