SAN ANTONIO – This was a Thanksgiving unlike any other for Gus and Anna Prieto.
“After 20 years of marriage, this is the first Thanksgiving that we’re able to celebrate as parents,” Anna Prieto said.
The Prietos adopted a little boy in September, whom they named Journey for a reason.
After their beloved Teddy, a toy poodle, was stolen in a break-in last year, Anna Prieto said she changed her prayer.
“Rather than ask why did this happen, I started asking what is it you want to show me?” Anna Prieto said.
A week later, three different people told her that perhaps God wanted her and her husband to adopt a child. She said they didn’t hesitate to sign up for foster parent training. The last night of their class, they learned Teddy had been found with pink ears and a pink tail.
Anna Prieto said that’s when they knew something more was ahead.
The couple said exactly a week after they became licensed foster parents, they got the call that a preemie with no name had been abandoned by his drug-addicted mother at the hospital. Anna Prieto said 30 minutes later, they arrived at the hospital.
Anna Prieto said the baby had been in the neonatal intensive care unit for two weeks, undergoing treatment for withdrawal symptoms from five different drugs. She said for the time after they were able to take him home, “He was still kind of in agony and he would have little tremors. He was in pain.”
From the moment she first held him in her arms at the hospital, Anna Prieto knew it was love at first sight.
“It was the (most) beautiful experience ever,” she said. “Even though he wasn’t technically ours yet, in my heart, I knew he was mine.”
Gus Prieto described a photo of him the next day, holding Journey for the first time, by saying, “I call that moment my metamorphosis into a father.”
“We were husband and wife to each other, and then we became parents at that moment,” he said.
Gus Prieto said making Journey a part of their lives was “not a good deed. It was purpose-driven.”
“We’re adopted by God into God’s family, so if we’ve been adopted, we’re going to bring him into our family as well,” Anna Prieto said.
The couple said Journey’s transformation in the past year has been amazing.
“He is a happy baby. He’s very social, very ‘travieso,’” Anna Prieto said with a laugh.
Gus Prieto said Journey is like any 1-year-old. He can be mischievous and curious, but he also likes to sing and dance and, of course, play with his furry, four-legged sister, Teddy.
The Prietos said they don’t want to hide anything from Journey when the time comes.
“We want him to know God never abandoned him,” Anna Prieto said.
She and her husband urge others to consider fostering a child or even adopting.
“I always say I believe in the power of love,” she said.
“The greatest gift you can give any life is love,” Gus Prieto said.