The Presence of Absence
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Our daughter with Amniotic Band Syndrome
In November of 2003, a tiny picture of an adorable face caught our eye. The picture was of Angie, a precious 2-year-old girl from Bogotá, Colombia who needed a family. Angie was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth, but records indicated that her overall health was good, and it appeared that her developmental delays were minimal. The description of Angie was brief, but we were compelled to learn more. We contacted Children's Home Society & Family Services for more information, and we were sent a CD showing videos of Angie. Once we saw those cute pigtails and that infectious smile, our hearts melted and our adoption journey began!
Our whole family participated in preparing for Angie's adoption we made a family video that was sent to Colombia prior to our trip. Angie was able to watch her new mommy, daddy, brother, and two sisters singing, dancing, and practicing their Spanish greetings! We even celebrated Angie's birthday, which was several weeks before we traveled to South America. We bought presents, sang "Happy Birthday", and enjoyed a "Feliz Cumpleanos" cake! We were all very excited about meeting our newest family member!
The announcement of our plans to adopt Angie came as a big surprise to our family and friends! We had already adopted three children, and our youngest daughter, who was 15 months old at the time, also has Down syndrome. Many people shared their concerns and asked us how we would manage with four young children, two with special needs. Our response was one of faith. We had put much time, thought, and prayer into our decision, and we were confident that God was guiding us to Angie. All of our children's adoption stories are unique and wonderful we are so thankful to have been blessed with our beautiful son and daughters!
In February of 2004, we were finally approved to travel! Not knowing exactly what to expect on our trip caused us a bit of anxiety, but overall we were very excited to begin our adventure! Our agency shared many bits of information that helped prepare us for travel, so we were as ready as we could be. It was difficult leaving our three young children behind, but we were determined to make the most of our time in Colombia. We were anxious to meet Angie and to absorb what we could of her Colombian culture.
The day after we arrived in Bogotá, we drove to Los Pisingos, the private orphanage where Angie lived. As we waited to meet our new daughter, we tearfully gazed at the hundreds of large photos lining the walls, pictures of the children adopted from Los Pisingos. Our attention soon turned to a beautiful little girl that was heading our way!
Angie appeared to recognize us from the video we had sent, and as she reached out for Paul, she said "Papa"! Tears filled our eyes and love filled our hearts we were finally united with our precious Angie! It took only a few moments to see why Angie was such a healthy, happy little girl. We were greeted by many people who have been touched by Angie's loving spirit. The time we spent with them, however, was bittersweet. Tears of joy blended with those of sadness as Angie's friends and caregivers said goodbye and wished us well.
Traveling to another country was an awesome yet humbling experience for us. The language barrier was difficult at times, but our driver, Carlos, and our amazing adoption agencycontact, Isabel, were very helpful. Carlos took us wherever we needed to go, and he served as our "tour guide" on a number of occasions. Isabel was always available to answer questions or provide support, and she guided us through every step of the adoption process. We are grateful to have shared such a meaningful time in our lives with Isabel and Carlos. We will always have fond memories of these friends from Bogotá.
There are over a million people living in Bogotá, Colombia, a large city on a beautiful mountain plateau. We are honored to have had the opportunity to learn about Bogotá's rich history, meet many of its proud and faithful people, and enjoy its breathtaking scenery. It is true that there are problems with crime and civil unrest in Colombia, but it is important to remember that a majority of Colombians are unfairly judged due to actions of a few. The root of Colombian culture is found in faith and family, allowing its people to thrive despite adversity. We will always honor Angie's heritage, and we look forward to sharing with her the many wonderful memories we have of Bogotá and its people.
In Colombia, children with Down syndrome are viewed as "angels who bring light to their homes". As for us, we couldn't agree more!
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