Showing posts from July, 2009

Financial Teaching -- More from Jane

Jane is bringing us more insight into older child adoption this month. This was something I never had even thought about. Thanks, Jane. When we adopted N. at the age of 14, there were times when I felt panicked. All those life lessons that we spent 18 years teaching our biological children have to be condensed into 4 or 5 years. It feels overwhelming at best. So here's our experience with teaching the value and necessity for money in her new life. We began by giving our daughter an allowance and, to our relief, she isn't a shopper. Not into clothes or malls, she had no interest at all in spending. However, when she DID spend, she spent freely, not thinking about the cost or value of her purchases. For the first year or so, it was easy not to talk about saving or budgeting. However, since last summer, N. has had a part-time job at the local grocery store: her paycheck goes directly into her savings account. But then one day we realized that she had no concept at all about the va

Que Pase El Rey --Colombian London Bridges

In this game, you need several people (6-10) about 3 years and older. Before the game begins you pick 2 children to be the "bridge". Then, these two children each secretly decide what color or fruit or animal they want to be. To make it simple let's use colors -- one child picks blue the other green -- the two children know each other's color, but the rest of the group should not know the colors. You are ready to begin the game. The two bridge children hold hands and raise them up to form a bridge. The other children stand in a straight line ready to go under the bridge. Then you begin singing the following song and the children pass under the bridge then run around to get in line again. The kids continue to pass under the bridge until the last line of the song. El puente está quebrado. (The bridge is broken) Con que lo curaremos? (How will we fix it?) Con casacara de huevo (With egg shells) Burritos al potrero (Donkeys to the pasture) Que pase el rey (Let the Ki

Los Pollos de mi Cazuela

Here is another little children's song. As usual there seems to be a lot of varie ty in the lyrics. I have heard at least 5 different versions of this song. All very similar, but here are the lyrics to the version I heard first in Colombia. This is also the version I found in the music of the Colombian National Library -- Luis Angel Arango. Los pollos de mi cazuela (the chickens in my pot) No sirven para comer, (aren't any good to eat) Si no para a las viuditas (if the widows do not stop) Que los saben componer (the ones that know how to fix them) Se le hecha ají y cebolla (Add garlic and onion) Hojitas de laurel; ( and Bay leaves) Se sacan de la cazuela (You take it out of the pot) Cuando se van a comer. (When you are going to eat them) Componte niña componte, (Fix it, little girl, fix it) Que ahí viene tu marinero, (Because here comes your navy man) Con ese bonito traje (with his handsome suit) Que parece un carnicero; (that makes him look like a butcher) Yo soy la

De Barranquilla

Here is a cute little children's song, that would be particularly great if you child is from Barranquilla. Here are the lyrics: De Barranquilla (from Barranquilla) De Barranquilla (from Barranquilla) Llegó un papel (arrived a paper) Que me casara (that I should get married) Que me casara (that I should get married) No sé con quien (I don't know to whom) Casáte conmigo (Marry me) Casáte conmigo (Marry me) Que yo te daré (because I will give you) Zapatos y medias (shoes and socks) Zapatos y medias (shoes and socks) Color de café (the color brown) Repeat Here is a link where you can hear the song:

Summer Reading for Your Teen

In 1996, Lyll Becerra de Jenkins wrote a book that won the Américas Award Honorable Mention. Becerra de Jenkins was born and raised in Colombia, by an activist father. The book, entitled " So Loud a Silence ", offers a teen great insight into Colombian politics. It is a coming of age story -- perfect for an older teen reader 14+. In the book, 17 year old Juan Guillermo is a city dweller, disconnected with his family's life and economic struggles in the big city. Then, he is sent to spend time with Doña Petrona in rural Colombia. There, he becomes caught up in the complex politics of rebel vs. army. The difficulties he faces while visiting rural Colombia force him to return to the city with a greater sense of family, purpose and the importance of social and political choices. I think it can provide perspective for a young adult reader on the problems and issues in Colombia.

Antonio Nariño y Álvarez

Antonio Nariño y Alvarez was born in Santa Fe de Bogotá, on April 17, 1765. He was the child of a Spaniard Vicente Nariño, the official accountant of the King of Spain, and a Bogotá born mother, Catalina Alvarez del Casal. Though his earliest years were spent in school, he eventually left school and became mostly self-taught. Many of his ideas were influenced by the teachings of his uncle, Manuel de Bernardo Alvarez. At 20, he married Magdalena Ortega y Mesa. Just after his marriage, an earthquake shook Bogotá, and Nariño got permission to print a newspaper about the event and its consequences just 3 days after it happened. The report was a huge success and lead to permission for the writing, editing, and printing of a new newspaper called the "Gaceta de la Ciudad de Santa Fe." However, after just three weeks of publication, the Superior Government of Bogotá withdrew its support for the newspaper and all publication was cancelled. At the age of 24, he was elected as one of t

Francisco José de Caldas -- Martyr of the Independence

Francisco José de Caldas was a Colombian naturalist and geographer. Born in Popayán in 1771, he showed impressive intellectual skill from his early childhood. He eventually graduated with a degree in law from the Colegio del Rosario. However, despite his legal studies, his real love was math, science and nature. He made so many discoveries that he earned the nickname "El Sabio" (the Wise man). He participated in many scientific nature expeditions and was part Celestino Mutis and Alexander Von Humbodlt's expeditions. He classified plants and created a large herbarium. He measured mountains and waterfalls, and created several maps. He made observations of the weather. In 1805, Mutis assigned Caldas to be the first director of the Astronomical Observatory in Bogotá. From 1805 -1810, Caldas spent his time equipping the Observatory, performing scientific experiments and writing papers and reports including: "El estado de la geografía del virreinato con relación a la

Another Timely Children's Audiobook Suggestion

A few weeks ago, in honor of Mother's Day, I told the story of La Pola -- Policarpa Salavarietta -- o ne of the Heroines of Colombian Independence . If you didn't read it, or you would like to brush up, click here: I wanted to make you aware of a children's book -- in Spanish -- that tells the story of Policarpa . It is available in both audio CD and as an audiobook . If you adopted pre schoolers , or are working to keep your child bilingual, or if you are one of our readers from Colombia, Argentina or Spain -- you will probably want to add this to your collection. Audio CD in Spanish: productID =BK_ YOYO _000179 Book in Spanish: qid =1243092881& sr =1-48

Grito de Independencia -- Child's Audiobook Suggestion

Are you working on keeping your child bilingual? Do you also want you child to learn about Colombia and its history? A great option would be the Spanish language children's audiobook: EL GRITO DE INDEPENDENCIA . The book tells the story of the Florero (Flower Vase) that started an uprising that eventually brought Independence to Colombia. The Audio CD is available here: The downloadable audio is available here:

Colombian Independence

The 20th of July is a Colombian national holiday in celebration of the first movement for Independence from Spain which began on the 20th of July 1810. On this day, a group of citizens known as Criollos (those of Spanish descent born in the Americas rather than in Spain), went to Don José González Llorente´s home (a Spaniard) on the pretext of borrowing a flower vase for a dinner that was to honor the Royal Commissioner Antonio Villavicencio. This event, without any apparent significance, unleashed a confrontation between the Criollos and the Spanish that ended in the eventual independence of Colombia. The roots of this conflict are found in the years leading up to the 1810 Flower Vase Incident. The Spanish ruled through local governments called Juntas and Cabildos . In the Juntas that were held in the years prior to 1810, the Criollos were very poorly represented -- 36 Spanish representatives to 9 Criollos. The Criollos were very dissatisfied. They felt that their needs were not wel

Medical DNA Testing -- Part 3

All this talk of DNA testing brings up one last and important issue. In a super informal survey of other adoptive parents, I found that almost everyone had concerns about not knowing their child's family medical history. We all discussed the frustration of being asked by the pediatrician all those questions, and having no answers. NONE! This frustration is shared by adult adoptees. One of whom shared her feelings anonymously with me, "I have had some health issues. The doctors are concerned that they could be precursors to other issues -- ' Does anyone in your family have X?' they ask. I stare at them blankly -- 'I don't know!' How could I know so little about something so important?" The good news is that advances in Genetic Testing now offer a potential solution. You can discover your own -- or your child's Medical DNA. I should point out here that the American Association of Genetic Research discourages this -- however, they have no stated opini

DNA Testing Part 2 -- Adult Adoptee Perspective

What does DNA testing of this nature offer you or your child? I guess it depends on who you talk to. I have contacted several adult Colombian adoptees about this issue. At least three of whom had pursued this type of testing and were willing to share their responses. Here are their opinions -- luckily they kind of ran the gamut: Adoptee #1 stated, "I have done the third kind of testing and it broke down exactly as you said - 4 groups and tells you the percentage of how much you are of a particular group. I was actually a little surprised at my results. I thought though, it might bring me some insight into myself, some peace perhaps, but it really didn't. I almost don't believe it. If it came out of a relative's mouth, then I might." Adoptee #2 found it helpful, especially when searching for relatives and siblings, "My DNA is now in FamilyTreeDNA's database. I am a member of the "Adopted" project...I haven't found any relatives yet. Hope is

Searching for Your Roots -- DNA TESTING Part 1

Adopted children (and their parents too) often feel compelled to learn more about their biological family. Often, this can be a long and complicated process and may have varying results. In some cases, DNA testing is done in order to prove paternity or maternity when a person is found that may be the biological father or mother. However, DNA tests can be used to help adoptees in their search for self-identity in other ways. In fact, DNA tests can serve 3 purposes. The first, is, of course, the most obvious, however, the others may be of equal value in discovering more about your past. 1 - Link specific individuals -- For example, testing to see whether you are the child of a certain man or woman. 2- Prove or disprove the ancestry of people sharing the same last name -- For example, testing to see if males carrying the GARCÍA surname are related to one another. 3- Map the Genetic Origins of large population groups --- In this case, you test to see whether your deep genetic roots sh

Searching for Birth Families and Birth Information

Depending on the age of your child at adoption, the circumstances of their adoption, and where they were adopted from (Casa Privada or ICBF), you may have a wealth of information about your child's heritage, or virtually nothing. There may be huge gaps. One of the toughest things for me is not having any birth information and no pictures of our son younger than about 15 months. A child with NO baby pictures. How do you complete those school projects -- you know the one in Kindergarten where kids bring baby pictures and others try to guess who is who? Often, the adoptive parents struggle with wanting to know more than what was provided them. So, the question of searching for the birth family arises. There are some pretty nice stories. Leceta Chisholm Guibault, an adoptive mother of a Colombian child born at a Casa Privada, lives in Canada and made efforts to find her son's birth family. She has published several articles about her experience. I would suggest that you take the ti

Army of Children -- A Tear Jerker

The Colombian Magazine -- Cambio -- published a report of the FARC's child army. Here are some excerpts I have translated from the article (sometimes I have summarized, too). Three months ago, a mother watched as the FARC took her 12 year old son away. Apparently, a woman militia member had come to the rural area where the family lives. The anguished mother reported, "The woman would give candy, lunches, and manuals to the children of the area. She wanted to recruit them, she taught them that joining the FARC was their best option and many of the children thought that they (the FARC) were promising them the stars and went off with the guerrilla. Others were taken by force." The mother decided that the best option was to leave the area with her 4 children, but before she could leave, the guerrillas came for her oldest son. As they dragged the boy off, his pleading eyes said, "Mami, help me!" But, she could do nothing, now her only option is to pray that they won

Anniversary of Operacion Jaque

This weekend, I read a very interesting article in the Colombian newspaper, El Tiempo. I thought perhaps you might enjoy it. A group of students a the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá has created a video game based on the now legendary rescue of Ingrid Betancourt and the other 14 hostages (including 3 Americans) a year ago. The goal of the game is to rescue the ex presidential candidate without firing a single shot AND without using the controversial Red Cross jackets that were used by the Colombian soldiers involved in the original rescue. In other words, the goal is to rescue the 15 hostages without breaking a single international law regarding Human Rights and without deceiving the captors by using the symbol of the Red Cross. According to the director of the project,the game starts with a helicopter flight from Bogotá to Tolemaida, the second step is to do training without firing a shot --as the whole point of the game is for it to be non-violent. Next, there is an other flight f


What is that brown tea-like drink that Colombians drink? Agua de Panela ! What exactly is Panela ? Panela is a solid piece of raw sugar from sugar cane. It is made by first mashing the sugar cane in a machine called a trapiche . Then, the exacted juice is boiled until it reaches the Hard Ball stage. At this stage, it is poured into molds and allowed to cool. The cooled blocks (either round, square, or rectangular depending on the mold) are very hard. These blocks are then sold. Here is a great video that shows the process of making PANELA . Though other countries make similar products, Colombia is the world's leading producer and consumer of Panela -- producing approximately 1.4 million tons a year. Panela farms also provide employment for about 350,000 people. How do you use Panela to make the drink Agua de Panela ? The recipe for Agua de Panela is simple. You take water and put it in a pan and add to it chunks of Panela -- u

Colombiana -- Drinks of Colombia

What could be more Colombian than a COLOMBIANA ? Colombiana is the name of a carbonated beverage, known to all Colombians. It is a champagne soda that is brownish orange in color. It has a unique taste that cannot be found anywhere else as it is derived from plants on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. Here are some television commercials for COLOMBIANA you might be interested in. Make sure to give it a try! It is delicious with just about any Colombian food. You can purchase it in just about any Latino market here in the US. It is also available in Europe at Carrefour . If you can't find it in your area, you can purchase it on-line. In the U.S. In Europe Oh, and one more thing. Refajo is another Colombian drin

Greatest Number of Internal Refugees

Unfortunately, one of the reasons that many of us have the opportunity to adopt Colombian children is because of the great internal strife that exists in Colombia. As a translator, I have had the opportunity to translate (from Spanish into English) many adoption referral documents, including abandonment decrees and child data sheets. It saddens me to hear the many stories of how the children came to be in the care of ICBF . Often, the stories are related to poverty and problems associated with the War. Some of the children were born into displaced families that, because of their circumstances, are unable to care for their child( ren ). Colombia has the largest number of internally displaced persons ( IDP ) in the world -- approximately 3,000,000. This is greater than the 2.8 million in Iraq (the country with the second highest number of displaced persons). A Colombian photographer has some great pictures of displaced refugees in Bogota. Beautiful!!

Shakira Launches New Song -- LOBA

I thought you might be interested to know that last week Shakira pre-released her latest single -- in Spanish. It is called LOBA (She-Wolf). It will be available worldwide on July 23rd. But, you can hear it now by clicking below. The full album will be available this October. Here are the full lyrics which can be found on her official website: Sigilosa al pasar Sigilosa al pasar Esa loba es especial Mirala, caminar caminar Quién no ha querido a una diosa licántropa En el ardor de una noche romantica Mis aullidos son el llamado Yo quiero un lobo domesticado Por fin he encontrado un remedio infalible que borre del todo la culpa No pienso quedarme a tu lado mirando la tele y oyendo disculpas la vida me ha dado un hambre voráz y tu apenas me das caramelos Me voy con mis piernas y mi juventúd por ahí aunque te maten los celos CH Una loba en el armario Tiene ganas de salir Deja que se coma el barrio Antes de irte a dormir Tengo tacones de

Car Seat Preparation -- Been There, Done That

Most people will tell you that bringing a car seat to Colombia is a waste of time -- most taxis do not even have seat belts in the back seat. This means that your child will never have been belted in to anything. Therefore, the car seat can cause a great deal of distress upon the return home. In our own case, my son freaked out! Even though I was sitting right next to him and our 5 1/2 year old was also in a car seat, he screamed for the entire 40 minute ride home from the airport. It took him months before there was not a melt down every time we went to the car. Here is the advice that I have given other adoptive parents since my own fiasco. I recommend that you take a video of a child getting into a car and then getting into the car seat, booster seat, or seat belt. It would be best if you used your own car and your child's new seat as props for the video. I would also recommend that you get a Spanish speaking friend, neighbor, or relative to narrate the action and explain, usin

Preparation for Coming HOME -- Been There, Done That

I was thrilled when our son (adopted at 22 months old) seemed to bond to us so quickly and adapt so easily. Things were going great in Colombia. So, I logically assumed that coming back to the US would be easy. WRONG! Alex went through a rough few weeks once we got home. Everything was new -- AGAIN! There were new sights and sounds and smells. So many firsts! We came back on December 26th, so IT WAS FREEZING! He had to wear a parka and boots -- lots of snow had fallen that Christmas. He had to ride in a car seat. He wasn't eating all his favorite Colombian food. Everyone was speaking English. There were also new friends and family members to meet. All of the changes, seemed to put him back quite a bit. That first week home, he had that "Deer in the Headlights" look -- a lot! He was more whiny and seemed to reject a lot of things we wanted to do for and with him. He suffered several melt downs. He constantly wandered the house -- apparently looking for someone or s

Been There, Done That -- The Beach Ball

You have your referral! Now what? What are you going to pack to keep your little one, or not so little one, engaged for hours in your hotel room? Especially when luggage space is at a premium! Might I recommend a beach ball. When we went to Colombia to pick up our almost 2 year old, we brought a SMALL beach ball. I picked it up at the 99cent store. It provided many hours of entertainment -- starting with the simple blowing up of the ball. Our son had never seen something like that before and he was mesmerized by it. There are all sorts of games that you can play with a Beach Ball, and depending on the age of your child they can be simple or complex. With our 2 year old we played simple games of toss and catch or roll. With our 5 1/2 year old, we played " keep the ball from hitting the floor", dodge ball, and soccer. Even a 9 month old friend loved pushing that ball around as she crawled. This is not to mention the benefit of being able to take it to the pool. So, from the BEE