This Christmas I’m happy to report that two newly minted Texans will be spending the holidays with their adoptive families after years of waiting to be together. Vania Hermes-Rometty, 5, and Robert Thomas Smith-Heinzmann, 6, both natives of Guatemala, were united with their respective families in the past few months and brought to live in their new homes in Texas.
Vania’s adoptive parents, Maggie Hermes and Chris Rometty, sought to adopt Vania in 2007, shortly after she was born. But Vania’s was one of more than 5,000 adoption cases suspended in 2008, when the Guatemalan government imposed a moratorium on intercountry adoptions. While the pending cases were meant to be investigated and allowed to move forward if cleared, Vania’s case and hundreds of others became embroiled in years of delays because of corruption and political turnover.
Maggie and Chris had to wait more than five years to bring their daughter home to Texas. During that time, they visited her frequently and built a relationship across the many miles that separated them, but at every turn they met more obstacles and frustrations. Maggie told KVUE News in Austin, “We missed the first lost tooth; of course, we missed all the walking. . . .We’ve missed so much. It’s heartbreaking.”
Similarly, Robert’s adoptive parents, Jen Smith and Tom Heinzmann, sought to adopt Robert in 2007, when he was just 4 months old, but his case also was suspended in 2008. Jen and Robert made every effort to visit Robert and get to know him but were made to wait six years to see the adoption completed.
One of the proudest responsibilities I have as a U.S. senator is to assist Texans like Maggie and Chris, and Jen and Robert. So when they reached out to my office for help with their cases, I was pleased to move the process along more quickly. After a series of inquiries and steps, both families received word this year that their adoptions finally were completed. Because of their persistence and commitment to their children, they were able to become families and offer a loving home to two children in need.
I had the privilege of meeting both families, including Vania and Robert, this year. In moving to Texas, Vania gained two older brothers and one younger sister, who greeted her with open arms at the airport on her arrival. Robert was named in honor of Jen’s father, a World War II veteran. My wish for Robert and Vania is simple: a long life in Texas, rich with the love of their families and the knowledge they have finally arrived home.
Sadly, other families in Texas still are facing delays in their adoption cases, anxiously awaiting the call that their adoption has been completed. My staff and I stand ready to assist with intercountry adoptions. There is no greater gift than a child and, in turn, loving, caring and providing for that child.
As we gather to celebrate the holidays with our families, my thanks go out to remarkable organizations in Texas such as the Gladney Center for Adoption and Buckner International, who work hard every day to bring foster children together with their forever families. May God bless the work they do, and may he bless Vania and Robert with a very merry first Christmas in Texas.
Republican John Cornyn is a U.S. senator representing Texas.