Friday, January 30, 2009

Facatativa and South Bogota

These pictures are from the town of Facatativa (or Faca to locals) this is the town where Oscar,Diana & Mayerly were born. It is a small town (those in Bogota told me) of about 100,000 people & very scenic, with brick streets leading to the square.
I (Tim) spent all day Thurs with our attorney, Oscar. We had to pick up all four birth certificates & then have these changed to our last name. The day started out in south Bogota at the Civil Registration office, for Claudia´s birth certificate, she was the only one born in Bogota. We then had to drive 45 minutes west to Facatativa, where the other three were born. We had to go to two different offices, wait to get their last names officially changed, then to the bank for notarized copies. We then headed back to Bogota to pick up Claudia´s changed birth certificate & to the bank.
We left the B&B at 7am & I got back around 4pm, but their last names are officially changed to Verhulst. It was quite interesting dealing with Colombia Civil Registration, it takes a lot of patience. It sure helps to have an attorney like Oscar, it was amazing how fast he could get things done & how he seemed to know everyone.


Below is a picture of the B&B where we are staying. Our room is the one on the second floor that is brown and has the big window. Everyone else staying here is French. We are the only Americans (and also the only ones with four kids who are older).

Wednesday we signed the final adoption paperwork (aka "sentencia"). Lucia called us that morning after breakfast and told us that Tim needed to be ready in a half hour to go sign the papers.
Thursday, he had to go with Oscar Abril ( our attorney) to get new birth certificates for all the kids (I´ll let him tell you about that since it took almost all day). I had the kids by myself all day and had to take them to ICBF for our second (and final) appointment - which went fine.
Today we went to get all the kids their Colombian passports (which they will need to leave Colombia). After that we took all the kids to see the doctor (which is required by the US prior to bringing them into the country). He did four reports, which are sealed, that we have to take to the US Embassy on Monday. Tuesday we will do laundry and pack. Wednesday (Feb 4th) we should be coming home!
Below is a picture that one of the French families took of us inside the B&B:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Passport Photos

This morning we decided to go out for ice cream as a snack between breakfast and lunch. So we are out walking down Calle 116 (a street here in Bogota) when a man comes up to us holding a cell phone up to Tim and talking to him in Spanish. After listening to him, I (Anne) understood him to say that his name was Andres and that he had Lucia on the phone. Tim tried to talk to Lucia, but the traffic and the kids were too noisy - so he handed the phone to me (I still couldn´t hear her very well either). I did pick out something about passport photos and Andres was making camera gestures with his hands - so we went back to the B&B with him. Three of the French families (who are all also adopting) were waiting for us. I had to change Claudia´s shirt because Andres said that is was too light colored for the passport photo. I also had to take out the ponytail holders I had in the girls´hair because they can´t have anything in their hair for the pictures.

After everyone was fixed up, we all walked to the mall. The people on the street were all kind of looking at our little procession of foreigners a bit funny. I guess we did look unusual.

At the mall we went to "Photo Japon" and all the kids got their pictures taken. After that we went to McDonald´s and got ice cream (as promised to the kids earlier) since we didn´t make it before to the ice cream shop (Mimi´s). Below are pictures of the kids eating their ice cream cones.

Mayerly - always the slowest eater...

Me Gusta Helado

Later, after lunch we went to Maku (a store that sells only items made in Colombia). We decided to leave the kids with the ladies at the B&B due to the fact that there are MANY breakable items in the store. When we left, they were outside playing. We didn´t say good-bye to avoid any tantrums or clinging-to-Papi Claudias. We were gone for about two hours. We came back with snacks for us and the kids. The kids met us at the door (except Mayerly, who was glued to the TV like a little zombie). Papi took them outside while Mami hid the stuff we bought in our room. While we were eating our snacks, Oscar told me that Diana had gone looking for me while we were gone. She thought that I was in the bathroom. We all had a big laugh about Diana thinking that I had been in the bathroom for two hours. Don´t worry, she laughed too - she doesn´t take too many things very seriously (that can be good and bad).
Mas Tarde.
Tim y Anne

Monday, January 26, 2009

Parque Jaime Duque

This past weekend we went to Parque Jaime Duque. It is a very small amusement park with very simple rides - nothing like Worlds of Fun. The kids had a great time and there were no real tantrums on this outing (yahoo!). Jaime Duque was a pioneer in Colombian aviation and he had the park built for the people of Colombia to enjoy. It is north of Bogota about 45 minutes to an hour and it is a beautiful setting because you can see the Andes Mountains to the east and west. It usually rains here everyday for at least a little while, but the day we went it didn´t rain. It was just gorgeous. A good day to get out of the city.

The main boulevard in the park

Papi and the kids in front of an Avianca airplane

Claudia and Mayerly on the carousel

Diana and Oscar on the carousel

Inside Parque Jaime Duque
-Ciao de Colombia - Tim & Anne

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Today was our "integration" meeting with ICBF. For those not familiar, it is a meeting with Colombian Family Welfare´s social worker to see how things are going. They interviewed the kids first (two at a time) and then us (with David interpreting). The kids told them that everything was fine and that they want us to adopt them. Oscar made it clear to them that he does not want to go back to the orphanage.

They asked us about discipline and any problems we were having. We were truthful with them about the tantrum problems and what we were doing to deal with that. We also talked about a few other things and they asked us if we still wanted to adopt the kids. We said "yes" without any hesitation. They told us that they were going to go ahead and sign off on the "integration" paperwork (David said that this is good because it should not hold the process up), but want us to come back next week for a follow-up visit. They also told us to call them if we needed any help from them.

I (Anne) don´t know if it was the visit to ICBF or what exactly, but overall the kids were pretty well behaved today. Only a couple of mini-tantrums from Claudia. The last one was in the back yard behind the B&B. She wanted to swing and her brother and sister were already on the only 2 swings. She threw herself on the ground and did her thing - Tim and I pulled up two lawn chairs and just watched her and talked to each other until she quit...

Hasta luego.

Pictures from Monserrate 01/20/09

View of Bogota (population almost 9 million) from the top of Monserrate

...from the Gondola going down Monserrate

...from the Gondola looking at the tracks for train we took up

This picture was taken by David (he has served us well as interpreter and driver) at the top of Monserrate. Bogota is at about 8,000 feet, Monserrate is even higher - I (Anne) had just gotten used to the altitude of the city. I was back to not being able to breathe again up here, and all the walking was uphill.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pictures First

We´ll drag this picture out to show all her friends when she´s a teenager...

Stylin´with Papi (and wearing his "gafas")

Just hanging out in "el parque"

His self portrait (musta learned this from Papi already)

The Gang
and this one for Julie... he really does smile more than you think...

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Sorry, no pictures with this post. We just got all the kids into bed and are not taking a chance on waking them up by digging through the closet looking for the camera ;-).

I (Anne) have got to say that I could definitely live in the Latin American culture (this being my second major trip in that region). The people tell you that they will be there to pick you up at 8:45 and they may show up by 9:00. My mother used to tell me that I would be late to my own funeral - so this is not a problem for me. Tim on the other hand, likes to be on time and therefore spends a lot of time pacing and looking at his watch. My kind of people, Tim (in this regard) not so much. He´s handling his American tendencies well though.

Anyway, back to the Encuentro, we arrived a little late. As it turns out, that didn´t matter because the kids arrived very late. We did a little interview with the psychologist with ICBF and she did a run down on each of the kids. The only piece of information that we got that was new was their reactions to Tim and me wanting to adopt them. The first thing they said was "all four of us?" and they told them yes, all of you. They have evidently been very excited and counting the days until we came for them.

They made for us a little picture album with pictures of them at the orphanage. The front cover has what I can only describe as a "claymation" rendering of us all as a family. It´s very cute and they put a lot of thought into its design. Amazingly, they also still had the toys we sent to them for Christmas and even the photo albums (well worn and with pages missing) we sent with our dossier back in September. They also had a few other toys that (I hope) the orphanage sent with them. No clothes, only what they were wearing.

After we were finished with the ICBF people, they brought the kids into the room. They were so excited, and in such a hurry to get to us that they all got stuck for a second in the doorway. It was kinda funny and also very cute. We did our hugs and Oscar and Diana started talking to us a mile a minute in Spanish - just enough to make me realize again how bad my Spanish really is. Mayerly (that´s how she identifies herself and what the other kids call her - yes! I love that name!) and Claudia went straight for the toys that were in the room.

We gave them their backpacks that were loaded with all kinds of things. They loved that too.

Then we left to go back to the B&B. The kids all thought we were going to "los estados unidos", so we had to break it to them that we were only going to go to a hotel (B&B) for now. Lucia´s son (who drove and transated for us today) explained to them that there are many papers for us to complete before they can go to los estados unidos. I still don´t think any of them (except maybe Oscar) get that. But that´s okay, we can deal.

All in all, things have gone pretty well considering. Oscar and Diana are both pretty well behaved. Mayerly is very quiet and sweet. She will wander off and play alone by herself until we take a head count and have to go looking for her. And Claudia, whoa - where do I start... the child does not like to hear the word No - EVER. She´s had three major (throw herself on the ground kicking, screaming and crying) tantrums since we got to the B&B. All those began with us telling her No. No, you can´t go outside to play unless you put your shoes on. No, you can´t wear your new pajamas (over her clothes no less) to dinner (this was a problem for some reason with all the girls, but the other two took them off when I told them to). And finally, No you can´t jump from the top bunk down onto Mami y Papi´s bed and you really need to go to sleep in your bed now...

We´re really hoping tomorrow is better for Claudia... and us with her.

After about 5 visits to the baƱo to "chi-chi" in about 20 minutes, turning the lamp on about a half dozen times (Tim finally took the bulb out) and again trying to climb into Oscar´s bed (the top bunk). Tim finally just laid in bed with her until she went to sleep.

Hopefully, pictures tomorrow! Hasta Luego...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We Made It!!!

We arrived in Bogota last night at about 11:00 PM (eastern time in the US - that´s 10:00 central). It took us forever to get our luggage (we were some of the last people out of there). It was probably closer to 12:00 by the time we got through customs (we didn´t have the correct paperwork, so we both had to fill out a new customs claim form). Then we changed our dollars for pesos and saw the cab driver holding our name on a piece of paper - so we went with him. We were so tired from the travel that we didn´t even unpack last night. I (Anne) just went to bed with my clothes on. The four hours sleep we got from packing the night before really caught up with us! I also don´t sleep on airplanes, and Tim only slept a little on both flights.

This morning we got up after 8:00 and went to breakfast around 9:00. After that we did a little paperwork with Carmen (the director?) of the B&B. There are only a few other couples here to adopt right now, and I think that they are all French (but they were nice and speak a little English). Before lunch we went for a walk to look for a store called Maku that sells Colombian items. I bought a really bright colored purse and a shot glass for an associate that told me that is all he wanted for the help he provided us with our adoption. We plan to go back later to get some more things for family and the kids.

I took a couple of pictures so far. I will post them later. We are going to the mall now to check it out. Hasta luego.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Short Intro

Okay. We are now roughly 36 hours from actually flying out of Kansas City to Bogota to meet our children Oscar - 11, Diana - 8, Angelica (or Mayerly - her paperwork uses both names) - 7, and Claudia -5. It's almost unbelievable that we are actually this close now.

I had planned to do the whole "date and timeline" thing on our adoption blog, but just haven't had the time. So here's the condensed version of our adoption journey: February 2, 2008 applied to Children's Hope International adoption agency; February-April worked on paperwork; in April first saw our kids on the waiting children list in CHI's 'Noticieros'; May-June worked on more paperwork and finished our home study, and our house got struck by lightning (yippee); first of July inquired to the Colombia Program Director about kids on waiting children list - found out that the siblings were still available, then sent a letter to ICBF (Colombian Family Welfare) requesting them and started the paperwork for our insurance claim; July-August kicked the adoption paperwork into high gear in order to be first in line to get our kids, began remodeling to fix what the lightning fried - and some things it didn't (that extra work thanks to termites of yore); September sent dossier (that's French for 'a ton of paperwork') to Colombia, dossier was translated into Spanish and delivered to ICBF, got ICBF approval to adopt (we're told this part doesn't usually happen that fast) and started taking a Spanish class; October waited for official assignment of our children (which came on the 31st); November '08 to January '09 readied the kids' rooms (yup, more remodeling), prepared a bit more paperwork and for travel to Colombia.

It's all gone much faster than we expected. That's why I used the picture of us on the speed boats on Lake Michigan in Chicago a couple of years ago at the top of our blog. It pretty well sums up what we have felt like since we started this little adventure.

Stay tuned... we plan on blogging from Colombia about the rest of our adventure! Below are pictures of their rooms:

Oscar's closet and bedroom

Diana's bed

Mayerly's bed

Claudia's bed