My dad and I went back to Colombia so I could experience my home land for the first time in my life.
I was 20 years old.
We took a cab up to Pamplona for a quick one day visit to roam around and see what we could see. The whole way up I was a nervous wreck. We kept passing a wide variety of homes--some in one piece--some in twenty. Some with some roofs, some without. I never knew when the cab driver would pull over and just say, "We're here!"
Prior to the trip my mom and I sat down back in Indiana and went through my earliest adoption documents. She translated the Spanish as I wrote down some important names of people that might be connected to my birth. I took that piece of paper and stuffed it in my pocket to carry around while I was in Colombia.
When my dad I arrived in Pamplona, I took us to the location of the hospital I was born at that was scribbled down on that piece of paper; San Juan De Dios Hospital. (pictured below)
My dad and I met a worker in the hospital & explained I was born here then adopted to someone (that's all we knew) and I was looking to find a little more information about my birth parents. He said he didn't really know of anywhere we he could check for paper records, but that there was actually a Bien Estar office in Pamplona. My dad and I got directions from him, and then continued on. We came to a place with Bien Estar written across the front of the building, so we knocked and went in. Unfortunately, we didn't think this was the right place. Why? Because there were children running around, and colorfully decorated walls. Turns out, this was the DAYCARE, Bien Estar.
Imagine our confusion.
We briefly explained(yet again) my story to some of the women taking care of the kids and they were delighted that I had come 'home'. They told my dad where the AGENCY was, so after I snapped a few photos we moved on.
The building we came upon next was the agency office of Bien Estar Familar. Now, no one knew that there was this office in Pamplona and my parents had never communicated with anyone from the office back when my adoption was in process. We were led into one of the small offices by a lady named Fanny, who sat down to try and look up any information about my birth. I guess either they didn't have the right resources or I wasn't in the system, because we kept hitting wall after wall. I remember pockets of silence where no one really communicated at all. I'm not sure when exactly this was, but I pulled out that piece of paper with the names scratched on it and gave it to her to see. She made a quizzical face then said she recognized one of the names. She pulled out her cellphone and left the office saying she would be right back.
She came back five minutes later on the phone. I tried reading my dad's face as I had no idea what was going on and he didn't really look like he knew what was going on either. She eventually hung up the phone and looked at me and said, "I was just on the phone with your foster mom. She took care of you until you were adopted. Her name is Maria and she will be here with one of your foster brother's in one hour."
Keep in mind, up to this point I had no idea whose care I was in up until that moment, and now I was being told that I was going to meet a woman who took care of me.
The next couple hours were a blur. Maria came in with my brother Eduard and started crying as soon as she saw me. She knew it was me. She started saying "Mi Juliana. Juliana.." ( Juliana, pronounced HOO-LIANA in spanish, was my name for the first year of my life. Juliana, pronounced JOO-LIANA in english, is now my middle name).
I had my dad relay some messages to her about how thankful I was for her to take me in at the age of 24 with two kids of her own already. She brought with her pictures of me at a birthday party, hanging out with my brothers and a picture of the two of us when I was a year old. What got me was that she still had a pair of my very first baby shoes I had ever worn. She gave them to me as a momento of our story
On October 18, 1990 a small child was born in a valley in the Northern Region of Colombia. For 20 years of her life, she hadn't had any explanation of whose care she was in before she was adopted to the United States. Now she's decided to go back home to tell her story and to be prepared to dive into some of her biggest questions about life. This short film, is the telling of that story, the journey back to Colombia and a call for the adopted, the fostered, the adventurers, the parentless, the lonely and the brave to join her on her mission that dares to discover the path that leads to Life.
Why this adoption story?
There's something special about adoption stories because they all have different outcomes. In some cases, the child learns why they were given up and the pain in that runs deeper than it did before. In other cases, some are re-united with their parents and continue those relationships for the rest of their lives. It can be a tricky subject, because on one hand you have the the giving away of a child, and on the other you have the receiving of the child. Once you are received, does it matter if you find out how or why you were given away? Is it better to not dive into that? I think this is a question that most adopted children struggle with.
As an adopted child to two wonderful parents, it has of course been my fear that I will hurt my parent's in my relentless drive to own my story. To own that somehow twenty three years ago there was a man and a woman who I in return have no connection with, but yet they gave me life. It is my fear to learn that I am not wanted, and will never be wanted by those two individuals, whoever they are. However, as a filmmaker with a creative mind, I believe that there is something there, no matter how deep I may have to go to find it.
THE FILM: I've asked myself many times what might my life had been like, had I not been adopted? I really don't know, and I'm not sure I can answer that.
But I can explore what it means to build on the idea that all of our lives are connected. That all over the world, similar stories are being told by someone just like you. That all over the world, there is opportunity and chance around every corner if we allow ourselves to learn from one another, to both give up things we may have to--and to receive things that come in it's place.
With Grassroots Films I am embarking to put my storytelling to the test. with the help of your support, we believe in the message behind this story and