The Facebook photo of 3-year-old Sage and 6-year-old Darwin clinging to their father, Tom Walker, his arms wrapped around them, was of their reunion this week at a child welfare agency in Costa Rica.
“They want to come home so bad,” Walker wrote in an email following their first one-hour visit.
Their stepmother, Ginger, said when she saw the photo, “I was in tears. I can’t even express. I was so happy for them.”
San Antonio police officials said their mother, Brandy Romano, and her husband, Grant, are both in custody in Costa Rica awaiting extradition to San Antonio where they will face kidnapping charges.
The brothers allegedly were taken in late May, but tracked down by the U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force last week. Their father has said he suspected his sons were in Costa Rica because his ex-wife has property there and had talked about moving there.
But their stepmother said, as of now, “They’re stuck down in Costa Rica.”
Walker wrote Costa Rican authorities need an “official translation” of his 31-page divorce decree.
“The price I was quoted was $900 to $1,000 and it could take up to 10 days to complete,” Walker said in his email.
His wife said they are hoping the government will accept the translation provided by the U.S. State Department that was due to arrive this week.
“It’s just a long shot, but we hope that if they take it, then I won’t have to go down there,” their stepmother said.
Being that Costa Rica has a family-oriented culture, she said her being at her husband’s side would reinforce the fact the boys already are part of a family who wants them back.
But, she said, complicating matters was the fact the family van was broken into the other day, and among the items stolen was her passport and other important travel papers.
In appealing to the thieves, and given what’s at stake, Walker said, “They can mail it. I don’t care. I just want my documentation back.”
She said in her first telephone conversation with Darwin, he asked her, “When will I be able to come home?”
Walker said despite the red tape, the Costa Rican government is taking good care of the boys, and her husband has daily visits with them.
She said at least the boys are learning Spanish and learning about a different culture.
Walker said still it’s been an ordeal that began with their alleged kidnapping despite an amicable divorce and shared custody.
She said their mom had even told her she loved the fact their stepmother was a friend of hers.
“Why she would take them, I don’t know,” Walker said. “It makes no sense to me.”
But on behalf of the entire family, Walker said they are grateful for the community’s support and concern.
She said, “I cannot believe how much everybody has done for us.”