‘Adoption was easy: 7 months — faster than labor’

By Maricar CP Hampton

Actress and writer Leslie Lewis Sword raves about her adopted children from Rwanda and how they love to do ‘mano po.’

TF: How did you decide to adopt two children from Rwanda?
LLS: My husband’s father was adopted and it was really important to him when he was a child to adopt. That was something he wanted to do. And in my family there is a lot of adoption often of other relatives. For example, my grandmother’s mother adopted two girls who were her sister’s children when her sister died.
On the last day that we were in Rwanda, Immaculee, the woman I play, brought me to an orphanage. My husband and I have recently decided that we will start a family and we knew we would do it through adoption because it was important to him, but we thought we would do it domestically. But after she brought me to this orphanage I thought, ‘Well here are all these babies who need a home,’ and we have a home. So seven months later we came back and picked up our children.

TF: Just like that.
LLS: It was very easy for us—from going to the orphanage to going back and getting our children. It took seven months — faster than labor. Some people go through nine months of pregnancy to have their children. All I had to do was fill out the paper work. But even though they weren’t born in the body they were born from my heart, and I adore them.

TF: There are those who say: Why adopt abroad when there are many children in the U.S. waiting to be adopted?
LLS: As I said, originally we were going to do it domestically. We already contacted a halfway house for young mothers in Texas a friend of ours adopted from.

TF: What about the celebrities who adopt children internationally one after the other?
LLS: Good for them. I think if it inspires other people to adopt, that’s wonderful. There so many people out there who need a home so it’s wonderful that the celebrities are making adoption more popular instead of something that has a stigma to it.

TF: Are you thinking of adopting more children?
LLS: Right now, two is a good number.

Leslie with mom Loida, Christian and Savilla

TF: How are Christian and Savilla doing? (Full names: Christian Roy Vincent Hamadun Harelimana and Savilla Joy Innocent Niyonkuru)
LLS: They are doing great. They are 5 years old both. We adopted them when they were six months and 11 months. They are happy and fun children. They love to laugh and dance and sing. We just took the kids to Disneyland, and they had a fantastic time.
They are going to kindergarten in Vancouver. They bike to school. We have moved to a neighborhood where they can bike to school and they really like that. And at the end of the day I tuck them in bed.

TF: How did they like their visit to the Philippines?
LLS: They love the Philippines. They like doing ‘mano po’ (kissing the hand of elders) and they like the word ‘kili-kili’ (armpit). They did the three little pigs while we were in Manila. It was very cute. They both love to sing, and they are playing piano and guitar.

TF: Looks like you’re teaching them some Filipino traditions.
LLS: Yes we are.

TF: How is your mom Loida Nicolas Lewis liking the grandmother role?
LLS: She is a fantastic grandmother and she adores her ‘apo.’ But not really spoiling them.

TF: What do you say to people looking to adopt foreign children?
LLS: Go for it and follow your heart.

Following the success of “Miracle in Rwanda,” Leslie Lewis Sword is now writing a comedy. She sits on the board of TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc., a food distribution conglomerate based in New York and founded by her father (deceased) Reginald Lewis. Her mother prominent FilAm community leader Loida Nicolas Lewis is CEO and chairman.

Maricar CP Hampton is a freelance journalist. She was awarded a New America Media fellowship in 2010. In Manila, she covered celebrities and entertainment personalities for the Philippine Star.

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