Visiting my Motherland for the first time

Me as an adopted woman visited for 1 month the Philippines, my mother land. 

Facing the reality of my story.

Realizing that this is where I come from, gave me the feeling like I had a a lump in my throat. Seeing how people live here, hearing them speak the language, just being there in general.. Emotions came to the surface when I realized how different my life could have been if my family would not have adopted me. Surprisingly, I was observing how they live and what they look like. While i already knew that Belgium was luxurious, I still got faced with the facts. I already appreciated what I have but after seeing how the live, it makes me appreciate it even more. When I observed how they look I realized that I always compared myself with European people, partly because I got bullied a lot for my skin color. When I saw that I looked like everyone else in the Philippines, it made me feel more peace in my body to accept the way I look.

I’ve always been a really social, friendly and heart warmed person but growing up in a country as Belgium was not easy. Belgian people are in my opinion closed and hard to connect with, because of that I felt for a lot of times alone and that I should not be the person tot I am. After being in the Philippines I could experience that Asian people are really friendly, social and heart warmed people too. I could compare myself and it helped me a lot to be happy and be in peace to be Asian. A lot of people where talking language Tagalog to me and my brother, it confronted me that from the outside I look like them but in the inside I’m such a European. When I started to talk in English back, they found it weird but after we explained them they told us a few Tagalog words which gave me a feeling of being accepted and wanting to learn my mother language.

3 July 2019 – Visiting my Orphanage

We wanted to go to my orphanage because that’s where my mom had left me and that’s where she filled in the document of the adoption. I wanted to see my documents in the hope I would find some new information. With an open mind I visited my orphanage and it went really smooth. When I stepped outside the taxi I had a weird and uncomfortable feeling but after the warm loving welcome from the sisters in the orphanage that feeling changed into a warm, comfortable home feeling. Finally after so many years I could see my document. While I saw it I found 2 pictures of my biological mother, father and sister. It was really crazy to finally see their faces, it helped me to feel myself closer to them. I had one thing that I needed to do for myself, leaving a letter for my mother in my document ’cause that would help me to set my mind at ease.

Dearest L.

If you’re reading this, your are probably searching for me. Well I searched for you too. I wrote this letter on 3th July 2019, the day that I went to my orphanage. My journey to you started one year ago and still they haven’t found you yet, so I thought maybe I can leave you a letter. If you ever want to find me, you know that I did too.

But that’s not the only reason, no. I wanted to say thank you ! Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I’m really greateful that you made such a hard decision and wanted me to give me a happy life. I don’t know where you are or what happened but I wish you the best in the world ! You gave me the name Kristina but my name is now Hannah. I understand if you would be scared of contacting me and that’s okay, if you don’t want to see me there will be plenty enough reasons for it.

Just want you to know that you did the best thing for me and that I’m doing great. I really hope you’re okay, healthy and safe! Wish you the best in life and may God be by your side and support you through thick and thin because I would too. Always keep your head up high and believe !

Thank you for everything, loves H, Kristina

After visiting my orphanage and spending some time in the big city Manila we went on adventure and went to explore different islands of the Philippines.

Our second destination

Palawan

We were staying at the most beautiful place, an ecological resort called Atremaru

It’s integrated into nature, made from bamboo. There’s no water supply, just water from the rain. You can reach the beach after 30 min walking through the jungle, or you can just take the jungle walk trough the forest. It’s a perfect place to find peace within yourself to feel the nature and listening to the forest where monkeys and other animals live. It helped me to find balance in myself again by doing positive things after an intense emotional week.

When I was younger I always loved being under water and thinking I’m a mermaid.

When you’re under water, you can very clearly hear your heart beat, which creates a space where I have time for myself to breath, calm down for a peaceful feeling. While I was swimming in that space, I saw the coral and I have to say.. It’s sad ! 

The colors are becoming less intense and everything is getting brown and dead because of climate change. 

Do you also love the ocean as much as I do ?

I know a crazy documentary about the ocean you should watch it !

Chasing Coral on Netflix.

After we stayed in that beautiful paradise

we went to

 Cebu

The reason why was because there are the amazing Kawasan Waterfalls that I wanted to visit on Cebu, you can also swim there with Whale Sharks. We booked a guide and our first stop was at a shore Oslob at 7am to swim with the Sharks. Even though I still had small eyes ’cause I was still half sleeping, I was kinda ready to go into the water. After an explanation about the Whale Sharks we went to the shoreline to get into the boat. 

With a life jacket and a snorkel I sat in the boat on my way to see the sharks. When we arrived at the place where the animals were, I stepped out of the boat and let myself slide into the water. I looked down and saw a huge animal, It was so so beautiful and big ! 

I could get really close to the sharks which made it possible to really have a close look at their skin patterns. It was so beautiful and I enjoyed every second of it ! The sharks feed themselves by opening their mouth and closing it again and filtering the water with special structures in their mouths.

After this crazy experience we went to our last destination.

After a breathtaking walk with palm trees and clear blue water we arrived at the waterfalls.

It was so beautiful and felt so happy to finally hear the water fall down. It was such a sensation for my ears. I felt the excitement running trough my veins, could not wait to jump into the water and feeling the water fall on my head. 

After those three intense weeks with my family, I was excited to continue my journey.

Traveling with my family again after three years was really interesting for me. There were moments that I really wanted to be alone and did not always found a good communication to share it to have that space, and moments where I enjoyed the company so much that I didn’t want them to go. Without being aware of it, we were a really good team. Everyday was a day that helped us to grow closer to each other. 

Kawasan Waterfall

20 July 2019

Today I arrived in my orphanage. My family left for the airport to catch their plane to Belgium. I was going to spend my last week in the Philippines doing volunteer work in my orphanage, and help them with the babies for one week, this is my way to say thank you to the nurses for taking care of me when my mother couldn’t. On my first day, I felt that it was emotionally very heavy for me. 

While I was holding a baby I was looking at myself as a third person. I saw myself holding me but 20 years ago. I was facing the reality of my story. While I was looking at them, I wished them a positive, safe, healthy, happy, adventurous, educational life, because that’s all you can do in the end.

I tried to enjoy the moment, but my emotions were making the present slowly fade away. Three days that I was able to be with the babies to help them. Making them laugh was my everyday goal.

Sleeping there after 20 years felt weird, but luckily I had company in the orphanage, which really helped me. A woman named M. from the Netherlands was also staying there for some time. Talking with her in Dutch made it easier for me to find balance within myself again, since we were on the same wavelength.

Kawasan Waterfall

22 July 2019 – Foster families

Here in the Philippines, the adoption process often lasts quite long, which is why a lot of children are a bit older already. So a lot of children are already 3 years or above. There are women that take care of the children that are above the age of three. They help raise the children while they are waiting for a new family. I was happy to see that they have a family where they can go to, but at the same time I was also really sad and a bit worried. Knowing that they grow up in the Philippines with two brothers or sisters and then get placed into another country, where they speak a different language, where people have a different skin colour … It must be such a big change for a child and it’s going to have such a big influence. So it was a bit double for me and hard to find a path to cope with these feelings. 

Doing volunteer work was something that I wanted to do, but I felt that instead of pushing me, I also needed to take care. So that’s what I did. 

25 July 2019 – A break from volunteer work.

The last days working with the babies where really heavy. I thought that I could work with the babies for one week, but it turned out much heavier than I expected. This day I took some time for myself in a rooftop bar in the chaotic city of Manila. With a view of the city I could write all my thoughts and feelings down on paper. For quite some time I was struggling with the thought that my mother should not have put me up for adoption. I could have helped her earn money. Then she wouldn’t be alone, we would have at least had each other. Later I realized that I can not put myself up for adoption, my mother decided this for me. She made the decision for me, so I should feel guilty for myself for having a better life than she has. 

It was emotionally really heavy. It opened my eyes and made me appreciate my adoption even more than before. My journey to my motherland was full of adventure, heartwarming memories, challenges and an emotional reality check. My story was finally complete. I embraced it and took it with me in my life

After this crazy week I wanted to fly to another country. I always told myself as a kid that I want to go to Bali. I didn’t think that going back to Belgium right after such a crazy month would be good for me. So that’s what I did. I took the plane to 

Bali

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