hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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January 11, 2012

'A Couple To Root For'

Despite adversity, Tim and 'Junior' celebrate 10 years together

Haverhill couple Tim Coco and Genesio "Junior" Oliveira are living on a prayer every day, hoping to stay together.

They celebrated their 10th anniversary together in America on Jan. 4, although they have been through one enforced separation and the specter of deportation still looms large.

Describing it as their "tin-th" anniversary, featuring tin-foil decorations and tin rings, Coco and Oliveira were joined by more than a dozen close friends and family members for a dinner at the On the Bone steakhouse in Andover.

Despite celebrating their time together, Coco and Oliveira recognized their struggles are far from over.

"We've been on a pretty amazing journey," Coco said. "One way or another we'll be together forever."

Oliveira, a noncitizen, lives in America on a "humanitarian parole" granted by the Department of Homeland Security. Oliveira returned to the United States in June of 2010 after being deported back to his native Brazil in 2007.

The couple was originally granted a one-year parole to live in the country, but Coco said Homeland Security has granted Oliveira an extension for the foreseeable future.

"When I came back, we felt stronger than ever," Oliveira said. "For three years we've had a tough time, but after all of that this is the best."

Exchanging an occasional peck while cutting slices of Oliveira's homemade cake, the couple put warm smiles on the faces of friends and family.

"I'm very happy to see how happy they are," said John Coco, brother of Tim Coco. "It's almost inspirational in a way. They're just devoted, and that's important in any relationship."

Oliveira recalled the moment Coco and he first met back in 2002.

"I stared at him for five minutes," he said. "I had no idea I was looking at my love."

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