I have always been fond of babies. As a little girl, I was the official babysitter of younger cousins during reunions. I was a patient and steadfast caregiver: I’d carry them, feed them, and play with them. My greatest pride is to lull them to sleep, which I would announce to the entire room, beaming.
Growing up, I retained the same enthusiasm over kids. It’s the same enthusiasm that led me to volunteer at orphanages and to teach Sunday school to kids from the desolate areas in our community.
One Life at a Time
After a long hiatus, I was able to visit an orphanage again. I was particularly drawn to one baby: let’s call him Marc.
Marc was about seven or eight months old. His lower bottom teeth have just started to erupt, and the tuft of hair on his head was held together by a rubber band. His round eyes reminded me of my only nephew. He caught my attention when he crawled up to me as I was feeding another baby. It was the bowl I was holding that he reached for, but it was my heart that he caught.
I picked him up and as I rocked him back and forth, he started mumbling “Mama.” I wondered if it was the first time he was able to say the word Mama, but it broke my heart. Out there, there are millions of parents awaiting their child’s first words. Yet here is this beautiful baby, calling a stranger “Mama.”
I cried the entire bus ride home. I prayed for the babies I left behind, and I prayed for my own heart. I prayed for Him to work in me and make me worthy to mother and love a child, even if it’s a child I did not bear. I prayed to someday be able to change the life of a child forever.
The Adoption Process in the Philippines
In the Philippines, child abandonment is a major problem. Some of these children have experienced difficult situations: natural disasters, dire poverty, and in some parts of the country, even armed conflict.
Despite the need to find these children loving homes, the country continues to employ a forbidding adoption process. This leaves aspiring adoptive parents in the cold, and abandoned children are left to grow up without a loving family.
According to lawyer and Meritxell Children’s Home founder, Eric Mallonga, orphanages are scarce in the country, and the few existing ones are poorly staffed. Government agencies often demand paperwork that are nearly impossible to obtain, which in turn causes otherwise simple procedures to drag on for months. Mallonga says many of the children in his care take as long as three to four years before they can be legally cleared for adoption.
Hope for Aspiring Adoptive Families
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is the agency responsible for making sure that abandoned children find homes.
Social worker, Alita C. De Ocampo, says additional staff and clear guidelines that will allow various government agencies to share documents are needed to expedite the adoption process. She assures aspiring parents, however, that they are working to make the adoption process as quick as possible.
As for me, I am still hoping I could adopt one day; when I’m emotionally and financially ready. I am aware that the process won’t be easy, but I’m preparing myself for the worse. One day, I will be able to change the life of a child.
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Pint-sized Pinay. Writer by day, mermaid by night. Loves coffee, elephants, and the old book smell. Adoptive Mom to Churro, Laya, Alab, Chelsea, and Ivory, who all have four legs.