Nancy Rodriguez is amazed that a 10-year-old girl can be as wise and as selfless as her newly adopted daughter, Cristal.
About a month after Cristal moved in with her new legal guardians — after having been rescued from an unsafe home where she endured rejection — the little girl made a special request in advance of her 10th birthday.
“She told me she wanted to cut her hair and donate it to a place that would help out children with cancer, to make a beautiful wig for someone who doesn’t have hair,” Rodriguez said.
The request floored Rodriguez and her husband, who are South Richmond residents. Here’s a little girl who has lived through conditions unimaginable to most children, and yet she has this incredible capacity to consider the needs of others.
“Cristal is always looking out for others and their best interest; she smiles through her pain,” Rodriguez said, adding that Cristal also volunteers with the family at a local nonprofit and is an alter server at their parish.
On March 15, her 10th birthday, Cristal’s wish to donate her hair was granted.
“Her hair is so thick that she wanted to make two braids so that they could make better use of it,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez still can’t fathom Cristal’s exhibitions of selflessness.
“Can you imagine living through that type of rejection and still having a smile?” she said.
To some degree, Nancy Rodriguez can, although she may not realize it. Rodriguez and her husband don’t have children of their own, but not for lack of trying.
“It has not been easy for my husband and I since we don’t have any children of our own…after years of prayer and treatment,” she said.
But then six months ago “God sent us a 9-year-old beautiful princess.” While the Rodriguez family calls Cristal their God-given gift, they may have forgotten that they’re Cristal’s gift, as well. Cristal, like her adopted parents, have something in common: They’re extremely grateful to have one another.
And with this family’s union has come a desire to share that new wealth of love.
“Cristal has been a blessing to my family and I wanted to share this story because more often than not, we hear of the horrible things Richmond is, and of all the violence that always strikes our streets, and we miss out on the good hearts of our community,” Rodriguez said.