Stories

Malin

“My life has changed after that…”

My name is Malin, I am 29 year old and grew up in Sweden. Adopted from the orphange Los Pisingos in Bogotá in 1988.

Always wondered about my homeland and were my biological family was. So I took as a 27 years old contact with Colombia tu pais.  My life has changed after that, i got an incredibel attitude from them and a very understanding one.

I was curious but scared to death but Gyna Hernandez held my hand all the way. I found my family and in a few months i will go to colombia to see them, amazing. Im forever greatful to colombia tu pais for their help and guidance”

malin_hernandez@msn.com

Jessica

“It was a huge surprise…”

Searching on Google, I found the web site of Colombiatupais. I got excited about it and right away I called Adry. She told me about how was born this website and about the Gyna’s excellent job.

I was in my fifth month of pregnancy and I wonder whether it will be appropriate to start searching my roots at that exactly moment. After my conversation with Adry, I had such a nice peaceful that I decided to begin searching. I sent my documents to Gyna, and in short time she had made it. It was a huge surprise that everything had gone so quickly. Later I received photos and all the information about my mother and other family.

This experience had a great effect on me and it has not been easy, because it is hard to get used to receive so much so quickly. I’m also happy because after this, Gyna has always helped me and has been open to answer all my questions.

At this point, I have contact with my biological family by email, but in the future I will go to meet them in Colombia. I recommend to everyone who is adopted to search its roots, and do not hesitate to contact Adry and Gyna. They will give you a lot of information and get compromise with your history.

j.p.vandenhorn@gmail.com

Andres

“Filled my life with happiness…”

Gyna is inspiring and emotional when she begins her work. Her passion for what she does never stops until she achieves the goal. In her you find a friendly and smiling person that will let you see her strength and authority when the situation warrants. Who could say no to Gyna? At her side is her other half: Diego, who has a wonderful personality. He is friendly and sensitive and immediately makes you feel comfortable. He’s funny and friendly following the same path.

If you asked me what I most enjoyed of Colombia and what are my best memories, I’d say a lot of things! The smell of our country, the people, the food, the anxiety of the search process but mainly Gyna and Diego. It was beautiful to see this couple. It was wonderful to see this team together in her personal life and, of course, in their work. Fully upright and honest in all they do. If I ever had to find my roots again I would do it with them! I already put my future in their hands and I would do it again.

I traveled three times to Colombia to find my biological mother. Each trip took me closer to the goal! What an adventure I lived in our beautiful country and all together with Gyna and her great expertise. No matter if you found an uncooperative worker of the ICBF with almost zero information or if you went to a rough neighborhood, her courage always approached and pointed us in the right direction.

Last year was a wonderful year. When I decided to publish my story in the media I received the fantastic news that Gyna had found my mother! She always manages to open doors that remain closed for others.

On May 21, I began my search with the help of Gyna. Exactly five years later, after an amazing adventure where my information was a big hurdle, finally we found her. I can not deny that all this time we had beautiful moments, but also very difficult times. Moments when you think: does it worth pursuing? We only had the option to persist! When many had already given up, Gyna was the only one who did not give up! The result? A wonderful mother, a fun-loving sister, and adorable little brother.

Gyna and Diego, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the gift you gave me. You filled my life with happiness. And what makes me even happier is that you have continued to make others happy and get together more and more families. You not only changed my life but also my mother’s life! I hear her constantly saying how immensely happy she feels with the turn her life took when we met. Her friends do not even recognize her! Finally she took off the weight off of her shoulders and could have a new start. So, this appreciation is also from her. My sister always dreamed of a big brother, someone to go to for advice! Now she has me!

I would be able to write a book with the things I lived through you, but I have to be brief.

Diego & Gyna … Thanks for everything! You have no idea!

andreskleverlaan@hotmail.com

Danilo

“Truly unforgettable…”

My name is Danilo living in Utrecht – Holland. I was born in Bogota Colombia.

Colombia really has always been always for me a piece of my unknown roots where I actually knew almost nothing. Of course, my parents fortunately told me what exactly happened and why I was living in the Netherlands and not in Colombia, but really a lot of background information has never been there. I do remember well, that for me it has always been a certain pride in the fact that I come from Colombia. The only thing I knew about my country, that I read in magazines, newspapers, or books was the negative image about Colombia.

But yeah finally I got older, I found myself getting more and more interested in my background. To whom do I look finally? My mother would be still alive? Is she doing ok?? All those questions and many more were so long in my mind. When I was 20 years old I made the first attempt to find out some more of my roots. I have sent a letter over Cran (orphanage), to ask if they had any more information about my mother. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any different than I already knew. A year later I tried it once with “Spoorloos’ a national TV program. I was headed in a confirmation from them that they had taken receipt of my letter. I was wondering how long it would take.

Years passed, and nothing happened until my brother got in contact with Adry  from Colombiatupais. She explained everything about the process and of course I thought it was time for myself and that my unanswered questions were answered. Of course it may be that you get very bad news but positive or negative, I just wanted know !!! It was an exciting time.

Before the summer, I got Adry on the phone, I could hear in her voice that she had news hahaha she began with the phrase “could you take a seat? We found your mother”! I was stunned, so fast all. WOW. Unbelievable, after the news I received some photos from my mother, half-sisters and half-brother. It was an indescribable feeling .. Unbelievable !!!!! Super nice … with no pen to describe …

Of course we went to Colombia, at first alone (by circumstances) Later, with my whole family from the Netherlands. I really liked to invite Gyna to enjoy this miracle with my sisters and brother. It was a successful evening and thought it was nice that they still could take a peek into the life of the family Valbuena / Torres. The first time I stayed for two weeks, and the second time one week with my parents and brother. Both times truly unforgettable.

It is a shame that the world has such a negative image of Colombia,  it is a beautiful country whit a lot of options to see and to do. I never felt unsafe. Gyna and Adry, thank you for your efforts, it’s all so positive, really super … Thanks

millo_fitness@hotmail.com

Max

“The friendship and the intensive guidance…”

Ever since our son Max was about 6 years old he asked us questions about his background and about why and how he was adopted. But we couldn’t help him very well as the only information we had for him were the name of his birth mother and approximately her age. And although Max spent a happy youth with us, only going through the ups and downs that every person experiences when growing up, we sensed that there was this void in his life that we just couldn’t fill. One thing though, we have always promised him: as soon as he would become 18 we would travel to Colombia with the whole family to find his roots.

When his 18th birthday came nearer Max kept asking if we thought we would find his birth mother, and because we didn’t want to give him any false hope we always said “no, we don’t think so, but we are going to try our best”. Of course we had searched the Internet for the name of his Colombian mother and for organizations that could help. We searched in Spanish and in English (since we live in Canada). In vain. We never thought of searching in Dutch. Not until one week before departure we found the website of Colombia Tu Pais, in Dutch! We quickly made contact and Gyna started to do some work for us. But at the same time she worked with an other family, who had booked her services before us, and who were her first priority. Gyna, however, told us not to worry. “If I can’t travel with you my boyfriend will accompany you on your trip, while I do the searching from Bogota. In fact we were a little concerned that her boyfriend would lack the experience that she obviously had (a feeling of which we now are quite ashamed).

Finally, after all these years of waiting, we travelled to Colombia. We would have loved to take both our other son and our daughter (who are not adopted) with us, to learn more about the background of their younger brother, but unfortunately our other son could not take time off from school and work, so we went with the four of us. As soon as we were in Colombia and had met Gyna and her boyfriend Diego we felt a lot better. From the very first meeting we got along very well and we were certain that we would be getting professional help. Although Gyna had not found any information for us we started our journey, with Diego, to all the places of which we knew Max had been there as a baby. Diego and Gyna booked appointments for us, so we wouldn’t find any closed doors. Our first visit was to the CRAN children’s home, where Max had only been one day of his life, to be handed over to us. We were received most friendly and professionally. The psychologist of the home received us in her office and opened a file of which we didn’t know it existed. We strongly hoped that that file would uncover new information, but nothing new was reveiled. The meeting with the psychologist and the tour of the home still made us feel good about this visit. After this event we travelled to Max’s birthplace Villavicencio. We tried to absorb everything: the beauty of this country, the poverty, the friendliness of its people! We sensed that Max was becoming more anxious and we understood what he was going through: somewhere here, between all these people, could be his mother! We stayed a few days in a hotel in Villlavicencio and searched the town every day, while Gyna kept searching from Bogota. We paid a visit to the local children’s welfare centre and the hospital where Max was born. Again we were given all the attention we could hope for, plus a tiny bit of new information: Max’s mother had lived in Acacias, a small town near Villavicencio, but had come to Villavicencio to give birth. And in the hospital a birthfile was opened from which we learned that Max was born by cesarean section on May 16 and not on May 10. Even more importantly we found the exact birthdate of his mother! That was vital information for Gyna.

The absolute highlight of the visit to Villavicencio was the visit that we paid to the foster family that had taken care of Max from his birth until he was 6 months old. Because we had visited them 18 years ago when we had just received Max we could find their house again with some effort. We found the street and after asking around a bit we also found the house. Diego and Max went ahead and knocked on the door. The door was opened by a little old man, who looked up to Max in amazement and exclaimed: “Juan Camilo!” This man had, together with his wife (who had passed away a few years ago), cared for 22 babies in 14 years. Very lovingly as we understood from the fact that they had taken pictures of all the children and the fact that this man still remembered Max. We spent the afternoon with this man and his son, going through the pictures and talking about what they remembered about Max.  Feeling warm inside of all these new impressions we travelled to Acacias the next day, meanwhile agreeing that if Max wouldn’t find his biological family on this trip, we would still be able to look back on a wonderful experience. And that we would come back next year to try again.

If you are on a mission as important as this and you are accompanied by someone as sensible, understanding, tactful, kind and ever friendly as Diego, than you know you are blessed and that whatever is going to happen the overall experience is going to be positive. From the very start Diego was one of us. And the fact that he speaks English fluently and Gyna speaks Dutch fluently helps tremendously of course. Diego was our guide and interpreter from early in the morning until bedtime.

But no matter where we asked in Acacias, at the baptismal register of the largest church, people in the street and even through a radio broadcast by Diego (!), Max’s family were nowhere to be found. When our stay in Acacias was coming to an end en we were about to give up hope, the unexpected happened. We, father, mother, son Max and daughter were having breakfast when Diego joined us and said: “Brace yourselves! I just talked to Gyna on the phone. She has great news for you. Max, she found your mother.” He wanted to tell us more, but he had to wait for a while. We were too emotional. Tears streamed, we hugged and held each other and we were just speachless. Some people find their family after months of searching. For some it takes years. And a few may never find the ones they are looking for.And Gyna managed to succeed in a bit over two weeks. Carefully Diego told us everything he had heard from Gyna. She had found two women of the same name and age and soon she had discovered that one of them was Max’s birth mother. And she even discovered that Max had a younger sister. Diego could even tell us that the sister’s name was either Mayra or Natalia. We were absolutely speachless, because for years Max had hoped and even sensed that he had a little sister!

During all the preparations for this whole enterprise and during the entire trip we, the adoption parents, had had a torturing fear: “What if we found his mother and she wanted to have nothing to do with Max, what if she lived a life we didn’t want to confront our son with, what if she was no longer alive? But all those fears were quickly taken away. The Colombian mom had, when Gyna told her that her son was looking for her, immediately insisted that she must see him. Gyna must promise her that she would see her son!

From this memorable breakfast we had to act quickly. We travelled back to Bogota and from there to the South, as Max’s relatives live near Cali in the province Valle de Cauca. So many new, and positive impressions overwhelmed us in the days to come. Gyna joined us again in Bogota and told us everything she had discovered. Max did not have one but two younger sisters: Mayra of 14 and Natalia of 8! An uncle, who had raised Max’s mother when she was a child, had travelled to Bogota to meet Max, while his wife travelled 12 hours per bus to Max’s mother. The meeting with the uncle was warm and heartfelt.  Thank goodness we speak a little bit of Spanish and Max manages quite well after 18 months of intensive lessons; we had a lot to ask. And of course Gyna and Diego were there to translate for us. The next day we headed south and stayed the night in a hotel. Not one of us could really sleep. The next day would be the big day. After breakfast, of which Max ate nothing, we got into two taxis and drove to the given address.

To write down our experiences is really impossible, the emotions that ran through us cannot be described. Nor can we describe how we felt. When we arrived at the given address Max and his mother flung themselves into each other’s arms and held each other for minutes, crying and crying. We only looked at them and at first didn’t notice that the house was decorated with banners and balloons. Two aunts and two shy little sisters hugged us and kissed us, while Max and his Colombian mother looked, touched, stroked and cried, cried, cried. It lasted half an hour, maybe an hour until we could finally talk. Poor Diego, who had worked so hard all these days, now again he had to translate long stories from both sides. All the questions that Max had had were finally answered and also his refound mother had a lot of questions to ask. Wasn’t Max angry with her, did we, his new parents really want to see her, didn’t we think she was a bad person?  We were able to make her feel better about all these issues and spent a wonderful relaxed afternoon together. The cake was eaten, presents unwrapped, stories told.

After this great day we only had two more days to spend with these dear people. We met more family: uncles and aunts, and an old grandmother, one full day we spent at the hotel, where Max swam in the pool with his big sister and two little sisters. And one day we spent in the zoo in Cali. We enjoyed every minute of each other’s presence and of all the new impressions. Max wouldn’t leave his refound mom and his little sisters for one second. We made pictures of them and admired their resemblance. And we knew that all this would come to an end. The last day in the South we all felt depressed. But Diego, our personal psychologist, said “No this is not a fare well, you must see this as the beginning of a whole new life.” And of course he was right. After one more day in Bogota to say good-bye to Gyna and Diego we travelled back home.

Our telephone bills prove that Max has stayed in touch. After all there was this gap of 18 years he had to fill. He’s bonding well with his refound family. His Colombian mother is friendly and wise. Her wish is that Max will study hard and be an example for his sisters. And Max loves his sisters. Money needs to be earned and saved and very soon, possibly already this year, Max will go back to Colombia.

Would this adventure have looked much different without Diego and Gyna? We would have visited Colombia, and, since we are adventurous, it would have been quite a trip. We would have visited official institutes, such as the hospital, and we would have found the foster father. But very soon we would have come to a dead end.

However, that they helped us find Max’s relatives is not the only thing we are greatful for, no matter how important. Above all we are greatful to Gyna and Diego for their professionalism, their psychological insight, the friendship and the intensive guidance. These two people give so much. Much more than we would have dared to ask. They offer unpaid aftercare. Diego and Gyna have both kept in touch with Max, have given him advice, showed him they were involved.

We can never thank them enough!

hilbroere@hotmail.com

Robert

“Unimos nuestros lazos familiares…”

My experience with Colombia Tu Pais was so positive that I decided to write a letter recounting my experience with Gyna Hernandez and her husband, Diego, so that families who are considering Colombia Tu Pais to reconnect with birth families could hear about my experience.

I am the adoptive father of two teenage girls, ages 15 and 16, both from Colombia. We adopted our youngest daughter (I will call her Pilar) two years ago when she was 13, and our oldest daughter (I will call her Rosa) when she was an infant.

When we traveled to Colombia two years ago to adopt Pilar, Rosa started to become curious about her birth family and she expressed a strong interest in knowing who her birth parents are and whether she has siblings. We told her that we would do everything we could to help her locate her birth family. I called a friend in Colombia and asked if he knew of anyone who could help us locate Rosa’s birth family. He recommended Colombia Tu Pais. I found the website online. I called Gyna and we began our search. We gave Gyna all the information we had about Rosa’s birth mother and within a few weeks Gyna was able to locate her birth mother, her sister and an aunt.

Rosa’s first contact with them was over the Internet and through Skype. Rosa spoke with her birth mother, her brother and sister and her aunt via Skype and we all met each other with tears of joy and incredulity. It was wonderful. This joyful meeting prompted our other daughter, Pilar, to ask us if we could help her locate her brother. She had not seen him in five years and was very worried about his fate. We agreed to help her and called Gyna once again.

This search was much more difficult because we had little information to give Gyna. It took Gyna many months before we heard from her. But eventually she contacted us with good news. She had found Pilar’s paternal grandparents, her birth father, an aunt and eventually even her brother. We contacted her grandmother and aunt via email and we decided to travel to Colombia to meet their birth families. Gyna’s hard work had changed all of our lives. Gyna was able to provide us with the names, addresses and phone numbers of both birth families, and both families were open to the idea of meeting in person.

We spent half a week visiting with Rosa’s birth family and half a week visiting with Pilar’s birth family. It was an extraordinary time with many tears of joy and sadness. Our daughters both understand that they have two families now, and that they can maintain relationships with both as they wish. The work that Gyna Hernandez does is so very important. She is honest and trustworthy. She has helped my daughters reconnect with their birth families and helped us widen our family connections.

I will be forever grateful to Gyna and Colombia Tu Pais for the wonderful work they do.

ramico@sbu.edu

Andre

“I was in a big happy shock…”

For the second i knew and understood that i was adopted as a child i always had that feeling of wanted to know my history in Colombia and who my biological mother is.

For all my life in various situations I always have been remembered about not knowing my roots and who I’m suppose to look like.

So in my late teen years I made some small research but never really made a honest attempt for searching, perhaps I wasn’t ready for it.

So it was with huge determination I last year finally made the decision to search for my mother and sister. After a while I finally find Colombia Tu Pais and I didn’t hesitate to mail them and asking for help.

Gyna answered me very quickly and was very kind, which made me feel very comfortable about the situation. And after not more than a month she told me that she had found my Mother and sister and they were doing fine. I was in a big happy shock . I didn’t know what to do really, but after a few days I contacted them and from that day I speak with them every day.

I am so happy that I contacted Gyna and Colombia Tu Pais. I would really recommend everyone to take help from them. You will not regret it.

johansson.andre@hotmail.com

Family Kwetters

“The image that everyone would like to have from their mother…”

In January 2005 we traveled to Cali for the adoption of our son Andres. He already had three years and a half when he came to our lives. A little boy who would not open easily and who, after a time, constantly was wondering about his biological mother.

At 8 years, sincerely we felt she was too young to start a search. But over time we noticed that there was no peace for him and so we decided to begin the search for his biological mother. He already had nine years, however we did not want to tell him about our decision. Imagine where everything would lead to a disappointment? Our fear was: what if his mother has a very difficult life and dies soon? Then we would regret to have waited so long to find her.

So, in 2010 we sent to Gyna all the information digitally and after her response we began the search. It was a few months where we did not receive news, inside us we thought: you see? We will not succeed! But in April 2011, a beautiful Friday, we got the call from Adry: we found the biological mother of Andres with his half-brother, sisters and the son of one of her sisters! What a wonderful time!

Tears fell, but Andres was not at home at that time, so we told him everything in the car when we picked him up from a friend’s house. He was astonished to see me so excited! He seemed not to understand!

We asked Gyna to travel to Cali to personally know the family situation and hear the whole story. One day before the day of the mother we received all the photos Gyna took for us. Now we really had a picture of the family. We already had a face! On the Mother’s Day in Holland Andres could finally show to all our family in Holland a photo of his Colombian family! Especially incredibly!

We made a beautiful book with all the pictures, that way he could see the photos every time he wanted and he could share it when he wanted. Now we have contact through Facebook, even we could see us through the webcam using a known from Medellin.

Seems to be little time to say something, but in reality we can see that Andres found peace. Even he slept very well when he first saw his half sister. The missing piece and the image that everyone would like to have from their mother, he now has it thanks to CTP.

We are very happy that we decided to do the search and even more than we did with Colombia Tu Pais. It will not be long to also start the search for our daughter.

From my heart, thanks to Adry and Gyna.

kwetters@ziggo.nl

Adriana

“Words can’t tell what it means for…”

Adriana 17 year’s old and born in Bogota Colombia has asked us, her parents, questions about here mother in Colombia since she was 4 years old. We were not able to tell here more than what they told us in the children house of FANA.

We looked for a few years to find a way to get at least some information about her family in Colombia, till I found the website of Colombia Tu Pais.

I, Adriana’s dad, read a lot of story’s about the experience of people who used Colombia Tu Pais and we decided to give it a try. After we send the documents to Gyna it took only 5 weeks till Adry gave us a call on a Sunday evening. The next Wednesday we received the full report from Gyna with the address, phone number and the Facebook page of Adriana’s sister since that moment we have contact with Adriana’s mother, sister’s and  brother’s. For the near future we will stay in contact and work out some thought about what to do, if we go to Colombia to visit them is not the question the question is when.

One of these days we will start to search for our youngest daughter  and we will use Colombia Tu Pais again.

Gyna and Adry thank you very much, this was not possible without you two, words can’t tell what it means for Adriana and also for her mother.

rvastenhout@kpnplanet.nl

Allison

“You never know until you take that leap…”

Hola everyone! My name is Allison I am 28 years old and now living in the United States Of America in the state of New York. Here is a little story about me, my thoughts and journey leading up with ColombiaTuPais.

As I was growing up and realized that I was adopted I started wondering who my parents were, did I have siblings, where were they? Did they know about me?, forget about me?, and who did I look like?, but fortunately I was adopted into a loving home with my amazing adoptive mother, because of her being amazing as time went on into pre-teen and teenage years, it didn’t really bother me that I was adopted or did I even desire to really go on a search to find my biological family because my adoptive mother gave me a home, love, and so much more.

To move on a couple of years, and I mean about 10 (lol) It is then I met a friend on Facebook named Maria, she also was adopted from Colombia and added me to the group on Facebook she told me about it and said look how many of us are out there, so I decided to add the group to my page.. I started following it and saw so many of us talking and a lot of people mentioning of finding their families, I asked around and followed many people on their searches and one woman told me to ask Gyna and Diego for help in my search for my family.

I hesitated only because I wasn’t really sure what to expect, was it going to be a let down?, was I in for something I really wasn’t ready for? or was this the start of a dream come true for me? It was then that I reached out to ColombiaTuPais.

I asked so many questions I can’t even remember but it was Gyna that I talked to, she asked me to send all documents over that I had of my adoption to see if they could even go on with my search. So I did. It went well!!.. So my hopes went up even more!.. a few more stages of the search and us working together as a team together it was August 19th about 11:20ish at night, ( only 4 days have gone by since it all began ) I remember I got a message saying ” Allison, can you get on skype? ”. My heart started pounding, I said yes, not really knowing why or what for, I asked but they said ” we need to talk on Skype ”…. so I got on.. We found your birth mother ” was the only thing I can honestly remember after of course of saying ” hello ”.

Gyna and Diego have been an inspiring couple in Colombia not only to me, but other adoptee’s who worked with them, I personally can not thank them enough for what they have done for me. They spent a good half hour on Skype with me translating to me all they knew about my mother and family. Come to find out, I have 4 siblings and 8 nieces and nephews just on my mother’s side, and yes even just about a year later I still am in contact not with my siblings, and mother, I am on Facebook with my cousins as well. As I went in on the search for my mother and family, I honestly didn’t know what to expect, or how to feel, but luckily I made a few friends from that site who went through what I was about to go through and helped me so much!.

Expect the worse, hope for the best, and keep faith!. You never know until you take that leap!. I am very pleased with the work I had with ColombiaTuPais and I hope you really consider in working with a great couple!!. Dios Los Bendiga ( God bless you ) Abrazos y besos de un Colombiano a otro ( Hugs and kisses from one Colombian to another ) A picture below is me, on the far left next to me is my birth mother then the rest of just SOME of my family including my nieces, and nephews, and my 3 sisters 🙂 I am the second oldest!

ab.damay@yahoo.com