I was the lucky one

by Tymothy Parmenter

I was adopted from Tegucigalpa Honduras at age 7. I had left behind my mother, my sister as well as grandparents, aunts, uncles and many cousins. I was headed to the United States, the land of dreams; a country where many of my friends and family had wished to go. I was the lucky one.

I remember saying goodbye to my sister, I remember the park where I would play as a child. I remember the church I attended, the stray dogs, the large Coca Cola sign on the side of the mountain, and many other things. What I remember most about my last days in Honduras was the plane flight. It was my first time on an airplane and I was doing it alone. I wasn’t completely alone as my adoptive mother and new sister were with me, but they were essentially strangers at that point. I had only met my new mother once and that was 6 months prior. My new sister spoke Spanish which was helpful but again, I felt alone.

The day I left was May 15, 1991. The plane flight was long and we had a layover in Miami. From there my sister boarded a plane to Washington DC and my mother and I flew to Syracuse NY. My mother knew only a couple of words in Spanish so it was a quiet trip. Upon my arrival to Syracuse, I was greeted by the rest of my family. My new parents had made a pledge to make the world a better place by adopting children in need. That being said I was welcomed by my new, very diverse family. My parents had 11 kids in total, 8 or which were adopted.

I remember arriving at my new home for the first time. My grandmother, who was my care taker for the most part, had called and I told her that I was at my new home with my new family. It was one of the last times I spoke with her. Communication with the family I had left behind started off with a few phone calls for the first couple of months to almost nothing. I knew that making a phone call for them was difficult. We were poor, we had no phone. The internet was not an option early on and I had no way of reaching out. Not only that, the language that I knew as a child became obsolete. No one in my family, my school, my neighborhood spoke Spanish so I forgot it. I forgot the words, the phrases, the pronunciation of the words, I lost it all.

I grew up as an American kid from the suburbs. I attended school, played sports, went to prom. I did everything my peers did and more. I graduated High School, went to college, started off on my own and had my own family. My life in Honduras was a distant memory at this point. Though I thought of my mother and sister often, I knew nothing about them. I didn’t know where they were, I didn’t know what they looked like, I didn’t even know if they were ok.

It was about April of 2017 when my spouse Kay asked if I was interested in finding my family in Honduras. I had said that I had tried using the internet before but had gotten nowhere. All that I could remember was my sister’s name, Lupe and my mothers, Rena and that they were in Tegucigalpa. Other than that I had nothing else but a few photos of my last days in Honduras. Kay, being a social media guru, got to work and quickly found a missionary who was originally from Kansas and was now living in Tegucigalpa that was willing to help me locate my family. Kay told her my story and sent a photo of me on my last day in Honduras. My house was in the background in the distance but I always remembered which one it was.

With my picture and my story, the missionary was able to find the very street where the picture was taken, 27 years prior. There she asked a tortilla vendor if she knew how to get to the house which had been circled in the background. The tortilla vendor not only knew the house, she also knew the family that used to live there. She pointed at me in the picture and said, “and that is the little boy they gave up for adoption years ago”.

The tortilla vendor took the missionary to the neighborhood where the house was and introduced her to my aunt and my mother. She took out my picture, showed it to them and tears of joy overtook them all. They had been searching for me for many years but had not known where or how to look. My great grandmothers had passed a few months prior to this day and her dying words were, “find Giovanni” my original birth name.

I had gotten home from work and I was in the kitchen with Kay and my kids when her phone started ringing. Kay was making dinner and I was playing with the kids so we both ignored it but it wouldn’t stop. We looked to see who it was and it was the missionary facetiming us. Being completely ignorant to the nature of her call I told Kay to answer, maybe it’s something important.

Again being oblivious to what was going on I went back to play with my kids and left Kay with the phone. She calls me from the other room to come see and I said, this better be important. I took the phone and there was the missionary. She said, I’d like to introduce you to your mother.

Reconnecting with my family was indescribable. I didn’t recognize my mother. My first words to Kay were, that’s not my mom, that’s my grandmother. Taken completely by surprise by the turn of events it had slipped my mind that 27 years had passed since I laid eyes on the woman who gave me life, whom I had cherished and adored. That night was an eventful night to say the least. I spent hour’s facetiming my family. To my surprise I had four additional siblings I knew nothing about. Lupe however was nowhere to be found. To my delight and amazement I was told that she had been living in Miami for the past 10 years.

I wanted to take the time to go to Miami and visit my sister. I finally got the chance in June of 2018 almost a year after reconnecting with my family. At this time it had been 28 years since I had seen her last. We weren’t close when we were kids, that I do remember but as adults I look back our sibling rivalry as childish and immature. I arrived to Miami late on a Friday evening. Nerves should have gotten the best of me at this point but I was calm and collected. This was a surreal moment but for me it felt natural and pure.

The drive from Fort Lauderdale to Miami was about thirty minutes and when I arrived I texted her that I was there. I walked to the front door, it swung open and there on the other side was the face of the little girl I remembered. She had aged and matured and her eyes were motherly and kind but her expressions were just as I remembered. She wepted as we embraced and I couldn’t stop smiling. I was greeted by her two eldest daughters at the door, nieces whom I have never met but had had conversations with through facebook. With my minimal Spanish skills and their equivalent English skills we conversed for hours. We talked about our childhood, we reminisced about the family and friends I had left behind. We caught up on what had gone on in our lives, about school, our kids, everything.

I was able to spend the weekend with her and her family, it all felt natural as if we were just catching up. Needless to say Miami is a beautiful city and a fun town and we definitely took advantage by spending the entire weekend together sightseeing, going down town, and going to the beach. It was a beautiful weekend, one that I will never forget. As my time reconnecting with my family came to an end I realized that I felt complete again. My life has circled back to my origins and the realization of who I really was and where my roots were was a humbling experience.

I now keep in contact with all five of my brothers and sisters. I hope to make it to Honduras to visit someday to embrace my mother again and to finally meet my brothers and sisters, hopefully in the near future. My family and I are all set to visit my sister and her family during the Holidays in Miami this year. It will be the first time that my sister gets to meet her nieces and nephews. I am excited to unite our families.