Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
While the last 6 years have seen an increase of 10% in international visitors to Colombia, there has been little growth in domestic tourism. Colombian officials hope to change that with a new campaign called "Vive Colombia -- el país que llevas en el corazón."
Watch the campaign video here:
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Like most parents, we start planning our summer vacation way in advance. First, we decide where we will be going. Then, we research all of the activities and options and prices for our decided destination.
This year, we are planning a month long trip to Colombia. This means I am researching what new places we will visit this year. My hope is to document our trip back on the blog here. We will be taking our 5 1/2 year old and our 9 year old sons.
In part because of my research about biodiversity for this blog, in part because of the new tourism campaign, and in part because of our vacation, I have been researching Colombia's National Nature Parks. Did you know that this year Colombia's National Nature Parks are celebrating their 50th anniversary. In honor of that Golden Anniversary, I plan to feature information about several parks that you might consider visiting over the coming weeks. To check out the whole series, you'll want to click on the National Parks Tab at the right in a few weeks.
FYI -- In Colombia, there are 54 National Nature Parks -- of which 24 are considered optimal for ecotourism. Below is the complete list. However, not all are located in areas that would be safe or recommended for foreign visitors. I plan to highlight those that are safe.
- Los Flamencos
- Los Nevados
- Otún Quimbaya
- Isla de Salamanca
- Corales San Bernardo
- Old Providence McBean Lagoon
- Guanentá Alto Río Fonce
- Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
- La Corota
- Cueva de los Guácharos
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Once again, the ICBF Wait List applies to adoptions through ICBF only -- not through CASAS PRIVADAS. It also ONLY APPLIES TO NON COLOMBIAN FAMILIES. It DOES NOT reflect special needs children. The definition of special needs are children with disabilities, children over 8 years of age, and sibling groups of 3 or more.
All dates that have advanced I am putting in BOLD and RED.
Also, this list only reflects that there are no more dossiers at the national office prior to the date shown. Dossiers from before May 2006 in the 0-23 months category, for example, may still need a referral, but they have already been sent to a region and are no longer at the national office.
Age of Child ------- Date of Application Approval by ICBF
Child 0-12 months ------ May - 2006
Child 13 - 23 months ---- May -2006
Child 2 years ----------- Sep - 2005
Child 3 years ----------- Jan - 2006
Child 2 - 3 years -------- Apr - 2006
Child 3 - 4 years -------- Dec - 2005
Child 4 years ----------- Oct - 2005
Child 5 years ----------- June - 2007
Child 4 -5 years -------- Apr - 2006
Child 5 - 6 years ------- Aug - 2007
Child 6 years ----------- Dec - 2009
Child 7 years ----------- Aug- 2009
2 Siblings 0 - 4 years --- Mar-2007
2 Siblings 0 - 5 years --- Nov-2006
2 Siblings 0 - 6 years --- Mar-2008
2 Siblings 0 - 7 years --- Feb-2009
2 Siblings 0 - 8 years --- Jan - 2009
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
1) First you have to go see an Embassy doctor who will make sure that your child does not have any contagious diseases. This is a public health precaution not an actual doctor's visit, so don't expect your doctor to actually give you any health advice. The guy who saw Elian grumped at us "That kid is active!" My husband said, "Well he's a toddler".
Many kids will need some vaccinations which can be given at the same appointment. The doctor will give you a sealed envelope to be taken to the embassy. DO NOT OPEN IT!!! The envelope will say this in big letters, but still it bears repeating. DO NOT OPEN!!!! Okay, I feel better, I've done my duty!
2) When you have gathered the following:
- A copy of Sentencia
- Your child's passport
- The medical results
- Your child's birth certificate
- The conformidad from Bienestar
you can go to the Embassy and apply for your child's visa. You must enter the Embassy before 11 am Mon-Thur. You will sit around for a few hours and pay $400 US for the visa. It is boring and they don't allow you to bring any electronics inside. To my great relief Elian fell asleep for most of the three hours we were there. I suggest bringing a book. There is, however, a cafe that sells palitos de queso which I found to be a great relief from boredom. The embassy waiting room is outdoors. Expect to see a thousand Colombians there applying for visas. You talk to the consuls through those same telephones you see in prisons. It's not a very friendly set-up, but still there are "palitos de queso" and coffee! Look on the bright side!
You will be shuffled around to a few windows, but the last stop is the "interview" of the child. Elian is a toddler and didn't have too much to say so our interview was quite short. Then our visa was approved. Yay!
3) The day after your visa is approved you will come back around 3 in the afternoon and pick up your child's visa. Check it over to make sure there are no mistakes. And then breathe a deep sigh of relief. You made it! You have all you need to go home!!!!
Monday, February 15, 2010
1) Your lawyer will submit your paperwork as I described in my last post. Then you will wait around. This part is exceedingly boring, but after the drama of our last week, I would tell future parents to enjoy the calm because things get WILD the week you leave.
2) Your lawyer will call you and tell you that the judge has signed Sentencia and when you're appointment is to sign the papers. Our lawyer called us on a Monday morning and we went Monday afternoon at 2:30 pm. I have heard that some judges like to meet the families before they sign, but we never saw our judge.
3) You arrive at the court, and in Bogota anyways, it's all extremely disappointing. No judge, a million people looking for who knows what and PILES of paper everywhere. In Colombia, digital copies are not legal. We went to our Juzgado and a notary authenticated our papers with our signatures. [Colombian Mommy Note: It is very important that you double check that all names are spelled correctly and exactly as they appear on your passports. Also double check that your passport numbers that are listed are correct. You may not be able to read every word, but it is up to you to make sure that all of your identifying information is correct. Many a family has been delayed because of small errors and then the Birth Certificate office refuses to issue a cert or the passport office refuses to issue a passport -- SO DOUBLE CHECK!!!]
5) After this we waited for our lawyer and because he has great connections we were able to get Elian's birth certificate the same afternoon. To do this you need to go to the "registuradia" where your child was originally registered. In most cases, the copies will be given to you that day.
6) Next, you can go get your child's Colombian Passport which you need in order to start the Embassy rounds. I didn't do this, but if you are in Bogota DO NOT go to the passport office in the Centro International. They are a bunch of incompetent slowpokes. Go to the the one on Calle 100 [Colombian Mommy Note: Amen!!].
7) Next your facilitator will take a copy of the sentencia to Bienestar in order to get a copy of the "Conformidad". This document says "These people adopted this child". This redundancy must be shown at the embassy in order to get the visa. It is a Hague requirement that is somewhat new. We had a series of traumatic events that led us to almost not get this document. You can read about it here. What happened to us probably won't happen to you though! We have extraordinary luck!
After you get this document you can go to the embassy! I'll blog about that part tomorrow. And if you'd like some visuals about what our Sentencia day looked like you can check out a photo documentary of our day on our personal blog by clicking here.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Here are some interesting statistics -- according to a report jointly issued by Conservation International, The World Conservation Union, and Nature Serve:
Colombia is home to 698 unique amphibian species.
- 648 -- frogs and toads
- 19 -- salamanders
- 31 -- caecilians
Colombia also has the largest number of threatened amphibian species in the world with 208 -- that means about 30% of the amphibian species in Colombia are in threat of extinction.
- 50 species are critically endangered
- 78 species are endangered
- 80 species are threatened
An additional 48 species are considered near threatened.
A few months ago, I wrote a post about one critically endangered frog species -- the Golden Poison Frog. Read about it here:
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Like Birds, many species are threatened. Among the threatened species are the Arhuaco ica or mariposa de los arhuacos, Lymanopoda caeruleata or Limanopada azul, Morpho rhodopteron or Morfo Anacarada, all native to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. In addition, the Prepona praeneste or prepona roja de la montaña from the Andean Zone and the Prepona werneri or prepona azul from Chocó are all endangered species.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I am a statistic lover. So here are a few you can throw up on your personal blog or your child can write into their report on Colombia.
In 2009, there were 1871 unique, recorded avian species in Colombia. Of those, 1 has been declared officially extinct. Another 13 species are critically endangered, 31 are endangered, 52 are threatened, and 60 near threatened.
Currently, there are 15 avian preserves in Colombia. Three in Antioquia, 3 in Santander, and one each in Boyacá, Cauca, Magdelena, Meta, Nariño, Norte Santander, Quindío, San Andrés and Tolima.
If you are a birder and plan to visit Colombia, you can get a copy of a Colombian Bird list current as of 2009, (to add to your life list) here: http://www.proaves.org/IMG/pdf/Aves_de_Colombia_2009-2.pdf
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
However, Biodiversity’s contribution to our life is not just practical, physical and utilitarian, it is also cultural. The diversity of the natural world has been a constant source of inspiration throughout human history, influencing traditions, the way our society has evolved and supplying the basic goods and services upon which trade and the economy is built. The disappearance of unique species is a loss that cannot be calculated and leaves us all much poorer.
BIODIVERSITY IS LIFE!!! BIODIVERSITY IS OUR LIFE!!! and COLOMBIA is one of the world's most biologically diverse countries. In honor of the 2010 initiative, I am planning a series to focus on some of the great biodiversity that can be found in Colombia. Hand in hand with this series, I plan to highlight some of the amazing national and natural parks of the country, and make suggestions as to how you can help Colombia preserve its biological diversity. I encourage you to involve you Colombian born children in learning about the amazing biodiversity of the country and taking at least 1 action as a family to preserve that diversity for future generations.
Monday, February 08, 2010
- That a summer vacation isn't real life. Some of the children who are up for adoption come as guests of a summer program. Of course children on vacation are going to have a good time with their host families. But once the vacation is over, the papers are signed and real life begins, it is a shock. Be prepared for the reality. That a child's wishes may not be in her best interests. If your child wants to change her name, that's not cute. She wants to forget the past, which is impossible. Just because you have adopted an orphan doesn't mean you have to accede to every wish. If she wants to stay up late, text boys you haven't met, watch only Spanish TV, it's OK to just say "NO!" And then explain why. You'll be doing a lot of explaining! LOTS and LOTS of explaining....
- That kids who say they don't want to be adopted probably mean it. We know a family whose social worker in Colombia pressured the child to go through with the adoption, only to end up with difficult problems once thechild was brought to live here in the States. The problems were finally resolved, but the process was painful and harmful.
- That a bilingual therapist is a must. Start early. Find out the depth of your child's trauma and start the healing process at once -- don't wait.
- That English is hard to learn. Go easy on your child. During the first year, we allowed our daughter to watch Spanish language TV on the weekends. It was her comfort zone. Think how excited you would be in Colombia, if you found your favorite show in English.
- That experience raising children is a HUGE advantage. Going from NO children to an adopted child must be tougher than having raised kids already. This is simply speculation on my part.
- That the form accompanying the child during her summer visit doesn't tell you everything. The dossier accompanying the child is often sanitized. Some of these kids have been through stuff that would curdle your blood. And you may not find out about it until your child is in your home. Accept any information you are provided with a grain of salt. And if your child tells you stuff that is different from what the authorities told you, chances are your child is right.
- That knowing how to speak the child's language is important. Take Spanish lessons! Your child is going to put out her best effort to learn YOUR language. Buy Rosetta Stone and learn hers. It's the least you can do while waiting for sentencia.
- That you will question your decision once in a while. It's only natural. Some mornings you will wake up thinking, "What have I done??" It's OK. You'd do that with your biological children: it's OK to do it with your adopted child!
- That it will turn your life upside down --in a good way! Are you up to the challenge? Is your marriage up to the challenge? The child is going to take A LOT of time and emotional energy. Your relationship with your significant other had better be strong. Seriously! Schedule time alone with your husband/wife/significant other.
- That your kid doesn't necessarily want to socialize with kids from her past. Just because your child came to your town with other orphans doesn't mean that she likes the other kids. It may be fun for you to meet up with the other prospective parents once in a while, but your child isn't going to find it particularly fun. Hanging out with former orphans isn't cool. Hanging out with regular kids is.
- I wish I had known about this book. An adopted friend of mine recommended it. Read it! The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child by Nancy Verrier. Quote from Amazon: "This book is a definite 'must read' for all parents of adopted children." I know that as a parent you will resist believing in the Primal Wound, but you must, for the benefit of your children. You will learn to understand your adopted children and will be able to help them throughout their lives - sometimes even in the smallest way, i.e. the simple reassurance that you WILL return home after work.
Jane and her husband John run the organization: FRIENDS OF COLOMBIAN ORPHANS. Recently, their organization won a competition and received several thousand dollars. Read more here:
Saturday, February 06, 2010
The fever causes severe pain and headaches and for this reason received the nickname --breakbone fever, can result in death and this week claimed the lives of 4 children and a 24 year old man. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and there is no immunization to protect you from it.
A fumigation initiative has been started in Cali, but it would be a good idea to bring repellent.
Friday, February 05, 2010
The piece pictured here at the left is a representation of that ceremony. This piece was found by campesinos in 1969 in a cave outside Pasca. It is actually the second one found the first was found in the 1800's and was destroyed in a fire on its way to be housed in a German museum. Because of the loss of the first Balsa del Dorado, Colombia has never allowed, nor will it allow this piece to leave the country -- you can only see it at the museum!!! It alone is worth the trip.
Free tours are conducted daily in Spanish and English. There are also audio tours available in Spanish, English and French for a fee of $6,000 pesos. But, if you want a personal guide, you can get one for $106,000 for groups consisting of 1-10 people. These guides speak English, French, German or Italian and must be prearranged by calling 343-1206. Also available are special tours in Spanish for the blind or in Colombian sign language for the deaf -- this may be a great thing for families adopting kids with special needs. You must prearrange your special needs tour by calling 343- 2222.
The Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday. The price to enter the Museum is $3000. Free for those over 60 years of age, under 12 years of age, or of indigenous origin. It is also free to the public (but quite crowded) on Sundays.
Thursday, February 04, 2010
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Today, as part of the Bogotá for Beginners series, I would like to talk about the Botero Museum in Bogotá. This truly is a must see for any adoptive family.
In 2000, Fernando Botero donated 123 works of art to the art museum that now bears his name. The works include drawings, paintings and sculptures. You can see online photos of the collection here:
In addition to the works by Botero, you will find other works by the following artists: Corot, Renoir, Bonnard, Dalí, Chagall, Beckmann, Delvaux, Giacometti, Picasso, Miró, Bacon and Moore.
The Museum, which is FREE to the public, is located in La Candelaria, right next door to the Casa de la Moneda. The exact address is Calle 11 No. 4-41.
Its hours of operation are:
Monday - Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Sundays and Holidays: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Monday, February 01, 2010
Here is a link to their website.