Showing posts from February, 2009

Latest ICBF Wait List

I have preempted the original post for today -- What to say when your child gets an OWIE will appear on Monday. The most recent Wait List was published by ICBF on February 24, 2009. The ICBF Wait List applies to adoptions through ICBF only -- not through CASAS PRIVADAS. This list DOES NOT reflect sepcial needs children. The definition of special needs are children with disabilities, children over 8 years of age, and sibling groups of 3 or more. There also hasn't been a lot of movement since December, all dates that have advanced I am putting in BOLD and RED . Age of Child / Date of Application Approval by ICBF Child 0-12 months / Sep-2005 Child 13 - 23 months / Sep-2005 Child 2 years / May-2005 Child 3 years / Feb-2005 Child 2 - 3 years / Mar-2006 Child 3 - 4 years / Apr-2005 Child 4 years / Jun-2005 Child 5 years / Jan-2006 Child 4 -5 years / Jan-2006 Child 5 - 6 years / Mar-2007 Child 6 years / Sep-2008 Child 7 years / Sep-2008 2 Siblings 0 - 4 years / Mar-2007 2 Siblings 0 -

Al Pinochazo -- Colombian Eenie Meenie Miney Mo

AL PINOCHAZO -- In Colombia, this is how randomness is introduced into a selection process in order to make it fair. For instance, when Colombian kids want to decide who gets to go first in a game, they might use this riddle. Here is how it works. One person would point to each participant, say a few syllables of the riddle, then move to the next participant while saying a few more syllables. When the riddle ends with word TÚ (you) that person is selected, or is IT, or wins, or loses as the case may be. When the riddle is said rapidly in Spanish, the moving from person to person ocurs quite naturally. While there may be some minor variations, this riddle is widespread and well known in Colombia. Indeed, in some parts of the country the expression “al pinochaso” often offers an answer to the question of how someone made a certain decision, or how someone was selected for a position or how someone was chosen to receive a privilege (or a punishment!). Thus, it has come to mean that the

El Garabato

The GARABATO is a dance performed during the CARNAVAL BARRANQUILLA. It symbolizes the victory of life over death. In this dance, Death is represented by a tall, thin person dressed as a skeleton. He carries a long, hook like thing that is called the GARABATO. He grabs the brightly decorated dancers with the hook -- something akin to the Grim Reaper. In this dance the men have painted faces and wear yellow shirts and black pants. They also wear a highly decorated cape. Women wear boleros in the colors of the flag of Barranquilla (red, yellow, and green). See some actual footage of the Garabato in Barranquilla. * Photo by jlmaral

Carnaval de Barranquilla

While almost everyone has heard of the Carnival in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, or Mardi Gras in New Orleans, what many do not know is that the world’s second largest carnival celebration is in Barranquilla, Colombia. This celebration has a long history and is a great example of the fusion of Spanish (Catholic festivities), African (musical traditions), and Indigenous traditions. The festival was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. While the official Carnaval starts 4 days before Ash Wednesday, the festivities actually start a month before the Carnaval (known as Pre-Carnaval), and include – Beauty Contests, Dance Festivals, a Float Parade, Children’s Parades, and other activities. During the actual Carnaval, streets are closed and all regular daily activities come to a halt. The Saturday start of the festival includes a tradition known as the Batalla de las Flores (Battle of the Flowers ). It is really a giant parade started by a float on whic

A La Rueda Rueda -- Colombian Ring Around the Rosie

In all countries, there are traditional children's games. Here in the U.S., what child doesn't know the words to Ring Around the Rosie? Who hasn't, at some point, joined hands with family or friends and sung the words and then laughing fallen down? Guess what? Colombia has it's own version of Ring Around the Rosie! It is called, "A la Rueda Rueda." Now, I know that this is familiar in Venezuela and Spain, but the versions that I have heard from both countries are slightly different from the Colombian version I have learned. So, I now share with you the words, and below -- a video of the song and actions. A la rueda rueda, (All around the circle) de pan y canela, (of bread and cinnamon) dame un besito (give me a little kiss) vete pa' la escuela, (take yourself to school) si no quieres ir, (if you don't want to go) acuéstate a dormir. (lie down and go to sleep). Inevitably, there is a chorus of "Otra Vez" (one more time) or "Más"


The Chigüiro [pronounced chee GWEE roh] (known as Capybara in Brazil) is the world’s largest living rodent. They can weigh up to 140 pounds. They live in herds near swampy areas throughout the Llano. Despite it’s rat-like appearance -- it is what’s for dinner in the Llano. I had heard about this unique food from my Brother-in-law who was living and working in Yopal . Being the curious soul that I am, I wanted to try some, but there just wasn ’t any available in Boyacá . Imagine my surprise when walking down the Calle 53 ( Artesanías Market) in Bogotá , I saw a sign advertising CHIGÜIRO ASADO . My husband, knowing how I love to try new things, asked the chef running the Bar-be- que if I could have a taste. He happily gave me one – for free! It tastes a bit like pork. I also tried Ternera a la Llanera or Mamona (Veal). They were both delicious. We purchased a double portion of meat and made sure the boys both tried it....and even the picky eater liked it. It is definitely an adv

Joropo and Alpargatas

Joropo (pronounced: ho roh po) is the typical folkloric dance of the Llanos. It is a high energy, flirtatious dance. In this dance, couples strike their feet on the floor in rapid succession. Some people say it looks like the dancers are stomping ants. It is quite a production. Even small children will learn to dance Joropo. A family that adopted a 3 year old boy from Yopal was impressed to learn that he could dance Joropo -- albeit not perfectly, but still rather impressive for a 3 year old. As the children age, they can participate in inter-school competitions. My nephew, who lives in Yopal, has travelled all around the Llano representing his school in Joropo competitions. This is one dance you have got to see for yourself!!! If there were a suggestion for a souvenir for a child from the Llanos, my recommendation would be purchasing the traditional Joropo cos


The music of the Llano is called MUSCIA LLANERA . It is of both Spanish and Indigenous origin, and belongs equally to Colombia and Venezuela. It is considered a important feature of the cultural heritage of both nations and is a uniting factor of the people along both sides of the Colombia/Venezuela border. The original Llanera music is the rural or campesina music. These songs narrate the stories of life and love in rural areas. They use the language of the rural areas and are played with typical musical instruments: the harp (el arpa llanera ), the bandola , the cuatro (a small guitar with 4 strings), and maracas . It is very calming music for the most part. You can explore this genre of music by doing any of the following: go to youtube and type in musica llanera and watch a few videos, or you can go to and look for the link to musica llanera to the left of the screen it has a wonderful list. Here is an example of one of my favorite lla nera songs. It is

COLEO -- Rules and Scoring

LLANEROS are Colombia’s version of American Cowboys or Argentine Gauchos. Just like the cowboys or the gauchos, their lives are intertwinned with the herding of millions of head of cattle. In fact, cattle herding is one of the top professions and employers of the Llano. Like cattlemen in the US, Colombian cowboys have their own rodeo known as the COLEO . In the Coleo, a group of llaneros on horseback travel at high speeds in pursuit of a bull that has been set loose through a shoot. The bull travels down a track which is long, straight, and narrow (known as the Manga del Coleo – see picture). Then, the cowboys try to flip or drop a bull by grabbing its tail. The Manga del Coleo is divided into 4 areas. The first area is 50 meters long. This is the preparation area and you cannot Coleo in this area. The second area is called the ZONA PRIMERA (first zone). It is 100 meters long. If a bull falls in this area, the Llanero gets more points. The third area is called the ZONA SEGUNDA (sec

El Llano

The Llanos Orientales (Eastern Savannahs) of Colombia consist of the Departments of Meta, Arauca, and Casanare. Villavicencio , the capital of Meta, is known as the “Gateway to the Llanos” (La Puerta al Llano) because of its location as the first city between the Andes and the Llanos. Because of its close proximity to Bogotá (about 1 ½ - 2 hours by car), Villavicencio, often called Villavo, has become a weekend getaway spot for many people from Bogotá. Villavicencio is a relatively new city for Colombia. In the 1840’s, settlers from the near Bogotá started a small city, which in 1855 became Villavicencio – named after Antonio Villavicencio, a hero of the war of Independence. Today, Villavicencio might well be considered one of the capitals for the “Desplazados” the people displaced by the Colombian Civil War. Yopal, to the North, a poorer cousin to Villavicencio, is the capital of Casanare. Because of distance and poor roads, Yopal is more isolated. I have heard it referred to as the

Been There Done That -- Preparing Kids for their First Airplane Ride

To round out this week's posts on Post-Adoption issues, I wanted to start a new feature -- the Been There, Done That segment. In this segment, parents who have completed their adoptions share their great ideas. This week, I want to thank a friend that I have known for close to three years for his suggestion. His great idea can particularly help families that are picking up their children in the Bogotá and the surrounding area. It is also most helpful for people adopting toddlers to teenagers. Here is Herman's great idea for helping your child/ren get ready for the long flight home: "There is a children's museum in Bogotá. It has an Avianca jet on the property. We took our daughter (3 years old) there a couple of times. They explain everything about the airplane to the children in terms that they can understand. They also let them sit in the passenger section and go on a simulated flight. When it was time for the real flight, our daughter was like a seasoned traveler

Giardia -- an often hidden illness

Giardia is a not so friendly amigo that might accompany you and/or your children home from Colombia. What is Giardia ? Giardia , also known as Giardia lamblia , is a single celled, flagalated protozoa, which lives in the small intestine. In other words, a parasite and not a bacterial or viral infection. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene had a report in 2005 from Sweden which showed an incidence of 8,110 cases per 100,000 adopted children. International Adoption Clinics in the U.S. have found between 10-20% of all internationally adopted children suffer from Giardia . Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, weight loss, belly bloating, fatigue, very stinky loose stools, and flatulence. However, these symptoms typically only last 2-6 weeks. If an infection has been around for a while, it may be asymptomatic. This is why Giardia is often the silent problem in internationally adopted children. This was what happened in our case. While our son's medical history showed

Your Family's New Culture

So, after preparing yesterday's post, I thought it might be nice to see what other adult adpotees think. I started doing some research and found that adult Colombian adoptees are not alone. It would seem that the issue of teaching culture and learning about and feeling a part of one's roots is important to many adult adoptees, no matter their country or race of origin. There is a wonderful site called Informed Adoption Advocates . It offers many many ideas and resources for adoptive parents. There is one particular article I found very helpful in this discussion: DRIVE BY CULTURE by Jae Ran Kim . Here are the highlights I wanted to focus on: The author, adopted from Korea, participated in an adult adoptee panel. Each of the adoptees had had varying experiences with leaning about their "culture". While, in the author's case, her culture had been ignored, other adoptees had had their culture "pushed" on them. [I think of a family I met when I lived in San

Adult Colombian Adoptees -- What they wish their parents knew!

Over the past three years I have participated, mostly as a lurker, on several Colombian Adult Adoptee forums. I was interested to learn from them about their experience in preparation for raising my own little Colombianito . As I read posts, I realized quickly that not every adoptee has the same perspective about their adoption. Feelings ran the gamut from thrilled to horrified. This reflects the feelings also found in domestic adoption. I have read the books, attended the classes, and hope to raise 2 happily adopted kids. But, was I missing something? Something obvious? One thing that I noticed right away about nearly all the adult adoptees -- whether they were happy or unhappy with their own adoption -- was that all seemed to have one issue that they wish their parents would have known about and addressed. In preparation for writing this blog, I asked several adult adoptees to share their feelings -- the results are found below. Most of the adoptees have asked that their names

Over 61,000 Children

Today in Colombia, there are 61,121 children that have been removed from their biological families because ICBF considers that they are in danger. Children that have been removed from their families have experienced one or more of the following situations: sexual abuse, physical abuse, child labor, abandonment, neglect, or life on the streets. The number of children under the care of ICBF has increased in the last three years. In 2007, the number was over 48,000. In 2008, it was over 54,000. Even with this staggering increase, the national director of ICBF, Elvira Forero, believes that there are many more children who are in a vulnerable situation. She hopes that people who recognize abuse and neglect will contact ICBF officials in their area. Despite the plea for people to be on the look out for abuse and neglect, the director explains that ICBF's goal is not to find new homes for the children, but to educate the parents and hope that the children can safely be returned to either

Language of Pasto -- ACHICHUCA / ACHICHAI

In Pasto, people address each other more formally than in other places of Colombia. Here you should address any man – young or old with the Spanish equivalent of Mr. – Don (pronounced: Dohn). You should address women 50 or older with Doña (pronounced: Dohnya). You should also use Señora (pronounced: Sehnyora) for married women under 50 and Señorita (pronounced: Sehnyoreeta) for unmarried women under 50. While these phrases are commonly used in Colombia in places outside of Pasto, they are REQUIRED to be socially appropriate in Pasto. So make sure you address people using these important words and their last name when talking to them. Two other words that you should become familiar with are unique to this area – ACHICHUCA and ACHICHAI . These are interjections that, like School House Rock taught us, show more excitement and more emotion. ACHICHUCA is used when you burn yourself or when it is really hot. For example, “ACHICHUCA, I burned my finger.” (ACHICHUCA, me quemé el dedo.) ACH

Souvenir Suggestion -- Bárniz de Pasto

One of the few handicrafts of Indigenous origin that still exists in Colombia can only be found in Pasto and the department of Nariño. It consists of wooden objects covered with a special varnish that comes from the Mopa Mopa tree which is grown in the Amazon rainforest in Putumayo. The tree produces a jelly-like substance twice a year that is converted into a thin sheet – kind of like a sheet of fabric. The sheets of resin are then colored and decorated with vegetable based dyes. Finally, the decorated sheets are cut and placed on carved wood pieces. See some beautiful examples of objects covered with the Bárniz de Pasto at the following link.

La Vecina Gilma's -- LAPINGACHOS

Here is a classic Pastuso recipe that will give you a new way to prepare potatoes. As an added bonus – it is easy to make and easy to find all the ingredients. 1 pound of red potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes 1 pound of Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes 3 Tablespoons of Lard 12 green onions, cut very finely 2 egg yolks, beaten 1 Tablespoon saffron Salt and Pepper to taste Oil Step #1 Boil the potatoes and when done drain and mash. Step #2 In a frying pan, place lard, green onions, saffron, and salt. Cook until onions are soft. Step #3 Mix potatoes and onion mixture together and knead them together until they are well mixed. Then add eggs and mix together well. Step #4 Make little, round, thin circles – they should look about the size and shape of a rice cake. Step #5 Cook them in oil until they turn light brown. Drain and serve.

Pasto -- Nariño

Perhaps one of the world’s most impressive airport landing strips is in Pasto, Colombia. There simply is not room for mistakes – one wrong move and you fall off a cliff. Check it out! Not only is the airport unique, but the entire area has its own unique culture. It is highly influenced by the Andean Indigenous Culture. However, never make the mistake of comparing the people of Pasto to people from other Andean Culture hotspots like Ecuador or Peru. While there are similarities, Pastusos are proud Colombians – “Orgullosamente Colombianos”, and resent that others discount them as Colombians because of their close association with other Andean areas. Pasto is Tierra Fría. In fact, it is COLDER than Bogotá. Like in Bogotá, people conducting business in this area (like your appointments at ICBF and the courts) wear business suits -- ties for men and panty hose for women. You’ll want to bring your sweaters and jackets, and warm pajamas as there is

Dancing the Salsa -- Must Have Music

Colombian Nobel laureate, Gabriel García - Márquez , once said, “Any gathering of more than 2 Colombians is destined to turn into a party.” Party, in this case, means a BAILE (Dance). In Colombia, grandparents, parents, and children all DANCE TOGETHER, to the same music ,at the same party. Dancing, in general, is so prevalent, that kids milestones in Colombia include: 1- Crawling 2- Walking 3- Playing Soccer 4- Dancing -- 3 and 4 are interchangeable As a teenager, how well you dance will largely determine how much or how little you socialize. The best dancers have their pick of boyfriends or girlfriends – the worst dancers get the leftovers. So, in Colombia, dancing is a social skill. I was stunned when we picked up our son – then 22 months – and every time he heard music (which was just about everywhere), he would stop and start to dance. (My husband insists that he was NOT surprised.) Colombians dance to many forms of music, however, Salsa is one of the most common. Salsa had its o