MANILA — To Senator Grace Poe, her story–being a foundling abandoned by her parents, and ended up being adopted by two movie stars– can be likened to a movie.
During her speech at the 13th Philippine Global Consultation on Child Welfare Services of the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) held at the SMX Convention Center, SM Aura Premier in Taguig City, Poe discussed the story of her life.
“For those of you unfamiliar with my life story, I wasn’t just adopted — I was a foundling, abandoned shortly after birth and left in a church,” she said.
Poe was then adopted by veteran actress Susan Roces and the late action star, Fernando Poe Jr.
“This is the stuff of movies, you might say, and in an instance of cinematic foreshadowing that proved to be true, I did end up being adopted by two movie stars.”
“But at that moment, as a newborn alone in that church, I was simply one tiny human being on the planet with the least agency and without help. I was at the complete mercy of destiny and dependent on the kindness of strangers. The slightest stroke of ill fortune could have rewritten my life story into something much different and perhaps less happy,” she said.
Being a foundling, Poe shared how she feel discriminated everytime she will be asked to present a birth certificate and all she can provide is a foundling certificate, and later, and adoption certificate.
“Whenever I go to school, they would ask for a birth certificate. And a certificate that I always had to show was a foundling certificate. Not a birth certificate. And not everybody understood that. So it was a process that they undertook—from the time that they took me in that commenced many years later—at least 3 more years later—and so that adoption certificate became my birth certificate.”
“And even then there was much discrimination about it. Because every time you enroll in a school, instead of showing a birth certificate, what you had to show was an adoption certificate. So early on, even if I didn’t feel any less as a child of their own from my parents, society sometimes made me feel so,” she further said.
Poe stressed the importance of having a birth certificate, which is one of the purpose of her proposed measure, Senate Bill 2892.
The bill seeks to further strengthen the system of birth registration of of Children in Need of Special Protection (CNSP).
Poe stressed the importance of acquiring a birth certificate adding that it is one way of ensuring access to fundamental rights including the right to vote and be voted for; he right to own property; the right to inherit; the right to secure other documentary identification, like a driver’s license or a passport; and the right to seek employment and to access social security benefits.
“My parents had to go through this process. In 1968, it wasn’t very clear what the process should be. And my father, at that time, was quite traditional, would say: ‘Why do we even need to have to go through this process of adoption? She is our child and we love her.’ And my mother insisted that eventually, it will be important to have a document to prove that because while they know that they love me and I know that, the state does not easily recognize that,” said Poe.