She was alone with the baby in the hospital. The man who made promises left her, and not one in the family back in the province knew about her pregnancy. She was only 18, a student.
Having no one, no means to pay the hospital bills and no way to support the new born child, she was forced to make a difficult decision, to have her newborn child adopted.
Thus, begins the story of Pastor Samuel Cariño, an adopted child, who later on became an adoptive father.
He was legally adopted by Miguel and Victorita “Betty” Cariño, a childless couple from Midsayap, Cotabato on May 30, 1974.
Since Miguel and Betty got married in 1969, the couple earnestly prayed for a son.
Betty even made this vow saying, “Lord, if you would give me a son, he will become a pastor.”
After four years, God blessed the couple with a child of their own, a baby girl, whom they named Marife.
Pastor Samuel recalled, “We were treated equally. I was so loved that I never realized I was an adopted child. Not until I turned 12 when my friends started calling me “Hapon” that I began to observe the faces of my family. Slowly, I began to realize that I did not resemble them in any way. Then I gathered enough courage to ask my mother if I am adopted.”
When his mother confirmed that he was indeed an adopted child, Pastor Samuel decided to find his real parents.
“I packed my things, my emotions in turmoil. My mother did not stop me from leaving. Instead, she waited for me to come home. Since I did not know where to go [nor where to get] the means [to survive], I decided to go home. Mom assured me that even if I was not their biological son, they love me still,” he narrated.
Looking back, Pastor Samuel related, “As the years went by, I honestly felt no unfair treatment at home. My parents played no favourites. I received the same treatment from my loved ones. And so, we continued to grow in the fear and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Tragedy struck the family in 1992 when his adoptive father was diagnosed with cancer of the lungs and was given only six months to live.
Unfortunately, Pastor Samuel’s adoptive mother died earlier due to enlargement of the heart after a liver operation.
“My world crashed. I did not know what to do. We became orphans in a span of two months. How could my sister and I survive? What would happen to our schooling? These were just some of the questions that went through my mind,” he related.
Pastor Samuel admitted that he became bitter.
“I grieved, rebelled and questioned God until one day I got very sick and ended up in the hospital fighting for my life. It was then that I pleaded before God to give me one more chance to live my life. Along with the plea was the promise to serve Him faithfully all the days of my life.”
After he was healed, Pastor Samuel decided to fulfil his mother’s vow. He entered Ebenezer Bible College and Seminary in June 1994.
Journey towards adoption
At the seminary, he met Hope, his high school crush.
“Since she was seeing somebody at that time, I opted to wait and pray. Every single day, I prayed for her and God heard my prayers. She became my girlfriend in 1996, and three years later, we got married, “ he continued.
After eight years, the couple remained childless. Although they were sad about this, Pastor Samuel stated that “[they] are grateful to God for giving [them] the courage to accept our situation.
“Acceptance. That was more than enough for us at that time. That is why having no children of our own was not a source of tension in our relationship,” he shared.
On their 10th year of marriage, Pastor Samuel felt that “God was leading [him] into something that will change their lives forever.”
“He impressed adoption in my heart and made me realize that my situation was no accident. I believe that God orchestrated the events in my life, and if there is one thing that He would want me to do, that is to adopt a child. I felt that this was the legacy God wanted me to pass on,” he recounted.
At first, Pastor Samuel narrated, his wife was not as excited about adoption as he was, having gotten used to their set-up, that an added member of the family would require a lot of adjustment in all aspects of their lives.
“So, I did not force the issue, all the while praying for her to have a change of heart. In the meantime, I was quietly processing all the documents needed. When I went to out of town ministries, I would give her reading materials on adoption. This went on for months, until one day she realized that adoption must be God’s way of answering our prayer for a son. Finally, Hope agreed that we adopt a child,” he continued.
In March 2011, the couple attended a seminar on adoption, and submitted all the requirements on August of the same year.
On September, they were matched, and the following month, October 24, 2011, they fetched their son, bubbly seven-month old Chosen.
According to Pastor Samuel, “We named him Chosen because we learned that we cannot choose the baby. There is a committee who does the matching. And so we prayed, ‘God, You choose the baby for us.’ He is chosen by the Lord, at the same time, we are chosen by God to become his parents.”
The couple is currently serving as pastors at a church in Quezon City.
“My story of God’s amazing grace moved me to share His wonderful love by adopting a child which I once was,” Pastor Samuel said.
Advocating for legal adoption
The Carino’s story is just one of the heartwarming stories of childless couples finding fulfillment in becoming loving parents to homeless children.
In providing for a permanent home, however, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reminds couples to always opt for legal adoption.
“Legal adoption offers security and ensures the best interest of the child. This is why DSWD discourages direct placement and is against simulation of birth certificates,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.
In the first semester of 2014 alone, a total of 257 children were issued with a DSWD Certification Declaring a Child Legally Available for Adoption (CDCLAA). Of the said number, 110 children are already under the care of families for trial custody that will eventually lead to possible adoption, 10 children are for foster-adopt cases while 137 children are for local matching process with adoptive parents.
For those interested to know more on how to go about legal adoption procedures, you may call DSWD-Adoption Resource and Referal Unit (ARRU) at 734 86 22 or contact the accredited DSWD-licensed adoption NGOs such as Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF) at 912 11 60 and Norfil Foundation at 372 3577. ###