Recently I started feeling as though I was running on empty. I took a few days off from the blog and the social media accounts accompanying the blog, to spend more time with family and enjoy Thanksgiving. All the constant feed of adoption related things made me feel absolutely, emotionally exhausted. Ironically enough, while I took a few days off from social media, I had several things happen in real life that are in direct connection to my adoption.
My adoptive mother came to visit and spend Thanksgiving with me and the family. It has become somewhat of a tradition that she flies in from Sweden to spend the holiday with us. This year she brought something for me. My Colombian passport, my adoption papers in original, and the original page of the newspaper where my picture was published in an attempt to locate any family of mine in Medellin. What do these things mean to me? The passport means I can reclaim my Colombian citizenship if I wish to do so one day. It has my Colombian last name in it, and it is the ultimate connection, and tangible proof that I was at one point in my life part of the Colombian country and society. To me, it is in a way something that gives me the right to call myself Colombian. Ask any transnational adoptee, and I think many will tell you that it is no little thing to have a passport from your original country of birth in your hand.
My adoption papers in original means I now have direct access to my history. Whatever history I have access to at all. It is the papers that were given to my adoptive parents, directly from ICBF. I can’t tell you exactly why that is different from having the copies, it just is.
The newspaper article was a surprise. I didn’t know my mother had it. I have always been very curious to know what the articles around my picture were. The surrounding articles are those of missing people, shootings, shooting victims and other reported crimes. I think it was pretty much what I was expecting, but it still felt sad to see. It kind of points to the possibility of my being in the hands of ICBF being the result of a potential crime. There is no way of knowing, though so it remains a black hole in that sense.
I also received an email from ICBF, Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (Colombian Family Welfare Institute). Attached was a folder with 85 pages of scanned papers in PDF-format. My adoption papers, supposedly the full file that I requested well over 6 months ago, and had almost given up on getting without a fight. Most of it is made up of pages I already had, and a large part is the application process my parents had to go through to be considered and accepted to adopt a child from Colombia. I skimmed through that part. I’m not sure how much in detail I want to read it. It feels intrusive in a way. Like that part doesn’t have to do with me. I was surprised to see it there because I kind of see myself in my adoption story completely separated from my adoptive parents. The two ran very parallel of course, and I should probably read all those pages, if for no other reason than to know how faulty the process probably was. What was new to me was a couple of pages containing information about me specifically. In one paragraph it says I showed the kind of behavior that was typical for children who were institutionalized or abandoned; I had delayed development of motor skills, I was very malnourished, I had a sad expression, I showed complete detachment towards all adults, and I had bronchial affections. What breaks my heart about this paragraph is the “complete detachment towards adults”. Already as a baby, I had learned to be on the defensive. Already as a little baby, I didn’t trust anyone to let them in. Already as a little baby, I knew to shut people out. And to this day no one has made it all the way behind that wall of defense. But it’s a lonely place to be sometimes. I would have been about 6 months at the time. I think of how I interacted with my daughters when they were 6 months old, and my heart breaks for the little baby that was me at that age. In an upcoming post, I will share with you some very specific ways that my fear of rejection and separation has played out in my life. In relationships and in friendships. For the first time ever, I now feel I have some kind of proof of where it all comes from.
Those of you who have read my blog and previous parts of my story know that not having a single name of a single person that was involved in my life in the first year and a half has bothered me to no end. I now have one. A name. One name of one person. It is the name of the director of the transit home. She may not have dealt with me closely, but she was part of the group of people that did get to decide my story at the time, so it matters. It is one ghost that now has a name and one name that I can potentially track and make into one person who may or may not remember the little girl who was handed over by the police, whose mother did not claim her, whose picture was put in the paper, who was placed in a foster home and later adopted to Sweden, losing her connection to her country, culture, language and first family, until many years later….
Lately, I had started giving up on my potentially finding out any more information than what I already had. I did not think that my papers would really contain anything more than I already knew. One name is not much, but it is something. One page of information about myself is not much, but it is more than I have ever had before. Can I trust it’s true? I don’t know. But it has put a bit more fuel to the fire that was about to go out. I have some new hope, little as it may be. I have to find out what my story really is.
Next up, a call to ICBF to ask some questions about the information in my paperwork!
Wish me luck…
I thank you from the bottom of my heart, for spending this time with me, reading my story.
If you would like to share your story, I would love to connect with you and help you share it here alongside mine.
Own your story, share your story, write your story.
All my love to all of you.
– Amanda Medina
PS. We are all in this together!