No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Yes,  the title implies a cynical attitude. Sadly enough this one holds true not in many but in most cases, Deed Goes Unpunished. My educational background is in history and political science so I developed a pretty callous objective viewpoint of my surroundings.  I can see the good and bad in most things. Here is a disturbing example that will make you think.
(Photo by soapdinosaur from Flickr. © All Rights Reserved.)
 
My wife and I were married in our forties. Marie was single and devoted her early life to her business. She is a smart woman and understood that most men are liars and want to drag you down with them. Wow!  I should get some kind of feminist award for that! I am actually very proud to have married such an intelligent woman. I could not imagine marrying someone that I did not respect intellectually. The point is that we could not have a child together. I gave it my all but it just didn’t happen. We had decided that we would one day try to adopt a child.
 
While in America we worked hard and saved money for the numerous projects that we had in mind upon our return home. When we finally made it back here there was an eighteen-month period of non-stop construction, remodeling, and improvements. When there was finally a lull in the activity I suggested that instead of talking about adopting,  we start looking for a child.
 
I had some humanitarian reasons and some practical reasons for wanting this. The humanitarian reason was that I wanted a child that was unwanted to have a chance to have stable loving family and a chance for a good education. The practical reason was that I wanted a Filipino heir for our properties.
Marie always wanted a little girl. I agreed because my feelings are that girls in this culture have more ambition and drive. I have a low tolerance for losers. I made the condition that we would only look in orphanages that have discipline and structure. We also talked about finding a child with no family ties. You will see why this is important later.
 
So we toured a few orphanages and we were introduced to a little girl about ten years old. I liked her big smile immediately. I am a sucker for a smile. My wife can still make my heart skip a beat with her smile after all these years. I guess I am a slow learner because I thought that my ex was smiling at me but I noticed on Animal Planet that the lions have the same smile before they take down a gazelle.
The social worker told us the story of this child who had lost her parents in a horrible ordeal seven years prior. They said that the children of this couple were unwanted by the extended family and had been there for seven years. Some of the siblings were college graduates and all were good students. Then we were also introduced to the remaining sister of the one that we were introduced to. They were both polite well-mannered children with good social skills. I whispered to Marie; can we have both of them? She quickly agreed yes. I could not imagine separating the two sisters who had relied on each other for so many years.
 
We started the requirements to legally adopt these two girls aged ten and twelve. While we were waiting we took them on dates so we could get to know each other. It was great because they were not shy and had great English language skills. We made many visits to the orphanage and developed a trust with the staff. So they suggested that we could take them home for a visit since we had already completed most of the legal requirements and were waiting for final approval.
The girls were very happy at our home. They were respectful but also had a fun-loving spirit that I enjoyed. Sometimes they would tease each other and chase each other around the house. It was obvious that the two girls really loved each other. I teased my two grown children in America that these were my Mullgan children. I even told my daughter Hannah that I would call one of them GH which is short for Good Hannah. She protested because it suggested that it implied that she was Bad Hannah. In a true fatherly fashion, I consoled her by saying that we still love you BH.
 
Our time together was filled with family events where we introduced the girls as our daughters. Many people told the girls that they were lucky to have us as parents. I always quickly corrected that statement by saying we were all lucky to have each other and that we are very proud of our girls. We were excited to make arrangements for the upcoming school year and all of the other parental obligations.
During that time we lost contact with the social worker. He would not respond to any calls or texts from us regarding our status. Before he had filled us with hope and now we were experiencing a deafening silence. We involved other social workers in our quest for answers. After many queries, we finally got our answer. We were denied. The reason? I am a foreigner.
 
I was a foreigner from the beginning of the long process so I was shocked at such a revelation becoming apparent so late in the game. We were heartbroken and a bit outraged. I had to work very hard to restrain my oratory distaste at this situation. I was very insulted at the implications of this particular reasoning.
I was thinking along the lines that if Michael Jackson asked to adopt there would be no problem but if a couple with a verifiable record of civic activities and good character references asked there were issues. I made it clear from the beginning that I would in no way be interested in purchasing these or any other children. Even though these events occurred before June,  the outrage and disappointment still burn hot inside me.
 
Here is the kicker. The orphanage was on the side of us and the children. They really loved the girls and were delighted at the prospect of the girls having a chance to reach their full potential. It was suggested that we could negotiate with their extended family and circumvent the normal procedures. My brake lights were shining brightly on that suggestion. We started having visions of people at the gates waiting for payment. I protested that I only wanted to adopt the girls not the family and acknowledging them in the process implies an obligation. Some guys married to women with large extended families know all about that.
 
With great sadness but a sense of relief, we have chosen to not have children here. My son Caleb,  who got to spend time with them,  was disappointed even though the girls routinely beat him at chess. Even BH was a bit sad even though she did not get to meet them.
 
It was not really my intention to post a sad story but I feel strongly that this experience could help people to understand that things are different here. They sometimes defy logic and sound reasoning.
I really had to work hard to restrain myself on this topic and I think that I kept some of my real feelings in check. The title of this article really befits this experience. If it wasn’t for the occasional victories it would be hard to even consider being a compassionate person.
 
At the risk of making this post too long-winded; I will share a recent experience. Every year at Christmas time we have a giveaway for the people here in our barrio. Marie uses her salary and bonus from the two colleges that she is an incorporated in and her salary as kagaward to finance this event. We timed the event to coincide with the opening of our bakery so we held the event there. We provided food and bakery items to everyone and then had give always of canned food and rice to many people.
Before we experimented with selling ukay ukay clothing at our hardware store. Initially, it was a good idea but sales fell off after a while so we had several boxes of clothes that we handed out in addition to the food packages. Everyone had a great time and we felt happy to share our blessings with so many friends and family. The next day Marie received her punishment for her good deeds. There was tismis from a person that graciously received our gifts. It was said that Marie was using the giveaway to garner favor in the 2013 election in which she will run as Kapitan of our barrio. Refer back to the title of this article. Haha.
 
Merry Christmas to many and Happy Kwaanza to some! Trying to avoid my punishment!

15 thoughts on “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

  1. Tom,
    Thanks so much for sharing your heartbreaking story. It’s sad and fustrating for you and Marie to be denied the opportunity to be parents to those young ladies. It has to be especially disappointing to the sisters when they thought they had a home of there own. It just doesn’t make any sense for being denied the opportunity especially when they knew you were a foreigner. But you are living in another country and laws are different. I hope this story is a warning to other foreigners there who want to attempt to adopt. Also I commend you and Marie for your annual Christmas Food Giveaway to the unfortunate in your Barangay. You two really have a heart of gold. You are the Martin Family of General Santos. Again thanks so much for the story and Marie should have no problem getting elected Barangay Kaptain, she is more than qualified. Take care.

    1. Hi Papa Duck,

      My purpose for sharing my story is to illustrate that sometimes being a foriegner can work against you. We were led to believe that with our credentials that there would be no problem. While I hinted that maybe I could have gotten my way it would not have been without sacrificing my honor. Just another layer added to my hard callous shell. haha. I really enjoy our yearly giveaway. It turned out that in addition to our contributions that some was added from the technical school that my wife is connected with. Our giveaways are a little different than Bob’s because we know most of the recipients. It is kind of like a Christmas party with food and music. We enjoy making a party for everyone also when there is a Pacquiao fight. I am pretty indifferent to boxing but I like the get together. On a selfish note I am so happy that after so many years of chasing the dollar I now have time to enjoy life. When sitting in someones kubo drinking beer and sharing stories I often mention that while you are lacking in some material things you also have a much better quality of life than many Americans.

  2. Tom,
    So sad to see you and Marie were treated in such a fashion when attempting to adopt. My wife and I lived there a long time ago and in 1982 our adoption for a lovely little girl was approved and finalized. She has grown into a beautiful lady with her own family now, and still daddies little angel. But during adoption the process we also had to deal with corrupt social workers and judges etc etc. We dumped probably 3 social workers before we found one that really did care. It still took us 2 years for the entire process to be completed. Oh and per philippine adoption laws being a foreigner is not a disqualifier for adoption. Sounds like the typical kick back scheme being run by the social worker, and thank goodness you didn’t go the extended family (the ones who didn’t want them in the ist place) route…you’d need a bigger house and lots a pesos to hand out. 🙂 Good luck !

    1. Thanks for your reply. I will always have a bit of sadness thinking of what has become of the girls. I knew that the reasoning for the denial was invalid but I avoided confrontation because I am and always will be considered a foriegner. That was the point that I am always trying to drive home to expats. This is a wonderful place but they have a different set of rules. I am happy to hear that you were successful with your adoption. Happy New Year!

  3. hello i am from nokomis illinois my wife is from bohol. i want to buy a motorcycle for my wifes family. what should i know before buying and how to get the best deal
    thank you
    jason blazich

    1. Hi Jason,

      I am involved with motorcycles somewhat so I will give you my limited input. The most reliable and sought after motorcycle here is the xrm125 made by Honda. The price new for this unit is around 45 to 48 thousand pesos. By American standards this is pretty cheap. Since motorcycles here have a rough service life it is not recommended to purchase a used one. If the plan is to add a side car then there are units by Kawasaki and Yamaha that are better suited for this with a cost of 10k more.

      1. Sorry Jason; I misquoted the price a little. I thought about it later and realized my error. 45 to 48K will get an off brand Chinese bike. Not recommended! The Honda XRM is between 65 and 70K. The Yamaha YBR is 78K and is 175cc and probably the most durable. I hope this helps.

  4. Tom (and Marie),

    I’m sorry to hear about the problem. There are so many stereotypes about westerns. My wife family knows now that I’m not rich. It also seemed that I was constantly battling bad impressions from one particular visitor to her home barangay. We aren’t judged as individuals and instead carry a collective impression from other westerns. How much do you think the problem is with some of the perverted western men who prey on children?

    Keep up the good work and stay true to your principles. I pray that all will eventually work out.

    1. Hi Jack,

      After the denial I had a flurry of thoughts racing through my head. What you hit upon was really prominent in my mind; hence the Michael Jackson comment. The socilal worker did tell me how he got in trouble once because an married Austrailian man adopted a child, abandoned his wife and brought the child to Austraila. Three years of sexual abuse followed before it was discovered and the child was rescued. So in essence I paid the price for this pervert. While I can’t say I don’t understand I am also a bit hurt to be lumped into the white pedophile category.

  5. Tom, Thanks for sharing a part of your life with us. My Asawa and I also married later (mid 30’s) and like you could not have children due to medical reasons, which was sad becuase I kind of hoped for an Amerasian duaghter. Having said that we also toyed with the idea of adoption and rejected it for a variety of reasons. Thank goodness we are blessed with four beuatiful nieces to spoil rotten.

    We have also semi adopted a little girl. It seems that my wifes family has employed another family to work for them as maids and handymen for years now. (seems almost like serfdom from the middle ages lol). Our “designated” maid who works, for us during our visits and will be working for us 3-4 days a week when we move there has a gourgeous little girl who i first met at the age of 3 (and is now 9). It is understood, and yes I was approached and asked to give my blessing, that we will be sponsering the tyke with her education, sweet 16 and all the other customs that are involved with a girl growing up. So even if we are not the real parents I suppose we will be a sort of “super” Ninong and Ninang. I look forward to watching this young lady growing into adulthood. And who knows? Maybe one day there will be a kid named after Uncle Scott, lol,,,goodness knows they have funnier names.

    1. Hi Scott,

      We also have an attachment to the people that work for us.The two ladies that work in our house feel like they are part of the family. The only children in our house are the two pugs which have all the attention that two little dogs could wish for. I have a grown daughter and son in the US so we are not completely childless.

  6. Tom,

    Thanks for another well-written and poignant article. While reading, I felt like we have alot in common. I often feel that way while reading Dave’s and others’ postings, too. Perhaps the fact that we all married Filipinas and are pursuing a different lifestyle speaks to the common denominator we share.

    I wish you and Marie had been able to continue seeing the girls, even outside of the adoption setting. I think it would have been good for them, and enriched your lives as well. A corrupt institution that toys with people’s lives and futures for the sake of a kickback is a travesty! I admire your restraint, because my inclination would have been to kick some a__!

    Before I met my beautiful Filipina wife, I suffered a very sad experience in which a little girl was taken away from me. I suppose my soul was seeking to replace her, because I soon chose to correspond with, and later marry, a young Filipina who already had a small daughter. We declined to have children of our own, but instead devoted ourselves to raising her. She has been an absolute joy to me!

    As for the neighborhood give-away and the back-stabbing recipient, you may have met your cynical counterpart! Just kidding…unfortunately, there’s always someone in the crowd who’s never going to be happy.

    Like you, I enjoy the get-togethers, regardless of the occasion.

    1. Hi Monty,

      I have come to realize that people are not really so unique; myself included. While I always used to consider myself an individual apart from others I have met so many people with similar stories. I guess I am not so darned special any more. All those years that I rode the short bus with people telling me that I was special was a lie! haha.

  7. Hi John,

    I think that Marie will do well in the upcoming election. She is well known and has been instrumental in many improvements so far. When she first was elected to the Kagaward position she recieved criticism that she was strict because she insisted on proper accounting procedures. She had her feelings hurt for this. I teased her that if your critics can only complain that you are doing your job properly then they look like fools. I told her that there will be a myriad of tismis before the next election. Blue eyed babies will be produced and stories of cannibalisim will abound! I thought that I would mention that it is very hard lately to see your website. Sometimes it takes ten minutes to load. Happy New Years!

  8. thanks for the help my great grandma lived in mt olive here whole life . mrs overby

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