Showing posts from April, 2009

Colombian National Flower

The Cattleya trianae orchid, often called the Orquídia Tricolor by Colombians, is a type of orchid, named after 19 th century Colombian botanist, Jerónimo Triana . It is a native species of Colombia and was chosen as the national flower of Colombia in part because its colors match those of the Colombia flag -- yellow, blue and red. In November 1936, the National Academy of History of Argentina held a botanical exhibition. The Academy asked each Latin American country to bring a flower that represented their native land. The Colombian government ask botanist Emilio Robledo to choose the most representative flowering plant of the country. He choose this orchid because of its similarity to the national flag. The species grows in Cloud forests between 5,000 - 6500 feet (1500-2000 meters) above sea level. It is currently an endangered species because of habitat destruction.

Colombian National Bird

The Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) is found throughout the Andes regions of South America. It is one of the largest birds in the world with a wingspan of over 10.5 feet (3.5 meters). It is recognized for its ability to fly at great heights, and it has amazing stamina. In a day it can fly over 1,000 km. It is characterized by its longevity, and is therefore known as "the eternal bird." Another interesting feature is that it typically only flies on sunny days. The Andean Condor symbolizes the Colombian people's freedom and sovereignty. It was selected as a national symbol in 1834. Unfortunately, it is considered a near threatend species by the international Union for the Consevation of Species (IUCN), and it was placed on the US Endangered Species List in 1970. It is believed that fewer than 100 of them actually still live in Colombia. My Colombian husband saw his first Andean Condor in a zoo here in the U.S. Some zoos participating in the Andean Condor Species Survival Pla

Colombian Coat of Arms

On May 9, 1834, Law #3 regulating the national coat of arms was enacted by Colombian President General Francisco de Paula Santander. Under this law, the coat of arms only appears on the President's national flag, on military flags and on the letterheads of stationery for official communications. The coat of arms may be engraved on monuments, in churches, chapels, military or other cemeteries, barracks, ships, educational institutions and other places provided that such coats of arms satisfy the requirements of decorum. The Colombian coat of arms symbolically represents many important aspects of Colombia. Atop, is the Andean Condor -- the national bird (see tomorrow's post). It is said that the Condor holds a crown of olive leaves in its beak symbolizing freedom. Directly below the Condor is a ribbon with the words "LIBERTAD Y ORDEN" -- Liberty and Order. This is the national motto of Colombia. Below the ribbon is a shield, draped on either side by the flag of Colombi

The Colombian Flag

The design of the Colombian flag is attributed to one of the Colombian Founding Fathers -- Francisco Miranda. Simón Bolívar adopted the 3 striped flag in 1813. It was to serve as the emblem of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador --which were all one country back then (according to a decree signed in Valencia Venezuela, with the date of October 28). Miranda envisioned a revolutionary flag that would symbolize the riches and wealth (yellow) of the people of the Gran Colombia, separated by the blue of the two oceans, and the red that represented the yoke of bondage of Spain. Today, Colombian children are taught the red represents the blood spilt by patriots during the war of Independence. On 20 February 1821, the yellow, blue and red Colombian flag made its first appearance on the international scene when Chargé d'Affaires Manuel Torres presented this design to US Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, informing him that this would be Colombia's flag. It is interesting to note that du

Save the Titís -- In Honor of Earth Day

Since the Mico Tití is unique to Central and South American Rain forests , and several are also unique to Colombia, the Tití is an important focus of preservation and conservation. The greatest danger to the Micos Tití is deforestation. Forward thinking people have established organizations to save these endangered species. Perhaps a great way to include your Colombian kids in environmental conservation would be to teach them about the Micos Tití and then participate in programs designed to save these beautiful and uniquely Colombian animals. There are two different programs designed to help protect these animals. Below, you will find more information about conservation efforts and links to the websites. The first program is the PROYECTO TITÍ . Designed to preserve the Cotton Top Tamarin . From their website, " Proyecto Tití is a multi-disciplinary in situ conservation program that combines field research, education initiatives and community programs to make the conserva

El Mico Tití

There is a little saying that most Colombian children learn. It is called El Mico Tití . Most Colombian kids know this saying and often adults will call their children a " Mico " or a " Mico Tití " as a term of endearment. I could not possibly count the times my husband has called our boys MICOS or MICOS TITÍ . Now, here is your chance to learn the saying too: El mico tití (The Cotton Top Tamarin ) paso por aquí , (passed by here,) comiendo maní . (eating peanuts.) A todos les dio (He gave some to everyone) menos a mi. (except me.) In reality, there are several different kinds of Mico Titís . First, is the Mico Tití Melena , known in English as the Cotton Top Tamarin ( Saguinus oedipus ). Next, is the Mico Tití Gris, known in English as the White-footed Tamarin ( Saguinus leucopus ). In fact, in Central and South America there are 21 different kinds of Micos Tití or Tamarins of the Saguinus Genus. But, the Mico Tití Melena and Gris

Friends of Colombian Orphans

A while back I reported on an article in El Tiempo that talked about the kids that are never adopted. Unfortunately, the older the kids gets, the less likely he/she will find a forever family. This leaves thousands of kids without the support, help and guidance of a family as they start out life as an adult. Yesterday, we met Jane and John. They are the proud parents of a beautiful Colombian girl, adopted when she was 13. Jane and John's daughter spent many years living in a orphanage prior to her adoption. It was her home. When Jane and John saw where their daughter had been living, they wanted to do more than simply take pictures and say "good-bye". They hatched a plan to help the girls left behind. The ones that may never find permanent homes. They started a non-profit organization "dedicated to improving the quality of life for children in Colombian orphanages." Their organization is called " Friends of Colombian Orphans ." Friends focus is on orp

Older Child Adoption -- Parental Perspective

John and Jane are the adoptive parents of a 16 year old Colombian girl. Their situation is unusual only in that they are both in their late 50's, early 60's. Their daughter came to them purely through serendipity three years ago. Jane has agreed to share their experiences adopting an older child in a series of "stream of consciousness" essays. Check back on this blog to read more about them -- you will find them under the label Older Child Adoption. Now here is Jane's first contribution. In the summer of 2005, my husband read about Colombian orphans being hosted in our city through the sponsorship of Kidsave International. We had finished raising our two biological children: both were in their early 20's and out of the house. There was something about one of the children that resonated with us, and we quickly found ourselves taking our first steps on the path to adoption of a 13 year old girl, N., who hadn't found a family yet. Once we met her and she got

Older Children Find Homes in Germany

Recently, I was reading some information that I found on the ICBF website. In January, there was a great article about some older children that found adoptive homes in Germany. Here is a translation: Thanks to the project “Summer Miracles”, developed between the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF), the Kid Save Foundation, and the German adoption organization -- ADA -- five foreign families are celebrating the end of their adoption process. In the final phase of their adoptions, the five German families were visiting Colombia after having spent 4 months in Germany with 7 Colombian children between the ages of 4 and 10. This experience was part of a pilot plan that ICBF is trying out in Germany, and fortunately it has had very positive results -- having opened a way for children that are difficult to place for adoption find homes. The parents, that had met all of the legal requirements to be adoptive parents, had been on the waiting list to receive children younger than 6 years

Los Pollitos Dicen.... Children's Songs

One of the classic children’s songs of all Latin America, including Colombia is Los Pollitos. It is perhaps one of the first songs that little children will learn, and everyone knows it. In the recording industry, there are as many versions of this song as there are different stars with their own Christmas albums. Some versions are lullaby-like, some are faster. Some versions have children singing, some have adults. You can hear many versions on Itunes, look up Los Pollitos. My favorites are by: Juan José Carranza on Dream Songs, Night Songs Juan González y Banda Criolla on Caribbean Fiesta for Kids You can hear the song and see a cartoon at the following site: There are also differences in the lyrics to the song. Here is the version my Colombian sister-in-law taught me: Los Pollitos dicen: Pío, pío, pío (The little chicks say: cheep, cheep, cheep) Cuando tienen hambre (When they are hungry) Cuando tienen frío (When the

La Vaca Lechera -- More Children's Songs

Here is another kid's song. This one is about a milk cow. The song was actually written by a man from Spain, Jacobo Morcillo, and is popular there also. In the song, you will see the word condensada -- which means condensed -- as in condensed milk. In other Spanish speaking countries they say merengada . Most of the recorded versions that I have heard use Merengada and not Condensada . But, my Sister-in-law insists that it is CONDENSADA in Colombia. Tengo una vaca lechera . (I have a milk cow.) No es una vaca cualquiera . (It isn't just any cow.) Me da leche condensada . (She gives me condensed milk.) Ay ! que vaca tan salada ! (Wow! What a salty cow!) tolón , tolón , tolón , tolón . Un cencerro le he comprado . (I've bought her a cowbell.) Y a mi vaca le ha gustado . (And this has pleased my cow.) Se pasea por el prado . (She goes for a walk in the pasture.) Mata moscas con el rabo . (She kills flies with her tail.) Tolón , tolón , Tolón , t

Latest ICBF Wait List

I have preempted the original post for today -- There will be More Children's Songs Tomorrow. The most recent Wait List was published by ICBF on April 8, 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 ------ Nov-2005 Child 13 - 23 months ---- Nov-2005 Child 2 years ----------- May-2005 Child 3 years ----------- May-2005 Child 2 - 3 years -------- Mar-2006 Child 3 - 4 years -------- May-2005 Child 4 years ----------- Jul-2005 Child 5 years ----------- Jan-2006 Child 4 -5 years -------- Jan-2006 Child 5 - 6 years ------- May-2007 Child 6 years ----------- Nov-2008 Ch

National Anthem of Colombia

Another song that your little one(s) should be familiar with is the National Anthem of Colombia. The Colombian National Anthem was originally written as a poem in 1887, by Colombian President Rafael Nuñez . The poem was read by Nuñez in honor of the celebration of the Independence of Cartegena . It was later set to music by the Italian composer Oreste Sindici and grew widely in popularity. In 1920, a law declared it the official national anthem of Colombia, and in 1995, a different law decreed that it be played twice daily (6 am and 6pm) on all radio and TV stations in the country. Though there are 11 verses, usually only the first is sung. CHORUS: ¡Oh gloria inmarcesible ! (Oh unfading glory!) ¡Oh júbilo inmortal ! (Oh immortal jubilee!) ¡En surcos de dolores (In furrows of pain) El bien germina ya. (Good is already germinating.) FIRST VERSE: Cesó la horrible noche (The fearful night came to an end,) La libertad sublime (Liberty sublime) Derrama las auroras (Is s

El Caballito -- 100% Colombian Children's Song

Back in the 1997, my husband and I were visiting friends in Bogotá, when their then 3 year old boy came out and wanted to play the "Caballito." His father patiently excused himself, put on a CD and began to dance with his son. The song, by pop and vallenato singing star Carlos Vives, is a great participation song. Kids get to act like the wooden horse, limping, galloping, crouching down, freezing, etc. throughout the song. It is really fun! Give it a try, but WARNING, it is really fast, so get ready to sweat a bit. You can watch the video and get the idea, then try it out at home. I found several places where you can download it for free, but it is not available at Itunes. Se encojó, se encojó (He grew lame, he grew lame) Se encojó mi caballito. (My little horse grew lame.) Mi caballo de madera (My wooden stick horse) Mi juguete más bonito (My most beautiful toy) Se le ha dañado una pata (Damaged a leg) Y se encojó mi caballito

Judaism in Colombia

Since this week has had a religious theme, and yesterday marked the beginning of Passover, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about the history of Jews in Colombia. The first Jews arrived in Colombia around the 1500's. Most were considered Marranos , a derogatory word used by the Spanish in reference to Jews that had "converted" to Catholicism. Despite their Christian baptism, the suspicion was that they were secretly still practicing Judaism. In 1636, during the Inquisition of Cartagena, don Blas de Paz Pinto, the leader of a small group of marranos was tortured and killed and soon thereafter, the small Jewish community disappeared completely. The next wave of Jews came in the 1800's from Jamaica and Curacao. They practiced Judaism even though it was not legal to do so at the time. In 1853, the Colombian Legislature passed laws that made it possible to practice religions other than Catholicism. In 1886, new Constitutional reforms brought some limitations on t

Religious Diversity in Colombia

Talk of Semana Santa, may give the wrong impression that there are only Catholics in Colombia. This is not true. While the majority of Colombians are Catholic, Article 19 of the Colombian Constitution of 1991 guarantees the freedom of religion and recognizes all religions are valid under the laws of the country. The Government itself does not keep official statistics on religious affiliation. However, in March 2007, a survey by the newspaper El Tiempo found that about 80% of Colombians consider themselves Catholic, though there is a footnote that not all are active practitioners. Another 13.5% of the population reported following another Christian based religion including Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Episcopals, Pentecostals , Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. An additional 4.5% of the population is divided between Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists, Indigenous, and other religions. Additionally, approximately 2% of the population is agnostic or non-believers. According to

Semana Santa in Popayán, Colombia

Perhaps the biggest Semana Santa celebration is in Popayán. Popayán is one of the oldest cities in Colombia, founded in 1537 by Sebastián Belalcázar. Its name, comes from the indigenous words for Two Straw Villages . It referred to the two villages with houses having straw roofs. However, today, it is known as the White City , because of its beautiful white colonial houses. For over 400 years, Popayán has held processions during Holy Week. They are similar to processions held in Spain. These celebrations start on Palm Sunday with a procession that starts at the Basilica de Belén. People participating in the procession carry Palms, white handkerchiefs and flags proclaiming the royalty of Jesus Christ. On Martes Santo (Holy Tuesday), there is another procession where the effigy bearers carry four images from the church of Saint Augustine to the center of the city. Accompanying the procession are the sounds of a solemn requiem. They are met at the church by red-robed men carrying incense

Semana Santa in Mompox, Colombia

In 1564, the city of Mompox was established. Located on the Magdalena River in the Department of Bolívar , Mompox is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is most famous for its celebrations of Semana Santa (Holy Week). During this week, leading up to Easter, hundreds of Colombians flock to the city to take part in the celebrations. The festivities start on the Thursday before Palm Sunday, when a procession of Nazarenos (Nazarenes) arrive, dressed in turquoise robes, at the Iglesia de la Imaculada Concepción . Once they arrive, they either throw stones or kick at the doors in order to be let inside. Once inside, their robes are blessed in a Catholic Mass. Then, the group proceeds to the Iglesia San Francisco. The following morning at 4 am, there is a Mass held at the Iglesia Santo Domingo followed by rites at the Iglesia Santo Domingo and then at the Iglesia de la Imaculada Concepción . Palm Sunday brings a reenactment of the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem. It

Semana Santa

The week from Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) to Easter Sunday (Domingo de Gloria), known as SEMANA SANTA , in Colombia is a week of religious celebration and fervor for faithful Catholics. For others, it is a week of vacation. During this week, schools are out and many people do not work. Some families travel to the coast, others plan activities closer to home. It is also a time when Colombian television shows many classic religious and family shows -- The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur , The Sound of Music, The Greatest Story Ever Told, etc. (Might I just add here that seeing the Sound of Music in Spanish, where the songs are in English is really strange). Most families do not eat meat this week, so fish is available everywhere. I spent a week travelling from Boyacá to Ipiales (on the Ecuador boarder) during Semana Santa 14 years ago. It was amazing to see the celebrations in each city. But, I have never been much of a fish fan, so I ate a lot of rice and bread that week. For adoptive f

Transracial Parenting -- Advice from an Adoptive Mother

For today’s Been There – Done That, I have asked the adoptive mother of two beautiful Afrocolombianitas to share her feelings and advice. While her own experience is with Afrocolombianas, I think her advice is applicable to any multi-racial family be they, black, brown, or white. I thank her for her candor and thoughtful nature in which she approached my request. Now, here are her words: “ Obviously I think parenting my children, who also happen to be Afro-Colombian, is the biggest privilege and blessing I have ever been given. But with that privilege also comes a pretty huge responsibility. “In preparation for our adoption, we attended seminars and discussed with our social worker issues regarding race, culture & identity. However, the real preparation was done outside of this on our own. The Internet became our main tool. It was here I really first learned the term "white privilege" and what it mean. I realized that as a white person I had gone through life unaware &

Afrocolombian Recipes

Here are two recipes that are considered of Afro-Colombian origin. Encocao de Camarón -- Coconut Shrimp 2 pounds shrimp 2 cups shredded coconut milk from 1 coconut 10 green onions, chopped cilantro -- to taste, chopped (approximately 1 Tablespoon) oregano -- to taste, chopped (approximately 1/2 Tablespoon) basil -- to taste, chopped (approximately 1 Tablespoon) 3 cloves of garlic -- crushed pepper a shake form the shaker pinch of salt Step #1 -- Wash the shrimp and place them in boiling water for 3 minutes. Then, peel the shrimp. Step #2 -- Put other ingredients together in a pot with the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling turn the heat down and add the shrimp. Let it cook on low for about 45 minutes. Serve with rice and cooked plantains (patacones). Banana Smoothie 6 ripe bananas 1 liter of milk(about 1 quart) 1 cup of sugar (add more if desired) ½ teaspoon vanilla ¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg 2 teaspoons cinnamon Ice to taste Step #1 -- Blend this in your blend

Afrocolombian Hairstylist

The parents of adopted Afrocolombianos and particularly Afrocolombianitas will appreciate a discussion of hairstyles. Afrocolombians consider hairstyles, particularly braiding, a cultural expression. The traditional Afro-Colombian hairstylist would work from home. She would use special combs and conditioners to style, hydrate, and color the hair. Most of the products that they use are natural and are found in the flora and fauna of Colombia. Escoba Babosa or Malvacea -- Conditioner Otoba -- Conditioner Guasimo -- Shampoo Salvia -- Jagua -- Going to the hairstylist is considered a social event. From the times of slavery, information was passed along at the meetings. In addition, information