LA LIBERTAD, Honduras (AP) - Baby Johan spent his first day home chasing his family’s kitten, bouncing to music and playing like any 15-month-old boy.
But his mom said Saturday he also seemed lost in his own home - not recognizing his favorite aunt and only able to sleep with the lights on after spending five months in U.S. custody forcibly separated from his parents.
“We have to give him time, be patient,” his mother, Adalicia Montecinos said with a tired smile after her first night back with her son, who only slept for a few hours.
He also seemed to be speaking words that his mom figured were likely in English.
For months, the couple watched their only son grow up in videos while he was kept at a U.S. government-contracted shelter in Phoenix. That’s where he took his first steps and spoke his first words.
Adalicia broke down Friday in tears as she talked about how her son had become a poster child for outrage over the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“He suffered everything that we have been suffering,” she said.
His father soon won him over by playing ball. Within an hour, the tiny boy in an orange tank top, blue shorts but no shoes laughed as both parents kissed him outside a center where they finished final legal paperwork before heading home....And so ended the extraordinary journey of a baby whose short life has ranged from Honduran poverty to a desperate dash across the U.S. border to the front pages of the world’s newspapers.Captured by Border Patrol agents almost instantly upon arrival, Johan’s father was deported - and the 10-month-old was kept at the Arizona shelter. Over the next five months, he spoke and walked for the first time and had his first birthday; his parents, hundreds of miles away, would miss it all.“The nightmare is over,” Adalicia said Saturday as she washed clothes in an outdoor sink outside their cement home in the steamy mountains in central Honduras.But the family faces new challenges as their son readjusts and she fears the effects of their separation will be lasting.Johan shook his head “no” over and over when his aunt who lives with the family picked him up. He has been fussier and Adalicia wondered if it was because of tiredness from his long journey or something more serious.Only time will tell, said Clara Long, a researcher with Human Rights Watch. At least a dozen parents were deported back to their homelands without their children.“I think