Jonalyn’s father planned to come back for her. When he left her at the House of Refuge in Marikina City, Philippines, he told her he would return.
“In my heart, I really think he meant to,” said Kim Westfahl, LSS director of adoption and foster care services.
As Jonalyn waited for her father to come back, other children at the House of Refuge were adopted through the LSS Ambassadors Program. Our volunteer Ambassadors travel to the Philippines every two years, spend time with a group of older adoptable children, then work to find their forever families in the U.S. After five years, Jonalyn asked to become part of the Ambassadors Program. Time was short: she was already 14, and children in the Philippines become ineligible for adoption on their 16th birthdays. The adoption process often takes more than a year, so the Ambassadors had to act quickly on Jonalyn’s behalf.
After The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an article about the Ambassadors and the children waiting in the Philippines, it caught the attention of Joel and Sharon Tomski, parents of four boys, all adopted from the Philippines. Ready to adopt again, Joel and Sharon chose Jonalyn.
While waiting for Jonalyn, the Tomski’s oldest son, Jomer — adopted from the House of Refuge when he was 13 — decided to rearrange his room and asked his mom to help. As they worked, they paused to look at a photo signed by other House of Refuge children and presented to Jomer before he left the orphanage. A small signature, scrawled in a corner, read: “Jonalyn.”
Now, Jomer and Jonalyn are brother and sister, with three brothers and two parents to love them. Jonalyn and her joy have added much to a family that was already rich in love. And, Jonalyn knows that she was never, ever unwanted; she was just waiting for her forever family to be found.