ASHLAND — Larry Lucas fell in love in Honduras.
He and his sons, Dillon, 19, and Justin, 17, were doing mission work at an orphanage in the city of Tegucigalpa, playing soccer with some of the children, when Lucas said he wanted to adopt 11-year-old Katerine.
“Her first words to me, she yelled ‘Get in the goal! I’m the defense,’” Lucas said, grinning. “That’s when I knew she was a Lucas.”
He meant he knew the girl had the competitive spirit and love for sports his family has and he said his desire to adopt her was inspired by a higher power.
“I can’t explain it,” Lucas, a member of First Baptist Church of Kenova, said. “It was an instant feeling of being her father. It’s just something God put in me.”
Mrs. Lucas was quickly accepting of her husband’s idea to expand the family.
“I got a 2 a.m. text that said ‘I think God wants us to adopt a child,’” Mrs. Lucas recalled. She responded by telling him to “Do what God wants you to do” and “Send a picture.”
She said despite never having met Katerine and not talking about adopting a child before, she said she trusted her husband to make the right decision.
The boys said they weren’t surprised they would soon be trying to add a family member because they were all taken with Katerine.
“I knew we had a special connection,” Justin said. “So when he told us, I was like, ‘Sweet.’ I was OK with that.”
The girls were excited to have another girl in the house.
“I was excited,” Alaina said. “But mom told me not to get my hopes up.”
In fact, the Lucases were discouraged by many, including a former missionary who worked with adoption agencies.
“His advice to us was to try to adopt somewhere else,” Lucas said, noting Honduras-to-United States adoptions are a difficult and lengthy process. Last year, 20 children from Honduras were adopted by Americans, according to travel.state.gov; in 2010, only nine such adoptions were approved. Potential adopters must pass evaluations by psychologists and social workers and attend several court hearings.
The family wasn’t deterred, however.
“We went there about every three months on short-term missions,” Lucas said. “Our church donated computers to the orphanage and we’d go teach computers. Heather taught cross stitching. We’d teach Bible lessons, sports .... we fell in love with all the kids, but Katerine was special to us.”
Eventually, progress on the case began and, in August, the adoption was final. About a month later, Katerine’s last paperwork had been completed and she joined the Lucases in Ashland.
Despite the long process, the Lucases have only good things to say about Honduras.
“Honduras was great to us,” Lucas said. “The process was smooth and they did their due diligence.”
They also praised the orphanage.
“The directors loved her, but we think she’s better off in a family,” Lucas said, noting the people of the country were friendly.
Katerine said the was comfortable in the orphanage in the city of Tegucigalpa and she was treated and fed well. When the opportunity to be adopted by an American family came along, she wasn’t sure how to react.
“At first, I was confused,” she said. “It was scary, but also a good idea.”
Lucas said the community has been very accepting of her, throwing a party before school started so she could meet people and make friends.
It might seem as though it was Katerine’s strong personality and the Lucases’ generous nature that brought the girl and her new family together. But Lucas tells a different story.
“God gets all the credit for what he has done for our family,” he said.
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