MANILA — Judy Ann Santos admitted she has been preparing herself for the day when her eldest child, Yohan, will ask to meet her biological parents.
Yohan, who recently turned 15, has become increasingly curious about the topic, Santos said in an interview on “Tonight with Boy Abunda” that aired Monday.
“Do you know my mom? Are you friends with my dad?” Yohan would ask her, according to Santos.
The 41-year-old actress recalled a time when Yohan, during a car ride, randomly asked, “Do you know where they live?”
Santos’ honest answers to those questions have all been, “No.” But she would make it a point to keep the conversation open.
Santos would tell Yohan: “Sweetheart, if at some point, you want to meet them, you want to talk to them… If you feel that there are questions already in your heart that are piling up, and feeling mo sila lang ‘yung makakasagot, we can look for them, because that’s your right.”
Yohan eventually did ask whether it would be alright if she meets her biological parents “at some point,” Santos said.
Recounting that her answer was “of course,” she added: “Huminga lang ako nang malalim. Iyon pala ‘yon. Hindi mo naman siya pinagdadamot. Pero from the time that she asked me that question, I was preparing myself every day. ‘Lord, dumating man ‘yung time na maging seryoso na ‘tong batang ‘to, i-prepare mo kami.’ Kasi hindi ko siya ipagkakait sa ganoon.”
Santos adopted Yohan at age 26, when she was single. Her husband, TV host Ryan Agoncillo, went on to legally adopt Yohan.
Santos and Agoncillo now have three children together: Yohan, 9-year-old Lucho, and 3-year-old Luna.
Yohan, Santos shared, would sometimes doubt her words of reassurance, in relation to her being the only adopted child.
“We made her realize na Ryan and me started a family because of you (Yohan). Basically, ‘Ikaw ‘yung mitsa ng kandila ng pamilya natin,’” Santos said.
She would also point out to Yohan the birth names of her siblings. Yohan is Johanna Louis, Lucho is Juan Luis, and Luna is Juana Luisa.
“[They are] named after you. You came first, so always remember hindi ka basta salingkit dito. You started this family,” she said.
Santos has not always been comfortable discussing in interviews having an adopted child. For a time, she would ask press members to exclude the word “adopted” from stories, fearing that Yohan would feel bad is she reads them.
“Eventually, I realized, it’s such a beautiful word. Napakagandang salita ng word na ‘adopted’ or ‘adoption,’ because somebody wanted you in their lives. They chose you,” she said.