She was such a cute little girl. A little afraid, but very curious, of the Americans who had moved into her neighborhood.
She began by peeping around the corner of the wall of our compound, trying to sneak a look at us while remaining hidden herself.
Slowly she came out of hiding and let us see her pretty face.
For several days she played this peek-a-boo game with us until finally she came with a friend and sat down outside our gate.
My husband, our youngest daughter and I had moved into her neighborhood where we lived as we taught in a local Bible school and also in local churches throughout Iloilo City on the island of Panay in the Philippines.
Having white Americans as neighbors was quite a novelty. Children in the neighborhood came to the gate every day to get a look at us. We began talking to them and before long we developed friendships with all the children on our street.
At first when we walked down our street, the little boys would call out to my husband, “Hello GI Joe.” After repeating each day that his name was Paul, they finally called him by his name – but it came out with two syllables – Pa -ul.
Our daughter started a Kids Klub for the neighborhood children. Saturday mornings our living room would turn into a classroom. Jessica taught them songs, Bible stories and always had games and snacks for them. They called her “Tita” or aunt and followed her each time she left our home.
Rosalie was the youngest of five siblings. Their mother was a widow and made her living by selling food in a makeshift hut on the side of the road.
While we fell in love with all the children, we took a special interest in this family.
When it was time for us to return home, Rosalie’s mother wanted us to take Rosalie with us. She envisioned a much better life for her youngest if she came to the United States with us.
We struggled with what would be the right decision. It sounded good to provide this little girl with all the luxuries she would never have in Iloilo City. Things like clean water, plenty of food, shoes and the many things we take for granted but would not be available to her in the Philippines.
But what would it do to her emotionally to be ripped from her home, her siblings and especially her mother?
Was it arrogance on our part to think that all the material things we could give her was worth more than family?
Yet how could we say no to giving her a life that would be much easier than the life she would have here in Iloilo City?
In the end, the legal requirements and the cost of adopting her and all the red tape involved proved more than we could do.
The day we left our neighborhood was very traumatic. The children gathered early at our home and hung on to the jeepney as we drove slowly away. They cried out, “Don’t go, don’t go.”
As I reflect back on that time, I do believe it would have been wrong to take her from her family – but I still wonder.
Did we do the right thing?
I wonder where she is today?
With today’s technological advances of Facebook and the internet we might have been able to maintain some contact. But that was not possible then.
Still, I think of her and wonder if she remembers us.