This article has been contributed by Grace International Adoption Agency in the hope of introducing families to adoption from Colombia. The photos in this article are of some of the lovely children met during this agency's recent visit to Colombia. The children’s appearance here is not intended to represent their availability for adoption.
It was my second day in Bogota, Colombia, and as the swarm of happy children rushed towards me, I knew I was in trouble.
"Where are you from in The United States" they said giggling, with a globe supported by 6 tiny hands held out to me.
"Does it snow where you live?", one asked. "I have always wanted to see snow!"
"My Name is Luis" was spoken very proudly, in English, by a beaming 7 year old boy.
"Do you live near Sesame Street" asked another. "Elmo is my favorite!"
And then, amid the laughter and excited squeals of the children, a question was asked by a beautiful nine year old girl that stopped me in my tracks...
"Are you going to find me a mommy?"
How could I say no? Especially since they were all so adorable! I knew I was just minutes away from adopting them all myself, thus breaking the pledge I had made to my husband after we adopted our fourth child. As an adoptee myself, the urge to scoop them all up and take them home was overwhelming. I regained my composure and dried the tears that were welling in my eyes, but I also resolved then and there to do whatever it took to help this little girl, and the many children in Colombia like her, find a loving home.
I had started adoption programs in Russia, Ukraine and Guatemala and thought I knew what to expect, but Colombia surprised me. You see, my contacts in Colombia were building a new type of program, one that focused on the unique needs of children aged five and over, and I was excited to have a program dedicated to the children who often fall through the cracks.
Some Obvious Benefits
I also knew that some of the obvious benefits of the Colombia program could make it easier for the families I work with to achieve their dreams of adopting a child. The Colombia adoption program has 3 fantastic benefits for anyone thinking about adopting an older child:
- Amongst the least expensive programs in Latin America and the world: At approx. $20,000 for all program fees, it provides an affordable avenue for many more families. Evenbetter, they do not charge extra program fees to adopt additional sibling children.
- Expedited Referral Process: For children over 7 years of age, those with special needs, or a sibling group with a child over 7 years old, the wait time can be as little as 0-3 months! For children 5-6 years old the adoption process can take up to 24 months.
- Convenient travel and in-country process: With a travel time of between 3-7 hours from the United states, a single trip requirement, and an in country process that in most casestakes between 3-4 weeks, Colombia can make it very easy to travel to meet your child and bring them home. In a select few adoption cities it can take up to 7-8 weeks, but both spouses only need to be in the country until the initial meeting with the family court judge (usually in about a week or so) as long as one spouse can stay in Colombia after that. Although, after you have seen how beautiful Colombia is, you will probably fight over which one gets to stay!
A Nagging Fear
Like most people with a limited knowledge of Colombia I did have a small fear. I was worried that because of the poverty in the country, older children might become "institutionalized" in over-crowded facilities with substandard care, and that they would have a hard time adjusting to their new homes and families in the United States. Boy, was I wrong!
Colombia has one of the best run systems for orphans and abandoned children that I have seen anywhere in the world. It is based around Casas Privadas, which usually gets translated as "orphanages". In reality each is a cluster of small group homes, with a "mother" and "father" caring for between 8 and 15 children, including sibling groups, who live together as a large family. The children lead a relatively normal home life; they do chores, play, go to school, eat meals together, do their homework, and, sometimes, they get to watch TV.
Not only does this mean that they are not "institutionalized", these children are ready and eager to enter into a loving home. They know what roles and duties are expected of them, and they are so excited to share a deeper relationship with a mother and father who can give them more time and love.
In addition, medical care and psychological counseling are excellent. All immunizations and preventative care is routine - they even receive braces if they need them! Moreover, the close and ongoing attention of counselors, staff and physicians allows for incredibly detailed referral documents, including over 20 pages of medical, nutritional and social history, photos, in-depth psychological analysis and, for school age children, even their grades! All information concerning the children is thorough and transparent; there are no surprises.
Families are eligible to adopt from Colombia if they meet the following criteria:
- Between 25 and 55 years of age
- Must be fully competent, guaranteeing sufficient emotional, physical, mental, moral, intellectual, social and economic qualities to provide an adequate and stable home for a child or children.
- Couples married for more than 3 years. Single females and males may apply and are considered for special needs children and children over 7 years of age.
- Unmarried common law couples that have lived together for more than 3 years.
- One divorce per parent is considered acceptable.
Age Categorization for Adoption
Colombia has also instituted the following schedule for determining placement of children in appropriate family structures:
- Children from three months to two years old are referred to parents between 25 to 38 years of age.
- Children from three to six years old are referred to parents between 39 to 45 years old.
- Children from seven years and over are referred to parents 45 years of age or older.
Keep in mind that there are lots of sibling groups available in Colombia, and older or experienced parents who wish to share their lives with a child may be able to have the best of all worlds by adopting two or more siblings.
Is Colombia Right for You?
It is up to each prospective parent to decide if the Colombian adoption program is the right program for them. Whatever your decision, Colombia should be applauded for the great strides they are making in creating a fast and affordable program for parents that would like to adopt a child who has been waiting to find their permanent family.
There are so many children in Colombia who are prepared and ready to join their very own family. Please consider adopting from Colombia if you are open to one of these beautiful, loving children.
As you research Colombian Adoption and the adoption agencies partnering with this program, we hope that you will visit Grace International to learn more about our agency and the possibility of working with your family. Visit the Colombia Adoption Page of our website to learn more and view our video filmed in Colombia, or reach us by phone 941 400 6016, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.