The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Inter-country Adoption Board (ICAB) and McCann Philippines recently introduced the first-ever Filipino original illustrated eBooks as part of the Adoption Advocacy Campaign entitled “Love Sees Beyond Differences.”
Since its launch, the ICAB and McCann Philippines have worked closely together for many months to find creative solutions to encourage more Filipino families to openly declare their love for their adoptive children and help erase the stigma of adoption.
Adoptive families and media personalities led by Miriam Quiambao introduced the seven eBooks through a series of storytelling sessions held at Fully Booked, Bonifacio Global City. These stories are the first-ever written and illustrated stories for Filipino adoptive families who are faced with the challenge of introducing the idea of adoption to their adopted children. Often, many adoptive families face the stigma of adoption which causes them to keep the fact secret from the children.
DSWD Undersecretary Parisya H. Taradji, ICAB Alternate Chair, says, “Through this storytelling event, we hope that more adoptive families will volunteer their time and talent to this advocacy campaign. The adoption process has numerous adoption-related challenges and concerns which needs the participation of adoptive families.”
Storytelling can be an effective tool to introduce one’s adoptive child to adoption. “These e-books were created to equip adoptive parents with tools that will help them openly share their adoption journey with their children,” says Cecile Gabutina-Velez, Managing Partner of McCann Philippines.
“The day we first met” Telling the story of “the day we first met” can be one of the most challenging stories to tell to adoptive children. This moment, ideally, should be the right time and situation.
Jojo and Janet Villa met Anna Isabel the day after they committed to adopt her. They had been praying for Anna, so they knew that she was God’s best for them even without having met her. They opened their home to Anna on March 5, 2010 and filed the petition for adoption in 2011.
Janet first told Anna about her adoption when she was 10 months old. “I first told her by way of song,” Janet says. “I’d pick a tune and insert my own lyrics. I’d sing the truth. She might not have understood it then, but her spirit welcomed our love.” Since then Janet would insert adoption in the books and stories they’d read together, sometimes using a doll house to tell about how a king and a queen died, and their pretty princess now lives in this dollhouse with her new Papa King and Mama Queen. They once were sad, but now are joyful because the princess graces their days. That joy, Janet told Anna, is called adoption. “If you would ask Anna what adoption is, she’d say, ‘Love!’” says Janet. Anna understands that some children don’t have fathers, others don’t have mothers, and others don’t have both.
Some of Anna’s favorite books include “Are You My Mother?,” “Guess How Much I Love You,” and, more recently, the “Baby Circle” eBook. “Again and again Anna would ask for it, ‘Mommy, I want the circle book,’” says Janet. Anna loves how the Baby Circle, round and rolling, has changed the solid, stolid Square family. “I tell Anna, ‘You are our Baby Circle,’” says Janet. Janet says that since our own lives are tales to be told, one of the best ways to tell children about their adoption is by way of a story.
Janet herself is an accomplished writer, having twice won the NVM Gonzalez Awards for Best Short Story. Her stories, including Anna’s adoption story, have been published in magazines and anthologies, such as Best Filipino Short Stories, Motherhood Statements, Hoard of Thunder: Philippine Short Stories in English 1990-2008, Against All Odds, among others.
John Remwil Valeria, Guidance Counselor from Don Bosco Technical School says. “As a guidance counselor, and as a parent myself I have seen how storytelling has helped shape values for our young children here in Don Bosco.”
“For adoptive families, storytelling is an even more important tool for the adoptive parents to slowly help their adopted children understand their roots and early beginnings. It is a tough challenge for adoptive parents but the results are beautiful as it builds strong family relationships based on trust, honesty and openness," adds Valeria, who has 17 years of guidance counseling experience.