Adoptive parents Chad and Becky Hinze share their experience adopting 12-year-old Paolo Miguel just days after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philipinnes, and bringing him home to join their family. Paulo joined his family through the Philippines Ambassador Program.
How many people can say that flying into the Philippines just five hours before the most horrific storm in history hit — and living in an orphanage for the five days after — was the absolute best experience of their lives?
We landed in the Philippines just before Typhoon Haiyan devastated the region, and in the midst of so many people working unbelievably hard on behalf of all the Filipino people — especially the orphans of the Philippines — we had the most Godly experience ever.
After we landed in the Philippines, we were immediately put into the hands of the most gracious people on the planet, the staff of Kaisahang Buhay Foundation — Holt’s partner organization in the Philippines. Admiration is the word that has stuck with us as we think of the KBF staff in the Philippines. The KBF staff was beyond wonderful. They were busy dealing with the destruction of the typhoon, making sure all of the children were safe and accounted for, finding new places to stay because many of their roofs were blown off their homes, and yet they took such good care of us. We felt horrible for being in the midst of all they had to do at that time, but they sure didn’t make us feel that way. Amazing people, all the way around!
The day after arriving in the Philippines, a driver took us to the children’s home where our son had lived for the past six years and we were blessed to stay in the home for the next five days. If you want to change your life, we encourage you to stay in an orphanage for just one week. That stay changed our hearts. It taught us gratefulness all over again, gave us so much hope seeing the love that is shown to these children by the caring staff, and put a fire under us to help find homes for every single child. Those five days were the biggest blessings of our lives and when they were over, we left with new hearts and one truly precious 12-year-old boy, Mr. Paolo Miguel!
When we arrived at the child care center, our son reminded us that he had waited 12 years for his forever family and we had finally arrived to bring him home. After waiting 12 years, precious Paolo Miguel came to America on November 16, 2013 to be a part of our family of eight children.
Paolo Miguel was part of Holt’s second Philippines Ambassador Program — a pilot adoption program that promotes special home-finding efforts for a small group of older children and siblings living in Holt’s care in the Philippines. After updating our home study following our previous adoption, we hoped we would be the right family for an older child. Immediately, Holt’s staff connected us with the Philippines program. We reviewed Paolo’s file and knew he would be a great match for our family. And that is most certainly what he is!
Paolo has been home for almost two months and it seems like he has been here forever. He came home to eight siblings, including one he calls his twin, as she is his same age. The first week home was full of doctor appointments, dental appointments and just introducing him to family and friends. We did not plan to send Paolo to school for several weeks so we could spend time just loving him, working with him on his English and letting him get settled in before jumping into classes.
By Thursday of his first full week home, he wanted to get on that big yellow bus with his siblings. He wanted to go to school already. He wanted to, but we wondered if it would be the best thing for him. After a visit to school, and his persistent desire to go, Paolo started school the following Monday. We had planned to just have him go for a half day, but guess what? That young man was not ready to come home when his mother arrived to get him.
After day one of school, Paolo came home and told us he wanted to play percussion in band. He is now a drummer and loves it. He told us he wanted to try basketball. He is now playing basketball with a team. He couldn’t believe he could actually be on a basketball team!
As far as the academics and the English, Paolo is doing absolutely wonderful. His English has doubled in the two months he has been home. He has a translator that he uses at home and at school when he is trying to understand what he is reading and what people are saying. Technology has been a wonderful tool for him. Paolo loves school and wants to learn and feels so blessed by all the opportunities that school has given him. It has been such a wonderful experience to see him shine and embrace all the opportunities.
Having adopted older children, not quite as old as Paolo, we expected to work through issues related to grief and loss. We expected some behaviors that would indicate he was testing us. So far, we have a 12-year-old boy who is so truly excited about having a family; we have not seen those behaviors. Does he misbehave? Sure he does — just as any 12-year-old boy would. To us, this is just a true indicator that he knows, without a doubt, he has found his FOREVER family!
Adopting an older child, a much older child, has been the absolute best experience of our lives. He has changed us. He has blessed us more in the past two months than we ever deserve. The Lord says that if you follow His plans for your life, He will bless you! Why the Lord chose to bless us with yet another beautiful child, we will never know. All we can share is that this past adoption experience, being in the Philippines at the time we were and being able to stay in the orphanage for a week, was way more of a true blessing than anyone could possibly imagine!
Chad and Becky Hinze | Runnells, Iowa
To learn more about the Philippines Ambassador Program and the children still waiting for families, contact Jessica Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.