Nothing was wrong.
According to their doctors, the Villas were both physically able to have a birth child. Coach Jojo and Janet Villa knew that a child wouldn't “complete” their marriage, or themselves as people, but they agreed that they had more than enough love to give.
More than anything, they prayed for a child because they had a parent's heart.
After sixteen years of marriage, the Villas had the same question in their prayers. “Lord, why wouldn’t You give us a birth child?”
In 2007, the couple joined a prayer and healing forum. “We were asking the Lord to increase our chances [of getting pregnant].” They went into the forum without sharing their prayer request to anyone.
During the forum, one of the prayer leaders placed her hand on Janet's abdomen, and told them, “The Lord wants me to tell you that you have a mother's heart. The Lord said this country has many sons that need a mother.”
At this time, the couple was still not looking beyond having a biological child. “We did not consider adoption—nor did we think about it, since we were physically able to have a birth child.”
In 2007, Mrs. Villa was invited to edit an article at Working Mom Magazine, which she discovered was about adoption. As she dove into the project, both she and her husband felt their hearts stir, and gradually, the idea of adoption made sense to them. That's when it was cemented for the couple: "This may be God’s plan for us to form our family."
When God closed the opportunity to have a birth child, we knew God was paving the way for adoption.
A hiccup in their adoption journey was when simulation of birth was suggested by well-meaning persons around them. This involved tampering a child's birth certificate to make it appear as if they were the biological parents.
We did not want to start her life off as a lie. She has to know she is worth it and that we’re willing to go the distance for her.
Eventually, the Villas welcomed home their daughter Anna through adoption.
They promised to love her with everything. They were so convinced that the adoption was God’s leading that in any form they could, they would share with her about her adoption. “Since Anna was a baby, from the lullabies, I sing, to the stories we read to her—I know she didn’t understand the words, but she would know that we were called to adopt her, that she is called into our family.”
The Villas took the initiative to show their daughter that adoption is beautiful. To know that she would wear who she is proudly. To hope that their attitude toward adoption would others, especially here in the Philippines where the stigma is prevalent. Being proud of their adoption journey, they were secure of the answer their daughter would give when asked, What does adoption mean?
For the Villa family, adoption means love.
However, this was only possible because Coach Jojo and Janet took a leap of faith and welcomed a child home. They intentionally spoke about adoption to their daughter in a way that highlighted the love that motivated their decision. It may not have been easy every day, but the Villas made sure that Anna knew that she was loved beyond measure.
With equipping, training, and the help of a strong and supportive community, adoptive parents can give their children the security that they need. The security in knowing they are safe, they are cared for, but most importantly, that they are loved no matter who they are or where they come from. Love carries families through many challenges.
A daughter's security in her parents is priceless.
What part can we take in ending the adoption crisis? Would we need to become adoptive parents ourselves? Being a volunteer at Generations—Home I realized that I don’t necessarily need to become a mother, but that I can have a mother’s heart for the orphaned and the abandoned. It’s always about the heart behind the initiative.
Because of the heart we have for these children, love will carry us through. Love will drive us to seek counsel, to find mentors, to learn whatever we need to learn to share our hearts and homes with orphaned and abandoned children. Love may not always be the only requirement to build a family, but it should always be our motivation.
How beautiful it is to think that every child could have the opportunity to answer, “What is adoption?” with "Adoption is love." We can be part of someone's story of finding security in this love, and being welcomed into their forever home.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Rachel Panis is a Highschool student from Victory Christian International School. From a young age she witnessed how powerful words can be. Since she is active in volunteering in church, school, and various organizations advocating for mental health and humanitarian aid, she aspires to be a Youth Leader leading in love and in truth, using words to build up and mentor her peers.
Since she attended Family is The Answer in 2021, she not only realized the heaviness within the orphan crisis, but realized that no matter how young you are, you have a part in ending the orphan crisis. Fueled by the familial love she felt first hand by non-biological family members, she aspires for every child to experience this real, beautiful love, and so, started volunteering at Generations—Home in 2022.