In Need of Care

Nonfiction by | May 31, 2015


Origin: Middle English, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French adopter, from Latin adoptare, from ad- + optare to choose

transitive verb

1: to take by choice into a relationship; especially: to take voluntarily (a child of other parents) as one’s own child

2: to take up and practice or use <adopted a moderate tone>

3: to accept formally and put into effect <adopt a constitutional amendment>

4: to choose (a textbook) for required study in a course

5: to sponsor the care and maintenance of <adopt a highway>

intransitive verb

: to adopt a child <couples choosing to adopt>

(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)


“Paano pala namatay ang mommy mo?”

“Diabetic kasi siya”

“Hala. Dapat ikaw mag dahan-dahan ka.”

“Di man. Di man ako maapektuhan.”

“Bakit man?”

“Adopted kasi ako.”

I am an adopted child. My parents told me when I was 10 years old. They thought it was the right time to tell me that I was because I was starting to ask questions and wondered why people looked at me differently during family gatherings. I also wondered why my playmates would call me ―adopted whenever we had a fight during one of our games.

“May gusto kami sabihin sa iyo”

“Maalala mo noon na may nagasabi sa iyo na adopted ka lang?”



That was how my parents broke the news to me that I was indeed an adopted child. My tears that night represented every moment of my childhood where I felt confused why my playmates teased and why my relatives looked at me as if they were wondering how and why I got in to the family.

My mom said I met my real mother once. She wanted me to remember that day. She wanted me to remember the scene when I saw this woman sitting in front of her desk, crying. I did remember. But I couldn’t picture out the face of that woman. I couldn’t even remember how I felt when I saw that woman. My mom said I could meet her again. I said yes. But deep inside I felt it was unnecessary because I was not looking for her and didn’t feel the need to see her.


Mga taong umampon—tinutulungan ang mga batang nangangailangan at naghahanap ng pagkalinga at pagmamahal ng isang magulang (


“Dapat ka man namin ihatid sa Midsayap kasi sila man ang mag ampon sayo. Pero pagkatapos ng isang gabi sa bahay, ayaw ka na ibigay ni mommy mo, my father said.

My family didn’t make me feel I was an adopted child but my relatives did. One time at a party, I was sitting with my cousins and one relative of mine looked at me and whispered to my cousin “Yan yung adopted?” I heard him. I bowed my head.

I felt ashamed because people were talking about me in hushed voices and behind my back. I didn’t like that. I also didn’t like it when people call me adopted because usually it is talked about in gossip. It seemed like an adopted child is someone who is unwanted and an outsider of the family. I hated that feeling.

My parents thought it was for the better to tell me that I was adopted. I think it was to make me avoid that feeling of not knowing why people stared at me—the feeling of insecurity. But they were wrong because I still felt that nobody loved me and that was why I was given up for adoption.

My parents told me that I was given up for adoption because I was a second mistake that my real mother couldn’t afford to keep. They said that my mother got pregnant by a man who was already married. Her family couldn’t accept me and that was why she gave me up.

Eventually I got over it because I saw my real mother. I saw her and it made me grateful I was adopted. I knew from the moment I saw her I would not be able to study in Ateneo if she had kept me. She wouldn’t be able to give me things that I wanted like beautiful clothes. I didn’t resent her for giving me away, honestly I didn’t care. I saw her and I didn’t feel the mother-daughter connection that they usually say. My biological mother kept crying and I felt weird that she was. I was also feeling bad because I didn’t feel the same way she did as if I was obliged to cry. I always wondered why she was crying. I think that no matter how long a mother is separated from her child, she still feels the connection. Unfortunately for her, I didn’t feel the same way.

Now, I have already moved on from the fact that I am an adopted child because my brothers and sisters didn’t make me feel that I was. It was a fact that was rarely talked about that eventually was forgotten. I accepted that I am an adopted child but now I am an orphan.




Origin: Middle English, from late latin orphanus, from Greek orphanos; akin to Old High German erbi inheritance, Latin orbus orphaned.

First use: 15th century

1: a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents

2: a young animal that has lost its mother

3: one deprived of some protection or advantage <orphans of the storm>

4: a first line (as of a paragraph) separated from its related text and appearing at the bottom of a printed page or column


transitive verb

: to cause to become an orphan

Other forms : or-phaned

First use: 1814


He was orphaned as a young boy when his parents died in a car accident.
(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)


I am an orphan. My father died in 2008 and my mother died in 2011.

When people find out about this their faces change to pity. It’s as if they have crossed a line of a personal secret that they shouldn’t know about. Don’t pity me I don’t like to be pitied because I am not suffering. I have gone through the pain of losing my loved ones twice and I am done suffering. I have slowly accepted this and it’s something that I cannot change.

I don’t like it when people look at me and their eyes start to water. I don’t like it because once I look in to their eyes it reminds me of the emotion that I tried so hard to forget. It reminds me of the nights I had spent at the funeral home facing my father’s casket. It reminds me of the days and nights I had spent at my mother’s bedside as her heart slowly gave up on her.

“Mag hingi ka pala pera sa daddy mo.”

“Patay na Daddy ko.”

“Ay, sorry. Sa Mommy mo na lang.”

“Patay na din Mommy ko.”

“Ha? Sad lagi na. Ngano sila namatay?”


“So ate Ella, wala na diay kay parents?”

“Aw oo. Okay lang man, nadawat na man nako.”

And then awkward silence, only the puffing out of cigarettes could be heard.

I could tell the story of how my father and mother died. I have told the story over and over again and I am used to it. I feel the pain but it is normal when remembering the death of a loved one. But I shouldn’t be asking someone who has lost a loved one why their loved one died. That is clearly an insult, or am I really inducing pain in the person I am asking? I should just say “I’m sorry” and leave it at that. But I understand that some people are curious to find out and maybe the face that comes with the word “orphan” does not look like an orphan and that the person looks a lot like someone who still has both parents. What a shock to find out that he/she is an orphan then.


Ulila: Orphan

Nangungulila: feeling lonely

Mangulila: Feel the state of being an orphan; feeling lonely

Ulilang lubos: a child whose both parents are dead

Maulila: become an orphan


Ulila is a Tagalog word but the word is related to the feeling of loneliness. The word nangungulila could be related to the idea of missing someone. I do miss my parents, especially my father. My father and I were close. I was a daddy’s girl. I was a spoiled brat in the sense that I had someone to back me up whenever I needed someone, like when my other siblings would scold me.

“Maligo ka na lagi!” My sister would say.

“Ayaw ko pa!” I would say, sitting on the floor and having tantrums, kicking in every direction.

“Daddy oh! Anak mo!”

“Mamaya na lang muna yan siya maligo,” my father would say.

I was used to waking up every morning with my father calling me for breakfast and reminding me that I am late for school. I did feel lonely when my father died. I felt empty and I felt incomplete because my father was taken away from me. I remembered people telling me that they were sorry for what happened and that it was God’s will. I wanted to tell them, “Really, God did this? Take my father away from us even though it wasn’t his time?”

Phrases like “God’s will”, “It’s his fate”, and “He is in a better place right now” is not what I wanted to hear during my father’s wake, nor even my mother’s. How do they even know that the dead are in a better place? That everything is God’s will? I didn’t renounce my faith in God because of my parents’ death. But I just don’t like it when people start to use “deus ex machina” on me. The Hand of God. Fate: that is what they call it. I really don’t like the idea of fate. I don’t like it when people try to give me answers that are related to God.


Tuwapos: Ang bata or tawo nga patay na ang ginikanan



“Orphan na tayo,” my sister Elna said.

“Oo nga,” Elaine said.

“Si Ella hindi pa man siya orphan kasi may mama pa man siya.”

“Orphan rin ako uy.”

I am also an orphan because I consider my adoptive parents as the only parents I know. I usually blame my parents’ death for things that are happening in my life. If my father didn’t die, my brother would not have laid his hand on me. If my father did not die, my mother would not have been so mean to us. If my mother did not die, my brother would not drink every day. But there are also things that I am thankful for because of my parents’ death, like if my parents’ weren’t dead, they would still be fighting. If my father were not dead, he would still feel sad because my mother left him. If my mother were not dead, our family would still be fighting for her life and she would still be suffering.

I am an orphan and also adopted. I consider myself an orphan because I do not see myself as an adopted child. I do not consider my biological mother as my real mother because she wasn’t the one who raised me.


Gikan (prep.): From

Ginikanan: Ang amahan ug inahan; nanay at tatay

Ang ginikanan na nag sagop (save): Foster parents



Every definition in the books about adopted and orphan leads to the words “save” and “loneliness”. I think that my parents did indeed save me though being an orphan does make me long for my parents. But I do not feel like an outsider because even though I am adopted and an orphan, I still have a family. I think that a person, his or her totality or character is not a thing given during birth, but a person is made that way. My character, personality, and being do not come from the person who gave birth to me. Everything came from the parents who raised me, taught me, and saved me.

The most important thing for me is knowing that I had parents that took care of me. Having parents meant that there were people who raised me and guided me to the path that I should take. It is important to me because I know that I came from someone. But considering that I was adopted, I did n-t come from them but they saved me from where I was; maybe as they held me in their arms and looked at me, right then and there, they felt that I needed saving.

Ella Jade Ismael holds a degree in Creative Writing from UP Mindanao and was a fellow at the 2010 Davao Writers Workshop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.