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 that were 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 in Guatemala. As a result, Maggie and Chris had to wait more than 5 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 was also suspended in 2008. Jen and Robert also made every effort to visit Robert and get to know him but ultimately were made to wait 6 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 look into how I could help move the process along more quickly. After a series of inquiries and steps, both families received word this year that their adoptions were finally completed. Because of their persistence and their commitment to their children, they were able to become a family 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 day. 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 are still 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 all the 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.
Senator Cornyn serves on the Finance and Judiciary Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.