Friday, January 14, 2011
Where to stay? Colombian Mommy's Experience
When we completed our adoption, over 4 years ago now, we weren't sure where to stay. We had the advantage of being in Colombia, where family and friends were plentiful. We also knew that our budget couldn't take 8 weeks in a hotel. We began by asking our agency what they recommended. We were told by our Social Worker that because we were adopting a toddler and not an infant, that we should not plan to stay with family. We were given a list of reasons why. I'll share them here:
#1 The child would be grieving his foster parents and previous surroundings. He would be looking for someone to cling to and ideally that would be us. If we were in a place with a lot of other adults around, he might become confused about who his caregiver should be. He may have actually rejected us in favor of another adult, particularly those that seemed more familiar )ie. a Colombian aunt or grandma and not a tall blondish gringa).
#2 We would be unable to establish our own rules and routines because we would be restricted by the rules and routines established by family.
#3 It would be hard to tell family that we were to be the only ones that could feed, clothe, console, hug, hold and attend to the needs of the new child. She warned us that family might have a difficult time accepting our rules and this could cause problems with our child during the vital first few weeks of developing a healthy attachment.
Her recommendation was to spend time alone and begin the process of attachment with just our immediate family -- Mommy, Daddy, and Brother.
We looked into adoption hotels and were concerned with the price. At the time the cost was around $80 a night and most included only 2 meals a day. I remember being told that meals were served at certain times and I knew right away that we wouldn't always be able to make the meal times because we had big sightseeing plans. Therefore, the hotel idea felt very restrictive.
Thus, we began our search for an apartment. We found one through some friends in Bogotá. A nice 2 bedroom flat across the street from a park and not too far from Carrefour and Makro in the Parque Largartos area, the the Northern part of the city. It came furnished. It had a washer, but no dryer. It was comfortable, not luxurious, but really suited our needs. We paid $25 a night. There was no maid, so we cooked and cleaned for ourselves. However, it really wasn't a problem for us. We ordered take out -- delivered to our door -- on many occasions. This cost about $8-10 each time. We stayed well within our budget.
About 2 1/2 weeks into our stay, we realized our son wasn't showing any real attachment issues. So, we headed to Boyacá where we spent 5 weeks with Abuelita Carmen and Abuelito José P. Happily, everyone was very respectful of our rules. It ended up being amazing as Abuelita helped me learn to cook things that our little guy would eat -- Thank Heaven for Changua! We also were able to borrow a car and travel all over Boyacá.
Things went very well and when we returned to Bogotá to complete our adoption, we were able to stay in the same apartment.
My Recommendation for Colombian Ex-pat Families:
I know that not everyone has family, but for those that do I really recommend that you spend some time bonding with your child before heading to stay with them. If your child(ren) is/are having a hard time, then don't ever stay with family. Just do what is best for all of you in establishing a good base for your new relationship.