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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

June 18, 2012

A blast from the past

Filed under Family

"My name is Matz, and I was wondering if you and your family took care of a child in the Philippines in 1991?"

That was the opening line of an email that I received yesterday via this blog. The email continues: "If so I am said child. Only older. I thought it might be fun to at least say hi again. If you remember me." Of course, Matz, how could we not remember you? :-)

When we lived in the Philippines with our two children, we had the opportunity to be foster parents. We took care of orphaned Filipino children until their adoption papers were processed and they could be adopted by someone else. Our first foster child was Ni̱o, which means "boy" in Spanish. Matz He had been abandoned and spent the first three months of his life in a hospital recovering from sepsis, a blood infection caused by the unsanitary conditions of his birth. The day we picked Ni̱o up I was shocked. Marsela, our social worker, had told us he was 3 months old, and we had compared him mentally to our own children at 3 months of age. Ni̱o, at 3 months, weighed only 7 pounds (3,170 grams). Both of our children were heavier than this at birth. Later I learned he had weighed only three pounds (1,360 grams) when he was found. For several weeks Ni̱o required around-the-clock two-hour feedings. We all pitched in to help in those challenging days. In just a short time he gained weight and was transformed into a happy, contented baby. In fact, Ni̱o was the happiest baby we have ever experienced. He smiled at everyone. I will never forget the day the social worker and Monica had to take him to get the first of his three hepatitis vaccinations. When the nurse put the band on his little arm to make the vein more prominent, little Ni̱o laughed out loud Рuntil the needle slid into his arm.

For one year and one day Niño was part of our family and went everywhere with us – shopping, to church services, on vacation. It was amusing to experience the reaction of Filipinos when Niño was with us. At that time foster parenting was not a common practice among Filipinos. Since we were obviously Caucasian and Niño was obviously Asian, we were continually asked by waiters, salesclerks and others we came into contact with why this little Asian boy was with us. We would explain we were keeping him temporarily until his paperwork was finished. The day finally arrived and Niño's parents arrived to take him to his new home in Norway. So it was quite a surprise to get that email from Matz. We’ll look through our old photos and send him some scans of the photos from the first year of his life.

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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