Saturday, April 14, 2007

Grown Inside Our Hearts

In the heart-tugging 17th episode of Heroes, “The Company Man”, Mr. Bennet had to explain to Claire about her real parentage. In this flashback scene, we find Mr. Bennet trying out several glasses:

Claire: “Grandpa Glasses!...(laughs) Why do you need glasses too?”
Mr. Bennet: “I don’t know”
Claire: “Well if you needed them, and grandpa needed them, won’t I need them?”
Mr. Bennet: “Your mother and I are wondering when we are going to have this conversation…(hesitates)
Claire: “What’s wrong?
Mr. Bennet: “No, no… Nothing’s wrong. It’s just”
Claire: “Tell me”
Mr. Bennet: “I’m not your biological father. You’re adopted.”
Claire: “Then who are my real parents?”
Mr. Bennet: “We’re your real parents. We just don’t know who your biological family is, but we’re your real family.”
Claire: “How can you be my real family if I’m adapted?”
Mr. Bennet: “What makes us real is not where we come from, but it’s how much we love you. And we love you very much. I love you very much. You didn’t grow inside your mother. You grew inside our hearts. Claire… talk to me…
Claire: (getting a new pair of glasses) Try this on…
Mr. Bennet: “How do I look?”
Claire: “Like my dad!”

And this would be followed by a surprising twist in the plot of Heroes, offering a new look at the character of Mr. Bennet who will be more than willing to take a bullet to prevent Claire from falling into the hands of the secret company which he worked for.

One night while watching TV with Sigrid, my little sister, I found myself personally relating to that scene. Sigrid and I have this ritual of asking each other for what we call "Squeeze Hugs" and while I was hugging her tightly, I asked her, "Sigrid, do you think I love you?"
Sigrid: "Of course... Well, you're my brother and I'm your sister... that's what we're supposed to do."
Me: "Okie, do you think Ogie loves you..." (and I began enumerating my other brothers)
Sigrid: "Yes... yes... yes..." (promptly saying yes, to each of my query... kulit ko talaga!)
Me: "Do you think Mama and Papa love you?"
Sigrid: "Yes, they love me very much... even if they're not my biological parents. I don't know who my biological parents are, where but Mama and Papa are my real parents. You're my brother."
Me: "Oh ok...", a little surprised about how Sigrid could talk about it so matter of factly, and how much she knows already about herself, about where she comes from. I tried to imagine what Sigrid felt when she first heard about this reality, how she would look at our old family pictures and didn't see herself there. I hugged her tightly, like I never hugged her before, and whispered to her ear "I love you very much Sigrid!"
Sigrid: Gasping for breath, "L-o-v-e yoo-oou too, kuu-yaaa..."

Sigrid's eight years old now. When she was just starting in nursery (she was around 5 years old then), some of her classmates would tease her, telling her that she was bought from a "shop of children". Apparently, word has spread to that little school about Sigrid. She came home to my mom asking "Mom, where did you buy me?" We were always wondering when would be the appropriate time to tell her. Mom, realizing that this was an opportune time to ease her on the truth replied, "Sigrid, I did not buy you. You know, before, I wanted to have another baby girl. That's why I prayed to Jesus to give me a baby girl. Jesus told me to go to a certain place (an orphanage) to get a baby girl and that baby girl was you! That is why I love you very much because Jesus gave you to me..."

Our family volunteered before to Norfil Foundation Inc. as a foster family to abandoned infants/children. Sigrid was the second baby we took care of. We were devastated when Eunice, our first foster baby had to be returned to the real parents after taking care of her for almost 6 months. Sigrid and Eucelle actually became star characters in my comic art "Goodness Bites" (which almost got syndicated in Christian websites) back then:

That time when we were already taking care of Sigrid, who was already part of our family for over a year, we finally decided as a family to adopt her. It would take more than 5 gruelling years of legal processing before we could finally call Sigrid Sandra Cruz our very own beloved daughter/sister.

There was another time when Sigrid browsing through our parent's old pictures chanced upon a snapshot of my mom as a child. Sigrid asked my mom who the woman was standing beside her in the picture. My mom replied, "That is one of my mothers." Sigrid, obviously was puzzled with the unexpected answer. "You know Sigrid, we are both the same. Both of us have 2 mothers, the biological and the adoptive mother. This lady in he picture is my adoptive mother. I didn't know who my real mother was back then, same as you. But what is importan is who is taking care of you, who is loving you... and that is US..." My mom never knew who her real parents were until she was already married to my dad. She had to endure almost a lifetime of doubt and pain before she could finally come to terms with her identity. It became a personal journey for her and it seems almost amusing that this journey would destine her to Sigrid in an orphanage. She would find spiritual completion and peace of heart and mind with Sigrid.

From a very bubbly and cheerful infant, we watched Sigrid grow into a talented and intelligent girl which she is now. Though she did not grow inside my mother's womb, she grew inside each of our hearts. Though she is not of our own flesh and blood, it is not very difficult for us to love her. She has brought immense joy to our family.

And so, it wouldn't be a wonder for me why Sigrid loved movies such as "Oliver Twist", Disney's "Tarzan" "A.I." and relate to them intensely. I asked her, after watching an episode of Heroes, "Sigrid, who's your favorite character in Heroes?" She answered in a reflective tone, unusual for a child of her age, "Claire... Claire's my favorite..." Of course. Then I bid her goodnight with another squeeze hug as she dozes off to dreamland.

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