Henry Tells His Adoption Story
When I was very little my father died, and my mother turned me over to a family who put me to work. I got up at dawn and picked vegetables, pulling a donkey in the hot sun. I lived in poverty, surrounded by drugs and alcohol and violence. So one day I ran away, and I was placed in a foster home. That’s when I first went to school. A teacher told me that the only way I could succeed was through education. But I knew that would never happen in Colombia. Being an orphan, I would be on my own at 16 – and then what? You don’t want to know.
Kidsave came to my rescue when I was chosen for the Summer Miracles program! That summer I started building a relationship with my host, Rick. By the end of the summer, I was sobbing that I wanted to stay in America.
Back in Colombia, I waited. One day Rick called and asked me if I wanted to be adopted. I said “yes,” but I didn’t really believe it would happen. Then Rick came to visit me – this meant it was for real, he was going to be my dad. And he is.
The transition has sometimes been rough. I did not have any love in my life and then suddenly, like a light switch, I did. I have great friends, family, wonderful teachers and coaches. I have determination and dreams, and a scholarship to a great school. I try not to think about the past, but sometimes it sneaks up.
Last year I went to a student leadership conference in Texas, and something amazing happened on the last day. A kid spoke about being thankful to our parents, and something hit me. I got up in front of everybody and found myself saying that I forgive my mother for giving me away — she did it because she wanted a better future for me. And that’s what I’ve got. I’ll always be grateful to her. To all my parents.
View a video of Henry speaking at a Kidsave Event about his adoption story: VIDEO