An Arcadia mother was trying to adopt a disabled boy who lived with her family for years when an apparent clerical error threatened to derail the process. Ana Garcia reports for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sept. 20, 2012
Arcadia mother Eleanor DiFronzo has eight adopted children and two of her own. She was in the process of adopting her ninth child when she says immigration services lost the boy’s file.
Ramon Garcia came to live with DiFronzo when he was 4 years old. He had severe brain damage, and the developmental age and ability of an 8 month old.
She still remembers the day he arrived.
"He was pretty bad," DiFronzo recalled.
For eight years, Ramon lived with the family and was counted among their own. DiFronzo beamed as she pointed to photos of Ramon enjoying birthday cake, Disneyland and the Lancaster poppies.
"He does nothing but smile and give you love," said DiFronzo.
Ramon is now 16, and requires medical care beyond DiFronzo’s ability so he’s been moved to a 24-hour nursing facility. Yet DiFronzo has dreamed of adopting the son she calls hers.
"He’s always going to be our boy," she said.
Before DiFronzo could adopt Ramon, he needed to become a legal resident. Ramon was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. with his mother, but she gave him up. After DiFronzo was made his legal guardian, she began the process to get Ramon a green card.
"We started in September 2010. We did all the paperwork," she said.
But few months ago, the adoption was in jeopardy.
"They said they had lost the file," said DiFronzo. "That’s when I called channel 4."
The NBC4 Get Garcia team called U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s office and found someone to help DiFronzo.
"We should be helping Californians who are trying to care for the vulnerable, not standing in their way," Boxer said.
Boxer’s officer worked with the congressional liaison at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which said it could not comment on this case "due to privacy laws."
But DiFronzo is thrilled to tell everyone that not only did they finally locate the file, they issued the green card.
"Yup, it’s right here. That’s my result, right here, this little card," she said. "Now we can get to the adoption. Once we have that, he is all ours."