We enjoyed the Parque Infantil (Children’s Park) in the center of the city again today. The weather was beautiful, until an afternoon storm rolled in. Then we all sat and listened to the rain on our metal roof, which was beautiful in its own way. Our meeting with ICBF, the central authority for Colombian adoption, went wonderfully. They feel Isabel is doing well in our family. We will go to the lawyers office to sign some paperwork tomorrow, and on Wednesday we will head back to the capital. I will leave on Friday to go back to the States with 11 of the kids, and Joe and Isabel will move on to La Mesa to go to court.
I have gotten so many emails, PMs and blog posts about adopting from Colombia. I am more than happy to share details about our experience. I hope that many of the children waiting will be adopted, but I also always balance that hope with the truth of what you should expect from the children living in Colombia who are waiting to be adopted.
Colombia is a Hague accredited country when it comes to inter-country adoption. I know some people hate Hague because it adds extra layers and extra cost to the process. I will tell you, I look for it. We wouldn’t have come to Colombia if it wasn’t Hague accredited and didn’t have a LONG history of international adoption.
Colombia has a VERY active domestic adoption program. This makes my heart SOAR with delight. I want kids who can stay in their country of birth to STAY.IN.THEIR.COUNTRY.OF.BIRTH. I can’t say that loud enough. Our van driver in Bogotá was an adoptive father. He and his wife adopted their child close to birth. Because there is such an active domestic adoption program, the children available for international adoption here either have severe special needs, like some of the most severe I’ve seen, or they are older. You may be able to get on the waitlist with Colombia and adopt a younger, healthier child. I don’t know anything about that. Isabel was waiting for a family, and she is perfection.
We spent $26,000 on fees BEFORE travel. This is what I would consider average for international adoption fees. It falls in line with the fees we paid to adopt from China. Travel has been less expensive for us then it was to China. Or, it would have been, had we not chosen to take ALL of us. But, the cost is, in part, the reason we made that choice.
Travel is NOT what it was in China. I didn’t expect it to be. It falls somewhere between Ghana and China for me in terms of American comforts. If you are not an experienced traveler, this is going to be a hard trip for you. China would not have been. In China, a guide was with us 24/7. We were in 5 star hotels. I’m sure we could have chosen nicer hotels. I’m sure we could have paid an interpreter to be with us the whole time. Joe is a Spanish Interpreter, so I can’t imagine why we would need an interpreter, and we would have to pay them.
The pretty places you might read about on our blog are places we chose to go to because Joe is fluent and I am fairly fluent. My advice if you’re considering this is to REALLY work on your Spanish. Your travel will be easier, and unless your child is Deaf like Isabel, the language skills will help you communicate with your child more effectively.
This is a country that has a requirement that BOTH parents travel. The travel timeline is unclear. The government moves at its own pace, and no one likes a pushy American. All of us will have been here for two full weeks. We anticipate that Joe will be here two more after I leave. Yes, there are families who leave in three weeks, but there are also families who are here for six, or even eight. This is a wonderful country. Come, enjoy, plan to stay. If the travel requirements don’t work for your family, then there are other adoptions for international adoption where only one parent is required to travel.
Colombia doesn’t especially want to hear that families are adopting for religious reasons. That is not our motivation to adopt. We find strength in our faith, but we don’t feel it is the reason we adopted in the first place. Honestly, I think that helped us get accepted to the program even though we’re a mega-family. We were told, VERY clearly, not to write our letter of intent to adopt with ANY sort of mention of God or religion as a motivating factor in our adoption. Again, that was fine with us, because it isn’t why we’re adopting Isabel.
Colombia is also VERY proud of the fact that it welcomes same sex couples to adopt. The adoption processed from Isabel’s region right before ours was to a couple with two fathers. We were shown pictures of their beautiful family, because their daughter and ours look a lot alike, and we were told by every official who showed the pictures to us that “amor es amor” (love is love). If you are someone who doesn’t believe in same sex marriage or in adoption by same sex couples, then this program is not for you.
–FullPlateMom, who is happy to answer more questions via email, when she’s home and settled.