Tuesday, August 01, 2006

¿Por qué estoy solo aquí?

I can’t help but notice that I am pretty much the only person out in blogland currently adopting from Colombia. I have no idea why that is. From what we can tell so far, the paperwork is no more difficult than in other countries, and in fact, seems easier in a lot of ways. The waiting time and costs are no more than Russia, Chin, Vietna, Guatemala or Korea (depending on your agency of course). The children are beautiful (just ask Erin) and have comparatively lower instances of health issues.

We came to choose Colombia through connections of very close friends. The way things unfolded, we could only believe that God meant for us to adopt from this particular orphanage. Because of this, we never considered any other country. It was only when I started blogging that I realized I was alone out here!

Sometimes people find their way here by searching “adoption, Colombia” and I’m not sure what ever happens to them. So maybe I need to spread the word a little here… I know I’m not totally finished with the process, but so far so good. I think in the next few posts I’ll include some information about adopting from Colombia.

Here’s a start based on my experiences and info from various websites, including the US Embassy in Bogota, the State Department, and ICBF. If anyone out there has any questions, or has a correction to what I’ve written, please let me know. This information is for those who are not Colombian, and who reside in the USA. The rules are slightly different if you are Colombian.


To adopt from Colombia, you must go through:

The Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar, also known as “Bienestar” or “ICBF” for short), through one of its 28 Regional Offices and 5 additional Department (State) Agencies. This organization processes the government adoptions and oversees the licensing of private orphanages.

OR

One of the 8 adoption houses authorized by the ICBF:
- Ayúdame, (Bogota)
- Casa de la Madre y el Niño (Bogota)
- CRAN (Bogota)
- FANA (Bogota)
- Pisingos (Bogota)
- Casa de María y el Niño (Medellín)
- Casita de Nicolás(Medellín)
- Chiquitines (Cali)

If you live in the US, both the U.S. agency that is contracted by the prospective adoptive parents and the Colombian agency facilitating the Colombian part of the process must be approved by the Colombian government. There aren’t that many US Agencies, and the closest one to me is over 400 miles away. But so far, we have worked with this agency through emails and fedex, and it is working out just fine.

Who may adopt?
1. Married couples, or a couple formed by a man and a woman who can prove uninterrupted union for at least three years.
2. Single men and women are eligible to adopt children over the age of seven years only and on a case-by-case basis
3. In practice, newborns are assigned to younger couples, and older children are assigned to older couples.

What qualities are required of those who wish to adopt a child in Colombia?
1. Be legally capable
2. Be 25 years old or older
3. Be at least 15 years older than the adoptee
4. Guarantee physical, mental, moral and social competence and prove that you are capable of providing an adequate home for the child.

Documentation Requirements: (from our agency & Colombia)
Birth Certificates
Marriage License
Passport copies
Letters of Employment
Physician Letters
Fingerprints for FBI Clearance
Affidavit of Identification
Home Study; including:
Financial Form
Medical Form
More fingerprints
Psychological Evaluation
State Central Database Check Form
Application to Orphanage
Letter to orphanage stating reasons for adoption
Pictures of yourself and your home
I171H; to get this you need to have submitted to USCIS:
I600
Home Study Report
Electronic Fingerprints

So I’m curious as to how you all came to decide on the country you chose. Was Colombia ever an option? If so, what were your thoughts on it? Did you hear negative things about Colombia or were you unaware they had a program? Of course I ask this totally out of curiosity. I have absolutely no judgments about any country and would never question anyone’s right to choose the program they were drawn to. Just wondering what people think when they hear “Colombia” (besides Pablo Escobar and cocaine of course). I'd be interested in your honest thoughts.

18 comments:

Julie said...

Actually, Columbia is a serious thought for my husband and I if we decide to adopt again. I hope you don't mind if I add you to my bloglines. I'd love to follow your adoption.

We originally went with Guatemala. Why? I have no idea. It just spoke to us. That's where our son was so that's where we went (does that make sense?).

Guatemala will not be able to do adoptions through the US after January 2007 unless some serious changes happen so we've been looking at alternatives and Columbia is high up on our list (even if it does reopen).

jill said...

steph -

i adore how honest you are. really, i do. and since i love to talk about our adoption story - i will share with you and your audience.

we originally (before i was pregnant with the heir) started doing domestic private adoption. we were working with a birthmother in arizona - 21 yr old who already had 3 kids.

a month into my relationship with Whisper (yes, that was her name) I became pregs. we didn't tell our lawyer till i was 13 weeks and we knew the pregnancy was totally viable. before we had a chance to tell whisper - she disappeared - fell off the face of the earth.

fast forward - i have the heir and i finally come to a place where i am ready to have another and i feel that if i wasn't pregnant whisper would have broken my heart - and i was upset when she vanished.

my husband's friend's sister was adopted from korea -via our agency 23 or so years ago. we liked the idea that the children are in caring foster homes, have limited to no health issues, were under a year old and it didn't hurt that we didn't have to fly to korea with a 2 year old - on top of a new baby.

that being said, i must also tell you that i wasn't familiar with columbia's program. we also live in a very asian community - heavily korean. it just made sense.

now, through my homestudy experience and blogging - i am seeing families so differently then i did before. it reminds me of when dan quayle was criticizing "murphy brown." for the sitcom's view of family values.

i have grown through this experience and i would adopt more if we could and i don't think country of origin would be all that important.

wow - it's funny what you learn as you write...

Amy Lane said...

I don't think it's as high profile as other places...sort of like, the closer to home it is, the easier to ignore? I'm not trying to adopt, but I must say you've done a wonderful job putting this information out there... my friend who adopted had a lot of research to do--I'll bet she wished she had you as a resource!

Tricia said...

i didn't know columbia had a program, so i'm interested to hear about the process and your journey.

-Jenny said...

I had no idea Columbia had a program. None.
We always knew we would go with China....ha.
Things work out for whatever reasons. Vietnam was an easy switch for us, in terms of paperwork/emotions not soo much. We didn't consider any other seriously due to financials. (sucks)

Anyway, I am interested in how your journey will go. There are alot of programs out there that are small, my agency does panama. Although, I haven't seen a pic of a kid from there.

I am off adopting again for now but well see how that one goes. Well, I need to get the first one in the door. I can't wait for your referral!!!

I am here following you along, you know that!

later babe-Jenny

Margaret said...

After losing Peanut, I explored a lot of options (as you might remember). I looked at Columbia, although only briefly. Singles are allowed but, as you mentioned, only on a case-by-case basis. The "over 7" rule worked for me as that's what I'm hoping for anyway. ltimately I decided it wasn't a good fit.

Kidsave - the organization that sponsored the host program I was a part of - brings children from Columbia over. I think they might be starting a program in Peru, too...

MAMB said...

I never considered Columbia. It apparently doesn't have as big a program as some other countries so it never really hit my radar. (That and I was afraid of the psych eval - PhDs are nuts! Hehe)
Also, I have to confess I read a book about a Columbian adoption gone wrong (it was fiction) and it scared the beejeesus out of me (even though I know it was fiction). I can't remember the name of it - it was written by the same guy who wrote Derailed. Let's just say kidnapping, murder, and drugs in condoms up the butt were involved. It would have taken me a little while to put that out of my mind before I could consider travelling there.
Speaking of travelling - are you allowed to visit your child like you can in Guatemala? That was one of the big attractive features for us.

Carrie said...

I had honestly never heard of the Colombian program before reading your blog. Thanks for posting the information!

Jenni said...

I did know that Columbia had a program, and we actually thought briefly of adopting from there. I have always thought that children from Central and South America are just beautiful. However, while we were making our decision, there were some kidnappings of tourists for ransom (can't remember the details), and that kind of turned us off. Plus, I have always had an interest in visiting the former Soviet Union, so that area just called to us. Originally we were going to adopt from the Republic of Georgia, but then they put their program on hold and made a bunch of changes to the process, which made Russia more appealing to us.

Part of me has always seen myself raising a dark haired boy from Central or South America though (probably due to a movie I saw as a child). So, maybe another adoption from that part of the world is in our future? Who knows? I look forward to following your adoption and learning more about the program.

Chelsi said...

I had no idea about Columbian adoption either. I have a friend who adopted from Kazachstan, which is growing more popular now as well.

We are doing private, domestic adoption partly because one of my husband's coworkers used the agency. I sort of feel like you because I can't find many adopters who aren't doing international. I only know one other domestic adopter in blogland and that's it!!

Thanks for sharing everything!! I'm avidly following your blog, so I can't wait to see all the big milestones in your adoption!

Sonya said...

This is a really interesting post. We're planning to adopt from China (eventually). We did investigate other countries a bit, but we were leaning toward China from the beginning. I don't remember Colombia being among the countries we considered. The things that appeal to us about China are the very orderly process and the high probability of adopting a girl.

Thalia said...

When I think about adoptoin, (I've not really thought about adoption in a lot of detail), I have considered guatemala because of being able to meet your baby relatively early. I would be convinced that china was the answer because my husband speaks chinese, but the waiting time terrifies me. I guess we'll have to see what will happen.

I'm sure there is at least one other colombian adoption blog, I'll see if I can find it for you.

Stacy said...

I looked seriously at Colombia, actually. It's still in my mind (there's a Kidsave event near me this weekend). But ultimately I decided to go with Guatemala for three reasons. First, as a single woman, I can probably only adopt a child older than 7 from Colombia, and I really was hoping for age 3-6. Second, children in Colombia are mostly in orphanages but in Guatemala they are in foster care. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the orphanages are fantastic. But the foster family is really a method of transitioning the child from the birth family's situation to that of a stable family. Third, Colombia expects 3 weeks of travel but Guatemala is 4 days. I only have 30 days off work, so I didn't want to spend almost the entire time living in a hotel. (As it turns out, I may only have 8 days leave.) Colombia is a beautiful country, and there is just so much need in all aspects of their lives. I did my masters thesis on Colombian culture about 10 years ago, and would have truly loved if their regulations were a little different for me.

Kay/Hanazono said...

We did consider Central and South America when we had our big "next steps" summit in March, but (and I discuss this on my blog pretty extensively) we ultimately felt China was the best fit for us. Of course, we thought the wait was in the 8mo range back then, so we may have chosen another option had we known what we know now.

wavybrains said...

Colombia, Mexico and other S. American countries are at the top of our list. For us, the major factor in our waiting to adopt is cost: still feeling uncomfortable with older child U.S. foster adoption, but not yet being in a place for IA. After cost, for us the next big question is comfort level. We just feel more comfortable with S. American countries. I know some people who only want to adopt from countries without orphanages, or only from places with predictable wait times, or where they can request one sex or another. For, us, we are okay with either sex, would like the option of a long in country stay versus longer to finalization, and really connect with the culture. So S. America makes sense for us. It's probably not PC to say this, but I really don't want more people to rush to Colombia and push the wait times further like China. I would hate to see it become the next "in" country in the IA popularity race. That would really suck on many levels. I read another Colombian adoption blog: Via La Colombia.

John Hodson said...

You are not the only blogger adopting from Colombia, my wife and I are in the process of adopting from Colombia and have been blogging for our family, friends, and anyone who might find some value in our experiences.

http://hodsonsblog.blogspot.com/

I've been checking in on your blog for a little while I certainly don't want you to think that you are the only ones in Blogland adopting from Colombia.

I hope that you receive your 171H soon and that your wait to be united with your child in Colombia is no longer that absolutely necessary.

Wendy said...

We chose Guatemala for several reasons. We wanted a child younger than our then-2 yr old and being 'older' adoptive parents many countries limited us to older children. We also knew we could not travel for lengthy times because of our other children. So Guatemala it is.

Wendy
http://adoptingahren.blogspot.com/

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