Adoption Story of Hope, Opportunity, Family, Survival and Reunion: Marissa Borst (Interior Design 2006)

As you may or may not not be aware, November is National Adoption Month, a time of celebrations of adoption nationwide. For one, there will be a celebration of reunion.

Marissa Eve Borst (Interior Design 2006), born Marissa Sumal-Jag Lanticse, was the 13th child born into a poverty-stricken family in Tagum, Davao, Philippines. Only eight of these children survived. At seven months old, Marissa was declared second-degree malnourished, had parasitic and respiratory infections, had lost vision in her right eye, and was dying of the measles. Christ the King Hospital, now known as Bishop Joseph Regan Memorial Hospital, in Tagum City admitted Marissa as a charity case. She spent months fighting for her life and won, thanks to the staff at the hospital. Worried about not being able to cover the medical expenses, no one came to claim her. Marissa became a ward of the state and spent nine months in two orphanages.

In September of 1983, Marissa was adopted by the Borst family, a true silver lining to her story. Though born into a difficult world, she spent the next 27 years blessed, surrounded by people who loved her. Her life was enriched with music, dance and art. The latter brought her to NESADSU.

In the spring of 2011, about to turn 30, Marissa started to pine for something more – a need to know what was missing in her life. She started the search for her family. Through Facebook, she found a group of other adoptees from the same adoption agency, International Alliance for Children; she connected with others through FAN (Filipino Adoptees Network), and was able to find many of the caretakers from the hospital. She also connected with her biological brothers and sisters, and just recently “met” her father for the “first” time through video chat. It was an emotional, life turning moment. Marissa hopes to return as soon as possible to the Philippines to be reunited with everyone who played an important role in her survival, and to meet her family once again.

Marissa graduated from NESADSU in 2006, with a BFA in Interior Design, and is currently a commercial/hospitality interior designer with Architecture + Design Associates, Inc. ( in the metropolitan Washington, DC area, as well as the owner of All’s Well That Ends Well Designs (, which specializes in miscellaneous art and graphic design. She is a member of Cambridge Who’s Who, Filipino Young Professionals DC, and will be the 2012 Director of Programming for the Network of Executive Women in Hospitality ( This fall, AWTEW is teaming up to develop and execute an arts program with FACETS Cares. FACETS is a non-profit organization that helps those in need of emergency shelter, food and medical care, helping them gain safe, sustainable and permanent housing, while working with them to end the cycle of poverty through educational, life skills and career counseling programs ( In her spare time, Marissa teaches piano and choreographs competitive dancing, takes yoga and dance classes and spends as much time as possible with her three-year-old daughter Eve.

For more information on any of Marissa’s activities, email her at


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