One American university student is taking the necessary steps to become the legal father of an orphan boy he found in a trash can several years ago while visiting Haiti.
Jimmy Amisial, a 27-year-old college student studying communication and electronic media at Texas State University, first met his future son on a return trip to his native country of Haiti five years ago. At the time, he had flown to Haiti to visit his mother, Elicie, and while there, he also decided to pay a visit to an orphanage where he had volunteered since he was a teenager.
What he saw when he arrived at the orphanage changed his life forever.
"People were crowding round this bin, and I heard them arguing about what to do with this tiny baby," Amisial recently recalled. "Everyone was just staring at him. Not a single soul wanted to help."
While others stood about, Amisial decided to take action.
"He was crying and had no clothes on, and I could see the pain in his eyes. I had to do something," Amisial said.
He took the baby to Elicie's home where he and his mother washed, clothed, and fed the baby before taking him to a doctor. Tending to the baby's hygiene needs was particularly important since the baby was covered in ants from his time in the trash bin.
Amisial also contacted police to try and find the baby's parents, but they have never been identified.
With no known birth parents, the baby would have had few prospects aside from an orphanage. So a judge assigned to his case asked Amisial whether he wanted to adopt the boy. Though Amisial was concerned about the baby's welfare, he was still initially torn about what to do.
“When I was asked to raise him, I stayed awake for days tossing and turning, trying to make a decision,” he said. "I was already behind on my university fees, and my family has always struggled to make ends meet. But I didn’t have a dad growing up, and this poor child was facing a lifetime of instability and uncertainty."
Despite the challenges he knew he would face, Amisial ultimately decided to become the legal guardian of the boy he had already named Emilio Angel Jeremiah.
"Something inside was telling me that this had happened for a reason – so I took a leap of faith. Sometimes you don’t have to know what to do. You just have to be ready to do it."
Now, five years later, Amisial is still in the process of formally adopting Emilio.
"It's been an incredible journey and watching him grow up has been so rewarding," Amisial said of Emilio. "I'm very proud of him."
"I had to do what I had to do when no one else wanted to do it, and I'm so grateful for the past four and a half years," he added. "I truly do feel like a father, and I'm excited to put pen to paper and make Emilio my son. I just need to raise the money first."
Meanwhile, Emilio lives with his grandmother Elicie in Haiti, where Amisial splits his time. A GoFundMe account has been created to help Amisial raise the $60,000 he says he needs to complete the adoption process.
"It’s been fun seeing him grow. He’s a joy to be around," Amisial said. "Mom loves him, the kids in the orphanage love him, and I love him as if he were my own. He really is a special little boy."
For more on Jimmy and Emilio's story, check out this clip from Sky News: