LSSWis - Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan

Lutheran Social Services of
Wisconsin and Upper Michigan


Philippine Ambassador Program

After adopting four boys from the Philippines, Joel and Sharon Tomski thought their family was complete. But seven years later, a news story about the Ambassador program led them to adopt their daughter, Jonalyn. Watch the video below to hear their moving story.

What is the Ambassador Program?

The Philippine Ambassador Program was developed in 2007, after our staff visited with children from orphanages in the Philippines and determined there needed to be a better way to find families for older children who had no chance of finding a family in their home country.  For most children in the Ambassador Program, this is their last chance to have a family of their own. 

We believe that all children regardless of age, race, gender, or other conditions deserve a safe, loving, permanent family to call their own. Our Ambassador Program is an innovative approach to the recruitment of adoptive families for older children from the Philippines. The process takes 8-12 months from the time of acceptance by the government to the time of referral.

Why does the program exist?

Abundance of older children

Many children who are available for adoption are over the age of nine and some are waiting with siblings. Age is a barrier to adoption, and older children require specialized recruitment efforts in order to find a family.

Cultural barriers

Older children have stronger cultural influences that follow them into an adoptive family home and adoptive parents can be better prepared as parents if they experience children within their cultural context.


Older children need a personal introduction to potential adoptive families in order to increase their likelihood of being adopted. Experiential information acquired during the trip about older children, is invaluable in efforts to find a family for a child.


Adult volunteers (Ambassadors) can become resources and advocates for older children by reaching out and sharing their experiences with older children to their communities and extended family members

How does the program work?

  1. Adult volunteers (Ambassadors) from the U.S. travel to the Philippines and spend approximately ten days with a pre-identified group of children who are waiting for adoptive placements.
  2. The volunteers and children, as well as two of our staff members, a social worker from each participating child caring facility and a staff representative from the Inter-Country Adoption Board participate in a “cultural” experience over a ten day period. This experience includes visits to the child caring facilities, an educational “field trip” to places of significant historical and cultural importance, and a “camp or retreat” experience to a resort where the children and adults relax and play together.
  3. Once Ambassadors return, they act as an advocate for the children to identify prospective forever families. The Ambassadors prepare families though sharing family history, developmental status of the child, medical reports and personal experiences with the child. Prospective adoptive parents are equipped to meet their children in the child’s environment, and look forward to meeting the caring adults in that child’s life that they have heard so much about.
  4. Travel by the prospective parent(s) to receive the child is required. The trip is well organized and guided by agency representatives. Families receive placement of their child upon arrival and finalize their adoption in the U.S. six to ten months after placement.

In-Country Guide

For more than three decades, we've partnered with Ramon, serving as a dedicated in-country guide to families who visit the Philippines. In addition to providing transportation to all adoption-related appointments during their stay, Ramon assists in translation and overall concierge services, sharing his love and knowledge of the Filipino culture with guests. Many returning families and ambassadors have expressed appreciation for Ramon's care, guidance and hospitality during their stay in the Philippines. 

Waiting Children

Meet the children who participated in the Ambassador Program in 2012 and 2014 who are waiting to meet their forever families. 


We are blessed to partner with Ramon, an in-country guide who has a heart for bringing together forever families with children in the Philippines. For more than three decades, he has escorted families and ambassadors, ensuring they arrive safely in each destination, while also sharing the pride and love he has for his country and culture with visitors. 

Many forever families and visiting ambassadors are thankful to have such a friendly, welcoming person on the ground who can help them navigate the adoption process while they are there. Read the grateful notes of thanks below written about Ramon.


I was meeting up with the adoption ambassaadors after leaving another country. It looked easy on the map, but in reality, I had to go through China! What a relief to meet a stranger who seemed to know exactly who I was in the middle of the Manilla airiport. It was the brother of Ramon and he took me to Ramon. For the next two weeks, I had the pleasure of being escorted by either Ramon or his brother as we saw interesting sights and spent time with beautiful children who were hoping to find a Forever Family. Ramon took us carefully thorugh incredible traffic. When it was time to get back on the van, he said, "Let us now alight." The night before we had to leave, he gave us each a beautiful fan. I had the pleasure of meeting his lovely wife. It was obvious throughout the trip how much Ramon cares for the Philippine children and the Ambassador Program.    

- Patricia, Philippine Ambassador

Ramon met us at the airport and provided a calm port in the storm as we traveled the city and countryside. His obvious passion for LSS and the kids was evident throughout our time in the Philippines. As we prepared to leave, we felt a kinship with him and were confident the Ambassador program was in good hands. Now that we are back and can see the fruit of our work with the many forever families that have been created, we can see the kind of God working through angels like Ramon.  


- Jay and Janet, Philippine Ambassadors

Ramon has the grace to put up with insensitive questions from Americans without being offended. He keeps people safe from physical harm (like the time he ran down a hill when he saw a couple of ambassadors walking through a gate with a stranger and going out of his view or when people are considering drinking water or eating food that he doesn’t trust). He also keeps people safe from embarrassment or feeling uncomfortable. He’s very good at anticipating people’s needs and wants to be sure people feel welcomed.

He has strong faith and optimism for the future of his country. He loves to share his culture and history with guests. He loves to be a part of things that bring hope to others. He truly loves being a part of people’s adoption journeys, and he takes the time to get to know people. It doesn’t matter if you disagree with him about issues or do things differently than he does; he wants to be your friend.

My favorite memory with Ramon was the day we returned to Manila from General Trias City with our boys. There was a lot of traffic, and it wasn’t until we were right in the middle of it that we realized we were on the opposite side of the street from former President Corazon Aquino’s funeral procession. I jumped out with my camera in the middle of the street, the cars weren’t going to move for a long time, anyway. There was an elderly man struggling to get up on a raised walkway in the median, so I lifted him up, then got up with him and took pictures of the countless balloons, yellow flowers and intricate funeral procession.  

- Mike and his wife, Cathy, adopted their two sons from the Philippines

We were blessed to have Ramon as our driver during our stay in Manilla. 

He was incredible! He steered us through the congested streets of Manilla, always getting us to our destinations on time. He also willingly shared a wealth of information on life in the Philippines. Ramon reached out to our whole family throughout our stay. He is an amazing man with a true servant's heart for helping others.  

- Steve and Mary, adoptive parents

When we adopted Augie in August 2003, he was six years old. I brought along Andy, who was just shy of eight years old at the time, so it was Ramon driving the three of us around Manila. The boys' attention was drawn by a street vendor who was selling plastic toy helicopters among other things. Ramon assured the boys he would get them each a helicopter before we left. On our last day there, Ramon pulled over, and I enjoyed the haggling between he and the vendor (They spoke in Tagalog so I couldn’t understand the words, but I could tell Ramon was getting the best of him). Augie and Andy each got their helicopter. They had big smiles then and they enjoyed them for months to come back home.

- Joel Tomski and his wife, Sharon, adopted their four sons and one daughter from the Philippines

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