Their story begins much the same as millions of children around the world. Two women have children, both boys. Since the women are friends, from the beginning, the boys spend quite a lot of time with each other and they, too, become friends. Their families celebrate together and support each other.
Before the boys are four years old, however, their lives would become very different than other children’s. In 2002 in the East African country of Mozambique, AIDS has become an epidemic, sweeping the nation. Every family is touched, in some way, by the dreaded disease. For Kelvin and Afonso, however, this epidemic would shape their lives. Both boys would lose their parents to the disease and would become orphans.
After the death of their parents, Afonso and two older siblings were immediately placed in a local orphanage. Kelvin spent some time living with one family member and then another until he, too, found himself in the orphanage. Once inside the orphanage, Kelvin and Afonso became each other’s family. They were inseparable.
Thousands of miles away, two families were embarking on their own life-changing journey. The Slaters and the Lewises had been able to have biological children. In fact, there were seven children in the Lewis family; however, a daughter-in-law working with orphanages in Mozambique suggested they adopt Kelvin. The Slaters had no intention of adopting, but when they were on an AIDS relief mission to Mozambique became acquainted with a young man who had siblings in an orphanage and wanted them to have a real family. The Slaters had an overwhelming feeling that they were to adopt Afonso and his older brother and sister.
Both families shared similar experiences with regard to the difficulty of adopting from Mozambique. Mozambique officials believed that Americans trying to adopt Mozambique children were doing so with the intention of selling the children as slaves. Both families traveled back and forth to Mozambique several times over six years before they were able to bring their children home.
In 2008, within six months of each other, both boys arrived in America with new last names, with new families. Neither could speak the language. Both struggled with learning to be part of a family. Neither had any memory of having parents and had a hard time with asking permission to do things or being told what to do. By sheer coincidence, both boys had been adopted by parents in the same American community, Gilbert, Arizona, and lived less than two miles apart.
Sharon Slater, Afonso’s mom said, “Yes, I think it’s amazing, but I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in God-incidences. I don’t think this happened by chance.”
Kelvin and Afonso, best friends since birth in Mozambique and family for years in an orphanage, were able to support each other in new American families. They attended the same elementary school, were on the same little-league and then school soccer teams, and even attended the same church. This spring, the boys will graduate from high school and then will go to university together. Both boys have been accepted to Brigham Young University and will be freshman roommates.
As Kelvin said, “I don’t want to call it a coincidence. I’d say it’s more like a blessing, really. It’s more like God wanted it to happen.”