Lajes family adopts Portuguese son

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Erica Horner
  • 65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Most members stationed at Lajes Field will only be here for two years. However, Capt. Brandon Morgan, 65th Medical Operations Squadron Physical Medicine Flight commander, and his family will be here for a total of four years - all because of a little boy with orange glasses.

In December 2010, Amanda Morgan, Capt. Morgan's wife, accompanied her two children (Zachary, 12, and Samantha, 11) on a trip to a local orphanage to deliver Christmas gifts. While there, she fell in love with a Portuguese boy named Ruben, who wore bright orange glasses. After the visit, Amanda felt a strong desire to help these orphans in a more significant way.

Once Amanda returned home that evening, she told Morgan that it was time for them to adopt a child.

"Adoption is something we have discussed doing at some point in our lives, but we didn't really know when that time would be," said Morgan.

After speaking with the rest of their family about possibly adopting and a lot of thought and prayer, the Morgans decided that the time was right, so they contacted the base legal office.

"The process was different than we expected," said Morgan. "You don't just walk into an orphanage and say 'We would like that one.' It was more of a matching process. We had to create a profile that we thought would best fit into our family - age, gender, potential medical and developmental conditions - and then the social worker contacted us."

This is typically a lengthy process, but luckily, for the Morgans, they were contacted within a few weeks and met Ruben shortly after.

"We met him at the park for the first time. He didn't speak any English, but there was an immediate connection, especially with our other children," Morgan said.

The Morgan family continued meeting with Ruben for three consecutive days, arranging picnics at a local park. On the fourth day, Ruben visited their home.

"That day he stayed at our house for two hours," Morgan said. "The next day he stayed for four hours. Then the following day, he came back and never left again."

On July 14, 2011, the Morgan's received custody from the court. On April 14, 2012, the Portuguese court rendered judgment that Ruben was officially a Morgan; just nine months after meeting him for the first time.

Even though the process seemed quicker and easier than most adoptions in Portugal, it didn't mean they wouldn't face any challenges.

"Instantly adding a 3-year-old to a family creates some stress as necessary adjustments are made within the family dynamic," said Morgan.

Still, all the family members agreed that Ruben was a perfect fit for their family.

"It is difficult to imagine what it would be like to go back to a life without him," Morgan said. "Ruben adjusted quickly to our family life mostly because of the relationship he developed with Zach, Sam, and especially Isabella. Isabella, 3, and Ruben are only 10 months apart, and are pretty much the same size, so we call them our little twins. They have become best friends and are very protective of each other."

Just recently, one of Ruben's new grandmothers sent him a wall hanging with a quote that perfectly fits why he became a part of the Morgan family: "Adoption is when a baby grows in a mommy's heart instead of her tummy."

Since the Morgan family was treated as Portuguese residents during the adoption process, the U.S. required that Ruben be in their custody for two years overseas so they could apply for an immigrant visa. After extending their time on Lajes, and realizing that wasn't enough, Morgan applied for an humanitarian assignment.

"We have really enjoyed our time on the island," he said. "I feel that we have the best souvenir we could possibly ask for to help us remember our time here - Ruben Miguel Mitchell Morgan."