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How A Former 'Child-Free, Not Child-Less' Couple Became Parents Overnight
PHOTO BY courtesy of Nepomuceno family
  • It has been three years since Rod and Teemy Nepomuceno opened their doors and hearts to two little children who, through adoption, have changed their lives forever. They are parents to 4-year-old Quico and 2-year old Quiana. Rod is a lawyer, president, and CEO of Opendhor, Inc., which represents The Discovery Channel in the Philippines. Teemy is a former associate director at St. Luke’s Medical Center. They are a couple that has always led busy, active lives.

    After going through several miscarriages, Teemy felt they were not meant to have kids. Rod says, “We considered ourselves ‘child-free’ and not ‘child-less.’” Nevertheless, they still had to deal with insensitive questions like “How come you don’t have children yet?” or “Don’t you want to have kids?”

    Teemy says, “We learned the art of ignoring these questions and decided just to enjoy our ‘child-free’ status. We traveled on a whim, built a business that continues to grow today, and we thrived in our respective careers.”

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    But, as a line in one of Rod’s favorite John Lennon songs goes, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

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    In February 2016, the couple received an anonymous message from someone recommended by a common friend who knew they didn’t have kids. The message said a baby needed a home. Recalling that day, Teemy remembered saying, “Why not? We have an extra room and two helpers at home to take care of him. I said this without thinking of the long-term implications, that is, parenthood.”

    While they were expecting a baby, the couple was caught by surprise how the baby, a boy, arrived. They were at work when the baby boy was dropped at their home. The lady who brought him did not wait for Rod and Teemy and could no longer be reached. She brought nothing except two bottles of milk and the clothes on the baby’s back. The couple rushed to the mall to buy baby essentials.

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    “We managed to get through the first couple of days. I don’t know how, but we did,” Rod recalls.

    “Teemy went through a crash course on motherhood. She had to do overnight what usually takes nine months.”

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    After a week, Rod spoke to Operation Compassion, an NGO that guided and referred him and Teemy to the Makati Social Welfare Division. “We submitted the case of this little boy, whom we named Joaquin Nicolas ‘Quico’ Nepomuceno. From there, we proceeded with the steps leading up to the formal adoption process.”

    Being thrust into sudden parenthood was an emotional rollercoaster for the couple. “There are days when we sometimes question ourselves,” Rod admits.

    Teemy reveals, “But when we see they are happy and laughing, it makes all the self-doubt worth it. I am also adopted, so I am extra protective of them.”

    Because of their experience, Rod and Teemy Nepomuceno have become advocates of making adoption in the Philippines easier.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Nepomuceno family
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    Rod and Teemy wanted Quico to have a sibling, so “they will always have each other’s back and protect each other.” They went to an orphanage, and after a matching process, and months of necessary steps and procedures, DSWD officially appointed them as foster parents of a little girl whom they named Virginia, or “Quiana.”

    “The adoption here is a painstaking, tedious, gut-wrenching, and time-consuming process,” Rod says. “There are long, useless forms, questionnaires, painful social worker interviews, affidavits to secure, clearances from NBI, police, and barangay, financial documents and ITRs, payments for public announcements, and proofs of publication and airing, and bottlenecks and red tape.

    “After that, if you are lucky, you get a document called the CDCLAA or the Certificate Declaring A Child To Be Legally Available For Adoption. It’s only then that the adoption process really begins. Then you start initiating the judicial process of adoption.”

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    As a lawyer, Rod wonders why burden prospective adoptive parents with a court case? “If, in a criminal case, you are presumed innocent before being proven guilty. In an adoption case, it’s reverse — you are presumed unworthy as a parent until you prove otherwise. To me, that is unfair.”

    The couple has become advocates of a bill proposing to make adoption “an administrative procedure rather than a judicial proceeding. This will make things simpler and facilitate and encourage adoption in our country.

    “Adoption is one of the most beautiful things ever invented by man. There is power in adoption, how this process miraculously combines unrelated people and turns them into a real family.”

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