chuvaness
How a jumping toddler captured our hearts
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This story appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Father’s Day special last Sunday, and I love how the writer was able to capture the story of Christian’s first days in our home.
I am quite amazed how Jeroen remembered the little details about the grains of rice, which I’d already forgotten.
So it’s great that this story was written, especially for Christian when he begins to understand.
Thank you Inquirer for contributing to our family’s memory bank.
🙂

How the van Stratens gained a third son–a self-reliant toddler

The first thing Jeroen van Straten noticed about his newly arrived foster child was how the boy, then barely 2 years old, would pick up rice grains that dropped out of his plate and pop these into his mouth while at the dinner table.
“If we gave him a toy, he would hold on to it, even a piece of paper. Whatever (it was), it was very valuable to him,” van Straten noted.

Chris and Jer

The child also knew how to clean up after relieving himself and was not scared of the dark if he had to do it at night.
Van Straten surmised that the child was on “survival mode”—that no one else would take care of him and so he had to do all things by himself.
“He knew how to eat by himself. In the orphanage, they’d probably give you a bowl and that’s it. You’re on your own. There was a caregiver for 30 kids,” said the businessman who manages two family enterprises.

Van Straten and wife Cecile have two biological sons.
“I always wanted to have a sister. I have a brother. I asked my parents before for a sister but it never happened,” he recalled.
After the two boys were born, the doctor advised Cecile not to have any more babies. So the couple decided to adopt a third, preferably a girl.
“There was this cute boy jumping at the back but I wasn’t really looking (at him). I was scouting for a girl,” van Straten said.

On the way back home, Cecile asked him whether he could still change his mind about getting a girl because, apparently, the jumping toddler had already captured his wife’s heart.
And so the “very long process” of legal adoption began.
The challenges actually began at the home front. The couple’s two sons were about 6 and 7 when the idea of adoption was raised.
“At that age, they didn’t want an ‘intruder,’” van Straten recalled.
Cecile hoisted a sign on their bedroom door asking their sons whether or not their parents could take the new boy home.
“There were stickers they could move to indicate their feelings. Our elder son was sort of ‘yes’ from the start for a couple of months but the (younger) one was ‘no,’ ‘maybe,’ ‘no,’ maybe’,” van Straten said.
Eventually, the younger boy said he was concerned about having to share his yaya and toys with the newbie.
“If that’s your only problem, we’ll solve it,” his parents said.

Christian comes home

The van Stratens were able to take in the toddler months after submitting their application papers, but it took about four years from the time the child was 1½ until 6 before a decision favoring the adoption was released.
One requirement was for van Straten to submit a police clearance. Being a foreigner, he was asked to get it from the Interpol.
But did he need a worldwide clearance? “I’ve been here longer than in any other country. Where do I get this police clearance from,” he asked.
Van Straten has been living in the Philippines since 1997.
There were also numerous home visits by social welfare agents and so much paperwork.
Van Straten’s bigger concern, however, was that unless a child moves out of an orphanage, nobody could take his slot in it.
“No new child can come in because (the orphanage) is already full. If it takes four or five years to take a kid out of an orphanage, in the same period no new kid can enter. It’s a waste of a child’s life,” he lamented.

Brother love

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Margaux Ngo

I just stumbled upon this. I met Daddy Jeroen last card distribution day and congratulated him, but was never able to congratulate you, so Congratulations, Mommy Cecile! 😀 -T. Margayx

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CVS Reply:

hello Teacher Margaux!! nice to see you here 🙂

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g

Hi Ms. Cecile, As an adopted child myself, I am very happy to see that Christian has a happy family. My parents explained to me at a young age about how I was adopted. I’m super thankful to my parents because they had brought me up well, put me into good schools, and never ever made me feel I was different from my other siblings. It never really bothered me, but it seemed to pique the interest of those around me. Adoption, I must say based on my experience, is a topic that is rarely discussed in our culture. Glad… Read more »

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amee

You are so bless.

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Adrian O.

Lovely story – he’s a very lucky boy. I wonder though if gay parents can adopt in the Philippines… if its a yes…baka may pag asa pa! 🙂

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Celerina

Hi Miss C, what an inspiring article. ..
I know psych evaluation is one of the requirements for those who want to adopt… can you please share clinics/hospital/psychiatrist who conduct such. Many thanks.

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CVS Reply:

i had mine done at St. Luke’s in the neurosciences department, 2nd floor 🙂

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Ruby

What a beautiful story!

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NTMN

this article is very heartwarming and bitter sweet for me. more than a year ago, we fostered a baby boy who stayed with us for 3 years. he was supposed to stay with us for 6, 8mos max to have his papers ready for adoption (he was going to be adopted by foreign parents. he came 6 mos old and left us when he was 3 years old. all of the member of my immediate family and other relatives were heartbroken. imagine, the baby already grew with us and is very familiar with us. we planned to adopt him kaso… Read more »

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Hiram Paolo

The story of your son is so heart warming. He is blessed to have you. Many happy returns of the day!

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CarliB

I just have to comment. Oh my I feel this, our company went to an orphanage just last month (we will keep doing it every month, next one is next week) and this child captured my heart. I wanted to take him home even though I have a 5yo and a 10month old. He was from Tacloban and a victim of Yolanda. He only has his mother but his mother left him at the orphanage. He lost his 5 other siblings. He has the nicest eyes. True the babies and toddlers in the orphanage are really independent my 10month old… Read more »

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CJ

Greetings. Thank you for sharing your journey, one of the loveliest to read on your blog. I have an adopted sister who is now married with a 2 year old and could relate much to your son’s feelings. My folks adopted her when I was in grade school, but due to very different parenting styles in the 80s, I was not asked, nor did I have any say or I aware that they had intentions to adopt: all of a sudden a 2 year old little girl was in the house. It is truly good for your boys to be… Read more »

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davanita

Hi Cecile! I wish you’d post about the adoption process. Like many, I’m curious how it goes. 🙂 And I agree, the article is bitin! [Reply]CVS Reply:June 19th, 2014 at 12:01 PMthe adoption process is hell!! best to apply as a foster parent first (you need to get licensed) so you can already take home the child. Sayang the baby years, those are the best and the go so fast, Adoption takes about 5 years [Reply]Dins Reply:June 19th, 2014 at 3:46 PMAs a mom, my heart ached & smiled on this article. Would you happen to know how to apply… Read more »

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kikas_head

I wish this also. There is so little information on domestic adoption. We are over two years in and still not even in court yet. Luckily our daughter lives with us already. Such a frustrating process and so slow. Even minor items come up; enrolling her in school under our surname even though her birth certificate reads her biological mother’s name, the inability to get her medical insurance or start a savings account since she is not legally ours, and don’t even get me started on the lack of ability to take her abroad where we have extensive family. [Reply]

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Chi

Ms C! Thanks for this post! I’ve read your previous posts regarding adoption also. You have such a big heart! My wedding is in a few months and about to start our own family, but I have since been touched with your older posts and my future and hubby and I were encouraged to adopt also. God bless you Ms C!

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Walter Robles

WIsh all able and responsible Filipino families would reach out to a child needing love and support like you did.

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speyshal

parang bitin. may continuation ba?

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Michiko13

I’ve been your reader since since you had your LJ blog so I medyo know your story. But I agree, I don’t understand the writing. Parang nakalimutan yun link sa 2nd page. Anyway, you don’t need to worry about having nothing to show Christian about his first few days with you. Your blog entries of the whole fostering and adoption process are great! I’ve read and reread all of them and I’m sure when the time comes, Christian or Ben or Markus can read them and be able to understand and appreciate everything more. I especially liked the one about… Read more »

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anonymous fan

What a great story with introduction and body, but no conclusion (writing 101)! Nabitin ako sa article. Sayang, ang ganda pa naman nung story!

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Shae

The thought of a toddler being in survival mode, because he has to, really breaks my heart. I am a mom to an almost 4 year old, he looks a lot like your son the third photo, except with chink eyes 🙂 and the thought of him fending for himself at an early age saddens me. Bless your big hearts and thank you for sharing your boy’s story

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Guest

God bless your home Miss C. He looks adorable. Just like his 2 elder brothers. <3

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CVS Reply:

thank you 🙂

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Slater

The article is nakakabitin!

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tin

Ah bitin… i love the story thougj.

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tin Reply:

Typo!! *though

Ps wish the story was longer

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tin

Typo!! *though

Ps wish the story was longer

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jo

Hi Ms. C. Would you know if singles are allowed to adopt here in our country? Or only married couples?

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CVS Reply:

singles are allowed. I’ve met many single parents with adopted children 🙂

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Zel

What a wonderful story! If only the adoption process is shorter so that the orphanage can accommodate more.

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chris

God bless you Jeroen and Cecile for your kind heart.

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nappyKAYE

Reading this blog has made me more open to adoption. I mean, I’ve always thought of adopting one day (my highschool bestfriend is adopted), but had reservations. The only thing holding me back now is how difficult the process is.

Wish the article was longer. It’s a good read, even though I’ve been drawn to the blog posts about Christian’s adoption since you started writing about him, and know most of his story. You have a good heart, Cecile. <3

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CVS Reply:

thank you 🙂

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phoebe

i read that article on the newspaper and i was touched… i cannot have another child after 4 miscarriages and the possibility of adoption crossed my mind… the hassles of bureaucracy turns me off though

if you hadn’t told about the adoption it wouldnt have been obvious… your boys look alike .. all 4 of them … they are all goodlooking

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CVS Reply:

thank you 🙂

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ludel

Hope you don’t mind my asking, but what made you open to adoption – and specially one who is not even related to you? I believe it takes a bigger heart and deeper compassion and understanding to adopt. Those qualities indeed you have. I laud you for that.

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CVS Reply:

i love kids. I love babies. I wanted a bigger family. As simple as that

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