#NAAM 2018 ADOPTION STORIES: Kristen Radian, born in Colombia, adopted to the United States

FELLOW ADOPTEE AND (AND MY DEAR COUSIN, WHO I FOUND THROUGH DNA-TEST) KRISTEN TELLS YOU HER ADOPTION STORY, WHICH MENTIONS THE PROCESS OF HOW SOME CHILDREN WERE MADE ADOPTABLE THROUGH CORRUPTION, LIES, AND FALSIFICATION OF PAPERWORK IN COLOMBIA IN THE 1970’S (AND 80’S), HERSELF BEING ONE OF THEM. READ HER STORY IN HER OWN WORDS…

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“I was born Johana Garcia July 10, 1978, in Medellin, Colombia. My birth mother is Emilce Rojas. Growing up I always knew I was adopted from Colombia, but that was as much information as I had.
The family that adopted me consisted of my mother Elizabeth and father Jeff and after me a younger brother, Greg. My parents, I am told, went through Catholic Charities to find a baby after an unsuccessful attempt at parenthood through surrogacy. Catholic Charities were obtaining babies through La Casa del Madre y el Niño in Bogota. I was adopted very early on in life (3-6 months).
As I grew up I became increasingly interested in finding out my roots since my adoptive father had passed away when I was 5 and my mother shared no information. She told me that I knew what she knew. This I found out later, was a lie. Growing up like that makes you not trust easily, search constantly for familial connections, and I personally felt it forced me to grow up with a tough outer shell.
I’ve chosen not to confront her with her past lies about my origins because I chose to take matters in my own hands. I started investigating my origins as a teen (around 16/17 years old). Back then, there was no access to the internet so I had to rely on anecdotes from other family members, some of whom had their own agendas for giving or not giving me info.
I reached out to the orphanage, both Colombian and American embassies and, finally, broke into a safe to find actual documents concerning my adoption and naturalization. The documents came last after exhausting efforts with La Casa and after becoming a parent myself. I found out that my birth certificate listed me as Catalina Garcia. For years and years, I thought that was my birth name. When I would search for info it was always under the guise of that being my name.
One time in 2004 I received an email from the director at La Casa who told me my mother’s name. She also informed me that she was breaking the rules in doing so. At around the same time, I also found out I had an older sister. With my mother’s name and what I thought was my name, I started researching every social media, google entry and adoptee forums for either of these names.
I felt so desperate and so hopeless for so many years that it affected so many other aspects of my life without me realizing. Fast forward to 2012, I received a message on Facebook from a girl named Catalina saying she had found some info at her mother’s house and suspected I was her sister. I also got another message from a woman with my mother’s first name with pictures of me as a baby. The emotional roller coaster of reading those words and seeing the pictures cannot be put into words.
Once the initial dust had settled, I started asking questions like why on earth did my sister and I have the same name?
This led to a series of revelations that opened my eyes to the horrible practice of international adoptions out of Colombia. I found out my real name and that filled a huge hole inside me. It seemed so strange that just one name, one word, gave me a whole new identity again. I have since found my birth father (Tyrone Byron Garcia Rua) and his family. I have been reunited with them all in Colombia. While there are still some questions I have that are unanswered, the big pieces have been filled in. I was in Colombia recently, and while I was there, we tried to hunt down my birth records and found there were none. Not for me, not with my true name. It looks like the orphanage had somehow used my sister’s name on my birth certificate and then registered my birth all the way in Bogota, not Medellin where I was adopted out of. This has now left me with the task of retrieving my records from Bogota, changing my name back to Johana on my Colombian birth certificate, and finally regaining my citizenship.”

Written by

Kristen Radian,

Born in Colombia

Adopted to the U.S.

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