Philippines, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, year 2000….
Nanay Julita hurried to the airport after she received a call from Inday, an acquaintance in Kuwait, as she was told that the latter has a gift for her. They were talking animatedly for quiet sometime when Julita asked for her gift. To her surprise, Inday handed over a 3-year old boy to Julita as the gift she was talking about. Inday said that she’ll get back the child once she’s settled down.
Seems like a scene from a movie or a documentary but this was how Omhar came to the care of Nanay Julita after the latter arrived in the Philippines from Kuwait in 2000.
As faith would have it, Omhar’s mother never came back for him. Then Julita came back to Kuwait for work and Omhar was handed down from one family to another until the truck helper, the last one to care for Omhar, referred him to DSWD Field Office 02’s Reception and Study Center for Children (RSCC) as he finds it difficult to provide for Omhar’s growing needs with his meager income.
At the Center, Omhar found new friends, new family. It was his playground, his school and his home.
He was encouraged to participate in school’s academic and co-curricular activities and contests to boost his confidence and enhance cognitive skills. He was an honor student and proved to be a fast learner.
“During recognition ceremonies, I would walk up the stage with him to pin his medal or accompany him to accept his awards. Everytime I’m on stage with him, I always tear up as I am very proud of his achievements. His unfortunate situation did not drive away his focus from his studies,” said Ms. Juliet Gacutan, Social Welfare Officer II at the RSCC.
While Omhar was doing well in school and enjoying his time at RSCC, RSCC was relentless in finding a foster or adoptive family for him as it recognizes that foster family care is an alternative arrangement best suited for young children in need of temporary care outside their own home.
Considering that Omhar was already eight years old when he was referred to RSCC, finding an alternative placement for him would entail longer waiting period or worst, he may not be able to find a foster or adoptive family.
The journey to adoption
Omhar’s process for placement began when his endorsement to the Nayon ng Kabataan was deferred and instead, RSCC worked out for his Declaration of Abandonment. He was declared abandoned on November 12, 2007 and was cleared for Inter-Country Adoption Board. He was then under Special Home recruitment for over four years.
In June 2012, Ohmar was sponsored by his host family in the United States of America to the Annual Summer Hosting Program. With over a month after submitting her application for adoption and the subsequent approval of her application, Omhar’s adoptive mother sent her acceptance of Omhar to be his adoptive son, which DSWD Region 02 received October 30, 2012.
Omhar joined his adoptive mother to the US on February 19, 2013.
Omhar, now almost 18 years old, continuously endeavor to make his life better by doing well in school where he is enrolled in a pre-med course. He was recently included in their school’s honor society.
“During our last conversation before he left for the US, he promised that he will return to RSCC and do anything to help the residents. By that time, he hopes that he is already a doctor so that he can do more for his old home, RSCC,” shared Ms. Gacutan.
The future now seems bright for Omhar. His dream of becoming a doctor is within his reach. While he has found a new home across the border, for RSCC staff, specially Ms. Juliet Gacutan, Omhar will always have a family in them. ### By: Gela Flor R. Perez, Regional Information Officer II