'I'm going to save him': Texas State student raising abandoned baby in Haiti hopes to adopt him – Austin American-Statesman

Jimmy Amisial knew he had to save the baby from the fire ant-infested garbage can.
Though it was New Year’s Eve in 2017 and he was headed to a party at a nearby Haitian orphanage where he volunteered, Amisial’s night and life changed course when he came upon a crowd glaring with disgust at an abandoned 3-month-old infant lying in pile of rubbish.
“They were saying, ‘It’s the devil,’ but I saw a precious living soul like me,” Amisial said, reflecting on locals that believed the baby came to the community through the devil. “I said, I’m going to save him. Not on my watch, I’m not going to let him die.”
As Haitians rang in the New Year, Amisial, a 23-year-old in his first year at Texas State University, marked the start of 2018 by saving a child in distress and embarking on a journey to possible parenthood.
After the chance encounter, Amisial brought the baby home to his mother and together the two bathed and tended to the wounds he acquired from being left alone in the trash for several hours.
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Amisial, who was visiting family in Gonaives, Haiti, for the holidays before an expected return to San Marcos for spring classes, was then asked by authorities at the onset of an investigation into the child’s abandonment if he would be willing to act as the baby’s legal guardian.
The local authorities, aware of Amisial’s previous work with orphans, thought the college student would be a good fit to care for the child.
“I was shocked because it wasn’t my expectation at all,” Amisial remembered.
Growing up, Amisial spent time at nearby orphanages to serve as a positive example and friend to children vulnerable to violence due to living on the streets. After volunteering in Haiti for several years, he eventually began joining mission trips abroad where he met friends who would later connect him with Texas State University, where he was pursuing a communications degree when he found the boy.
After a few sleepless nights and with the support of his mother, Amisial decided to take legal guardianship of the child.
“You know, in life, if you want to be great you have to learn how to face your challenges. And so, I took a leap of faith by saying yes to God, because when I looked into his eyes, I’m like, I cannot say no to that,” Amisial said about the child, whom he named Emilio and is now nearly five years old.
However, with his decision came hardship. Amisial had to put his education on hold as he navigated through unplanned parenthood.
“It’s been on and off, one semester I can go and next semester I can’t,” Amisial said.
Having to split time between raising a child in Haiti, where the boy lives with Amisial’s mother, and attending classes in San Marcos created a financial burden for the new dad as the money he set aside for college is needed to fund Emilio’s immediate needs as well as his future education.
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Despite the obstacles, Amisial is content in raising Emilio and is continuing his pursuit to go from legal guardian to adopted father. Although, the adoption, which is expected to cost tens of thousands of dollars, has proven to be another challenge.
Funding, along with bureaucratic red tape, have highlighted the adoption delays. But thanks to a GoFundMe page that Amisial launched to help fund the adoption, the hopeful dad is optimistic as he has raised over $128,000.
“It’s been an incredible journey, it hasn’t been easy, but it has been a blessing and I’ve enjoyed it. I embrace it,” Amisial said.
Now, Emilio is set to begin his third year of school and loves dancing and playing basketball with the man he knows as dad. Emilio has also taken to the guitar, and he hopes to become a musician when he grows up.
As for Amisial, he anticipates returning to San Marcos to continue his degree plan in the upcoming spring semester.
“It’s so fun to see him grow into such a loving boy,” Amisial said. “You know, he has a million-dollar smile.”


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