Yes, the title implies a cynical attitude. Sadly enough this one holds true not in many but in most cases, Deed Goes Unpunished. My educational background is in history and political science so I developed a pretty callous objective viewpoint of my surroundings. I can see the good and bad in most things. Here is a disturbing example that will make you think.
(Photo by soapdinosaur from Flickr. © All Rights Reserved.)
My wife and I were married in our forties. Marie was single and devoted her early life to her business. She is a smart woman and understood that most men are liars and want to drag you down with them. Wow! I should get some kind of feminist award for that! I am actually very proud to have married such an intelligent woman. I could not imagine marrying someone that I did not respect intellectually. The point is that we could not have a child together. I gave it my all but it just didn’t happen. We had decided that we would one day try to adopt a child.
While in America we worked hard and saved money for the numerous projects that we had in mind upon our return home. When we finally made it back here there was an eighteen-month period of non-stop construction, remodeling, and improvements. When there was finally a lull in the activity I suggested that instead of talking about adopting, we start looking for a child.
I had some humanitarian reasons and some practical reasons for wanting this. The humanitarian reason was that I wanted a child that was unwanted to have a chance to have stable loving family and a chance for a good education. The practical reason was that I wanted a Filipino heir for our properties.
Marie always wanted a little girl. I agreed because my feelings are that girls in this culture have more ambition and drive. I have a low tolerance for losers. I made the condition that we would only look in orphanages that have discipline and structure. We also talked about finding a child with no family ties. You will see why this is important later.
So we toured a few orphanages and we were introduced to a little girl about ten years old. I liked her big smile immediately. I am a sucker for a smile. My wife can still make my heart skip a beat with her smile after all these years. I guess I am a slow learner because I thought that my ex was smiling at me but I noticed on Animal Planet that the lions have the same smile before they take down a gazelle.
The social worker told us the story of this child who had lost her parents in a horrible ordeal seven years prior. They said that the children of this couple were unwanted by the extended family and had been there for seven years. Some of the siblings were college graduates and all were good students. Then we were also introduced to the remaining sister of the one that we were introduced to. They were both polite well-mannered children with good social skills. I whispered to Marie; can we have both of them? She quickly agreed yes. I could not imagine separating the two sisters who had relied on each other for so many years.
We started the requirements to legally adopt these two girls aged ten and twelve. While we were waiting we took them on dates so we could get to know each other. It was great because they were not shy and had great English language skills. We made many visits to the orphanage and developed a trust with the staff. So they suggested that we could take them home for a visit since we had already completed most of the legal requirements and were waiting for final approval.
The girls were very happy at our home. They were respectful but also had a fun-loving spirit that I enjoyed. Sometimes they would tease each other and chase each other around the house. It was obvious that the two girls really loved each other. I teased my two grown children in America that these were my Mullgan children. I even told my daughter Hannah that I would call one of them GH which is short for Good Hannah. She protested because it suggested that it implied that she was Bad Hannah. In a true fatherly fashion, I consoled her by saying that we still love you BH.
Our time together was filled with family events where we introduced the girls as our daughters. Many people told the girls that they were lucky to have us as parents. I always quickly corrected that statement by saying we were all lucky to have each other and that we are very proud of our girls. We were excited to make arrangements for the upcoming school year and all of the other parental obligations.
During that time we lost contact with the social worker. He would not respond to any calls or texts from us regarding our status. Before he had filled us with hope and now we were experiencing a deafening silence. We involved other social workers in our quest for answers. After many queries, we finally got our answer. We were denied. The reason? I am a foreigner.
I was a foreigner from the beginning of the long process so I was shocked at such a revelation becoming apparent so late in the game. We were heartbroken and a bit outraged. I had to work very hard to restrain my oratory distaste at this situation. I was very insulted at the implications of this particular reasoning.
I was thinking along the lines that if Michael Jackson asked to adopt there would be no problem but if a couple with a verifiable record of civic activities and good character references asked there were issues. I made it clear from the beginning that I would in no way be interested in purchasing these or any other children. Even though these events occurred before June, the outrage and disappointment still burn hot inside me.
Here is the kicker. The orphanage was on the side of us and the children. They really loved the girls and were delighted at the prospect of the girls having a chance to reach their full potential. It was suggested that we could negotiate with their extended family and circumvent the normal procedures. My brake lights were shining brightly on that suggestion. We started having visions of people at the gates waiting for payment. I protested that I only wanted to adopt the girls not the family and acknowledging them in the process implies an obligation. Some guys married to women with large extended families know all about that.
With great sadness but a sense of relief, we have chosen to not have children here. My son Caleb, who got to spend time with them, was disappointed even though the girls routinely beat him at chess. Even BH was a bit sad even though she did not get to meet them.
It was not really my intention to post a sad story but I feel strongly that this experience could help people to understand that things are different here. They sometimes defy logic and sound reasoning.
I really had to work hard to restrain myself on this topic and I think that I kept some of my real feelings in check. The title of this article really befits this experience. If it wasn’t for the occasional victories it would be hard to even consider being a compassionate person.
At the risk of making this post too long-winded; I will share a recent experience. Every year at Christmas time we have a giveaway for the people here in our barrio. Marie uses her salary and bonus from the two colleges that she is an incorporated in and her salary as kagaward to finance this event. We timed the event to coincide with the opening of our bakery so we held the event there. We provided food and bakery items to everyone and then had give always of canned food and rice to many people.
Before we experimented with selling ukay ukay clothing at our hardware store. Initially, it was a good idea but sales fell off after a while so we had several boxes of clothes that we handed out in addition to the food packages. Everyone had a great time and we felt happy to share our blessings with so many friends and family. The next day Marie received her punishment for her good deeds. There was tismis from a person that graciously received our gifts. It was said that Marie was using the giveaway to garner favor in the 2013 election in which she will run as Kapitan of our barrio. Refer back to the title of this article. Haha.
Merry Christmas to many and Happy Kwaanza to some! Trying to avoid my punishment!