Judy Ann Santos was single when she embraced motherhood at age 26.
In 2004, at the peak of her career and a woman in love, Juday adopted Yohan. It was the year her romance with Ryan Agoncillo blossomed on the set of ABS-CBN series Krystala.
They admitted their relationship in 2005, were engaged in 2008, and got married in 2009.
All that time, the Kapamilya actress already had Yohan in her life.
When Judy Ann became an Agoncillo, so did Yohan.
JUDAY AND YOHAN, HEART TO HEART
Judy Ann planned the right time she would explain to Yohan Agoncillo about her adoption.
Back then, her fear was the young child would find out from other sources that she was adopted.
She related, "There was a time that I saw in my iPad, nag-history ako. Nawala sa isip ko na nasa kanya iPad ko.
"Pagtingin ko sa history, she actually googled her name. So, lumabas dun siyempre lahat—Yohan Agoncillo adopted, Yohan Agoncillo singing, Yohan Agoncillo—like, everything about her."
Judy Ann was concerned about her daughter's reaction.
"I was confident naman that she's not gonna take anything about, na parang, adopted siya or something.
"Kasi we're very vocal naman kami ni Ry in explaining to her that adoption isn't a bad word.
"'It's not a bad thing at all. You have an inspiring story.'"
Judy Ann recalled when Yohan was much younger and confused about what being adopted meant.
The celebrity mom narrated, "Dati kasi ano siya, e, sumasama loob niya, naba-bother siya.
"Nalulungkot siya kaya sinasabi ko sa kanya, 'Sweetheart, it was my choice.
"I know naman at some point, I could still have a child.
"It's just that I so wanted to have a child, and I prayed.
"I prayed for years to have a baby girl. I'm very specific with my prayers. I [wanted] to have a baby girl at 26. And I got a call a week after I turned 26.
"And it was a baby girl, so that was you.
"'Even before I had a family, it was you and me only.'
"Dun, ano na siya, 'Ah, oo nga. Sa iyo ako kasi ginusto mo.'
"You can see it in her glow, that she's confident.
"She's not ashamed of being an adopted daughter."
Judy Ann shared her story about Yohan's adoption with PEP.ph and a group of reporters at the intimate lunch event of Globe at Home on March 27.
BREAKING IT GENTLY
Judy Ann goes on to talk about how the word adopted has had negative connotation in the past. "Hindi kaya? Parang mali 'yung mga taong ganun," she said.
She chose the right time to tell Yohan about her adoption.
"I just had to tell it to her when she was four, five years old, early on pa lang.
"Nung nakakuha ako ng chance na ma-introduce sa kanya yung word na 'adoption,' inunti-unti ko na.
"Kasi ang fear ko naman, kapag hindi ko sinabi sa kanya, imposibleng wala magsabi sa kanya... How can you pacify her? How can you control the emotions?
"Nung simula pa lang, nung nakakaintindi na siya, inunti-unti ko na kasi mas gusto ko, ako yung mas mahirapan mag-explain kung anong relationship namin.
"Kaysa mahirapan ako mag-explain na may iba na nakapagsabi sa kanya. Isipin pa niya na tinago ko o wala akong planong sabihin.
"At sa daming tsismosa sa mundo natin, hello, maitatago mo talaga?
"If you share it with a positive attitude, then you will inspire people or other adopted children na being adopted is such a good thing.
"It's the most beautiful word that you can encounter because it just means na a family adopted you. They wanted you, they chose you to be part of their family.
"It's not as if they didn't have a choice, so me, I wanted you even before I got married.
"Even before I met your dad, you're with me already. So, it's my choice to have you as my daughter.
"That alone, she's empowered already na, 'Ah, oo nga.' So, hindi ako natatakot..."
Judy Ann and Ryan have two other children: Lucho, 8, and Luna, 3.
YOHAN AS DAUGHTER
Now 14 years old, Yohan is called by her mom and dad on their social media accounts as their dalaginding and "buding."
Just like her mom Juday, she knows her way around kitchen.
Mother and daughter have also done a number of commercials together.
Ryan, for his part, introduced Yohan to his love for motorcycles.
In February 2017, Yohan joined an off-road training camp.
She is a competitive swimmer.
Yohan is also "musically-gifted."
One time her dad was "majorly struggling to learn the chords and lyrics of her favorite song," she wrote him a letter.
Posted on Ryan's feed in January 2018, it read, "good job dad! Keep it up! Soon, I (once you're done,) we can sing. I will teach you! Don't worry! Family is always there for each other! Like I'm here for you.!"
In 2018, Yohan gave her mom a "super duper early birthday gift."
Juday's birthday is May 11, but her daughter's letter was posted on March 13.
Part of the handwritten note read, "I just want to tell you that I'm turly sorry for all things I did to you! I can't believe you are so calm but when things get out of hand, and um, I'm truly grateful for what you've done to me! teaching me new things in my life! thank you for being there for me."
Juday's caption was her reply to Ate Yoyo's (Yohan's nickname) letter: "My mommy heart is smiling.. [two red heart emojis]..."
This story originally appeared on Pep.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors.