The idea for this blog came from my lovely wife, Flora. While the majority of the time, I am the one who spins ideas all day, she came from left field and stung me with this one.
We both felt like people would find our lives interesting, even though we aren’t rich or particularly Instagrammable. We thought we’d connect to other people who can’t relate to the perfectly photogenic families they see across social media.
We thought we had something to say to the world.
Life in Flux
It started because our lives were changing.
A week ago, we were ready to give up our dreams of traveling because another little girl desperately needed our help. We took in Rowela five months ago because if she had gone back to live in the Province, she would be unable to go to school. We were thinking of her future, so we agreed to take her in temporarily and get her tutoring so she could catch up to the other kids her age.
A week and a half ago, we got a call from Rowela’s mother that she has been unable to feed her remaining two children and wanted us to take them into our home. Financially, adding two more children to our household wouldn’t have worked, not to mention not having the time to keep an eye of all those little ones.
Rowela wasn’t a problem. She was five years old and reasonably self-sufficient. We found that it was easy enough to support her as well because she wasn’t demanding and didn’t ask for much. We gave her more than she asked for, and we assumed she was happy.
We decided we also could take in the 6-month-old, Rowena. Our schedules could be changed, so someone was always available to watch her, and even though we make very little money, we felt like the added expense of another child would be manageable.
The remaining girl, Eluna, would stay with Flora’s sister across town.
We were scared, but we decided to do something out of our comfort zone because we couldn’t allow the children to suffer. Our conscience wouldn’t allow us to sit back and do nothing.
We prepared and planned, and psyched ourselves up for the inevitable difficulties.
Late this week we decided to go and see a social worker to make sure we were legally doing this trade-off the right way. As an American, I am just a visitor here in the Philippines, and I make an extra effort to make sure I’m following all the rules and laws. The alternative was to break the law and possibly be deported, which would have been horrible because this is my and my family’s home.
We found out that there were formal government foster agreements that had to be completed. The mother would sign over foster rights to us so we could get Rowela and Rowena healthcare and enroll them in school when the time came. It was fairly standard stuff.
Unfortunately, the mother was not to keen on signing the foster agreements, even though she knew our intention was not to steal her children from her. She made the decision, even though she could not support them, to take her children back with her to live in the province.
There was no way I would do this without the agreements because I had my life to lose. I am all for helping people in need, but it has to be legal and ethical.
Rowla also asked if she could go back with her mother because she missed her and her sisters.
Everybody, including myself, cried, but that night we took them to the port where they could catch the boat back to Bacolod.
Flora, Zoey, and I have been sad for a few days because we had grown close to Rowela over the past five months. She was like a member of the family, and losing her so suddenly was hard on all of us.
Now we are three again. Life is getting back into a pattern again. Flora is working, I am writing, and Zoey is trying to adjust to life without a playmate and sister.
What Happens Next?
Yesterday, we took a long drive. Even though we said it was because we wanted to get out of town and relax, we really wanted to talk about what was next for the family.
We’ve lived in Iloilo for six years now, which seems like a lot because both Flora and I have nomad blood in our veins and have been itching to move on to something new.
We’ve made a comfortable life for ourselves even though we have little money. We have a house and a car. Zoey is enrolled in a very respected international school and is thriving. Flora works full-time teaching English. I’ve gotten into a rhythm of writing and have been publishing in various places.
It all sounds nice but I think all of us are feeling a bit – how should I say this – bored. We see pictures and videos of distant blue oceans and snow-covered fields and dream of what it would be like with a little change in our lives.
We worry about things like Zoey’s school and making sure the bills are paid, but we long for being able to experience things we haven’t experienced before. We want to see Japan and visit people there who Flora has befriended over the past few years. I miss the cold, and Flora and Zoey has never seen snow and felt cold weather.
There is so much to see out there, and I think all of are feeling like it’s time to strap on our wings and see what the world has to offer.
I think we all agree it’s time to start planning for a more nomadic life. The Philippines will always be our home and our base of operations, but there is a great, big world out there just waiting for us.
I think it’s time we saw it.