TRUE LIFE STORIES
There are many reasons why children are referred to Angel House; domestic violence, rape, illness, one parent leaving the family. Teenage pregnancy is increasingly common in the Philippines and as abortion is illegal, the result is many unwanted babies delivered into an environment of poverty.
Some of our children come to us for temporary care while their family resolves their problems and they are re-united after a few months. Some of our young children are being processed for adoption and they will be prepared for domestic or inter-country adoption and this may take many months to complete. There are many reasons that children need new parents. Poverty is not considered a reason for giving up a child for adoption, though it remains an important factor. Our Social Worker will try to find alternative solutions such as other relatives to care for the child, or temporary care at Angel House to give the family time to sort out their problems.
Adoption is always the final choice after all other options have been considered.
All of our children have suffered rejection in their short lives and many have been through traumatic experiences that have affected their emotional and cognitive development. Our dedicated team of trained professionals gives them unconditional love in a safe and secure environment, enabling them to express their anger, anxiety and feelings of rejection. Gradually we see a change as they work though their emotional problems and a unique individual begins to take shape, like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. They learn again to smile, laugh, play and socialize with other children, with a new sparkle in their eyes and hopes for a better future. With a healthy diet and good health care, they develop in leaps and bounds, learning new skills through organized activities, stimulating educational games and excursions to the beach and other places.
Their concept of a family is often confused due to their early traumatic experiences, but gradually they begin to trust the adults around them and begin to dream of one day having a family that will love and take care of them. For those children in temporary care, our Social worker works with the family towards a successful re-unification, looking at housing, finances and the emotional stability of the relatives. Once the child is re-united we continue to make follow-up visits to make sure that the child is in a safe, secure and loving environment.
Some of our children are being prepared for adoption, a process that can take many months due to the amount of paperwork involved in each case. The majority of our children are adopted overseas and once the child is finally matched with prospective parents we start to prepare them for this most important event that will change their lives forever. When the date of the adoption arrives it is a very emotional event for everyone involved, we are sad to say goodbye to a child that we have loved and cared for, but happy that they now have a family and a bright future ahead of them.
Our work never ends, for every child that is successfully re-united with their own family or adopted into a new family, another child arrives in Angel House, bewildered and confused; an innocent and vulnerable victim of circumstances beyond their control. We welcome them with a loving embrace and start once again to rebuild a shattered life.
Here are some life stories to show you the difficult experiences some of these children have had during their short life. The names of the children are withheld to protect their confidentiality.
ANGEL IN CHURCH
Imagine growing up and never knowing anything about your parents or any other relatives; that was the reality for two year old D, one of the beautiful little girls that came to Angel House. She was found early one morning, sitting alone inside a church and was taken to a nearby police station. Despite the best efforts of the police and the Angel House social worker, no-one came forward to claim this abandoned child or provide any information about her family.
After establishing her age through bone x-ray, we could finally give her a birthday. D was such an intelligent, happy and affectionate little girl that it is hard to imagine the circumstances that would make a family totally abandon her; our responsibility was to process her adoption paperwork and find a family that will love and care for her. Any family would be lucky to have such a sweet little angel that has a bright future ahead, though questions about her birth family will stay with her forever. D was finally adopted and now has an amazing and supportive 'forever' family in another country.
JAIL FOR TWO YEAR OLDS
Wearing an oversize t-shirt and grubby shorts, the nine year old boy keeps his two year old brother amused, playing games and giving him some biscuits and a baby bottle filled with water, while his twelve year old sister speaks on the cell-phone with their imprisoned mother.
The two year old eyes the adults in the room warily as the government Social Worker prepares her report on the computer, unsure why he is sitting in another office full of strangers. A few days earlier he had been taken from the familiar surroundings of his family home to become locked behind bars with his mother in jail, both parents arrested for car theft. The mother then called the older brother and sister to come and bring the two year old home, but of course the authorities refused to hand the child over and Social Services became involved in the case.
The Director and Social Worker from Angel House arrive at Social Services and watch the interaction of the siblings, impressed by the obvious love they have for each other, the older children understanding that they have to take care of their baby brother. The nine year old gives us information about his brother, what he likes to eat, his health and behavior, while we wait for the report to be completed. We try to interact with the toddler, but he clings to his brother throughout the afternoon, so we carefully explain to the older brother what is going to happen and how Angel House will take care of his younger brother until the family’s problems are somehow resolved.
After one hour the paperwork is done and we slowly move to the car park with the three children, aware that being separated from his siblings will be another traumatic experience for the young child. He screams as we load him into the car and the older brother is also visibly upset, but he shows a maturity beyond his young age. Not attending school, the nine year old earns a small amount working in a billiard hall while his older sister attends elementary school. They will take care of each other while their parents are in custody, the criminal justice system moving slowly and it can take months or even years for a case to finally reach the courts.
Thankfully the toddler falls asleep as we drive back to Angel House, but he will cry for several more days until he feels safe and secure in his new environment, another innocent child affected by events beyond his control. Once a month we would take the little boy to visit his parents in jail, in an effort to maintain a close bond with the family. After several months the case against them was dropped and they were released from jail and successfully re-united with their family.
She is just so little, her tiny face pure innocence.
Her big brown eyes search my face suspiciously.
And for just a moment, her eyes hold mine.
I dare not blink, for fear of losing this moment.
Carefully, gently, I touch her hand.
I can protect you, I whisper.
I can love you.
And the silence deafens us both.
Her fingers gently curl around mine.
And we sit like statues.
Our breathing synchronizes and I feel her relax
Ever so slightly.
Will you come with me? I whisper.
Eye contact, again and a nod of her head,
How brave you are little one,
To trust me.
She belongs to a category called ‘Foundling’.
These are children who are simply found.
On a street corner, outside a church, in the market, wandering…
with no identity.
Some have run away from an abusive home,
Some of them get lost in the swirling chaos of the streets.
Some are left intentionally for someone else to claim them.
Some are orphaned and find themselves all alone with no-where to go.
No one really knows their age.
No one knows their birthday.
Sometimes, they don’t even know their own name.
They have no rights. No birth certificates, no homes, no family, no one to hold them, no one to protect them, no one to love them.
And no one to advocate for them.
We have given a name to many of these children; a name they can call their own.
We have loved them until a family has come forward willing to adopt them and be their family.
We are passionate about the ‘foundling’.
Because we believe that God sees them.
God knows who they are, where they came from and what their future will be.