Showing posts from July, 2010

One Family´s Return Trip: Sogamoso -- Sun and Steel

Sogamoso is known as the City of Sun and Steel. Why the City of Sun? It comes from the ancient Chibcha traditions. Sogamoso was originally named Suamox, and was the religous capital of the Chibcha empire. While the Zipa (in Bogota) and the Zaque (in Tunja) fought constantly, Suamox was considered a place where niether side could battle, and yet both would come there to worship. It was the site of the Temple of the Sun and the High Priest -- the last one was called the Sugamuxi. As the City of the Sun, there was a statue built in the main plaza to honor the indigenous peoples and their worship of the Sun. Originally, the statue had indian women worshipping the rising sun and the indigenous women faced East. Unfortunately, the statue faced the Main Cathedral. The father of the catherdral complained and is was decided that the indians should be turned around and face West. This was done. Then, people began to complain that the women were worshipping the rising sun not the setting sun. So

One Family´s Return Trip: Museo Arqueológico

One of the places we always visit when we come to Colombia is the Museo Arqueológico in Sogamoso, Boyacá. The Museum is about 3 hours North of Bogotá on a safe road. It was established to house the remnants of the Musica/Chibcha culture. The Chibchas were the indigenous group that lived on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense prior to the Spanish arrival. The museum has rebuilt the original ceremonial center of the town, including the Temple of the Sun. There are numerous displays including several mummies (boys seem to really like those), pottery, weapons, shrunken heads, and even skulls. They show how the Chibcha skull is quite different from your typical skull. Most of us have 3 bones that grown together after birth. Chibcha skulls have 4, 5, or even 6 bones that grown together. Pretty cool! The area is actually an archeological site that is still under investigation. At certain times you can see archeology students from the UPTC (Universidad Pedogogica y Tecnologica de Colombia) working o

One Family´s Return Trip: Playing with Cousins

We consider it a great blessing that our boys have cousins to play with in Colombia. Part of the joy of the trip is seeing them together. One sadness has been seeing my boys feeling afraid to speak Spanish. They understand what their cousins are saying -- for the most part -- but they just get so frustrated trying to speak back to them. It makes me sad. I had always hoped that the boys would be fluent in both languages. It makes me feel more determined to speak to them in Spanish. I hope that we will be able to find other Spanish speakers in our community so that they can have people to practice with.

One Family´s Return Trip: Monumento a Pedro Pascasio Martínez

In researching my husband´s family history we discovered that he is a distant relative of a famous Colombian hero -- Pedro Pascasio Martínez Rojas. Please take a moment to read this post that I wrote about this child hero: This is our family paying homage to our famous ancestor. This monument is located about 1/4 mile off the main road. If you are coming from Bogotá, you will turn onto a dirt road to your right. The road is just a bit before you get to Puente Boyacá. So, you can visit it first.

One Family´s Return Trip: Puente Boyacá

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that it is Colombia´s Bicentennial. We have been excited to teach our little guys about Colombian Independence, so right after we celebrated the Fourth of July, we began a discussion about Colombia´s Independence. Part of the learning process included plans to visit several important historical sites. One of the most important is Puente Boyacá. Puente Boyacá is located about 1 1/2 - 2 hours North of Bogotá. The road in most places is a divided highway and travel there is easy and safe. This is the site of the final battle where Simon Bolivar won independence for what is today Colombia -- the equivalent to Yorktown in the US. To learn more about this battle, read my post here: The day we stopped, we were fortunate to see Colombian soliders practicing for the July 20th and August 7th celebrations. They were dressed in the uniforms of the time. It was cool to s

One Family's Return Trip: Dealing With Fears and Melt Downs

You would think that two kids who have been looking for to this trip for months wouldn´t have any fears. Right??? WRONG!! The list of their concerns upon arriving in Bogotá has been lengthy. Our youngest, adopted from Bogota at almost 2 years of age, reverted to some self-soothing behaviors we haven´t seen for over a year. Our older child felt panicked when people began talking to him in Spanish. He would respond with the correct answers in English and look blankly at us when people didn´t seem to understand. Clearly, this experience is stressful, and not as joyful as we expected. Here are some ideas for those of you bringing older children with you to Colombia. 1. Recognize that they will be stressed. So things that normally wouldn´t cause a melt down, ie being asked if they want to eat another arepa, may just bring it on. I thought that this only happened in our older son when we adopted our youngest because he was struggling with the whole sibling issue. Now, I see both o

One Family´s Return Trip: El Dorado Airport

NO matter how many times I have flown into Bogotá, I always forget what a nightmare it is to get through immigration and customs. The night that we arrived 5 planes had arrived within 20 minutes and the line to go through immigration stretched the entire length of the corridor. So, I am going to give you the low down on making it through immigration as quickly as possible. 1. There are 4 lines. If you have children under 6, you can go through immigration quicker by going to the far left and walking past everyone until you get to the end of the shorter line. Here is a picture those are my boys walking past everyone. (There are bathrooms on the left near the front of the line, if you need them. I am happy to report that this time there were toilet seats and toilet paper.) 2. You will eventually make it to the front of the line. Make sure to have your passports ready. You will give them to the person at the booth marked DAS. Here is a tip based on our experience. There has be

One Family´s Return Trip: The Plane Ride

Taking two kids -- 9 and 5 -- on an 18 hour travel experience is tough. You need to go well prepared. Here are some ideas: For the 9 year old: Book Magazine Drawing supplies I-pod with preloaded audiobooks and music Snacks chosen by child Surprise gifts for end of first flight (dollar store) Surprise gift for end of second flight (dollar store) Hand sanitizer For the 5 year old: Coloring books with colored pencils Sticker book I-pod with preloaded stories and songs Leapster Sticker Mosaics Snacks chosen by child Surprise gifts for end of first flight (dollar store) Surprise gift for end of second flight (dollar store) Hand sanitizer We also made the layover a learning experience. Each child had been given $10 from grandma to spend on the trip. We took the money and had them exchange it at a booth in the Houston airport. We were able to look at Colombian money and talk about what they might spend it on. On the plane from the US to Colombia, you will be given a form from DIAN (custom

One Family's Journey: Post-Adoption Reports

I wish I could tell you that after you get home that there is no more adoption paperwork! I can't though. Bummer. ICBF requires 4 post-adoption reports after you get home. The first one comes at 3 months. Our agency had us sign a "post-adoption" services agreement and reminded us to make an appt with our parole officer, I mean social worker. I'm just kidding about the parole officer crack, our social worker is really nice. Here's what we did for our first post-adoption visit. First we filled out a form that our agency wanted that detailed a whole lot of info about our son and his and our adjustment. What is he eating etc. etc. We sent that to our agency. Then our social worker came to visit us and asked us all the usual questions you would expect. I actually enjoyed this visit a lot because we had the opportunity to ask for her professional advice and opinions on different topics and tips for attachment. After observing him as he crawled all over my hu

One Family's Journey: The Daily Walk

Can I tell you all how much I love our Ergo carrier? It was a gift from my cousin and has been a huge blessing. Our son loves to be carried and we pack him in it to take long walks all the time. It is a wonderful way to spend timed together and sneak in lots of physical closeness: not always easy to do with a superactive , wiggly toddler! Another thing I used to do a lot was sing a "song" I invented in Bogota to teach him that my name was "Mama". He used to call his foster mom "Tia" so the whole "Mama" concept was new. The song goes like this... Elian y la Mama! Elian y la Ma-ma! Vamos juntos a caminar ! Translation: Elian and Mama. Elian and Mama. We go walking together. I'm sure you can all see my lyrical prowess is astounding! I impressed many a stray Bogotano with my singing skills. In all seriousness though the song was very helpful to teach him his name and my name. He loved to hear the song because it meant we were going out wal

One Family's Journey: Teteros

Our son almost instantaneously lost a lot of the vocabulary he used with his foster family but one word that survived the encuentro was "tete", short for "tetero" or bottle. During our encuentro meeting the ICBF social worker gave me his bottle and said "Do not take this away from him. This bottle is his identity". When your social worker tells you this. Take it seriously! Bottle-feeding is so important! The sucking motion activates the part of the brain that helps children relax. Holding your child while they take a bottle helps them associate you with the relaxed, calming sensation. Eventually you won't need the bottle, your presence alone will make your child feel safe, relaxed and secure. This is why we still give Elian a bottle with no immediate plans to stop. I have known parents who've done this with adopted children who are much older with great success. I know it sounds weird but really, if your child will take a bottle do yours

One Family's Journey: The Inner Circle

Today I'm going to talk about boundaries. Our son is adorable with a capital A so people want to pick him up all the time but we are very strict about not allowing this. Here's why: Our child was young enough to know he had lost his foster mother but not old enough to understand why it happened or who we were. We were very strict about his contact with other people so that he wouldn't wonder whether or not he was going to be passed off again to a new set of parents. In order to help him differentiate between us and other people we set something up that I called "The Inner Circle": a set of boundaries to help teach him the difference between "parents", "close friends" and "acquaintances". It looked something like this: Parents : Change diapers, provide food, pick up and comfort, give baths and bottles at night. Close Friends and Famil y: Can pick him up and hold hands if our son requests. No giving him food. Only applies to people who

One Family's Journey: Eye Contact

One of the big jobs of adoption is teaching or in our case re-teaching your child family skills. Our son was about 15 months when we adopted him and he refused to look us in the eyes regularly for a long time. This was really disconcerting. All day long people would fawn over our very adorable son and tell us how much we looked like a family all while he would avoid looking at us as much as possible. There are lots of tricks that you can use to teach eye-contact use but of the easiest for us was the "food between the eyes" trick. We would hold pieces of bread between our eyes so he would have to look at us when he asked for food. Otherwise he would studiously stare at the ceiling for the whole time we fed him. The idea is that doing this helps your child associate your eyes, your face, and you as the person who is now caring for him and providing food. Food=love to people of all ages and it is very important to establish yourself as the food people. Other ways of pract

One Family's Journey: The Mourning Period

Meeting your child is an amazing, wonderous and joyous experience. I have to say that the first day we met Elian exceeded my wildest expectations. It was absolutely beautiful... and then... there was a hard period. Most children who come from Colombia have spent some time with foster families. Many have spent time with families to whom they've become very attached which is a positive and healthy thing. However, this also means that once your child realizes they are not on some kind of extended play date there is a possibility of a mourning period. For us the mourning period meant long days of hysterical, extended tantrums. I don't mean terrible two obstinate tantrums, I mean wildly out of control, scary, heart-breaking tantrums all the time almost the entire six weeks we spent in Bogota. And then some more while we got adjusted back home. It also meant he pretty much refused to eat anything but yogurt and bread the whole time we were in Colombia and then again when we g

One Family's Journey: We're baaaack!

Hi everybody, This is Emily from La NotoriousMLE . If you've been reading awhile you might remember me, my husband and our beautiful little boy Elian from the "One Family's Journey" series. We came back from Bogota on January 30, 2010 and just celebrated our little one's second birthday a few days ago. Over the next week or so I'll be talking about our experiences since returning including challenges we've faced, mistakes we've made (eek) and what we would've done differently. I'll also talk about tips and tricks we've learned from our social worker, books and friends as well as the process for the post-adoption visitations and reports. If you would like me to speak to any specific issues about the "after the adoption" process please leave your request in the comment section and I'll do my best to add a post for your topic.

One Family's Return Trip: Altitude Sickness

I have never had altitude sickness before when visiting Colombia. But, always before we have lived at 4,500 ft, and the ascent to 8,661 (the altitude of Bogotá) wasn't too much of a stretch. This time, however, we are coming from Sea Level and I have to admit I am a bit concerned -- especially for my little Colombianito. Last year, we took him from our 4,500 feet to the top of Pikes Peak (14, 110) -- a nearly 10,000 foot climb in 2 hours. He turned blue in the lips and started vomiting. We had to pack up the car and head down the mountain -- much to the chagrin of older brother. This time, we plan to stay at that high altitude for 3 weeks, and unfortunately for us, Acute Mountain Sickness (Altitude Sickness) is most common in children. Ouch!! For adults, there seem to be medical and herbal solutions, but nothing for kids. Double Ouch! The good news is that symptoms usually disappear withing a few days. However, if they get worse, it could lead to high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAP

Bicentennial of Colombian Indepenence: Timeline & Pictures

I know that many of my readers are homeschooling and have children adopted from Colombia. I have gotten e-mail from you requesting information about Colombian Independence and History, so that you can prepare lessons for your kiddos. Here are 9 resources for you. The sites are in Spanish. Here are a few great resources: #1 -- Colombian Independence in Pictures: #2 -- Colombian Independence Timeline: #3 -- Musical Memories of the Independence #4 -- Anecdotes from Colombian History: #5 -- FACEBOOK & Twitter friends: The Colombian government has set up 3 facebook accounts for people to learn more about Simon Bolivar, Manuela Saenz , and Santander . One twitter account for Antonio Nariño . These historical figures "post about th

Bicentennial of Colombian Indepenence: Plan & El Gran Concierto

If you will be in Colombia on July 20th, there will be a special Mass held at the Cathedral in the Plaza de Bolivar from 7:30 am to 8:30 am. This will be followed by a military parade from 9:00 am until noon. It will run down the Avenida 68 starting at Calle 53. At Noon all around the country, the National Anthem and the Bicentennial Theme Song will be played. Then, from 12:05 until 3pm there will be a nationwide concert. Over 1, 100 cities and towns in Colombia and Colombians in 45 different countries will participate. Unfortunately, many of the International Concerts will not be held on the 20th, so check dates for your area (link below). Also, check with the Colombian Consulate or Embassy in your area for more information. In areas outside of Bogotá, there will be parades from 8 am until 10 am. The Gran Concert from 12:05 until 3 and community festivals, dances, and parties from 3 pm until 6pm. Around the nation, there will be fireworks at 7 pm. If you want to attend the concert ne

Bicentennial of Colombian Indepenence: Theme Song What Celebration doesn't need a theme song? We saw Shakira's Waka Waka during the Munidal (World Cup). But, the Alta Consejería Presidencial para el Bicentenario de la Independencia de Colombia (The Presidential High Council on the Bicentennial of Colombian Independence) and The History Channel sponsored the creation of the Bicentennial theme song. The music was written by Miguel de Narváez and the lyrics by Andrés Camacho. The video features several famous Colombian artists: Carlos Vives , Maía , María Cecilia Botero , Andrés Cepeda , Cecilia “ Chechi ” Baena , Humberto Dorado , Silvia Tcherassi and Jorge Celedón . If you can read music, you can get it here: Here are the lyrics: El sol hoy brilla mas. Mas de lo que somos hoy vamos a dar . Para construir un país mas unido una Colombia que brille mas. Mas de mi

Bicentennial of Colombian Independence

One of the pluses of heading to Colombia this summer is that the country is in high gear in celebration of its 200 th anniversary of Independence. I want my boys to remember Colombia's Bicentennial the way I remember America's Bicentennial in 1976. I was the same age as my Little Colombianito the year my country celebrated its Bicentennial. For years, I had a Bicentennial quarter and 7-up bottle in my room. Not sure what trinkets we will pick up for the boys, but I want it to be memorable for them. For those of you who are not familiar with the story of Colombian Independence, here is a recap: The first movement for Independence from Spain which began in what is now Colombia on the 20 th of July 1810. On that 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 ( Llorante was a Spaniard) on the pretext of borrowing a flower vase for a dinner that was to honor the Roya

Help Friends of Colombian Orphans

I do not normally post on the Weekend, but I know that some people only get around to reading blogs then. I wanted to remind everyone of the CHASE Charity giveaway on Facebook. Friends of Colombian Orphans is competing for $20,000. This money would go a long way to help older orphans, who will probably never find homes, become self-sufficient. Let's help this cause !!!! How to vote in the Chase Giving contest: 1. Have a facebook account. 2. Go to Chase Giving on Facebook and “like” the application. You can “unlike” it later if you want. 3. Follow the directions for voting. When asked to type in a charity, type COLOMBIAN ORPHANAGES. 4. You get to vote only ONE time for FOCO, but you also have 19 other votes to use. After voting 20 times, you get a gift vote. Use the gift vote to send to another friend who hasn’t voted for FOCO twice. 5. Please: go back to the voting page and hit the “share with friends” button. You will be able to send your friends personal messages and have the vot

One Family's Return Trip: Bogota's Informal Economy

One of the hardest things for me to see in Colombia is the poverty. I find the plight of many Colombianos very moving. It is hard for me to pass street vendors, beggars, and street performers without wanting to help everyone. I recently read a report which stated that in Bogotá alone, more that half of the population survive daily from what they earn in the "informal economy". By definition the informal economy is "economic activity that is neither taxed nor monitored by the government." Participants in the informal economy include the VENDEDORES (both on the street and in the buses) and CANTANTES mentioned this week. It is hard for me to believe that over half of the city, 4.3 million people, live outside of the formal economy. Here is a youtube video of what my boys can expect to see of the informal economy in Bogotá .

One Family's Return Trip: Taxi Etiquette #1

Let's face it, some cars seem more sturdily built than others. Recently, I was at the Honda Dealer getting a recall on my Odyssey fixed. While I was there, I tried out the new FIT. BACKGROUND: When you climb into the Odyssey, it takes some muscles to close the door. You give the door a big yank. Well, I gave the FIT's door a big yank -- out of habit -- and the whole car shook. Instantly, I was teleported mentally to Colombia. I remembered an experience from my first trip. Hubby and I were in a rainstorm in Bogotá waiting for a cab with friends. I had been in Colombia just a few hours. When the Cab pulled up, my husband and our friends climbed in the back, so that I could sit shotgun and see better. I was eager to get out of the rain, and as I yanked the taxi door shut, the whole car shuddered. GASPS!! came from the Taxi driver, our friends and my husband. "What? Sorry!" I truly didn't believe that shutting the door a little forcefully deserved the