GOP Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz told People Magazine on Thursday that his newly-revealed 19-year-old “son” is not actually his legally-adopted child because he “did not formally adopt” him.
Gaetz surprised social media users Thursday afternoon by revealing he has a Cuban-born “son” named Nestor Galban after a fiery exchange with Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) a day earlier where Gaetz accused Richmond of suggesting Republicans do not know what it’s like to worry about raising a non-white child.
“For all those wondering, this is my son Nestor. We share no blood but he is my life. He came from Cuba (legally, of course) six years ago and lives with me in Florida,” Gaetz wrote on Twitter. “I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life.”
“As you can imagine, I was triggered when (to make an absurd debate point) a fellow congressman diminished the contributions of Republicans because we don’t raise non-white kids,” Gaetz continued. “Well, I have.”
The congressman has previously referred to Galban in social media posts as a “helper,” a “House page,” and a “local student.”
In March 2016, Gaetz posted a photo on Facebook of him and two “local students,” one of them who is Nestor.
“It was great working with local students Sofia Burleson and Nestor Galban in Tallahassee this last week,” the post said. “They were fantastic House pages!”
Gaetz also posted a video in December 2017 in which he refers to Nestor as his “helper.”
not too long ago Nestor was a “helper” so is adoption an upgrade or downgradepic.twitter.com/fzQIcQFawj
— Will Feels Like #FreeNestor Should Be Trending (@bywillpollock) June 18, 2020
Gaetz appeared on Fox News Thursday night with Galban with an onscreen chyron that read: “Rep. Gaetz Reveals Adopted Son After Argument With Dem Lawmaker.”
In a new interview with People Magazine, Gaetz says he first met Galban when he was 12 and “had just arrived from Cuba, where he’d grown up and where his mother had recently died of breast cancer, Gaetz says. Then a state legislator, Gaetz was dating Nestor’s older sister. And so Nestor moved in with them — ‘a modern family,’ Gaetz says now.”
He says that, except for an interruption during Nestor’s junior year after Gaetz and Nestor’s sister broke up, Nestor has basically lived with him since moving from Cuba.
“He is a part of my family story,” Gaetz, 38, tells PEOPLE, adding: “My work with Nestor, our family, no element of my public service could compare to the joy that our family has brought me.”
Geatz did not formally adopt Nestor (and he declines to discuss Nestor’s relationship with his biological family now). He re-frames the matter, saying, “Our relationship as a family is defined by our love for each other, not by any paperwork.”