If you haven’t read it already, don’t forget to check out Part 1 of the Barkey Family’s adoption journey here.
An orphan from Colombia whose adoption story went viral has finally been reunited with his adopted family and officially become part of the family.
Sebastian, 11, spent the summer with JoBen and Amanda Barkey and their children Asher, Judah, Mishayla and Jameis from California, USA, as part of a hosting program organized by Kidsave.org.
Secretly, the couple hoped to adopt Sebastian, but under Colombian hosting/adopting rules, they weren’t allowed to tell him – rules they followed explicitly.
After an emotional ‘goodbye’ at the airport, when Sebastian had to return to Colombia, a few weeks later they surprised him on video chat to ask if he wanted to be part of the family.
And three months later, after U.S. authorities approved their application to Sponsor Sebastian’s immigration through adoption, the family traveled to Colombia on Dec 4 to be reunited.
Two days later, on Dec 6, they were finally back with Sebastian and on Dec 13 finalized the adoption and he became Sebastian Barkey.
The jubilant family, whose adoption story went viral and was viewed by millions of people across social media, will now be able to spend Christmas together.
Speaking from Colombia, JoBen said: “When we hosted Sebastian this summer it was bittersweet for him.
“He has always wanted to live in a home with a family that had a lot of boys and a sister. We were his dream family come true.
“He knew he had to enjoy every minute of it though, because a family our size would never adopt another child.
“When he left, flight crew had to peel his hands off the entrance of the plane because he knew he’d lived his dream but it had come to an end and he was desperate for one more day.
“He had no clue we were intending to adopt him all along, when we called him he burst into tears because he missed us so much, but he still had no idea we wanted to adopt him.
-Scroll down to see the reunion on video-
“He said that as we held up the signs – in the video which went viral – he could barely believe what he was seeing and hearing because he had accepted the fact that our family was too big to ever adopt another child.
“The emotion that flooded out of him in the video that went viral was because he was overcome with surprise and happiness at the same time.”
As their story was being spread on the internet, the family worked hard continuing to raise funds needed for the adoption as well as finishing the U.S. part of the process, including submitting all the different immigration forms that had to be approved prior to traveling to finalize the adoption in Colombia.
Joben added: “When we found out we had a date to travel to Colombia it was emotional for all for us.
“As soon as we found out, we asked for permission to talk to him to tell him that we were coming.
“We had told him we would probably come in February so that he didn’t get his hopes up because the adoption process has so many unpredictable delays.
“When we called and told him, he was very surprised and overcome with emotion. It was impossible to hold back the tears as we told him that we were coming and going to be together for Christmas.
“The kids were very excited, they really wanted to see where Sebastian was from and learn about his home country and try some new food. Our kids love adventures, and this was a really exciting one for them to look forward to.”
When the family arrived in Colombia they had to have Sebastian signed over to them from the institution he was staying in to begin the family integration process.
Shortly after they met with the government lawyers to verbally agree to move forward.
At that point, the government representative signs paperwork allowing them to become his legal guardians, then they headed to court to hand in those documents including a handwritten letter from Sebastian stating the he also wanted to move forward with the adoption.
JoBen said: “When we finally saw him again it was pretty emotional for all of us. None of us really slept the night before including Sebastian.
“It was one of the first things his caretakers told us, that he had woken up at 6am because he was so anxious to see us and excited.
“The experience when you see each other again for the first time is called your “Encuentro”. It’s really special how they set up the “Encuentro” experience for families.
“They have you wait in a room with your family and they bring your new son to you. The staff really loves him so they were sad to say goodbye but also crying lots of happy tears for us.
“They brought him downstairs and into the room and the kids just ran towards each other and burst into tears in a big group hug. I teared up right away.
“It’s been really hard being separated and always thinking about him and wishing we could be there to give him a kiss and tuck him in at night.
“We always prayed he understood how desperate we were to come get him, and that the time apart was as hard for us as it was for him.
“The moment we saw him, a flood of emotions came over all of us as we knew that we were together forever.”
Story courtesy of T&T Creative Media.