Adoption, AJ, Ally, Bowen, Brady, Cam, Cate, Colombia, Gigi, Isabel, Jax, Juliana, Tess

One More Day–Day Thirteen

Today, to take our minds off the fact that we only have one day left before we bid Joe and Isabel farewell, we decided to head to the science museum.  It was one rainy afternoon in Bogotá and the kids were super excited to visit Maloka.

Then we went and ate familiar food.  Cam never complained once, but after two weeks without anything typically American, he was ready for something familiar.  So, we ate Burger King.

We came back to our little Bogotá abode and there was a beautiful cake waiting for us.  We celebrated our last night in Bogotá with our friends at Zuetana.  If you’re looking for a place to stay in Bogotá, Claudia who owns this guest house, is amazing.

I am processing so many emotions about leaving that I don’t even know how to put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard, to get them out.  I am leaving my daughter behind.  My fragile, malnourished, daughter.  There just aren’t words.  The bottom line is, I wish it didn’t have to be this way. I wish we could all just stay in Colombia and be with her until it is time to come home.

Alas, school is calling, literally, for the other kids.  So, tomorrow at 4am, we’ll rise to make the long trek home.

–FullPlateMom, who misses Isabel already.

Adoption, AJ, Ally, Bowen, Brady, Cam, Cate, Colombia, Gigi, Isabel, Jax, Juliana, Tess

Back to Bogotá–Day Twelve

We’re now 48 hours from leaving Joe and Isabel behind to finish the adoption process.  On Friday, at the absolute crack of dawn, 12 of us will head to the airport and the other two will head a few hours down the road to La Mesa.  La Mesa is a smaller town about three hours outside of Bogotá.  It’s supposed to be warm, beautiful, and, a retirement community.  It’s the Boca Raton of Colombia.

Joe will be there for about a week to go to court and, hopefully, be granted a Sentencia.  This is the piece of paper that declares Isabel our daughter.  After that, he’ll head back to Bogotá to get her passport, her visa, and then, they’ll come home.  We anticipate he’ll be living here in Colombia for 2-3 more weeks.  I will be at home, alone, with the other 11 children.

I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t scared.  I am totally scared.  I’m scared of managing it all at home, and I’m scared of letting go of this process.  I feel Joe is ill equipped to handle it.  Not the diaper changes, and the parenting without me, he does that all the time.  I’m talking about knowing the ins and outs of when to push and when not to, when an ethical line is being crossed, and when what is being asked of you is routine.  It will be a steep learning curve for him.

Leaving Pasto today was so hard.  Tess cried big giant tears as we left the house on the hill where we had been staying for the past week.  The owners became like family to us over the last week.  Monica, one of the owners, helped us with the children, acted as a tour guide for us encouraging us to get out and explore Pasto and the surrounding areas, and she made us the best Colombian treats (my children now all love aqua de panela).  But, what we cherished the most, was that Monica spent so much time telling us about our daughter’s homeland, and her culture.  We know so much about Isabel’s birthplace, because Monica was so willing to share with us.

The guest house she and her husband own is absolutely beautiful.  It is attached to their family’s home.  Monica checked on us multiple times per day.  People thought we were crazy for staying in what we, in the United States, would commonly refer to as a hostel during a time that would be so unpredictable for our family.  Adding Isabel to our family wasn’t easy, but the people who surrounded us became part of her story.  Even some of the other people staying in the guest house with us became part of Isabel’s story.  AJ told Joe he loved having people come in and out and stay in the guest house with us because they came from all over, and he had the opportunity to ask them about their part of the world.

We will miss them terribly.  I promised Tess that we would be back someday, to the house on the hill, in the place we first met Isabel.Love has made us brave, and that bravery has blessed us immeasurably.

We will carry it on during the next few weeks as we live apart, and leave behind the country we love.

–FullPlateMom, who isn’t feeling so very brave right now.

Adoption, Cate, Colombia, Jax, Juliana

Slow And Simple–Day Eleven

We have all the necessary paperwork to leave Isabel’s home district of Nariño and head back to Bogotá.  We are both so very excited about this, and so sad.  We spent a lot of time today talking about the move toward home and how much we will miss Columbia.

Today, after collecting the necessary paperwork, we went to buy recuerdos de viaje (souvenirs).This is Cate with her “Co-yumbia” bag.  She is going to keep “all my best ‘tuff” in it.I think this sweet girl is going to struggle mightily with the absence of her dad.  And Isa is going to struggle mightily when all her new brothers and sisters are gone.

–FullPlateMom, who would appreciate your prayers as we make yet another transition.

Adoption, AJ, Bowen, Cam, Cate, Colombia, Gigi, Isabel, Jax, Juliana, Tess

Paperchasing in Pasto–Day Ten

Today was spent out and about on the city streets.  We needed to paperchase with our Colombian attorney.  Signatures, notarizations, all the most boring parts of adoption.
The kids were troopers, and I only had to put the fear of God into one of them once.  I can usually just shoot them a look to accomplish this.  That was the case today.  Not too shabby.

Once we were all done with five long hours of this, we rewarded the kids with dessert first from the corner ice cream vendor, and then we found Chinese food in Pasto!  They have been so adventurous with their eating, but it was so nice for them to have something familiar tonight.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Pasto.  We will spend it shopping and packing up.  Then the whirlwind toward home begins, for me, and Joe will move on to La Mesa.

Again, I’m Scarlett O’Hara-ing that, and enjoying all the mango I can get before I have to leave.–FullPlateMom, who doesn’t want to go!


Adoption, Colombia, Isabel

Colombia Adoption, The Nitty Gritty–Day Nine

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.