There are two new things in Agot Isidro’s life these days. First, the singer-actress has moved to GMA where she now stars in the primetime series “One True Love”. Second, she is now a licensed foster parent.
Agot, whose marriage has not been blessed with a child, has been a volunteer for Creative Responsive Infants By Sharing or CRIBS Philippines for some time.
“I was volunteering for CRIBS for a few months and I was enjoying that feeling na meron kang mga inaalagaan na mga bata since I don’t have a child of my own,” she recounts.
“Then there was this one particular baby boy that really caught my attention. Parang gusto ko siyang alagaan ng husto. So doon na pumasok ang kagustuhan mong maging foster parent. Bakit hindi ko subukan?”
But, as she found out, it’s not easy to be a licensed foster parent. One has to go through a series of tests to prove yourself capable.
“Meron din mga investigations na ginawa ang DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) sa bahay ko, sa mga kasama ko rin sa bahay. Mga series of interviews din. They just want to make sure if it’s going to be a very safe environment para sa bata na dadalhin sa bahay,” she says.
But Agot, who also stars in the Cinemalaya entry “Mga Mumunting Lihim”, makes it clear that fostering is different from adopting a child.
“Foster care is taking care of a child who is ready to be adopted by somebody else. Kumbaga, responsibility mo to make sure that the child is healthy and will be ready for whoever will adopt him or her,” she explains.
Agot beams when she talks about the one-year-and-seven-month-old baby boy that she is taking care of in her own home. She claims that it brings her a certain kind of joy when she comes home after a hard day’s work.
“Iba pala kapag may bata kang naririnig sa bahay,” she smiles. “Kasi nasanay ako na ang mga aso ko ang naririnig ko kapag umuuwi ako. Ngayon may bata nang umiiyak at tumatawa.”
The baby was thin and sickly when she first took it home.
“Medyo payat but now nagge-gain na siya ng weight. Nire-record namin sa bahay ang improvement ng health ng baby. Update kami kung ano na ba ang timbang niya, ano ang mga gamot niya, ang kinakain na niya—lahat ‘yun may record book siya.
“Para nga akong naging instant mother. Before nga, mga dogs ko ang mga babies ko. Ngayon may bagong baby sa bahay.
“I just feel happy kasi nag-iiba ang mode sa bahay because of this little man. Lahat kami natataranta kapag umiiyak siya—lahat naman kami natutuwa kapag nakikita namin siyang ngumingiti. It’s a different feeling altogether.”
Nevertheless, Agot says she is prepared for the time when the baby will be taken away by its adoptive parents.
“I know that it will be difficult for me kasi nga para ka na ring naging parent noong bata.
“Hindi madali…but I have to be strong enough to give him up when that time comes,” she says.
That’s the deal with fostering. It’s not for keeps.
“Yun naman ang sinasabi sa akin when they gave me a license to be a foster parent. May emotions involved, and you need to fight it lalo na kapag naging attached ka na sa batang inaalagaan mo.
“But I know I would be able to give him up wholeheartedly. I only wish that whoever will be his adoptive parents, alagaan din siya nang mas higit pa sa pag-alaga ko at ng mga kasama ko sa bahay.
“I know that this is a test for me and I am praying that I will pass it without so much pain.
“Iisipin ko na lang na he will be in a better home kapag kukunin na siya.”
Why doesn’t she just adopt the baby for good?
She is not discounting the possibility, but she needs to be ready emotionally and mentally to be a full-time parent if and when she finally decides to take on a child she will call her own.
“I am getting there, slowly but surely. That’s why I entered foster care para mapaghandaan ko na ang big task of being a parent. And I can say that I am doing good at it. I may not be an expert yet but I am doing what a normal parent does. Mas uunahin mo ang needs ng bata bago ang sa iyo.
“Fostering is a good start, especially for couples who haven’t experienced being parents yet. Tulad ko, ang alam ko lang alagaan noon ay mga pet dogs ko. Ngayon, kaya ko nang mag-alaga ng baby.”
And once she decides to adopt, she would have to undergo a completely new process.
“Hindi rin basta nila ibibigay ‘yung bata kahit na dumaan na ito sa foster care mo. May mga papers involved and a series of interviews. It may take months or even years bago ka ma-approve. Kaya hindi basta-basta ang mag-adopt ka lang ng bata ngayon,” explains Agot.