One Family's Return Trip: Best Thing We Did In Bogotá

Last year our son's preschool sent home an "All About Me" poster and information packet. It asked a bunch of questions. Questions that unfortunately, we just couldn't answer.

How much did I weigh at birth? How much do I weigh now? How tall was I at birth? How tall am I now? Show a picture of you shortly after birth, and show one now.

The purpose of the activity was related to seeing how things grow. But, when I read the assignment, my heart ached. How I wanted to be able to answer all of those questions!! But, I couldn't. I just didn't know the answers. They hadn't been included in any information that we had received about our son.

About that same time, I went to a church party where the women started talking about their kids. The discussion turned to labor and birth problems, and then finally to a comparison of who had given birth to the biggest baby. As usual, I had remained silent. But then, they turned to me, "How much did your son weigh?" Most knew that my son was adopted, but I guess they assumed that somehow I would know that most basic of facts about him. All I could say was that I didn't know.

Later that night, as I sat alone in the dark, I felt so sad. I knew that I had missed out on 2 years of his life, but for some reason, the fact that I didn't know these basic facts about him made me feel like I had missed out on too much. It was one of those times when I just cried it out. I cried over every moment I had missed: his first tooth, his first steps, his first illness, his waking at night, his first word, everything. I didn't even have a picture of him as a baby. I tried to picture him as an infant. Nothing -- was he a big baby with hair or a preemie. I just didn't know.

That night I committed to myself that I would find out. I would find answers. There had to be a way to find some of those missing pieces.

I started by scouring the file we had obtained from ICBF after our son's adoption was finalized. Were there any clues? Then, on one page was a mention by the social worker that he had been born in Hospital San Blas. SUPER!! I found the phone number for the hospital online and called (from the US) to ask what would be required in order to get a photo copy of his hospital file. The first person I spoke with told me, "No, it is not possible!" Undeterred, I called a few days later and spoke with someone different. Here is what I was told I would need:

#1 Appear in person or send a person with a duly authenticated power of attorney.
#2 Bring a letter (in Spanish) officially asking for the file.
#3 Bring an authenticated copy of his original birth certificate.
#4 Bring an authenticated copy of his new Colombian birth certificate.
#5 Bring an authenticated copy of the official Sentencia.

So, having gotten 2 different answers, I called a lawyer in Bogotá who helped me find the law governing this situation. I decided to have her to go with me in my attempt to get the information. It was a good thing I did. We were initially told it would be impossible, then after explaining the law, she asked to talk with the person in charge. He came out and they had a brief conversation and we were told it would take 2 weeks. She would not take No for an answer. She spoke with someone else who told us that we needed to go to a different office and have our documents registered and filed and then that office would send a fax so that the people in the first office could begin looking for the documents.

My lawyer whizzed me around, we did everything in 1 hour and were back. A VERY NICE MAN in the records office had gone ahead and found my son's file. He then sent us to photocopy the file. As we walked to the photocopy kiosk, I began reading the file. There, in black and white, I read for the first time that my son was born at 2:55 in the afternoon. The information I wanted so much to provide for my son was right there in my hands. I was afraid I might lose it before I got to the photocopy machine. I memorized every detail I could while waiting in line.

I would not be able to tell him much about his first 2 years of life, but I could tell him, "You were healthy baby that weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces. You were 19 and 1/2 inches long." I was able to tell him, "This is the hospital where you were born." We even took pictures.

An additional bonus in the file was a review of health issues in the family. Just one of those things I never thought I would know, and I hate leaving all those blanks every time I fill out a form at the doctor's office.
I can't think of a better way to have spent my day, or a better use of my money than to be able to give the gift of this information to my son.

There is also a personal aspect of it too. I can't wait for that next inevitable time someone asks me how much my son weighed at birth. I won't have to explain that he was adopted, I can just give the correct answer. How cool is that?!?!

P.S. If anyone is interested in doing the same thing I did at a hospital in Bogotá. I can give you the name and info for my lawyer. SHE WAS INEXPENSIVE AND AMAZING! Just send me an e-mail to the following address: colombiansadoptcolombians @ hotmail -- just remove spaces and add .com. :)


NotoriousMLE said…
This is so awesome! My son was born at San Blas too. Will defenitely do this next time we go back.
Erin said…
Love this post! We hope to get more info when we go back to Colombia in a few years. I'm sure there's more info from the hospital and probably even a police report that I would to see. After we adopted a newborn domestically I grieved for what I don't know (not what I didn't experience, but what I don't know) about my Colombian son. Thank you for sharing this!
Aimee Cordero said…
Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
Rosa said…
Precioso! I'm a MammaBear in waiting(nearly 3 yrs)what a touching heartfelt story i feel so connected to you it's great for me to be aware of these details before the time comes when we receive our bebitoxRosa
PS I simply love what you do and the difference you are making in adoptive families lives GRACIAS.

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