ADOPTION STORIES: Juliana Ledesma, born in Colombia, adopted to the United States

Fellow Colombian adoptee Juliana Ledesma shares with you, her adoption story in her own words. This one touches on the damage that the lies can cause. Many adoptees will tell you that they just want to know the truth, good or bad. Just the truth…


“My Adoptee Life ~ Adopted from Colombia

I was born in Medellin, Colombia in 1990.  Growing up, I was told my mother was young and couldn’t afford to take care of me “mas o menos” (more or less).  Looking back, I realize the story may have been fabricated over time. The story goes that when the orphanage was translating all my paperwork, my adoptive parents were holding me and were so excited that they were barely paying attention.  (Also, that it was just so long ago)  In short, I was told my first mum may have been from the mountains due to her poor writing and that she left me on the doorstep of the orphanage with a letter.  Prior to my adoption my adoptive parents were on an adoption waiting list for about 10 years.  In 1987 they adopted their first child, a boy, from a nearby city in the US.

They wanted a daughter and had heard it could be easier to adopt from Colombia.  January 10th, 1990 they applied to adopt an international orphan with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.  On September 14, 1990 they received a referral letter for me and were awaiting pictures and other information.  My adoptive maternal grandmother wrote a list of questions, one of which stuck out to me.  “Was she relinquished by mother at birth?” To which my adoptive mother wrote in: “2-3 weeks.”

On September 29, 1990 they received my photo and “brief” information.  In a note, the director of my orphanage asked my adoptive parents to make their travel arrangements since they would have to make two trips and the adoption would be finalized there, in Colombia.I was healthy and a newborn, so they were very interested and within weeks, my parents and brother flew to Colombia to visit me for about a week.

When I was six and a half months old, I flew with my adoptive parents from Medellin to Detroit.  The story is deeply ingrained in my mind.  The date was February 14th, there was a blizzard and we had to fly around the area for hours waiting to land.  My entire extended family on my adoptive mother’s side was there waiting to meet me.  And so my “Gotcha Day” was always noted on February 15th due to the Valentine’s Day Blizzard. Oddly enough, life-changing things occur for me surrounding this date.

Fast forward 27 years.  My adoptive brother begins wondering about his natural family and tells me he has asked our mom for all of his adoption records.  It hits me that I have never done this and I do the same.  For the first time ever, I saw my natural mother’s name as well as her mother’s name.  I had seen my paperwork plenty of times… Whenever someone important needed my proof of citizenship we went into my files to copy my Naturalization certificate.  But it never appeared as big as it does today.  I’m pretty sure my adoptive mom kept the majority of it safe at her mother’s house. My grandmother passed away in 2014 and so it was all back in adoptive mother’s possession.  I will never forget that night when I saw my paperwork or the day after.  I was so angry with my adoptive mom.  I really felt betrayed and lied to.   I quickly hopped on google and searched my first mother’s name.  I found her – her email and her phone number!  The next day the world around me couldn’t stop spinning… I had never experienced anything like it before.  I still don’t know how I made it through that day, but I did.  A week later I decided to email my first mother.  A few days went by and no response.  I had found her work email and emailed that one as well.  The next day she responded from her personal email.  I could barely believe it.  Her responses were quick, short, and mostly cold. And  I would soon learn how afraid she is of the world knowing of my existence and relation to her.

After a month or two, my adoptive mom and I finally talked about it all and she admitted that it was purely her own “stupidity” and she really just didn’t even realize… this of course broke my heart but I guess in a better way than “my mom lied and tried to keep this from me my whole life”.   However, it still hurts that my relinquishment form was filed away somewhere else and I had only been given it when I asked when I was 27 years old.  It was the missing piece to my puzzle and had been under my nose the whole time.  This did cause a rift between my adoptive mother and I, but I am grateful we were able to communicate about it.  Opening up about so much of this had made one important thing very clear, our shared dream of going back to Colombia together was now completely out of the question.”


Written by

Juli Love

Born in Colombia

Adopted to the US


You can read and follow Juliana’s personal blog at

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