As published in “Alab ng Puso” UPRISING Matchbox
He Sets the Lonely in Families
I’m Joel O. Marcaida 37 years old married to Noelle Contessa Marcaida with two beautiful daughters: Daniella Marie and Divine Miracle. We are Orphan Care Advocates.
September 14, 2007, just one month into our relationship, Noelle was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and had an operation. I remember Noelle’s mother asking me, “What if the two of you cannot bear a child now that Noelle has had the operation?” I told her that if it is the Lord’s will that we do not have our own children, I would accept it. There are other ways to have a family. I meant what I said; though at that time, it was just to ease the mother’s questions and doubts. After four years, Noelle and I got married and dreamed of raising our own family with 3 kids.
Being a former area coordinator for Jesus Revolution, I was aware of the importance of praying for the nation and of uniting the old and young generation in order to bring revival and change to the nation. Later, I came to realize that we are the ones God will to bring revival as we continually seek His face and do what is right for His kingdom; so, I joined an NGO with a mission for social transformation.
In June 2012, while mobilizing for OktoberPraise (a youth movement that organizes events to counter the spirit of alcoholism promoted during OktoberFest), I was introduced to Jasper Peteza. He shared about iFoster, the foster care program of Operation Compassion Philippines; and Orphan Sunday, from Christian Alliance for Orphans. He also gave me a CD of Rick and Kaye Warren’s preaching in the Orphan Summit of Christian Alliance for Orphans. My wife watched the CD the next day, while I was out for a meeting. Suddenly, I received a text message from her, “Mahal gusto kong mag-foster.” (“Love, I want to foster [a child].”) We discussed and prayed about this idea for a week; then, we decided to apply as Foster Parents. At first, we thought that everyone would agree with our decision, but when we told Noelle’s parents, they opposed it. After arguing with them for the fifth time, we decided to just pray for them. My family and some of our friends did not support us, either. We received comments and questions like, “Why? Aren’t you going to have kids anymore?”, “Are you sick?”, and “Are you sure about that? You don’t know where the child comes from.” Nevertheless, God direction for us was to engage in foster care.
On July 24, 2012, we visited Cribs, an orphanage in Marikina that had over 20 children, toddlers and infants. We did that to see and feel the situation of the children living in an orphanage. After our visit, God gave me this reflection: Many couples cannot bear a child, and there are many abandoned and neglected children who need parents. You are God’s answer to them and vice versa.
While waiting for child placement, we continued praying for Noelle’s parents because of their initial disapproval. Then a few weeks before the child was placed in our care, they collected baby stuff from relatives. They even went to the mall and bought clothes and more items for the baby. I was so happy because they were finally on board with us!
November 14, 2012, Daniella Marie, a 4-month-old baby girl was placed with us as our foster child. When we got her, we prayed every night that, if it was the Lord’s will, she would be restored to her biological parents. One day, our social worker visited us and told us that Daniella’s mother was showing intent to get her daughter back. We cried to God that night because the baby had already become part of us, and we did not want to lose her. But going back to our first prayer, my wife told me to just re-apply for a new child placement.
Looking back to the time we visited Cribs, we were amazed at the circumstances. Noelle saw a cute baby girl who was just 5 days old and she told herself, “I want to bring that baby home.” However, in the foster program, we cannot choose a child; we have to go through the process of matching. It was only after almost a year that we realized that the child the Noelle saw in Cribs was the same baby that was matched and placed with us. Now, Daniella is 5 years old and is currently in the process of legal adoption. It was God who placed Daniella in our Family!
As Orphan Care advocates, we promote and recruit foster parents. As of now there have been 3 infants, 2 teens and 1 toddler placed in families, with our efforts in promoting the program. We believe that the Church of Jesus Christ has a big role to play in bringing solution to the Orphan Crisis.
Psalms 68:6a “God set the Lonely in Family”. James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless religion is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. And Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do good seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless and plead the case of the widow.”