Showing posts from December, 2009

Lentejas (Lentils) -- A New Year Tradition

Last year I made an extensive list of Colombian New Year Holiday traditions. You can read more about them here: One thing I promised was the Lenteja recipe -- and well -- here it is: Ingredients: 1 lb. of lentils 1 can tomato sauce 1 medium onion minced 2 teaspoons dry chicken broth 1 teaspoon garlic powder Salt as needed Cumin (optional) Steps: #1 Cook lentils in water as per directions on package -- do not salt or drain. #2 In a sauce pan, put other ingredients and cook 10 minutes. #3 Add sauce pan ingredients to cooked lentils. Let simmer together for 10-15 minutes -- don't let it burn. #4 Let cool and serve with white rice.

One Family's Journey: La Integración

This morning we went for our “Integracion” meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to meet with the psychologist and talk about how the first week went. This is also the time when you would give your final confirmation that you are 100% sure you would like to complete the adoption. The meeting is very simple; you spend about ½ an hour talking alone with the psychologist. Bienestar claims that this is not a meeting where you are judged, but rather a sort of follow-up visit designed to help you with the transition. I don’t mean to be skeptical of their intentions, but I would assume that this is where Bienestar would intervene if they thought something was amiss with the match. Our meeting was very simple. Since Elian was sleeping through the whole meeting we just talked about how our week went and what we had learned. We talked about what Elian eats, what his favorite things to do are and discussed the emotions we felt. She also asked us about how our week had compared to our

El Año Viejo

I know I said this last year, but this has to be one of my favorite Colombian traditions -- El Año Viejo . After Christmas, most Colombian families make an Año Viejo . The Año Viejo is a life size doll made of old clothes and stuffed with straw and newspaper (and fireworks). Just before midnight, people set fire to the Año Viejo . The whole thing is symbolic. It is burning the old and bad of the past year in preparation for the new. We make an Año Viejo here is the US and stick it on the porch. I think the neighbors must wonder what the thing is doing there, but nevertheless, there he sits for a week. Then, on New Year's Eve, we all state one thing we want to leave behind while holding left over 4th of July sparklers. (Instead of burning the Año Viejo -- which would probably be against the law, we use the sparklers). Then, we ceremoniously throw him away. Here is a link to last year's Año Viejo -- you can see pictures:

Día de Los Santos Inocentes -- Colombian April Fools

So, last year I posted about this holiday, but it bears repeating. December 28 is a holiday called the Dia de los Santos Inocentes. It is a traditional Catholic holiday designed to remember the children, that were slaughtered by the order of King Herod when the Three Wise Men did not return to tell Herod where the child king could be found. El Dia de los Santos Inocentes is celebrated like we here in the US celebrate April Fool's Day. It is a day for playing pranks on people, fake news reports, and jokes. On this day the Colombian newspaper, El Tiempo , publishes a special insert called El Trompo which is filled with funny and fictious stories about current events. If you'd like to prepare your family a special Santos Inocentes dinner in honor of this holiday, Check out the recipes and crafts that Family Fun magazine has for April Fool's Day. It is a fun way to introduce kids to this Colombian holiday.

Feliz Navidad

Wishing everyone a Feliz Navidad!

Feria de Cali -- Cali Fair

Every year since 1957, Cali has celebrated the Feria de Cana (the Sugar Cane festival) from December 25-30th. The celebrations kick off on Christmas Day with an official parade that starts at 2 pm and runs down the Autopista Sur. Part of the parade includes the Salsodromo, like the Sambadromo of Rio de Janeiro, the Salsodromo is an opportunity for the different Salsa schools to show off their fancy moves. Following the parade, there is a kick off concert (free to the public) where you will hear - what else?? -- SALSA!!! Cali considers itself the World Capital of Salsa!!! This year the concert features Hermes Manyoma. If you won't be able to make the concert, enjoy some of the sounds by clicking here: The following day, there is a horse parade (cabalgata) and yet another free concert. The next day a parade and concerts. In essence the week is full of dancing and music, parades, bullfights, and competitions.

One Family's Journey: El Encuentro

Hi everybody, Well I can't believe that not only has our day come but it's almost over! I'm writing this at 9:00 pm Bogota time Tuesday night. This morning we met our son and he is more amazing than we could ever have imagined. For any of you that are waiting for Encuentros I hope this will give you an idea of what to expect. Our day started this morning when we arrived at Bogota ICBF at 8:30 am. It's kind of a weird 70s style building, the kind that quite obviously has been added on to over time. After we checked in we were taken to the Encuentro rooms which are in the back. They are designed for children and painted all sorts of insane colors with Disney murals and what not. I am a bright color person but even for me it was a little much. Here's how it all goes down: 1) The Social Worker and Psychologist come in to talk to you. They review with you the information provided by the foster parent. Our foster mother sent a beautiful photo album with pictures of the ti

La Cuñada Pilar's Christmas Buñelos

Buñuelos are a Christmas time must. These round cheese fritter balls are well worth a try. Here is the recipe. Ingredients: 1 1/4 cup cheese (queso fresco or requesón) -- you can find it in the Mexican cheese section at Wal-Mart 1 1/4 cup corn starch 1/2 cup sugar 8 teaspoons baking powder 8 teaspoons tapioca starch (almidon de yucca) 3 eggs Add no more than a 1/4 cup of water only if necessary Steps: #1 Mix dry ingredients. #2 Add wet ingredients. #3 Mix. #4 Make balls (about golf ball size) and drop into hot oil. #5 Take out when golden brown and place on a paper towel. #6 EAT!!!!!!

My Natilla

Another Christmas food tradition is NATILLA . This is something that is either great or horrible. I have tasted several different flavors of natilla (coconut, cinnamon, vanilla, spice), and truthfully, I have not liked them all. Typically, most Colombians will buy a box of Natilla mix, however, for those of us who find it a bit hard to head to the store for a mix, you can attempt to make it yourself. Here is the recipe. Ingredients: 4 cups milk -- use whole or 2% 1 cup brown sugar (in Colombia you would use 8 ounces of grated Panela) 4 - 5 cinnamon sticks 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup cornstarch 2 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon vanilla Steps 1. Mix milk and cornstarch in a pan. 2. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt to the pan and mix well. 3. Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken. 4. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring constantly -- in order to avoid clumps, until mixture has thickened.

One Family's Journey: Anticipation

This is my last post before we get to Colombia. As you know my husband Arnold is Colombian and his whole family lives in Colombia. Since we've been together I've been to Colombia many, many times and over the years it has become my adopted second homeland. Like my sweet husband, I carry Colombia close to my heart. This is my list of Top 10 things I love about Colombia. Except for Number One they are not in any particular order. 10. La Candelaria: I love Colonial architecture and I could walk around this Bogota neighborhood taking pictures and admiring the view for days. 9) Ciclovias on Sundays: Every Sunday the main arteries of Bogota are closed so that families can ride bikes, run and walk through the city. I can't wait too spend time walking around with my little boy 8) Beautiful Churches: Churches in Colombia are open to the public anytime. When I lived in Chile I used to wander around Santiago and visit churches to pray at totally random times. Last year I vi

One Family's Journey: Packing and Checklist

We are the kind of people who usually pack the night before a trip, whether it's a 6 week trip to Colombia or a weekend in Seattle. And to be honest I'm sure we'll be throwing stuff in the suitcase the night before we leave but in a nod towards preparation I've been soliciting advice from experienced adoptive parents on what to bring. Here's what we've got so far: Documents 1) Copy of apostilled and updated FBI clearances (if you are currently waiting for referral and your fingerprints are about to expire I suggest requesting new ones. The FBI is currently backlogged and taking 8-10 weeks to turn them around. We've been waiting more than four weeks for ours already and will need a friend to apostille and overnight them once they arrive. This quite frankly sucks, and is only possible because we will be in Colombia longer than usual. ) 2) Copy of post-placement letter from agency updated with child's birth name. 3) Passports, Colombian visa if you are

One Family's Journey: The Visa

Well, if you read my previous post you know that you have to get a "Special Temporary Visa for Adoption Proceedings" if you are not a Colombian citizen. You can't get this visa until you have bought round-trip tickets to Colombia but the good news is that they actually do turn them around quickly. For us the better news was that my husband's new cedula was finally available ( he applied for it more than a year ago). Double score! How to get your visa The first step is to gather up a ton of dumb stuff that they want. This is both inconvenient and costs money, just like everything else in the adoption process. The good news is that you are used to this k ind of stuff by now. Plus you don't have to get fingerprinted. Bonus! The requirements can change frequently so don't forget to ask your consulate for the most up-to-date info. Requirements as of November 2009: A) Valid Passport B) 2 copies of the passport photo page C) 2 original visa app forms (visa is

One Family's Journey: The Referral

The moment you receive your referral is a special time in your life. For my husband and I, it was a very joyful and encouraging experience. And I urge all of the waiting families to enjoy that moment because the waiting that follows is far more difficult than the work leading up to that moment. One of my greatest fears was that when we received our referral I wouldn't feel any connection to our child, but I have to say that seeing his picture for the first time was one of the most intense and wonderful experiences of my life. I was blessed with an amazing certainty that he was meant to be our son. Everyday since we "met" him back in September has been an excruciating wait. For those of you who are still waiting, here is how the referral process works from the day you receive that file to the day you leave for Colombia. 1) Receive referral file. Because we are a Colombian family we received our referral very quickly -- 2.5 weeks quickly. I received the news at 8:3

One Family's Journey

This week, the blog will be featuring one family's journey from referral to return. A friend that I met online has agreed to post here for a week -- plus a few more days in the future -- to help us better understand the process. I will let her introduce herself: My name is Emily and my husband Arnold (a native of Colombia) and I will be leaving in about a week to adopt our first child from Colombia. Last year at this time, we were preparing to spend Christmas vacation with our family in Colombia and Panama knowing that we would start the adoption process upon our return. It seems like just yesterday we were walking the streets of Bogotá imagining what it would be like to come back in the future to pick up our first child. It is unbelievable that those dreams are now coming true. As we run down the home stretch we’ll be sharing the last steps of our adoption trip with you here by cross-posting on Raising Colombian Kids. Right now we are making travel preparations and waiting

A la Nanita Nana -- Christmas Carol

A nother very popular Christmas Carol (villancico) is called A la Nanita Nana. Here are the lyrics: A la nanita nana, nanita ea, nanita ea, Mi Jesus tiene sueno, bendito sea, bendito sea. Fuentecita que corre clara y sonora, Ruisenor q'en la selva cantando llora, Callad mientras la cuna se balancea. A la nanita nana, nanita ea. The great thing about this song is that by changing the word Jesus to niño or niña, you have a great all purpose lullaby. Even Disney noticed this -- check out the Ceetah girls video:

Congratulations! and Thank You!

Friends of Colombian Orphans has won the $2500 E-BAY GIFT CARD. Thanks to all of our readers that voted. Read more here:

Vamos Pastores Vamos -- Christmas Carol

One of the most widely recognized and sung Christmas Carols of Colombia -- and Latin America in general -- is the Vamos Pastores Vamos song. The lyrics can be found below. You can see a cute little video and hear the song here: Vamos pastores vamos, vamos a Belén; a ver en ese niño, la gloria del Edén. a ver en ese niño la gloria del Edén. Ese precioso niño, yo me muero por él, sus ojitos me encantan, su boquita también. La Padre le acaricia el Madre mira en el, y los dos extasiados, contemplan aquel ser, contemplan aquel ser. Vamos pastores vamos, vamos a Belén; a ver en ese niño, la gloria del Edén. a ver en ese niño la gloria del Edén. Es tan lindo el chiquito que nunca podrá ser, que su belleza copien el lapiz, ni el pincel. Pues el eterno Padre con inmenso poder, hizo que el hijo fuera inmenso como el, inmenso como el. Vamos pastores vamos, vamos a Belén; a ver en ese niño, la gloria del Edén. a ver en ese niño l

Villancicos -- Colombian Christmas Carols

In Colombia, the word for Christmas Carols is VILLANCICOS (pronounced: vee yan see cohs). Most of these songs come from Spain have their roots in the Catholic church. There have been, however, just like here in the US, more modern songs written. Last year, I featured one of those songs which is kind of like the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer of Colombia and Venezuela. You can see the post here: You can hear the Juanes version of the song here: This one is well worth purchasing from Itunes. My boys love it!! Photo:

Friends of Colombian Orphans

Friends of Colombian Orphans is once again trying to raise money -- without asking you to spend a dime. Please vote so that they can receive a gift card to purchase yard for the knitting project in Bogota. To learn more about FOCO, click here.

Noche de Velas -- Christmas Begins Tonight

Tonight marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Colombia . Tomorrow is the Día de la Inmaculada Concepcion -- a Catholic holiday. But both Catholics and non-Catholics alike celebrate this day in Colombia -- placing candles, lanterns and lights all over the front of the house and along the sidewalks. It is known as the Día de Velitas or El Alumbrado . You could easily celebrate this Colombian holiday no matter where you are in the world. In our family, we place paper sacks filled with sand and a lighted candle around our front yard. My husband also tells about Angel Gabriel's announcement that María was with child. In Colombia, the entire neighborhood is outside and you can hear music, laughter, and singing. There is also plenty of dancing -- so we also include some of that as well. Here in the States, we are the only ones on the street, but it makes for a fun and meaningful evening with our kids. Tonight we have invited a Colombian family that just moved to our

UFO's Over Bogotá

The word in Spanish for UFO is OVNI (ojeto volador no identificado). It might have been useful to know this word if you had been in Bogotá on November 20th. On that day, Bogotanos were out on the streets to observe what has yet to be explained. Apparently, 3 bright circles were flying over the city. The objects did not appear to move or fly. They did not look like airplanes. No government official has yet explained what the objects might have been, but they captured the interest of the city for several hours. People on the street guessed that the object could have been just about anything, from alien spacecraft to Chavez's secret weapons, from weather ballons to US spy craft. Check out the You tube videos at this site. What do you think? There are also pictures here: It might interest you to know that OVNIs have been seen flyi

Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero, originally from Medellin, is perhaps the most famous Colombian artist. In fact, he calls himself the " most Colombian of Colombian artists." He started out as a painter and has become famous not only for his paintings, but also his sculptures. His art was originally recognized in 1952, when he won the Ninth "Salon de Artistas Colombianos". Then, he left for Europe. Studying art for a time in Spain and then in Italy. He struggled to find his voice, so to speak, for several years and eventually ended up in New York in 1960. There his art was recognized and awarded the Guggenheim National Prize for Colombia. He then began to develop his technique of exaggerating proportions -- making things fat. The first recognized painting in this style is entitled "La Familia Pinzon". In the early 1970's he began to develop as a sculptor. Today, he is a very prolific painter and sculptor. He has donated many of his works to Colombian parks and museums.

Latest Adoption Statistics

ICBF recently updated their adoption statistics. Below is a summary of those statistics which were current as of October 30, 2009. But first, for comparison, here are the stats for 2008 : 2,542 children of all ages placed for adoption 1,019 were placed with Colombian families 1,523 were placed with Foreign families Stats from January 1, 2009 and Ocotber 30, 2009: 2,174 children placed for adoption in Colombia 909 to Colombian families 1,265 to Foreign families. Of these, 311 were placed by Casas Privadas and 1,863 were placed by ICBF. ICBF would like to point out that as of October 30, 2009, there were 8,211 children and adolescents that have official declarations of adoptability and belong to the category SPECIAL NEEDS. Special Needs in Colombia is defined as children with disabilities, children over 8 years of age, and sibling groups of 3 or more. These children are available immediately and families requesting children in this category will receive PRIORITY and PREFERENTIAL TREATME

Latest Wait List Statistics

As of October 30, 2009, there were 3,749 potential adoptive families that have been approved by ICBF to adopt. This number is down by 19 families from July. These are the families -- in Colombia and abroad -- that are currently on the WAIT LIST. The actual break down is Colombian families 205, foreign families 3,544. Remember, Colombian families (whether living in Colombia or ex-pat Colombians abroad) receive PRIORITY and PREFERENTIAL treatment. That means that the Colombian family will be considered for any available child BEFORE any foreign family. If the Adoptions Committee considers that the Colombian family makes the best match, then the available child is assigned to the Colombian family. If the Adoptions Committee does not think that the available child makes a good match with the Colombian family, other families are then considered. Some Colombian families (those living in Colombia) will remain in the Region where they processed they paperwork -- no matter how many children are