In March 1984 we re-adopted him before the Probate and Family Court in Dedham, Massachusetts, an extra step recommended by our agency. When we anticipated some family travel to Europe and knew that Nelson’s Honduran passport would soon run out, I filed an application in February 1986 to petition for his naturalization. (Tom was still a Canadian then.)

More than a year later, we got notice of the final hearing. He was to come along with hundreds of other immigrants to historic Fanueil Hall in Boston for a swearing in ceremony. By some coincidence, the date June 25, 1987—was exactly four years to the day after we had brought him into the country. At six, Nelson was old enough to appreciate some of what was happening. His brother, Derek, age two, looked on as Nelson held up his right hand to take the oath of citizenship and had his picture taken with the certificate.

Our curious fellow grew up uncertain of his birth name or date, yet confident that we cherished him. We tried to answer his questions about his birth parents whenever they came up, but there was not much to tell of which we could be sure. We emphasized that as far as we knew his parents had been killed, we thought perhaps violently, perhaps in a political incident. Nelson learned to live with the uncertainty about his past and never really plagued us with questions. He naturally wondered who he was and what his biological family was like. And, as he became an adolescent, that longing to know quietly deepened.

In fact, Tom and I underestimated how much he suffered from the anxiety of being different from the rest of his family, and of not knowing who he really was. Issues of identity loom large during the teen years, but if Nelson was conflicted because of the question of his origins, it was a

subterranean struggle. We didn’t talk much about it, as I recall, because the little we had to say had already been said. There were other, more immediate issues to deal with. Adolescence is always a challenge for parents and children, and we were no exception. Then, everything changed just as unexpectedly as the way he had come into our lives in the first place.


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