HOUSTON (AP) — Miguel Morin arrived at his new home in suburban Houston on Friday to four pizzas and a group of siblings eager to accept them into their family years after he was snatched from his parents' home as an infant.
Miguel, now 8 years old, was able to move permanently into the home of Junita and Joseph Auguillard thanks to a judge's ruling Wednesday. The home isn't unfamiliar to him. Miguel, who's been in foster care since he was found in March, has been spending weekends and holidays there since November, and the Auguillards are the legal guardians of his two sisters and two brothers.
"This is what we've been waiting for. It's been a long time coming, but it's finally here," the soft-spoken Joseph Auguillard said as he waited for a caseworker from Texas Child and Protective Services to drop Miguel off for the last time.
Miguel was kidnapped when he was 8 months old. Miguel's former baby sitter, Krystle Tanner, and her mother, Gloria Walker, have been charged with kidnapping and injury to a child in his 2004 disappearance. They have pleaded not guilty and remain in jail.
Morin is moving into the Auguillard's small, single-family home in Channelview, a town about 16 miles east of Houston. He joins his brothers and sisters, as well as eight of the Auguillard's own children.
Ranging in age from 7 to 19, the children all embraced Miguel immediately, Junita Auguillard said, standing in a small living room that has family pictures hanging on the walls and sitting on a brick fireplace.
"He fit right in, like he was never supposed to be gone," said Junita Auguillard, who knew Miguel as a baby before he was kidnapped. "He had an instant bond with the other siblings."
The Auguillards have been taking care of Miguel's brothers and sisters for nearly 10 years, Junita Auguillard said. Miguel's parents, Auboni Champion-Morin and Fernando Morin, were the Auguillards' neighbors in a previous apartment complex. Initially, they had asked the Auguillards to care for their two oldest children, now 14 and 12, for a year until they "got settled," she said. But then they gave them guardianship of their two younger children, now 10 and 7, she said.
It remains unclear why the Morins did not want to care for their children, Auguillard said. They rarely visit, and only occasionally call, she said. The judge had also said Miguel's parents could visit him in the Auguillards' home, she said, however, they have not since his visits began in November.
Miguel and his biological parents are undergoing therapy together, and CPS hopes they will one day share custody with the Auguillards.
For now, though, the Auguillards are simply happy Miguel will no longer have to return to foster care.
"I just hate to see him cry because every time we bring him back he'd cry in the car," Auguillard said.
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