Preparing for Parenthood

Esther Suson

I’ve been asking all the wrong questions about preparing to be a parent.

I moved to the province last February, as it is more financially reasonable to be an “expectant” single adoptive mother in the province. House rent and utilities are considerably cheaper, and so are meat and vegetables. Schools as well.

While looking for a house to rent, I am staying with my grandmother, aunt, and my two young cousins 10 and 2 years old. Living with them opened my eyes to another part of preparing for motherhood that I had not considered before.

I can save for their education, but can I encourage them to do homework?

When my 10-year-old cousin and I go on walks, we have fun reading stickers and brand names on cars or signs on the street corners. We work on pronunciation and reading letter clusters. We talk about the last video he watched or about what makes trees grow so tall. We talk about the war in Ukraine and how many children he wants to have when he grows up.

I was mostly home schooled growing up, so a great part of our education was built this way: long walks and unending conversation. However, I also remember actively resisting math lessons (fractions and decimals drove me crazy) and putting off everything science-related until the last possible minute. I should hope I can provide a good education for my children, but now what keeps me awake is plotting how to make them do their homework.

I can provide for their food, but can I get them to eat on time?

My aunt keeps laughing at me and my 10-year-old cousin because we are ridiculously alike when it comes to eating and food. We have the same preferences, and we both eat a lot less when we don’t actually like the food. However, as a responsible adult, I do try to eat on time and I do try to eat enough even if the food is not one of my favorites.

That experience made me think. I should hope I can provide food for my children. However, what if they refuse to eat their vegetables? I still have vivid memories of my mom convincing me to eat squash practically every meal, because it’s good for eyesight. I also remember them convincing me to eat egg so that I would become a stronger swimmer. I can put food on the table, but—being a picky eater myself—can I get them to eat healthy?

I can legally adopt them, but can I truly be family to them?

Over the Holy Week, Filipino families come together and spend time with one another. We also had family come over and fill my grandmother’s house with their joy and laughter. As one of the “cousins,” even if I was the oldest cousin and the only one over 20 years old in the group, I was still treated as one of the children. I was scolded for eating too little, or for offering to clean while I was still eating. I asked for taho and didn’t have to pay for it. I was loved and treated lovingly because we are family. They know our relationship by blood, and they honor it without question.

After that Holy Week, when they had returned home, I found myself having long moments where I wondered if I could provide that same sense of belonging for my children. To me, they would be wholly mine. Would it be different for them? What would it be like for my immediate and extended family? The truth is, I can only rely on my personal experience as an adopted daughter of God. I am in no doubt that He loves me. I am in no doubt that I belong to His family. I can only pray that as I share that experience of God’s love with my children, they will experience the same love and belongingness with me and with God.

Is it really so different?

Even as I prepare to adopt, many young couples are preparing to build their own families. It is not adoption versus conception that sets us apart. What sets us apart is how people respond to our decisions.

“Are you sure?” vs “Don’t you want to have a baby yet?”

“Are you sure you can provide for them?” vs “Let us know when it’s good news!”

“Do you even have a house?” vs “I’m so excited for you!”

There are not different home rental rates depending on how we build our families. Tuition won’t go down just because we are bearing our own children instead of adopting them. The children might still avoid homework and resist vegetables no matter what. However, the most important and unchanging detail of them all, the love is the same no matter how we build our families.

I’m preparing for motherhood by taking walks with my cousin and eating more fish. Besides, of course, saving and preparing for health and education expenses.

I would love to hear how you are preparing!

Share your story with us on social media! Tag us on Facebook and Instagram at @roheifoundation and use the hashtag #PreparingForParenthood. Let’s walk together in our adoption and foster care journeys.

Related Articles and Resources
Lights, Camera, Adoption: Advocating for a Better Representation of Adoption 
July 28th, 2022

At its worst, the media creates caricatures of adoptive stories in poorly written dramas and advertisements.  That’s why media practitioners AC Nicholls, Rod Nepomuceno, and BJ Lingan remain optimistic that advocates can reclaim adoption narratives by vocalizing resistance against false myths.  For this year’s Adoption and Alternative Child Care Week Celebration with the National Authority […]

Jem Torrecampo and Shaira Sumagui
Lights, Camera, Adoption: Navigating Portrayals of Adoption in Media
July 19th, 2022

Media has always been a tool for amplifying stories. Given this, it can also be used as an instrument to establish stereotypes that can ultimately affect how people view and associate narratives in real life. Adoption, for example, is one of the stories that can be misrepresented in the media. As a result, there have […]

Paolo Malagotnot, Feliz Munarriz, and Nickross Raagas
“Ampon Ka Lang… Joke Lang!”: Three Reasons Making Fun of Adoption isn’t Funny
May 25th, 2022

Comedy is serious business! Laughter can help us see the brighter side of life when things get rough. So then, what happens when humor — something that relieves stress and brings people together — is used to discriminate against those who may already be bullied by society? Let’s face it: Adoption is shamed in the […]

Jhannah Capistrano