The Magical Realism of Colombian Adoptees By Leslie Whitaker and Craig Askinazi
What is it like to have been adopted from Colombia in the late 1970s and raised in the US? The answer of course will vary for everyone, but there are some things most of us have in common…
Extra-complicated search and reunions. The geographical and cultural divide of continents, corruption, language, governments, laws, DNA tests, and often inter-married families collude to make the search and reunion of adoptees with their Colombian families quite challenging. Often, when trying to put together a family tree, it becomes apparent that due to the above complexities, this task is not easy and may come with more questions than answers.
Growing up with a stigma. Although the height of infamous Colombian cartel wars and kidnappings have long since passed their peak, from the late-70s to mid-90s corruption was at its height. During this era, many babies and young children were kidnapped and trafficked for adoption revenue, adding layers of stigma and further complicating searches for some adoptees. The notorious reputation of such lives on in the assumptions and impressions that many outsiders have of modern Colombian life. This is not to say that danger or violence no longer exists there, but those statistics are now far below that of many American cities. Unfortunately, these stereotypes are often still thrust upon Colombian adoptees in the media and tend to arise in casual conversation when discussing our backgrounds.
Forming connections. Despite the obstacles, many of us have found ways to connect with one another and our inner selves to hone a stronger sense of identity. We have formed Meetup, Facebook, Clubhouse, and support groups to connect with one another and share encouragement, tips, and advice. Many of us relate to our adoptions via our professions including authoring books, hosting podcasts, and creating visual art. Others are often therapists or legal advocates. Naturally, our interests and occupations run the gamut, but unifying us at the core is our exceptional resilience.
It can be so uplifting to seek the support of other people like ourselves to stand in as cultural mirrors, help support the process of searching for biological family, or simply to help us feel more at peace with ourselves.
There is power in numbers, and connecting with other Colombian adoptees (or any group one identifies with) can be invaluable to satisfying the human quest to feel heard and understood.
PSA: It’s Colombia, not Columbia!
READ AND LEARN MORE about Colombian Adoptee Support and Discussion Groups. CLICK HERE FOR HANDOUT