ARTICLE

A Growing Family

Ronna Capili-Bonifacio

Ardy and Miriam Roberto say there’s no distinction between adopted and biological children—both boys are their sons.

When you ask Ardy Roberto, best-selling author, entrepreneur, speaker, husband to Miriam Quiambao-Roberto, and father of two about his eldest son’s story, his simple answer is, “Joshua is an answered prayer.” There is nothing else noteworthy that needs to be included in Joshua’s introduction, though Ardy most likely understands what others might be waiting to hear.

Joshua’s story begins when he and his first wife Tingting were praying for a baby. She was, unfortunately, suffering from systemic lupus which also made it close to impossible to bear a child though she was in full faith that God would give her a baby. The desire to adopt was first placed in Ardy’s heart.

Change of heart

I remember saying to her, ‘Sige na, let’s try na and just go to an orientation. (Let’s just try and go to an orientation). And so I sort of forced her to go. Her mind wasn’t yet a hundred percent open even until the day that we were matched,” Ardy recalls.

“But then I just said a prayer when the day to decide had come and said, ‘Lord, if I can’t change my wife’s heart, can you be the one to change her heart?’’ Then Ardy left it up to God and went to sleep. The next morning, he spoke to the social worker and once again gave it up to God, “I said, ‘Sige Lord, bahala ka na’ (Okay Lord, it’s up to you.) And then Tingting walked out of the bedroom and said with a smile on her face, ‘Sige, what time are we going to pick up the baby?’ (Okay, what time are we going to pick up the baby?) And ‘yun. (So there.) We picked up Joshua when he was six months old. He was so delightful. He puked on the car on the way home,” Ardy recounts.

Ardy says Tingting then became an advocate for adoption. “She would tell people who were thinking about having a family and couldn’t have children for whatever reason that ‘You should try adoption. Look at our family, we’re so happy, and God has blessed us with Joshua.’ She was so in love with Joshua,” he says.

Joshua says, “Adoption means my Dad loves me. It makes me feel happy because I know I’m part of a family because of it.” The 11 year-old doesn’t remember any detail about his story because he was still young and Ardy says adoption was never hidden from Joshua’s knowledge.

Ever since he was a baby, I would read to him this book entitled Happy Adoption Day. So I would tell him about his adoption day. That first day that we got him. Even when he was a baby. So, as soon as he could comprehend, open his eyes, as soon as he could speak, could talk, almost every night he’d ask me, ‘Dad, can you tell me about my adoption story?’ And I would tell it in such a way that it was the most joyful day of our lives and God answered our prayers. So it’s always been attached to something joyful. And I know Joshua has his own Instagram account, and it says there, ‘Adopted and loved’.”

Both Ardy and Miriam believe there is no difference because to them, everyone is adopted into the family of God. “In my journey with adoption in the past six years, there was a time when the public I guess, had a distinction between an adopted child and a biological child. But then God pointed out to me–He said, ‘Remember you are also adopted into my family. Do you feel the distinction between my love for you and my love for my only son, Jesus?’ And I answered, ‘No.’ And He replied, ‘Then that’s how you should love Joshua, too. How I love is how you should love Joshua.’ And I asked, ‘Okay, teach me how,’” Miriam says.

Second journey

Miriam too was an answered prayer for the Robertos. This time it was Joshua who had prayed. He asked, “God, can you give my Dad a new wife so I’ll have a new mom?” Tingting had already passed in 2013 due to lupus. 11 months after Joshua’s simple prayer, Miriam came into Ardy and Joshua’s lives.

During Ardy and Miriam’s wedding in March 2014, not only did Ardy and Miriam exchange vows, so did Miriam and Joshua. “The only thing I remember is I promised not to make her stressed,” Joshua says. The pastor asked Joshua, do you accept Miriam to be your mother? And Miriam was asked, do you accept Joshua to be your son? Joshua answered “Yes!” and Miriam gave her son Joshua a bracelet while he gave his mom Miriam a ring to commemorate the promise.

“So what was that like for me? It was a commitment. I mean, I’m committed to my husband and I’m also committed to being a mother to Joshua. And back then, I didn’t know—I didn’t know how my heart was towards him. I went in being a mom blindly because well, I had some experience in kids’ church, but it’s different when you’re finally part of a family and you’re a mother,” she said. “All of a sudden, I felt so inept, I was like, ‘Lord, teach me how.’”

Joshua was six years old when Miriam joined their family and the mother and son had their own journey, too. Ardy suggested to start with preparing Joshua for school daily rather than his yaya or nanny, which Miriam didn’t know how to do. Miriam started with bathing him daily then driving him to school.

“There were times when I didn’t know how to love him. But as I submitted to my husband’s leading and then did all these actions to care for my son, then the feelings of love came. Growing up with Joshua, as Ardy said earlier, I don’t call him my adopted son. I call him my son,” Miriam says.

Ardy says, “There’s this popular notion na kailangan may lukso ng dugo. That when you see the child, there has to be this lukso (leap). I don’t know what the exact translation is in English. Kami, I didn’t rely on that. (We didn’t rely on that.) Ever since I made the decision to adopt, it was for me—love is a decision. Once you decide, you love no matter what.”

He adds, “So if you feel led by the Lord to adopt, you don’t have to wait for the emotion. Basta obey, and then God will supply all that love that you need. (Just obey, and then God will supply all the love that you need.) Overflowing.”

“I was all in. The moment I met Joshua, I was in love with him already. I loved him so much. On the first day, I brought him to the park. I think I took a two-week leave from work to stay with him. I was just so amazed at how God could form a family through adoption.”

(Read Ardy’s letter to Joshua here: Love Is Thicker Than Blood)

Family of four

The Robertos have welcomed another baby into their family, Elijah, whom Miriam believes they had to wait for four years because God knit the three of them together before adding another bundle of joy. Joshua admits he’s been learning to adjust to sharing mommy, and Ardy reveals that Joshua hopes for another baby sister.

“We’re so open to adoption,” Ardy says. “I actually want a big family. Miriam’s already 44 years old even though she looks 21. I told her even before Elijah came—he only had a one or two percent chance of being conceived naturally. So we were very open to adoption again because of our experience with Joshua. I don’t look at him and think that he’s my adopted son. I don’t even say that. He’s just my son. He’s my first son. I tell him nga he has my blood eh (I even tell him he has my blood).”

“No,” Joshua says during the interview.

“It seems like it,” Ardy replies to Joshua. “When I look at you, I don’t think you’re adopted. You’re my son. You’re my son. Diba? (Right?)”

“Yes,” Joshua answers matter-of-factly and assuredly.

 

 

Photographs by Gerard Cayco

Interview by Chrina Cuna-Henson

Written by Ronna Capili Bonifacio

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