Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)

Welcome home y’all! 

As many of you probably know, the Parkers have been trying desperately to get their adopted son, Ronel, out of Haiti – only to have been met with one obstacle after another.  And every time it looked like he was finally coming home, there was another problem and Ronel would be left behind.  But like any good daddy, Ernest was his son’s voice when he couldn’t speak for himself.

Debra and Ernest Parker’s story began long before the devastating earthquake rocked the country of Haiti – and captured the world’s heart. Ronel was an orphan; declared abandon. When he was taken in by the Real Hope for Haiti missionary organization, he was thought to be about seven or eight years old, but no one really knew for sure.  He weighed a mere 28 pounds.

This organization cared for Ronel, and the dozens and dozens of other children that come through their home, and within a few months his weight had doubled and his bright smile captured the heart of the Parkers.  When Debra saw his picture, she knew this was her son.   And so their journey began.

Over the next year and a half, the Parkers navigated all the adoption paperwork and legal channels to adopt Ronel.  Then: the earthquake. Since his adoption was approved, he should have been cleared to come home.  But, that wasn’t the case.  The real fight had just begun. 

After learning about the Parkers situation, my office went to work, working day-and-night to help in any way we could.  If you think the red-tape and bureaucracy is bad in our government, you should try to survive it in Haiti.  I am not sure if it was the incessant calls from our office and the Parkers’ extended network of friends, but finally after a gut-wrenching ride of back-and-forth with both governments, Ronel and Ernest were headed home. 

And, a Texas-size welcome it was!  Ernest and Romel landed in Houston to a host of family, friends and media.  His new brother Colton and sister Carly were ready to greet him with their Creole translation book in hand.  Mom immediately folded him into her arms and heart – no translation needed. 

That night, Debra posted on her blog: “Six Parkers under one roof, so happy!” 

Now the real work begins: time to make Ronel Parker an official Texan.  Never truer is the saying, “I wasn’t born here, but got here as fast as I could.”  My first order of business: teaching him some Texas lingo.  “Y’all” is singular; “All y’all” is plural.  And there’s probably not a good translation in that book for: “fixin’ to.”  But, in a family of six Texans, I am guessing he’ll catch on fast!  

His homecoming couldn’t have come at a better time either – the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is just around the corner.  Ronel needs a new pair of boots!  From the world’s largest BBQ cook off, to the historic rodeo parade, and the richest rodeo competition in the world, Ronel can get a one-stop, crash course in all that is Texas. 

(I would say that he got here in time for the Super Bowl, but since the Texans or Cowboys aren’t playing, it’s just not all that “super” to me.  But, he should learn that football is not soccer.  And, we only have two seasons in Texas: football season and off-season.)

I suspect it won’t take long for Ronel to learn that being from the Lone Star State sets you apart from the rest.  We’ll get to work on that accent right off the bat.  I can’t wait to hear him say “y’all” with his new Texas drawl.

Texas is the Yellow Rose, Hill Country bluebonnets, Cowboys (the real ones and the football ones), Longhorns (also, the real ones and the football ones – and Aggies too!), the Alamo, our six flags, burnt orange sunsets (sorry, they just aren’t maroon!), and a culture so diverse that we are recognized around the world.  Ronel is going to fit right in.

But the best part about Texas: Texans.  Its folks just like the Parkers with welcoming hearts and down-home hospitality.  This story has touched the hearts of thousands of people.  The Parkers are just one of many families that saw a child in need and just knew they were meant to be a part of their family. 

The Parkers will tell you they are the lucky ones; they are the ones blessed to have Ronel, Carly, Colton and Jude.  But, really we are lucky ones to have them as part of our community. 

Welcome home y’all.

And that’s just the way it is.