Fernando Kuehnel is now living his American dream in the Sunshine State.
Fancy cars, a nice home, and a loving family did not come easy for Kuehnel.
From pushing a kariton (cart) as an orphan to driving a Porsche Carrera in his Dania Beach, Florida home, it took him three parents to weather the worst storms of his life.
First, at age 6, his biological parents left him and his two brothers on the streets of Project 8, Quezon City for reasons unknown to Fernando until this day.
“They found us on the street, all three of us. They brought us to the orphanage. I remember carrying couple bags, we were crying you know,” he said.
Later on, living in a second orphanage, Nayong Kabataan, wasn’t easy as well. He and his siblings were bullied.
“They do things like that or they put hot pepper on your eye when you wake up, or your lips or your t*t* (sex organ),” he said.
At 10, he escaped from the orphanage, pushed a kariton and ate trash food to survive the streets of Manila only to come back to the orphanage at 13 when he found out that his brothers had a
one-way ticket out of poverty and into America.
“So, they were gonna be adopted, just the two of them, and then one kid ran away from the orphanage looked for me, he said: Your brothers [are] gonna go and get adopted, so better go back, so I went back… I’m not stupid, right? I came back,” he said.
But things didn’t work out well in Wisconsin. Their second parents brought them back to an orphanage.
Then, the Kuehnels came, adopted them, treated them like their own, and put the boys to public school.
Fernando even took an hour bus ride just to attend an ESL (English as Second Language) class in Greenbay, Wisconsin to learn English.
He graduated with a bachelors in nursing and a summa cum laude in business administration in healthcare.
Today, this clinical scientist for pharmaceutical giant Novartis has written about his journey from the orphanage to the American dream in a book called “My Third Parents.”
“You have to determine what success is to you. It doesn’t have to be millions of dollars. I tell my kids, there’s no problems that can’t be solved. You just won’t like the solution, but the problem can be solved. The takeaway is, you do have to work hard,” he said.
Kuehnel said there are 1.8 million street kids in the Philippines and only 300 of them get adopted each year.
A 100% of the proceeds from the book (from Amazon and Barnes and Noble) will go to orphanages in the Philippines through the Kabataan Charity he founded. Fernando is hoping more Filipino orphans get adopted to give them better lives the same way he did.
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