The Adoption of Marilou

Filed Under (Stories) by maripipi on 11-01-2010

Baby Marilou
Yandi and Marilou
Marilou and Me
Marilou's guest on her birthday.
Marilou washing dishes
Marilou at Plaza
Marilou and Phillip in Mariott
Phillip, Jessica, Camille and Marilou

After 32 years of working, I finally bid goodbye to my nursing job. The last 14 years of my nursing job, I spent it in the pediatric department. The move to the pediatric was necessitated after I hurt my back pulling heavy patients.

My children who are now living in Colorado asked me to move with them so I won’t be alone in New York. Initially it was fun and exciting. I was in a new place and I was with my sons. After five months the excitement and fun waned. I started to feel bored and lonely. I was alone the whole day long. My two sons were working hard having two jobs to make ends meet.

Feeling bored and lonely, I decided to take a short vacation to my birthplace and hometown of Maripipi, an island in the central part of the Philippines between Samar, Leyte and Masbate. It used to be part of Leyte.  Maripipi used to be a very progressive town with it’s booming pottery   industry. Unfortunately, the pottery industry died due to the introduction of pots made of aluminum and jars made of plastic.

When I arrived in Maripipi, there was no doctor to treat the sick so as a nurse the town folks came to me for advise. One day ten mothers came in to see me. One of the mothers was carrying a bundle. She was sitting in the corner chair away from the rest. When she sat down, she placed the bundle on her lap. A baby cried faintly and that got my attention. “What do you have in that bundle”, I asked. “It’s my baby, she is sick.” She answered.  Then she started to open the face of the bundle.  I pull the rag lower exposing a filthy little girl with sores from head to toe. The sores were oozing and it smelled awful. I asked the mother how she got all those sores. She said mosquito bites.  “Why did you bundle her up? ” I asked. “ I don’t want people to be asking a lot of question along the way.” She said. Her bulging eyes were tearing.  She was all skin and bones and her skin was wrinkled.  Her lower extremities were shaking without control. Her abdomen was huge. The mother said she has plenty of worms but she can not be dewormed because she was too young to take the medicine.

The child was extremely dirty.  It looked like she had not been bathed in months. The symptoms presented were that of a severe malnourished and neglected child. She smelled like burnt skin. At seven months she weighed only 11 and a half pounds and losing weight. Her 14 year old sister was taking care of her at home because the mother would always tag along with the husband to get drunk.  The baby depended only on her mother’s milk for food.  When the mother was away and the baby cried because of hunger, the 14 years old sister would fill her hand with water and let it run down in one of her fingers to the baby’s mouth to fill her stomach.

While I was examining the child a man came in.  He caught my attention.  I stopped what I was doing to talk to him.  He introduced himself as the father of the little girl.  The child’s name is Marilou.  He said he had discussed with his wife about giving up the baby and that if I would like to adopt her because he cannot afford to feed another mouth.  My wife has three other children at home from previous relationship.  We have four children together and Marilou is the youngest of the ten children.  She will die of starvation at home.” He said.  “What do you do for a living.”  I asked.  “I gather coconuts and dry them for the owners,” he said.  “How much do you make?” I asked again. “$30 a month. Please take her and take care of her.” He said.  He then left.

I went back to the little girl and I smiled at her. I called her name  Marilou and she smiled back at me. Then she wiggled and stretched out her two weak arms as if to reach out to me.  I could not help it.  I picked up the little girl with filth, sores, burnt smell and all and I told her from now on she was mine. “I am going to take care of you and you are going to leave your miserable life behind you from now on.” I said.

After everybody left I brought the little girl to the bathroom and give her a good bath.  I placed bacitracin ointment on her sores. I went to the pharmacy and asked for the de worming dose for her age to kill the worms in her stomach. The shaking of her lower extremities puzzled the doctor. I could not bear to see the child shaking so I put her in my bosom to sleep.  Her shaking stopped as her health improved. She was a very sickly child. She had severe asthma most of the time. I had to hold her in my arms all day and night just to make her breath easier. She had allergies to several foods and she was prone to infection. She vomited food that she ate as if her gut was refusing it. I learned to feed her in small amounts and it helped. In the few months that followed, she gained weight and the asthma disappeared, vomiting stopped and her stomach size returned to normal.  She is the joy of my life.

She is six years old now. She calls me “mama”.  The only word she can speak well.  Her vocabulary is limited as a result of her being malnourished when she was in the mother’s womb and as a baby growing outside.  The pediatrician said she will talk eventually.  “Just keep talking to her.” Mentally she is normal for her age.  She goes to the Day Care but her classmates do not want to play with her because they say “you don’t speak our language” I feel hurt when they tell her that. In the island we do not have the luxury of a speech therapist. My son and his wife wanted to adopt her but the parents are legally married so she was denied. I am happy I am a mother again to a five year old at 75.

To commemorate her existence I designed the ethnic dolls in my web site.  A percentage of the dolls sold will be place in her trust so she can go to college even when I am gone.  I have not properly adopted her because I am too old to adopt a child.   Doing just that is the best I can do for her.

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