I had the opportunity to travel to Colombia a couple of weeks ago to visit with our orphanage partner and ICBF (the Colombian equivalent of our CPS system in the US). Two very productive days and I’m excited for the future growth in Gladney’s Colombia Adoption program.
Reflecting on the overnight flight back to the US, two things struck me. First was the absolute beauty of the children of Colombia. I don’t just mean physical beauty (which they are), but beauty both inside and in the way that are cared for in the orphanages and foster homes. The children truly are happy and loved. You can see it on their faces and the way they interact with each other and with us (minimally Spanish speaking Americans). The caregivers understand the need for bonding and attachment with the children, even though their ultimate goal is to see them go to a forever family. Evidence-based research has taught us that forming that bond and the demonstration of a safe and loving environment helps a child’s brain to develop in a healthy way and can help to overcome some of the trauma that children from hard places can experience. As a child placing agency this is comforting to witness and to share with our families.
The second observation was the country itself. As I was heading to the airport to fly down, I was on the phone with my mother and she asked “Is it safe in Colombia?” Yes, even at 47 my mommy still worries about me when I travel. Her question gave me pause. Is it safe in Colombia? And what I realized at that moment is that many Americans are stuck in the 1980’s with their perception of Colombia. Programs like Narcos and Scarface don’t necessarily alleviate that concern. We paint a picture of drug lords and guerrillas and assume nothing has changed. Yes Colombia went through difficult times, as do most developing countries (the US is no exception, 1860’s, 1960’s, maybe even today), but the beauty and safety in Colombia are now apparent on every corner in every city. A major sign of a stable and safe environment is shown by the number of new companies who are choosing to grow their operations in Colombia and relocate families to the region. It’s apparent by our direct governmental relationships between our two countries and the support we show each other. And it’s present in that feeling you get when you walk down the street at 8 in the morning and at 10 at night. An encouraging smile and a simple “buenas noches” tell you that all is well.
Whether you are adopting or just planning a vacation, Colombia is a beautiful destination – both inside and out! Learn more about Colombia Adoption today.
Gladney Dad and Chief Operating Officer