Posts Tagged ‘Colombian Adoption’

The Coming Conundrum

January 29, 2013

birth parents search

This photo showed up today on facebook… and I shared it on my wall, like 29,368 other people did. Being an adoptive mama, I have mixed feelings about this on several levels.

For this beautiful 22-year-old woman I pray that she gets a glimpse of her birth-parents for no other reason than looking in the face of someone she is related to by blood.  That connection cannot be replaced, other than by having her own children. It would also be a treasure for her to learn of family history, possible siblings and birth grandparents, aunts and uncles.  In a peaches-and-cream-everything-always-turns-up-roses life this could be the start of a beautiful family expanding experience.  But I don’t know one single family where life has turned up roses and there aren’t real life sad situations to deal with.

However, there are the birthparents and their current lives to consider.  What if they never told ANYONE about the daughter they had when they were in the middle of high school?  What if the birth-father doesn’t even know!? There are many reasons for choosing an adoptive plan for a child and many more reasons for requesting it be a closed adoption.  I understand closure is desired by some who are adopted, but through this possible re-connecting are two separate lives who have moved on from the 22-year-old monumental decision they made to give life, love her to pieces, and make a better plan for her life than they could provide.  If found, they have the choice to embrace their long-lost daughter, or protect those around them and hurt their “secret” daughter again.

Because of our Colombian princess’s situation in her homeland, we do have quite a bit of information about her birth-parents.  Most likely, we could find them with a bit of sleuthing, thanks to the healthcare system in Colombia.  However, Colombian law holds all adoption records as confidential for 30 years.  THIRTY YEARS!  Good grief!  So it is unlikely that our girl will have anyone looking for her. It will be up to us.  Colombian law states that “every adopted person has the right to know about his/her origin and the character of its family links.  The parents (of an adopted minor) will decide on the moment and conditions in which it will not cause the minor harm to know such information.”  THAT is the conundrum.  No matter the circumstances of an adoption plan being made, there is the possibility of a real sense of abandonment for the child, and when has abandonment ever not caused harm?

I still believe in, support and love adoption with my whole being.  Yet someday we will face the heartfelt question, “Can we try to find my birth-parents?”  One day at a time.  One day at a time.

My Heart is STILL in Colombia!

November 24, 2012

It’s true.  We have been home from Cali, Colombia for 23 months with our little Colombian princess.  The adoption journey has had bumps and twists that we didn’t expect, but it has been so wonderful and rewarding.

Tomorrow is GOTCHA DAY number two!

TWO YEARS!!!  Hard to believe it has gone by so fast.  Sometimes our month in Colombia seems like forever ago… and sometimes it seems like last week.  I miss the lush greenness of Cali, the vast array of mystery fruits that were scrumptiously yummy, the glimpses of the Andes when the fog lifted, the bamboo forest we drove by to our villa, the coconut ice cream bars, the afternoon rain showers, the neighborhood boys who would come and ask,  “Is Austin Rick’s son?”, the sweet smell of the flowers, arepas filled white cheese, the stickiness of the night air and the pee-po pee-po LOUD evening serenade of the coqui frogs.

People often ask “Why Colombia?”  Quite a few factors lead us to the beautiful and tropical South American country.

1.) My husband, Rick, went to Valledupar, Colombia for a summer to build a church when he was 17-years-old.  He grew to love the warm-hearted people and the countryside teeming with unknown vegetation, never imagining that he would return to meet his daughter twenty-something years later.

2.) We have three bio kids who do not look like Rick AT ALL.  Ok, one does a little, but I was expecting little chubby, black-haired Indian babies when I married a Cree Indian.  Didn’t happen.  The Irish and Finnish genes dominated and we got two blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids and another slightly darker. So, when we had chosen an adoption agency, I looked through the pages for the countries they worked in….   I held up the two pages and announced to Rick, “El Salvador and Colombia are where the kids look like you.”  “Colombia,” he replied.  And it was a done deal.

3.) Not that I was anywhere near proficient, but I thoroughly enjoyed taking Spanish… back in the day.  Larisa also had Spanish courses and was mastering her second language quite nicely.  So a country in South America seemed familiar… somehow.  (Not distant in my mind, like, say, Kazakhstan… or China.) I related to Ellie from the movie UP…. her dream was to visit South America.  She tore pictures right out of a library book of the fascinating country.

I am as American as you could get.  I LOVE my country… the anthem brings me to tears.  Studying and teaching the history of our great land is a deep passion of mine.  But I have to say that my heart beats in thirds… a third for the USA, a third for Canada, where I spent my college years and the first 10 years of marriage, and now a third for Colombia where I fell in love with my daughter’s people and homeland.  My heart is still in Colombia. <3

From Wonder Mama to Blunder Mama

November 17, 2012

With the arrival of our Colombian princess’s second GOTCHA DAY next Sunday, memories of that time in our lives have been frequent, heart warming and still alarming in some cases.

November 25, 2010 the day we received Nora, is alive and well in my memory banks.  The morning began with my first Spanglish lesson of ordering breakfast from the kitchen in the hotel where we had arrived just seven short hours previously.  Translated from my lame Spanish back to lame English for your enjoyment….my order: “Eggs.  Milk.  Five people.  Juice.  Cooked bread.(toast)  Coffee.”  The kind person on the phone kept asking me questions and I had NO idea what they were saying.  I repeated my eight word order several times.  Surprisingly, we did get everything we asked for, plus hot cocoa, arepas, jam, honey and some fruit!

On our drive home from ICBF (Colombian social services), we were all jolted beyond belief in the traffic, on the steep hills and due to the driving style of our guide.  Thankfully we only had a 20 minute ride or we would have all been losing our breakfast.

Being the prepared official mother of four children, when Nora started looking woozy, I grabbed a gallon zip lock bag from my purse and she used it well.  Just a teeny bit of mama pride surfaced as I had anticipated the problem and solved it in the nick of time.  We also learned at that moment that she had been fed chocolate cake for breakfast.  LOTS of chocolate cake.

My mama pride dissolved into nothingness that same evening when we tucked Nora in for the night.  We all kissed her, Larisa brushed out her nine tiny braids before she was wrapped in her cozy new jammies and ready for beddy-bye.  My sweet husband has done the tucking-in for all of the kids’ lives.  He is such a thoughtful dad and spends time talking with them and listening to how their day went.  The kids love their Daddy time as much as I love my freedom time.  Rick went to put her in her bed in the second bedroom of our “apartment”.  I could hear him singing and talking to his new little daughter whom he couldn’t understand… nor could he speak a lick of Spanish.

About six or seven minutes into this familiar TO US ritual, I realized for the first time Nora was alone with this strange man whom she was to call Daddy.  The information we had about her past was sketchy, but it dawned on me that she could be terrified of my sweet, kind-hearted husband…. just because he is male.

As quickly as my little fingers could type into Google translate, I wrote the sentences “Your Papi loves you.  He will never hurt you.  He will always protect you and take care of you.  He is a very nice man.  He has never hurt anyone.  You don’t have to ever be scared of him.  He loves you.”  I unplugged the computer and rushed into the room where, as I suspected, she was clinging to the far edge of her bed with wide fearful eyes.  My heart broke… once more.  How stupid of us!  I read the sentences of love and assurance to her in Spanish and I visibly saw her relax and sink into the pillow with relief.

I went from Wonder Mama with the barf bag to Blunder Mama with the scary husband…. all in 11 hours!  I had a lot to learn…. and the learning curve was quite steep two years back.  Thank God for Google translate!

After ALL These Years….

September 19, 2012

After all these years, I have finally figured something out.  Please don’t hold your breath too long waiting in anticipation for this monumental, earth-shattering news.  The back-story first.

With two bathrooms upstairs and a newly acquired princess from Colombia in December 2010, I decided that she could brush her teeth and bathe in the master bathroom, so as to leave more room for her three siblings.  How nice of me.  I’m the nice mom, remember?  I figured it wouldn’t be that much of a hassle due to her usually preening at different hours than her father and me.  Fast-forward four months to me being completely grossed out by the blobby toothpaste all over the cap and drawer where the Crest is kept.

The gross-out feeling is mutual between my new daughter and me.  She is grossed out that hair is stuck in my hairbrush.  I am grossed out by dried, globby toothpaste on the cap and in the drawer.  Deciding not to mention the blue blobs, I got myself a brand spankin’ new tube of Crest ONLY for personal use, and cleared a spot in my medicine cabinet for MY toothpaste where it would remain clean and blob-free.

NOTHING gets past her big brown eyes!  NOTHING!  She asked me THE NEXT DAY, “Why do you have toothpaste up there on the shelf now?”

In a sweet voice (because I’m the nice mom) I replied, “It’s because someone left toothpaste on that tube in the drawer and I don’t want to touch it.”

Her response made me burst out laughing, “Maybe DAD left the toothpaste all over the cap!”  Hahahaha!

Her father and I have been sharing the same tube of toothpaste for 23 years.  If you are a germaphobe, I’m sorry that you now look down your sanitized nose at us.  We are what we are.  So, YES there were new clumps of toothpaste.  YES, the Colombian princess was the culprit…. but not the culprit willing to admit to the messiness.

So what did I figure out after all these years?  My husband is a very neat toothpaste user, for which I am thankful.   I would not be harboring these thankful thoughts if it weren’t for our Colombian Princess joining the family.  :o)  One more blessing of adoption.

 

English 101

April 27, 2012

Since the addition of the Colombian princess to our happy family, the English language has been under much scrutiny in my mind.  Our little girl, who only spoke Spanish when we met her, is now only speaking English.  I remember the adoption agency telling us that at four months she would be speaking English.  I hoped and dreamed that would be true for each of the 120 days leading up to the four-month mark. 

My eldest daughter and I had some grasp of mangled Spanish when we headed to Colombia, and with the addition of Google Translate (that speaks aloud for you!) we did communicate fairly effectively, I thought.  A year after the fact, I now believe that there was a lot of smiling and nodding going on without much comprehension.  But we survived those early days!  Whew!  What made me sad was that Nora’s daddy couldn’t talk to her at all.  My sweet husband simply spoke louder…. as if that would help the translation somehow.  My mother also was a bit uncomfortable being left with the care of a little girl and a big language barrier.  The sooner the four-month switch occurred, the better!

At three months, three weeks and three days, I was getting exasperated with the translation between our little Colombiana and the rest of the family.  It didn’t seem to me like she was understanding English.  She wasn’t using that many words in her new language.  What I didn’t realize was that her little brain was storing English words.  In little filing cabinets… that could be referred to later.  After four months.

Then four months ended.  And POOF!  She spoke English.  Spanish was gone.  English had arrived… the switch in her brain took place ON CUE at four months and she has not looked back.  I don’t think she even realized what happened.  It was as if the Spanish filing cabinets were closed and locked.  The English filing cabinets were opened and readily available for use.  Unbelievable how God made young brains to absorb language.  Unbelievable!

As she continues to experiment with the English language, I have had to think through a lot of her sentences, words and syntax…. to try to discover WHY we say things like we do.  It is confusing.  Tonight she told me, “You don’t have to fed the dogs.  I did.”  ‘Fed’ is past tense.  ‘I did’ is past tense. I can see how it seems right… sort of. 

One time I asked Nora to close the back door.  She stood still, eyes roving the room as her little brain tried to grasp…. something….  Finally she held onto her shirt and said, “I think this is clothes. How do you clothes a door?”  Made perfect sense to me.

And the -ed ending to words is so confusing.  Go…. goed.   I saw the bird…. I sawed the bird yesterday.  Eat… eated.  Run…. runned.  Sat… satted.  Drive… drived.  “Well, -ed is usually how you add past tense….. but not this time, Honey.”  Witnessing the transition has been a blessing and an awe-inspiring adventure!  Adoption stretches you in ways you never expected.  Ever.  And I love it!

It’s ALMOST Comical

January 17, 2012

Yes, I’m talking about one more glitch in the adoption process.  Yes, we have adopted the Colombian Princess.  Yes, it is final in Colombia and recognized in the USA.  She is ours. We are hers.  Done…. with papers to prove it.  She is an American citizen and we have a pretty paper to prove that too. BUT, we are in the process of re-adopting in our state so we will have an US adoption decree, an US birth certificate and the final name change decree, which the courts in Colombia wouldn’t allow. (Even though she asked for her name to be shortened, they wouldn’t change it because she was over 5 years old.)  We all know how important it is to prove that you are a natural-born citizen OR have hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover up that you aren’t…. but I digress.

I assumed re-adoption in Arizona would be easier than an international adoption.  It is slightly. Of course we had to get our fingerprints done for the ninth time.  Since our eldest daughter turned 18 in the process, she also got to join in fingerprinting fun.  More financial statements.  More home visits.  More paperwork.  You may recall a blog about the need to prove that our dog had the rabies vaccine too.  (Do they really think the type of people who go trough this whole rigmarole to adopt a child would not get their dog protected against rabies?) Seriously.

We are so close to getting our final court date here in AZ, but come to find out, we didn’t have an English translation of the Sentencia, the final Colombian Adoption Decree.  Ironically, I could not get a straight answer out of anyone at the County Attorney’s Office as to whether this translation had to be certified and/or notarized.  Our social worker was eventually able to pull some strings and get some answers for us.  We sent the Spanish version off to our friend in Colombia for translation, and we received an email back that said there is a mistake on the original, official, final, Colombian Sentencia.  This is almost comical.  Thankfully, our friend could go to the court and get it changed, so we don’t have challenges later.  OF COURSE this includes more time, more money, more paperwork.  Really?

If you are adopting from Colombia, make sure you get a translated copy of the Sentencia BEFORE you leave Bogota!!!

One translating step forward and two adoption process steps backwards.  Some day we will be done.  Some day.

GOTCHA Day!

November 27, 2011

November 25th was Nora’s Gotcha Day.  We have had our little Colombian princess for one year now!  Hard to believe!  We celebrated in style…. purple style…. and ate Domino’s pizza… because that is where we ate in Cali the night we received Nora. 

We spent time going through her Colombian box that contains all the items and clothing she brought with her from her homeland.  We gave her a beautiful handmade dress from Cali, as well as a few American gifts… that were purple!

For two years I have been working on my third book…. Nora’s Story… her lifebook.  I was impatiently waiting for all the info during the first year… and then trying to find time to put it in the book this last year.  It tells the story of her life from the day she was born.  I’m once again so thankful that we took a day to go up to LaCumbre, the sleepy little town where she was born.  We were able to get a copy of the hospital report from that precious day… and it had priceless details on it that we would have never been able to give to her! Also included in her lifebook are copies of her birth certificates, her citizenship certificate and pictures of her foster family. 

After reading the lifebook, we watched the videos that were taken in Colombia.  It made us miss our sweet friends that we met in Colombia.  We all cried again as we watched ourselves crying tears of joy when we got her.  Awesomeness, for sure!  It was interesting for her to watch, because she only spoke Spanish then.  She was quite shocked at her behavior, which is a good sign!!!  She said, “I wasn’t a very good example then!” and “I talked a LOT!” and “I wasn’t very nice, was I?”  What do you say to that?!?  No, Honey, you weren’t, but we loved you anyway! 

We ended the evening by lighting sparklers and running around the backyard screaming like little girls.  Great fun!  Nora made us a darling card that said, “Thank you for adopting me!” and lots of other terms of endearment.  She is such a thoughtful little girl!  I told my husband later that night that I didn’t expect to hear her say thank you for adopting her until she was 35.  :o)  It’s been a year of blessing!  Thank God for our little girl!

ESL Fun and Games…..sorta

November 14, 2011

The sweet Colombian princess and I have been diligently learning the phonograms to sound out the English language for two months.  She almost mastered the frist 26 (single letters) but as she wrote them…. I came to the realization that she is already programmed for printing the letters incorrectly, holding the pencil totally rigid and straight up, as well as copying over the letters two and THREE times each before lifting her pencil.  Drove me nuts. 

Children Handwriting

After many prayers and whining sent heavenward, I remembered that one of my sons had difficulty printing so I started him with cursive first.  It worked brilliantly.  Thanking God for the wisdom from on high, I decided to switch Nora over because she had no bad habits to overcome in cursive… well, almost.  The rigid pencil grasp made all her letters tilt backwards and look like a lefty wrote them.  After saying 4,678 times, “Tilt your pencil back,” I resorted to taping her pencil down to her hand.  One of my insightful friends recommended this… and it worked.  She fought it all that day (technically for about 15 minutes), but from then on she was determined never to be taped again and carefully tilts the pencil back before writing now.

Another lightbulb went on one day when I realized all the phonogram cards are in printing, not cursive.  So I made a set of cursive phonograms and we STARTED ALL OVER AGAIN… with hardly any recognition.  Oh my.  That was two or three weeks ago and she is getting it…. slowly.  A cursive n does look like an m.  And a cursive k does resemble an r.  I get the confusion!

We have finished the spell-to-write-and-read list A from Spaulding.  Twenty little words.  And I mean little… do, go, is, am, my, run, etc.  We talked through them all.  She sounded them out.  We clapped the syllables.  She printed them quickly in left-angled letters and then carefully in right-leaning cursive in her Spelling Book.  She is doing so well.

Alas, today she had her first spelling test of the twenty little words.  The results were not pretty.  Only three were correct.  It was disheartening for me.  I realized today that she is still translating from Spanish to English with the letters and sounds.  I shouldn’t be surprised by this, as she has only been speaking English for seven months.  This is English as a Second Language afterall!  But still, I assumed she was understanding more than she is.  I texted the principal of our homeschool and told him how frustrated I was.  Being ever the compassionate parent, he asked how she took the news.  I replied, “I didn’t tell her.”  Then he added that at least I couldn’t blame him that it came from his side of the family!  hahaha!  After I secretly marked the test, Nora and I played some card and sound matching games and then put it all away for another day. 

That is precisely what we have…. another day.  One baby step at a time.

Gotcha Day is Fast Approaching!

October 26, 2011

Hard to believe!  November 25th we will have had our sweet Nora for a YEAR!  Twelve whole months!  I can’t believe how fast it has flown by…. on the other hand, it seems like she’s been here much longer than that.  She has fit into her forever family better than I could have ever hoped for.  All those scary “preparation” stories from our training never materialized at all.  God picked us to be her family from the beginning!  I have no doubts now.  She is doing so well… with everything!  I have to remind myself that she has only been speaking English for six months!  Amazing how God made youngsters’ brains to absorb languages so quickly.

Here we were sitting in ICBF only a half hour before Nora had a forever family.  So many emotions that day!

So, we know we are ordering Domino’s Pizza, because that’s where we ate in Cali, Colombia the very first night we had the Colombian princess.  Other than that….. I’m looking for ideas and suggestions.  What did you, fellow adoptive parents, do on your first Gotcha Day?  What do you keep doing every year?  Is it a BIG Colombian fiesta with salsa dancing until the wee hours? Or something a little more calm?  Please let me know…. I have a month to plan!

A Word Misspoken

October 15, 2011

In the kitchen amidst the pleasurable aroma of banana bread wafting from the hot oven, the Colombian princess and I were in the heat of a discussion regarding Colombian food.  Often, as the days go by, I ask questions about her foster home to find out more details about her life when we were praying earnestly for her, but had not met her yet.  She gleefully reported to me once again that her favorite foods were rice, beans and meat.  I needed details.  That couldn’t have been all that she ate…. or could it???  I asked about many other South American dishes that I am vaguely aware of…. nada.  Jokingly, I added that we need to take her back to Colombia so she could remember the foods of her homeland.  I thought it was sort of funny.  Flabbergastedly she yelled, “YOU’RE TAKING ME BACK????”   Oops.  No.  Never.

Another heated discussion followed about the words FOREVER… ALWAYS… OURS…. and I gingerly explained that we hope to go visit Colombia with her again, but we cannot and will not leave her there.  I reminded her of the picture of Papi signing the Sentencia papers that translated to: You will ALWAYS be a Crosby from now on.   With the horrible vision of the little Russian adoptee who was recently sent back to his birthland with a note pinned to his jacket, I vehemently stated, “We cannot give you back… and we don’t want to.”

Then I reminded her of the meeting we had at ICBF (Colombian Family Services.. kind of) with a man named Dennis.  After having Nora in our care for five days, he asked if we wanted to go forward with the adoption…. WE SAID YES!  I also reminded her that Dennis asked HER if she wanted to stay with us.  She said YES!  (Hopefully she hasn’t regretted that answer too many times in the last 10 1/2 months!)

Last night I was scrapbooking Nora’s “baby book” (Term used loosely… as it contains her earliest photos… but no baby is seen, sadly.) I tenderly glued in the pictures of that day at ICBF.  I realized that after being with us for five days, and LOVING trying on and wearing all the pretty clothes we brought for her, she carefully picked out her outfit for the ICBF meeting….. every single piece of clothing she put on, right down to her underwear was the clothing she came to us with.  She didn’t use a single article of clothing from her new collection.  Same sleeve-too-short sweater… same plastic white sandals… I wondered what was going through her mind as we drove to the meeting? Did someone tell her to do that in case we said no??? SOOOOOOOOO much for a little girl to ponder in her heart.

So glad she’s HOME!