Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Older Child Socialization -- More from Jane

Here is Part #3 in our series on older child adoption from Jane -- a mom who has "Been There, Done That!" If you are considering adopting an older child, you will find Jane's posts very informative and insightful. Also, you will find a link to Jane's Foundation at the bottom.

For adoptive families, it's easy to integrate a newborn or toddler into your family and friend groups. Parents rely on friendships made in play groups, nursery school, church, preschool or day care. It's up to the parents to help their children create bonds with peers; sometimes lifelong bonds.

Having to socially integrate your newly adopted preteen or teen is harder. There may be some behaviors that your new family member will exhibit that may not lead to immediate friendships with kids his/her own age.

Some older adopted children will have had the advantage of having been raised in a foster home. So, even though they were subjected to constant uncertainty about their future, they were still in a home setting and had more normal interactions with peers. An older adopted child who has been raised in an institution may have a different approach to peer relationships. Again, this is only our experience.

Our child came to us at the age of 14 and was immediately enrolled in 8th grade in the public school system. I had visions of sleep-overs and giggly girls running around our house, lots of parties, invitations to other girls' homes and a repeat of our experience with our biological daughter. It didn't happen.

The first year, our daughter needed all of her emotional resources just to adapt to a family setting and the public school. She was content to go to school and then come home to her family and pet dog.

She made one friend: a girl who only spoke Spanish and lived in a poor part of town. We were glad she had found a friend. However, whenever our daughter visited her friend's home, she was confused by the difference between their home and ours. She was also confused that our goals for her were different from her friend's parents' goals for their daughter. We were talking to our daughter about her future: her friend's parents were simply trying to make it from day to day. Our daughter would come home from school and ask us to burn CD's of music for her friend because the family didn't have a computer. When the friend needed glasses and the school district dragged their feet providing them for the child, we paid for an eye exam and glasses. As our daughter's English improved and she stopped attending ESL classes, the friendship died.

On the day of our daughter's 17th birthday, the 5 girls she invited to her party, all came up with excuses for why they couldn't attend. It was heartbreaking. Perhaps the girls were dependent on a parent to bring them to the party, and the parent was working. Or perhaps a girl couldn't afford to buy a present and was embarrassed to come.

Even being a member of the school Marching Band has not led to friendships with other girls.

It would seem to me that Attachment Issues can manifest themselves in many ways. We are thankful that our daughter had no problem bonding with her new family members. But now, it is up to her and us to learn how she can make some lasting friendships in her new life.

The birthday party experience was what convinced us that our daughter needed a change of scenery. We have taken her out of public school and have enrolled her in a small, private school, beginning fall 2009. She shadowed for a day and came home glowing. The students were interested in her as a Colombian American and were envious of her proficiency in Spanish! We hope that she will be able to make new friends in a more intimate environment and will blossom.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Breaks My Heart

On June 19th, 2009, another baby was found abandoned amongst garbage in a vacant lot. This time is was a little girl, just three days old.

The child was found wrapped in wet blankets, covered with branches, and suffering from hypothermia.

The woman that found the child is a "recicladora" (someone who sorts through garbage to find things to sell, such as metal). The woman saw the tiny bundle under the branches and went to see if it was something useful.

When she realized that it was a baby, she called two other people over to witness that the child was covered in ants and turning blue. Quickly, the woman -- Concepcion Arenas -- cleaned up the baby and got on a motorcycle with someone who could take the child to the hospital.

The baby is recuprating in an incubator at a local hospital in Santa Fe de Antioquia, where the hospital staff named her Manuela.

Unfortunately, Manuela's story is not completely unusal. In Colombia last year, 176 infants were found abandoned in public areas, and so far this year (January-May) there have been 61.

Read more and see a picture here:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Golden Poison Frog

The Golden Poison Frog (Phyllobates terribilis), from the Pacific Coast of Colombia, is one of the over 100 frogs in the poison dart species.

It is also one of the most poisonous animals on earth. The venom contained in just one small frog (about 2 inches long) can kill 10 adults. It is the venom of this frog that has been used by the indigenous Embera people to tip their hunting darts.

Though they are called the "Golden" frog, not all of them are yellow in color. Some of the frogs are orange or light green. Their bright coloring warns predators to stay away.

Interestingly enough, Golden Poison Dart frogs are a common household pets worldwide. When I first read this, I thought --"You have got to be kidding me!" Then, upon further research, I found out that frogs raised in captivity -- out of their natural environment never develop venom. So, scientists believe that it is something in the environment, probably the plants that are eaten by the insects that serve as the frogs' prey, that causes the venom.

If you think that you might be interested in owning this little bit of Colombia, you can purchase a book on the care of poison frogs at Amazon.com.


Oh, I almost forgot, they are an endangered species because of habitat destruction.

* Photo by Stacina

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Indigo Winged Parrot

The Indigo Winged Parrot or Loro Coroniazul in Spanish (Hapalopsittaca fuertesi) is a critically endangered species. There are thought to be fewer than 250 left in the wild, and none in captivity.

This beautiful parrot is mainly bright green with a blue crown. Here is a link to a copyrighted picture of the bird:


It is found only on the Western side of the Andes in the departments of Quindío, Risaralda, and Tolima. They prefer living in the cloud forests at elevations of 2,600-3,600 meters.

The species was thought extinct. However, in 2002, it was redicovered by the Colombian foundation "Fundación ProAves". That original find was of 25 birds, with a total population estimation at 60. Then, in July 2002, there was a confirmed sighting in Los Nevados National Park. The group there consisted of 14 indiviuals.

Fundación ProAves has helped spearhead conservation efforts and have been successful in increasing the population to 160. Recently, the group acquired 631 hectares of land -- thanks to the Fundacion Loro Parque, the American Bird Conservancy and IUCN Netherlands. The area is being managed as a Bird Reserve.

I highly recommend that you visit the Fundación ProAves website -- available in Spanish and English. You can learn about all of the endangered birds of Colombia there. You can volunteer, plan ecotourism trips, or adopt a nest for other endangered species such as the Yellow Eared Parrot.


For further information:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mountain Tapir

The DANTA (name in Colombia) or Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) is the smallest of all the tapirs (others include Malayan, Brazilian and Baird's). They have a thick fur coat with an insulating undercoat. This thick coat is helpful as they prefer to live in the cold Páramos (Alpine plains) of the Andes in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru (between 6,500-14,400 feet).
One of the unique and distinctive features of the tapir is its nose, which is elongated and hangs over the mouth.

The animal is a nocturnal plant eater, whose diet includes shoots and stems.

The Tapir is a solitary animal, rarely seen in groups. Its predators are jaguars and humans. In the wild, it can live up to 30 years, but rarely lives that long in captivity. One tapir, however, named Anja, lived for a record 27 years at a zoo in Stuttgart, Germany.

In 1996, they were listed as an endangered species by the IUCN. The biggest problem for the tapir is encroachment by humans and subsistence hunting. One of Colombia's biggest plans is to create a biological corridor from Caldas to Tolima. This plan hopes to link all of Colombia's national parks in the area so that animals (not just the Tapir) can have a larger free range. There is also hope of creating a corridor between Chingaza and Sumapaz. The creation of these corridors will not only help to save the Tapir, but other endangered species as well.

Around 10 mountain tapirs can be found in the world's zoos. You can take your little Colombian to see them in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Colorado Springs, and Langley, British Colombia in Canada. There is even one being raised in captivity in Colombia. Several have been born in Colorado Springs and Los Angeles in captivity.
Here is a link to the Tapir Preservation Fund. There is a wealth of information, photos, links to a google group, and a store where you can buy a ceramic tapir made in Colombia.


A group has also formed in Colombia, all information is in Spanish:


Colombia's own plan to save the Tapir (in Spanish):

* Photo by tomsaint11

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Endangered Species in Colombia

Even though Colombia is among the top 12 most biologically diverse countries in the world, the lack of sustainable development and the over exploition of biologically diverse areas threatens both the flora and fauna of the country.

According to an article in El Tiempo, Colombia has the most unique species of birds and amphibians in the world. It is second in the world in the numbner of different plant species. It is third in the number of diverse mammals, and fourth in diversity of reptiles.

Illegal drug production poses one of the greatest threats to certain species, as it reduces natural habitats and contributes to the free-for-all killing of jaguars and other large mammal species.

In addition to the ecological threats posed by illegal drug production, the social conflict and the resulting lack of work opportunities has caused some of Colombia's population to turn to the hunting and trafficking of animals in order to make ends meet. At risk are parrots, turtles, tigrillos, racoons, and anteaters to name a few. Over 10 years ago, the BBC produced a report about the illegal animal trafficking from Colombia to points abroad. At that time, it was estimated that over 7 million animals were illegally tafficked each year.

Timothy Ross reported:

Parrots, toucans and macaws, the golden lion tamarin, marmosets, ocelots and margay cats, even baby alligators, are victims of a savage traffic. Large areas of jungle are stripped of every living thing. The bigger animals are packed into boxes and often flown out on the same illegal flights used for smuggling cocaine because, as one animal trafficker said, pound for pound parrots pay better than drugs. The endangered scarlet macaw can be bought in Leticia, on the Amazon river, for $20 to £50 but in New York it can fetch £5,000 or more, if of course it arrives alive, for the report by the Minister of the Environment says that far more than half of the animals die on route. And of course every one that is killed or taken from its habitat reduces the chances of an endangered species surviving. On the list of animals whose trading is internationally banned are 49 Colombian species in serious danger of extinction, but enforcement of the international agreement is very weak.


According to Endangered Species International, in Colombia over 100 species are critically endangered, over 200 species are endangered, and the status of more than 180 species is unknown.

Monday, June 22, 2009

More Souvenir Ideas

The professional soccer leagues in Colombia are found in most of the major cities. In fact, there are 18 different teams in the A League, 18 in the B League, and 18 in the C League. They also have female leagues, under 20 leagues, under 17 leagues, juvenile leagues, you get the picture.

Soccer is very important in the country, and so is knowing which team is "YOUR TEAM"! Everyone has a favorite team. Usually, it is the team in the city where you are from. In cases where there is no team, families can divide their alligences. In the case of my husband's family -- there was no team in Boyacá until recently -- there are fans of América (from Cali) and Millionarios (from Bogotá), and now many are fans of Boyacá-Chicó (from Tunja).

Perhaps one of the best SOUVENIR ideas for your Colombian child is to get them a team jersey from the city or department where they were born. Or, if you would rather, get your child a jersey from the Colombian National team. These shirts are available all over the country and are typically pretty inexpensive -- plus, they don't take up much room in a suitcase.

Here is a great site if you would like to keep track of Colombian fútbol.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Newest ICBF Wait List

I have preempted the original post for today -- You can look forward to souvenir suggestions on Monday. The most recent Wait List was published by ICBF on June 18, 2009. The ICBF Wait List applies to adoptions through ICBF only -- not through CASAS PRIVADAS. This list DOES NOT reflect special needs children. The definition of special needs are children with disabilities, children over 8 years of age, and sibling groups of 3 or more. There also has been movement in many categories, all dates that have advanced I am putting in BOLD and RED. Also, this list only reflects that there are no more dossiers at the national office prior to the date shown. Dossiers from Nov 2005 in the 0-12 months category, for example, may still need a referral, but they have already been sent to a region and are no longer at the national office.

Age of Child ------- Date of Application Approval by ICBF

Child 0-12 months ------ Dec-2005
Child 13 - 23 months ---- Dec-2005
Child 2 years ----------- June-2005
Child 3 years ----------- June-2005
Child 2 - 3 years -------- Mar-2006
Child 3 - 4 years -------- Jul-2005
Child 4 years ----------- Aug-2005
Child 5 years ----------- Feb-2006
Child 4 -5 years -------- Mar-2006
Child 5 - 6 years ------- May-2007
Child 6 years ----------- Nov-2008
Child 7 years ----------- Nov-2008
2 Siblings 0 - 4 years --- Mar-2007
2 Siblings 0 - 5 years --- Jul-2006
2 Siblings 0 - 6 years --- Aug-2007
2 Siblings 0 - 7 years --- Sep-2008

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Glimpse Into Colombian Soccer Fever

I want to thank my Brother in-law, Daniel, for writing this awesome glimpse into the Fútbol Fever of Colombians. This is the real thing, and from the horse's mouth!

Fútbol es Pasión

I have always celebrated my country's accomplishments even when they seem small and no one else cares about them. I remember very vividly the day that the Colombian National Soccer team played its counterpart from West Germany in the Italy 1990 World Cup.

The Colombian team debuted with a great victory against the United Arab Emirates (2-0) but would fall short in their second game against Yugoslavia (1-0). The next game was against West Germany (the 1986 World Cup runner up), the favorite to win the cup.
Germany had already destroyed the other two team on their respective matches. (Ger 4 – Yug 1 and Ger 5 - UAE 1). So the group standings where:

1. Germany
2. Yugoslavia
3. Colombia
4. United Arab Emirates (Eliminated)

Colombia needed to at least tie the game in order to move on to the next round as one of the qualifiers.

The radio and our brand new Kendo Color TV (this TV has some history too) were ready. I was watching the game, with my parents, wrapped in the Colombian flag holding an ice cold Coca-Cola.

Colombia started strong with multiple opportunities to score but were denied by the defense and a competent goalkeeper. West Germany seemed disorganized they never got close. With the first half over, the game was tied and things were looking pretty good. Then, the unthinkable happened. In the 88th minute, the Colombian defense committed its one and only error, and allowed West Germany’s Pierre Littbarski to score.

I could not believe it. Colombia had been doing everything right, but now we were losing and about to be eliminated. My dad said that it was the end “they sent us packing”.

I, on the other hand, was hopeful and on my feet, my knees were shaking under me, and the flag was squeezed tight in both fists. I knew that as long as the clock kept running, there was a chance for something to happen. Colombia was playing the last minute of the game and the Germans had possession. A Colombian player recovered the ball, but was soon fouled very close to the 18.50m line. The Free Kick missed wide. Time was running out. The Germans were attacking, they were closing on the goal, Leonel Alvares recovered, he passed the ball to Bendito Fajardo. Fajardo ran to mid field. The Germans were pressing. Bendito passed to Pibe Valderrama and he passed to Rincon. Rincon passed back to Bendito, who passed to Pibe. Pibe passed back to Rincon, who was wide open! The German goalkeeper came out and Rincon shot. GOAL!! GOAL!! GOLASO!!

I was jumping and running all over the house screaming outloud. We went outside to celebrate with everyone, the whole country had gone crazy! I did not care who saw me, I was crying.

Thanks to YouTube you can see what I’m talking about.

I love soccer because of moments like this. Moments like when Colombia upset Argentina 5 – 0 for the 1994 world cup qualifiers. I remember going nuts and my brother, Moisés, though in huge pain from a surgery, was screaming the victory from his sick bed. Colombians simply do not let a little thing like surgery or illness stop them from enjoying a game. It is just who we are!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


It is said that a child's milestones in Colombia include crawling, walking, learning to dance, and playing soccer. The last two are interchangeable. As in most of the world, soccer (fútbol) enjoys almost religious status. Right now, Colombia is entering the final stages of its National Championship games. My Brother In-law, Daniel, has helped me out by writing today's blog.

La Copa Mustang -- the National Championship

The Colombian professional soccer championship is called “La Copa Mustang.” I always found it uncomfortable that the nation's sport championship was named after a brand of cigarettes (maybe it was just a coincidence and it was really named after the amazing American horses.)

The tournament was created in the late 40’s (with 10 teams), but the league was not recognized by FIFA due to some disagreements and instead it was sanctioned. The penalty: No Colombian team was allowed to play in international games, not even the national team. During the next 2 years, and despite these sanctions, Colombian soccer grew to become one of the best in South America. Many of the best players from Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, among others, would come to play for the Colombian soccer clubs.

A lot has changed since the 40’s, now there are 18 teams in the major (A) division and 36 more in inferior (B, C) divisions. The inferior divisions do not play La Copa Mustang, they play different tournaments like La Copa Premier.

There are 2 versions of the Copa Mustang: Apertura and Finalizacion. This just means that every year we get to have 2 champions (sometimes the same team takes both).

This is how La Copa Mustang is played:

The League Stage

During the league stage, which lasts eighteen games, each team plays against every other team once. Plus, there is an additional game against their "local rival" in the league. The league table is kept like a normal European league table, one point for ties, three points for wins. The top eight teams after all of the eighteen games go on to the group stage (which is popularly known as the Cuadrangulares). The 18th placed team automatically loses its place in the A Group and is sent down to an inferior league. The winner of the Copa Premier takes its place. The 17th placed team plays a two legged match against the runner up of the Copa Premier --whichever team wins stays in the A group.

The Group Stage -- Cuadrangulares

The top eight teams of the league stage are then divided into two groups of four teams each (teams finishing 1/3/5/7 in group 1 and the others in group 2), and each team plays two legged matches against all of the other teams in their group. The top team from each group then advances to El Final.

The Final

The Final is two-legged. The team with the highest combined score after both home and away games wins and is crowned Champion. If the game is a tie, it proceeds directly to the penalty shoot-out. The "Away goals rule" is not used.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Before Tejo was declared the official national sport of Colombia, cycling was the thing.

Back in the 1980's, Colombia sent several professional teams to compete in the most important cycling races in the world -- Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and Giro de Italia. Amazingly enough, while they never won the yellow jersey, many times they brought home the polka-dot one -- representing the KING OF THE MOUNTAIN. The press at the time nicknamed them the ESCARABAJOS (the beetles) because they could climb up anything.

Most of the team members were from Altiplano Cundiboyacense and trained in the high oxygen deprived peaks of Boyacá. The team itself lacked much of the finese of their European counterparts. At one point, a French journalist wondered why the Colombians were boiling rocks in between stages of the race. It turned out to be -- Boyaco Gatorade (as my husband calls it) -- or Agua de Panela.

The big names of the 1980's were: Lucho Herrera and Fabio Parra. Today, there is a new torch bearer Mauricio Soler who performed well in the recent Giro de Italia.

If you would like to see Lucho Herrera win a stage of the Tour de France in 1985, check this out:


Monday, June 15, 2009

National Sport of Colombia -- Do You Know What It Is?

If you were to guess what the national sport of Colombia is, you might guess -- Soccer, Baseball, or Bicycling. However, you would be wrong on all accounts. The National Sport of Colombia is called TEJO (TAY - hoe), declared by an act of Congress.

The game is played on a field called a cancha, about the size of one really wide bowling lane (2.5 meters wide x 19.5 meters long). On each end, you'll find the target, called a bocin. The target is angled form top to bottom at a 30 degree angle and filled with clay. There are also triangular pouches of gun powder (called mechas) in the clay.

The object of the game is to throw a tejo (a small metal disc weighing about 1/2 - 1 pound) into the bocin and blow up a mecha -- if you do this you get 9 points. If you throw the tejo and hit the bocin, but there is no gunpowder explosion, then you get 6 points. There are a few other scoring rules, but you get the idea.

Now, tejo has become synonymous with beer. Most games are played in a bar type atmosphere and often the loser buys the beer for the other team. (Not exactly a family friendly environment).

Tejo has its roots in the native Muisca culture. Originally called Turmequé, the sport has been played on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense for over 500 years. It was the sport of the Indian aristocracy, who used a gold disc and simply threw it -- of course, no gunpowder prior to the Spanish Conquest.

Today, tejo is typically a sport of the middle to lower class in mostly Boyacá, Cundinamarca, and Bogotá.

Play virtual Tejo here:

Hear a report on Tejo from PRI's The World:

View a Colombian Television Report about Tejo (in Spanish, but you can see the game played):

Friday, June 12, 2009


Another unique Andean fruit (native to Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru) is known in Colombia as LULO (in Ecuador--Naranjilla). The lulo plant (Solanum quitoense) belongs to the nightshade family. It grows in humid climates where there is a lot a rain.

Though the fruit is native to the Andean region, it's delicious juice has inspired farmers in other areas of the world to plant and cultivate the fruit. I was surprised to find out that there are Lulo farmers in Florida.

The taste of Lulo is acidic, and has been described as a cross between Rhubarb and Lime. It is high in calcium, phosphorus, niacin and vitamin C.

You can request a glass of lulo at most restaurants and it really is something not to miss out on!

When I first went to Colombia 15 years ago, I fell in love with Lulo juice. Since bringing home the plant or fruit would have been frowned upon by US officials, I chose to bring home several bags of TANG -- yes, I mean the powdered fruit drink. While in the US we have one flavor choice for Tang, in Colombia there are several. I brought home bags of Tang in Lulo flavor. Definitely, a worthwhile souvenir for celebrating that one year Gotcha Day!

If you are already home from Colombia, and would like to try Lulo Tang, it is a bit pricey, but you can buy it here:


Or try making your own juice using frozen lulo pulp.

You can buy Lulo pulp here:


*Photo by Quimbaya

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Maracuyá -- Last of the Passion Fruits

My husband calls MARACUYÁ his favorite fruit. His love of the fruit is shared by our little Colombian son. The two of them can finish off an entire pitcher of the juice in a day, and possibly in one sitting.

In English, we call Maracuyá -- Passion Fruit (passiflora edulis). It is a uniquely acidic fruit most often used to make juices. The fruit itself is not eaten, but rather the seeds in their slimy seed sacks. The juice of these seed sacks is yellow-orange in color.
Maracuyá plants are native to South America, and the juice provides vitamin A, C, calcium, iron and even a small amount of protein.
You can purchase frozen Maracuyá at latino markets or at the following locations:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Granadilla -- 2nd type of Passion fruit

When a baby starts eating solid foods here in the US, the first fruit is often pureed apples or pears. In Colombia, kids get GRANADILLA. In fact, just a few months ago, I got an e-mail from one of our readers who had just received her referral documents. In them, it stated that the 6 month old baby loved granadilla. My own son, adopted at 21 1/2 months, loved granadilla.

Though this fruit is part of the passion fruit family, it is not acidic like other passion fruits. It is mild and sweet. As with all passion fruits, what you eat are the seeds. The seeds come surrounded in a slimy, semi transparent gelatin-like pouch. The juice is prepared by taking all the seed pouches and mashing them in a strainer. The juice comes out the other side and the kids drink it.

The juice is high in vitamins A,C, and K. As with other passion fruits, calcium, phosphorus and iron are its main mineral contributions.

Remember, granadilla can often be a life saver when your new child is having problems eating. Few Colombian children can resist a cup of this fruit.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Curuba -- 1st of 3 Passionfruits

Curuba (coo ROO bah) is an other fruit of the Andes, though it is grown mainly in Colombia throughout the departments of Boyacá, Cundinamarca, Santander, Nariño, Antioquia and Valle.

Curuba, or red banana passion fruit (passiflora antioquiensis), is, despite its name in English, not red, but rather an orange-yellow color. It's color is what makes it high in vitamin A (beta-carotene), but it is also high in vitamins C, B1, B2, and B3. As for minerals, it is a good source of calcium, phosphorus and iron.

It is usually used to make a delicious drink. This drink can be made with milk (crema de curuba) or water (jugo de curuba). You should definitely try both! You can also buy curuba jam, curuba ice cream, or curuba sherbet.

If you are already home from Colombia, you can purchase frozen curuba pulp -- and make your own juice at home. If you can't find it at your local latino market, try purchasing it here:


*Photo by lulugaia http://www.flickr.com/photos/liliana_rodriguez/387505092/

Monday, June 08, 2009

Tomate de Arbol

Native to the Andean region, Tomate de Arbol (Tamarillo) is a fruit that is often used to make juice in Colombia. The juice has a bitter sweet, kind of acidic taste. However, don't be confused by the name, it tastes nothing like a tomato. It is most common in the Eje Cafetero and el Valle.
The trees that grow the fruit are usually found between 1500-2500 meters above sea level, in temperatures between 15 and 22 degrees celsius. The fruit itself is high in fiber, and vitamins A, B, C, and K. It is also rich in calcium, iron and phosporus.

Make sure to give it a whirl while in Colombia.
Or purchase the pulp and make oyur own juice at home.

Here is a link:

*Photo by ximenacab http://www.flickr.com/photos/ximenacab/2634815284/sizes/l/

Friday, June 05, 2009

Anesthesia Exposure linked to Learning Disabilities

Although many surgeries are necessary, some adoptive families choose to have elective surgeries when their child comes home. In the US, particularly, many families choose to circumcise their sons for purely "cosmetic reasons". Perhaps, the following research might make them reconsider.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that children undergoing multiple surgeries in their first three years of life are at a higher risk of developing learning disabilities according to the April 2009 issue of the journal Anesthesiology.

Researchers found that although 1 exposure to anesthesia was not harmful, more than one nearly doubled the risk of a child being diagnosed with a learning disability by the age of 19.

What remains unclear is whether or not the disability is caused by the anesthesia, or is a result of the "...physiological stress of surgery; or perhaps the medical problems that made surgery necessary..."

In addition to this study, other studies have linked exposure to anesthesia with behavioral problems.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Do you remember the Colombia/Venezuela/Ecuador crisis that happened not too long ago? During this time of tension, as Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez was sending troops to the border, and Ecuador was withdrawing its ambassador to Colombia, the Colombian Rock star JUANES (which does not mean more than 1 Juan, but rather is the contraction of his first name Juan and the first part of his middle name Esteban) proposed a massive free rock concert called PEACE WITHOUT BOARDERS -- PAZ SIN FRONTERAS.

The concert was held on the bridge that connects Cúcuta, Colombia and San Antonio, Venezuela. It featured many famous singers including 2 Spaniards, 1 Dominican, 1 Venezuelan, 1 Ecuadorian and Colombians -- Juanes and Carlos Vives. Juanes paid for most of the event and requested that the political leaders, like President Uribe, not attend. He told the President not to come as this event was not political in nature, but rather an expression of the common musical culture that links all countries.

Juanes is a national icon in Colombia and most Colombians are proud to claim him. He was born in Medellín and is thoroughly Paisa. He decided at age 7 he wanted to become a musician and actually started his professional life at 15 with his band Ekhymosis. (My husband remembers them well and says he really liked their songs). He eventually struck out on his own and chose his own name -- Juanes -- as his musical moniker.

Juanes does a lot of humanitarian work promoting the deactivation of anti-personal landmines. He has also spoken at the United Nations and serves as a UN goodwill embassador.

Juanes is married to a beautiful Colombian model and has 2 daughters.

His music combines traditional Colombian rhythms with rock and pop sounds. He uses instruments that are typical to Colombian traditional music -- like the TIPLE and ACORDEÓN. Many of his songs talk about socio-political issues and problems.

Check some of them out, these are the top hits from each of his last 4 albums:

Fíjate Bien http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GX_HIhTRFo

A Dios Le Pido

Camisa Negra

Me Enamora http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWA59qwfGL0

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Most Popular Colombian Names Announced

I know that after my last post on names, many of you were dying to hear what the latest trends are in Colombia with regards to names. According to the Registraduría Nacional, as reported in El Tiempo, here are the most popular names among all living Colombians.

Rank..... Name ..... Total # of Colombians Registered with Name

Most Popular First Names:

#1....... María ................ 2,611,793
#2....... José ..................1,641,274
#3....... Luís ..................1,171,435
#4....... Luz .....................772,048
#5....... Ana .....................730,890
#6....... Carlos ..................646,328
#7....... Juan ....................598,122

Most Popular Middle Names:

#1....... María ................ 1,075,700
#2....... Antonio..................985,162
#3....... De Jesus ................849,511

#4....... Alberto .................532,940
#5....... Enrique..................514,740

Most Popular Name Combinations -- Male:

#1....... Juan Carlos..............144,449
#2....... Luís Alberto.............116,424
#3....... Carlos Alberto...........111,065

#4....... Luís Eduardo.............104,316

Most Popular Name Combinations -- Female:

#1....... Luz Marina ............. 151,942
#2....... María del Carmen ........136,810
#3....... Sandra Milena ............96,595
#4....... Ana María ................68,844

Here are the most popular baby names of the last 8 years.

Most Popular Colombian Baby Names since 2000 -- Male

#1....... Santiago ................ 66,340
#2....... Sebastián .....no number printed
#3....... Nicolás .......no number printed
#4....... Samuél ........no number printed

Most Popular Colombian Baby Names since 2000 -- Female

#1....... Valentina ............... 64, 821
#2....... Daniela ........no number printed
#3....... Mariana ........no number printed
#4....... Natalia ........no number printed

In addition to the above names, the Registrduría notes that there are 1,691,862 Colombians with completely unique names -- no one else in the country shares their name. Here are some of the most exotic names:

Yicelub, Saub, Irlandesa, Saude, Jhewer, Jheyaa, Cometa Haley, Alka Seltzer, Mickey Mouse Jusayú, Gallina Ipuana, Cine, Helicóptero, María Perra, Ministro y Chorizo Epinayú.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Most people know the highly popular Shakira. You may even know that she is from Colombia, but fewer people are familiar with her rise to stardom, her music from the early years, her work with the children of Colombia, or her work promoting global access to education.

Shakira was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and started performing at a young age. By the time she was 14, she had recorded her first album. Actually, her first 2 albums had limited success in Colombia. But, in 1995, she released her first HIT album which was made in Colombia and promoted throughout Latin America. It was called Pies Descalzos (Barefeet).

I can highly recommend it for anyone’s collection. You can purchase the whole album or your favorite songs here:

If you want to get a flavor for the first album, here are a couple of videos from it –she was a lot more tame back in the mid-nineties.

I really love the song, ANTOLOGIA.

Today, Shakira sees herself as more than just a pop star. When she made it big, back in 1995, she began giving back to Colombia. She formed the PIES DESCALZOS FOUNDATION – a non-profit, NGO – that works to provide education, nutrition, medical services, and emotional and psychological support to poor children and those who have been displaced by the violence in Colombia.

Learn more about the foundation and learn how you can help at the website:

Last year, Shakira was in Washington D.C. to lobby Congress to support the “Education for All” act. Learn more by listening to her interview on NPR.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Wonderful Blog for Waiting Families

For the past few months, I have been following a Blog that tends to unite all the news about the waiting list and movements in Europe. It has been in Norwegian until just recently. Now that the author is writing in English, I would like to suggest that those of you waiting for a referral visit it often. Also, you may want to make the author aware of any movement, referrals, or information that you receive so that the news that she gives paints a more complete picture.

Visit Camilla's blog: