All right, this time I’m determined to keep up with this blog a little more faithfully! A lot has happened in the past week. Here’s a brief recap:
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we spent mostly hanging out at our hotel, spending time with the two other families before they left to go back home. We ventured out for lunch every day and on Wednesday, Cat and Jhon joined us for some quality playtime at a new park.
Fernando came to help the kids make chocolates again, much to their delight.
While we’re here, Michael and I would like to create a video for other families waiting to adopt from Colombia, and Cat, Carol and Steve carved out some time between visits to the passport office and embassy medical checks to sit down and talk with us about their adoption processes. They were all incredibly eloquent and spoke movingly about their time in Colombia, their plans to keep their children’s birth culture alive, the issues unique to older-child adoption, and the challenges of being a transracial family. Michael and I felt so privileged to be able to hear their gems of wisdom and look forward to putting them into a format that will be useful for other families.
Thursday afternoon, we had the second official meeting of our adoption process. Our agency’s in-country representative was (slightly ironically) out of the country, so a substitute rep picked us up to take us to the ICBF (the central child welfare office) for our appointment with the Defender of Minors. The purpose of this meeting is to assess how things are going so far with the new adoptive family; in theory, the adoption process could be stopped if the Defender determines that the placement is not in the best interests of the child. Though our lawyer never appeared, which was slightly concerning, the meeting went well. The Defender of Minors basically just asked us how things were going so far, and asked us if we had any questions for her. She also asked Eliana how she likes being a big sister. Finally, she read from the official document, which states that we are now charged with Miguel’s well-being and healthy physical, intellectual, and emotional growth; and then she congratulated us and told us she was glad Miguel will be part of our family. And that was it!
On Thursday, the night before Cat and Jhon left, we all decided to head to Simon Bolívar Park, home of “El Pesebre Más Grande Del Mundo” (The biggest Nativity scene in the world.) There was also supposed to be a chorus of children singing Christmas carols. Nancy and Alexander, who both work at our hotel, came with us, which made it extra-special. Nancy called a friend of hers who drives a taxi-van to drive us, and at the appointed hour (actually, an hour past the appointed hour, because the driver was late!), we all piled into the van.
We arrived at the park expecting to see a life-size manger scene, with some caroling schoolchildren nearby. What awaited us instead was the entire town of Bethlehem, and part of Jerusalem too! There were full-size tents of dancers, ceramics makers selling their wares, camel vendors proclaiming the virtues of their animals, shepherds tending their flocks, a replica of Herod’s palace, the Wailing Wall…and dozens and dozens of robed villagers wandering around totally in character, complaining about evil King Herod and admonishing women for having long hair. It was truly something to behold.
At the end of route through the villages, there was a giant stage where several groups were performing. The kids had a great time rocking out to the Christmas tunes!
The evening took a decidedly less-festive turn when we arrived at the appointed meeting spot only to find out that our driver wasn’t there. We waited for more than an hour, the children sinking fast, and finally ended up taking another taxi. Nancy and Alexander were actually quite concerned that something might have happened to our driver…luckily, we found out the next morning that he was fine. We’re not quite sure exactly what happened, but chalked it up to the unpredictability of this whole experience!
The next morning, Friday, we bid a sad farewell to Cat and her son Jhon, whom we had gotten to know so well over the previous two weeks. The hotel seemed strangely quiet after they left!
While Carol and Steve finished up the last of their paperwork, we took Maddie to Pan Pa’ Ya for the last time, and the two girls had a ton of fun in the ball pit.
That evening, we celebrated the Carr-Uren family’s last night in Bogota (after a stay of nearly 12 weeks!) by heading to our favorite park for La Noche de las Velitas, the Night of the Candles. The park, which is already spectacularly festooned with lights, was made even more glorious by hundreds of blazing, multicolored little candles placed all around the central fountain.
Sadly, when we got back to the hotel, I learned that a good friend and colleague, Ann Mikkelsen, had passed away after a valiant fight with cancer. I lit one more lone candle in her honor.
She will be greatly missed.