FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A 19-month-old boy at the center of an international deportation debate has officially been adopted by a South Florida family.

After a difficult and drawn-out battle on Thursday, the toddler legally became Angel Simmons by his foster family, who will be able to keep him in the U.S.

Simmons was officially adopted, in a very short but emotional ceremony at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.

His adoptive mother, Tamara Simmons, read a beautiful message to the newest member of her family.

“Dear Baby Angel, I wonder if you can even begin to grasp how loved you are,” she said as she fought back tears. “You are everyone’s baby.”

His adoptive father, Gerald Simmons, said it took a lot of time and effort to see this day.

“We really wanted to fight for this boy,” he said.

Angel has been cared for by Tamara and Gerald since late 2021, when he was just a few days old.

His biological mother’s parental rights were terminated, and according to court documents, his father did not want him.

But the Florida Department of Children and Families recommended that he be placed with his maternal grandmother, who lives in the mountains in Haiti, 45 minutes from the nearest town.

At first, the judge agreed.

“There’s no water in the home, there’s no electricity in the home,” said Tamara.

Meanwhile, civil unrest spiraled out of control in Haiti.

Angel is an American citizen because he was born in Broward County, so the fight was on.

“An integral part of being a U.S. citizen is a right to live here,” said Alan Mishael, Tamara and Gerald’s attorney.

Angel’s biological family in Haiti was unaware that he has heart and ear issues.

At least one doctor there told the court that proper care would simply not be viable in Haiti.

The DCF changed its recommendation in November 2022.

“We are at this point of time asking for the court to change the goal of this case to adoption,” said Gina Leiser with DCF.

“I am incredibly grateful to the Haitian community. You have our deepest respect, we have your little boy,” said Tamara.

The family members were in Courtroom 9150, along with their four older children.

“Do you guys agree to show that young man the example that he needs from older siblings?,” asked the judge to the siblings.

“Yeah,” replied the four siblings.

All it took was a signature.

“We’re gonna do this quick: 1, 2, 3, hit! It’s official,” said the judge as Angel banged a gavel.

Angel’s parents continue to work on his health issues. They said he is doing fine and they plan to teach him Creel.

Tamara and Gerald said they would plan to work with other foster families to help them navigate this system, as well as any other families who might find themselves in similar situations.

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