Pastor, wife thankful for adopted children

HARLINGEN — Aaron and Iris Saenz are thankful to finally have their forever family.

This month, after a two-year wait, the Harlingen couple’s prayers were answered when they adopted four siblings — just in time for Thanksgiving.

“God’s plan is so perfect,” Iris said. “Those are our babies; it just took them a little bit to get home.”

Earlier this week, Aaron Jr., 8, walked up to his father and asked him for more invitations he could take to school to invite his friends to church.

With his mother smiling and standing nearby, his father, Aaron Sr., a pastor at Valley Praise Church, said, “OK son, but we have to go to the office to get some more.”

Aaron Jr., his two sisters, Gabriella, 10, and Karina, 12, and little brother, Angel, 4, are all now part of the Saenz family.

The children adore their parents Aaron and Iris so much they changed their birth names and last name recently.

Aaron Jr. and his little brother Angel even changed hair style to match their father’s slick, clean-cut look.

Today, they will enjoy their first Thanksgiving dinner together as a family.

“I’m thankful for the fact that we get to hold their hands and pick them up when they fall down and even get to just cry with them when they might need to do that,” Iris said.

Aaron Sr. added, “It’s a family now.

“It’s been a beautiful thing to watch … we have bonded and I’m just so thankful for the opportunity to raise potential world changers and invest into these little lives.”

The couple, who have been married for more than 10 years, are the first family in the Valley to adopt children through Buckner International Foster Care and Adoption.

“This was a perfect match,” said Nelida Tristan, Buckner International Foster Care and Adoption director. “They had the resources and support.”

Aaron and Iris have been with Buckner for two years waiting to be matched with a sibling set to adopt. And this month, they adopted the four siblings through the Waiting Texas Children program.

The program is estimated to have nearly 7,000 children waiting to be adopted in Texas.

Tristan said there is need for more foster homes in Cameron County.

Tristan said that according to Gov. Greg Abbott, if a family in every church in Texas went through the adoption process, it would send all the children waiting to be adopted in Texas to a good home.

In December, the Saenz family will meet with Abbott at the Capitol to talk about the system of adoption in an effort to get more children good homes that are in the adoption and foster care program.

Iris said they want to instill in their children family traditions.

So part of the day Tuesday the Saenz family spent the day baking grandma’s pie recipes, a longtime tradition they want their children to continue.

And as a family, yesterday they planned to take a Thanksgiving dinner to a family in need.

“We want to teach our children the importance of helping somebody else out during Thanksgiving,” Aaron Sr. said.