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Colombian Adoptions

ICBF has changed so many things and come up with so many rules, that it makes it near impossible to do mission work in Colombia. We just finished adopting two teen girls from there in September and ICBF was not only impossible to work with, but they were rude. They actually denied our Sentencia, and made us go back and change to include my maiden name, which at that point, why did it matter?
Now, we are home and the youngest child is causing problems and we are at a loss to know what to do. I’d just like some support from people who have been through this.


ICBF can be erratic but remember they changed rules in response to criticism made that they were not strict enough.  Even so, the Colombian adoption process is still one of the better more established and thorough ones in the world. Imagine trying to oversee a child’s welfare with strangers half the world away. It is a very difficult task at best.

A few questions for you.  How much time have you spent with the girls before adopting? Do they speak English? Have they ever been to your country before this? Imagine what it would feel like if you had parents who abused, abandoned you or just could not take care of you, then you were taken at their age from the only home you had ever known (either orphanage or foster) and dumped in say Siberia or Mongolia where life was very different, no one spoke your language, and you were alone with people you didn’t know. 

It is not at all uncommon to have children act out in the beginning. So…I’d suggest you find a local attachment counselor (familiar with adopted children) to work with, a local support group with older adopted children, call your social worker and ask for help and suggestions, do more reading about attachment process, and try to get some support from others you know who have been there before you (your church, or other friends who have adopted?). Look for people who are from Colombia and still speak Spanish to befriend and help be there with you all.  Also you might want to not put them immediately in school so there is less stress and pressure on the child and all of you.  Last spell each other so you can take some time off doing things you love and keep some perspective.  Remember to spend time having fun with the child doing things you all enjoy so that the struggles do not become your whole relationship. There is a good video Regina recommended awhile ago about an older teen adopted from Ethiopia….(Regina what was that link?) it might at least give you hope that things will work out in the long run…as well as leave you feeling less alone.

Posted by Happy Camper on Dec 24, 2013 at 11:53pm

One was called Mercy Mercy. I am not sure if it is for sale yet.
the other was Girl Adopted

Posted by Regina on Dec 25, 2013 at 12:27am

We spent weeks with the girls for over 4 years before adopting them so we knew them and had a relationship with them. Since coming home, however, it’s been difficult. We both spent a lot of time in Colombia and worked successfully with ICBF until they changed directors. . The new regime was cold, rude, and very unwelcoming to us, unlike the past directors who were kind, helpful, and welcoming to adoptive parents. I’m not going to get into a discussion about ICBF, because I respectfully disagree that with your assessment.

I was looking for practical advice on how to handle my issue with one of the girls, assuming that others on this site had also adopted from Colombia and would have some “supportive” advice. I was feeling all alone and just needed support and encouragement.

We took all the classes, and were aware of the issues we would have. We didn’t go into it blind or with naivety, but having reality set in and living through it are so much different than actually “knowing” it ahead of time. We speak enough Spanish to get by, and they are both learning English, so communication is not the issue as much as attitude.

Others have told me that it’s normal for teenagers, but I didn’t get this much attitude from our now grown daughters.

It is slowly getting better.

Posted by C4F on Dec 25, 2013 at 8:46pm

Maybe (as Fiona suggested) if you could tell us more about the problem/attitude that you have with your daughter people might be able to help with more specific advice.

I suspect that a number of children from poor countries assume that everyone from the US is wealthy.Having so little themselves they have no perspective or way to understand life in the US.

One new adoptee from Ethiopia insisted she was being abused here because her adoptive parents did not buy her enough pants. They laid out what she had on the bed (20 pairs I think?!) and asked “How many is enough?”!! That was in the film Mercy, Mercy I think….which was why I suggested it, as I think it gives a very good picture of how terribly hard it is for both the adopted child and the parents.  As you say very different living the reality than hearing about it in a class.

There is a much more active site on Yahoo Groups re Colombia.  Those folks have tons of experience with ICBF and there are many more members.  You would probably get many who would have had the same experiences you did and or would know more details about the ICBF situation than on AFC.  I am really sorry to hear the new directors are so difficult to work with.

It is hopeful that there is improvement with the child so soon after returning home, even though I am sure it feels slow!  Hope it continues.  Do you have any thoughts why only one child is acting this way?  Perhaps that might give you some focus and some ideas on what could be done to rectify the situation.

Posted by Happy Camper on Dec 26, 2013 at 6:59am

The Maiden name ICBF required is the usual practice in Colombia. To you it may seem insignificant. While i agree that a child’s stay in an orphanage being prolonged because of it hardly seems right. Yet to them it may seem arrogance or rudeness on your part to not do this. Really it is something your agency (I am assuming you had one) should have known.

  Also, while communication may not be the issue from your perspective, there is bound to be a certain amt of frustration for many children at being taken somewhere that they can not speak the language other than a few minimal phrases.  .

Posted by Happy Camper on Dec 26, 2013 at 11:01pm

I know she was a bully in the institution, and tried to bully the older one and the family here, but we haven’t allowed her to get by with it. Her hormones are also going haywire because of her age, I’m sure. I can give you lots of reasons why she might be misbehaving, but it knowing why doesn’t make it any easier, or know how to handle each situation. We are just being consistent and showing unconditional love to her. I’m worn out emotionally though!

I’m going to do a search for the film. Also, I feel like I could use a larger support group. I want to find the one you talked about on Yahoo. Can you give me an idea what the group is called or how to find it?

Posted by C4F on Dec 26, 2013 at 11:14pm

The Yahoo group is AdoptColombia. Go first to Yahoo Groups and search thru the sub categories till you find it.

I am trying to find the movie I wanted to refer you to.  Regina originally posted a link and I was able to watch it free that way. When I looked back in AFC posts I realized it is NOT “MercyMercy”.  That was a really disturbing one..I don’t think so relevant to your problems or issues. I’ll keep looking and see if I can figure out what the name and link was.

Posted by Happy Camper on Dec 26, 2013 at 11:39pm

Ok…it is the other one (“Girl Adopted”) Regina mentioned that I wanted to refer you to.  You can see it for free if you follow the link on her original AFC post which was called “Good Adoption Video” and posted on Oct 8 2013.

Also you might double post this thread on the AFC group called “Parenting Adopted Children with Challenging Behavior”. I’d recommend you put something re Bullying in the thread title.  It is possible you might have people see it and respond with good advice for you who wouldn’t necessarily look at a thread on Colombian Children.

Hope some of this helps.

Posted by Happy Camper on Dec 26, 2013 at 11:57pm

I think the link isn’t so direct any more…. but if you follow the link on Regina’s AFC post “Good Adoption Video” posted on Oct 8, 2013.  Then click on Programs, then on Global Voices, you will find “Girl Adopted” listed.  I am having reception problems due to weather right now so am not totally sure.

Posted by Happy Camper on Dec 27, 2013 at 12:17am

C4F…I am sorry to say but I think Girl Adopted is no longer available to view.  I couldn’t even find it for pay.

Posted by Happy Camper on Dec 27, 2013 at 10:27am

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