Welcome to Hogares Club Michin. This is the orphanage where our children were housed for the past three years. Above are pics of Esmeralda and Daniela’s best friends. I brought them little rings to remember the girls by. I also brought all of the children suckers and stickers. This was a difficult excursion for me, especially. We knew that we wanted to tour the facility and grab as much information as we could for the children’s sake, but being there was still highly emotional.
The facility itself is housed in downtown Bogota on a random little street amidst bakeries, apartments and auto-mechanic shops. You would never know it was there unless you were looking for it. That is partly due to the fact that the orphanage is actually comprised of many separate structures all along a few blocks. Esmeralda and Daniela were in the same “house, ” Daniel was in another, and Juan Pablo another. They do not separate the children by gender until age six, so Juan Pablo’s class was made up of boys and girls. The rest were not. There was also a house for teenage girls, and a house for abused women.
When we drove up to the building, my heart was pricked almost instantly. We exited the taxi just as the constant drizzle of rain turned harder. Adam got a few seconds of video before we went in so you should be able to see what I mean when he posts it. I felt like I was stepping into a bad dream or movie or something. Anyway, the first house we came to was not the office, but one of the boy houses. It was sooooo loud and crazy. The caretaker was not there yet, and the boys were running wild. Of course, there was no carpeting, and nothing on the walls so everything echoed. And everything was fairly stark and cold.
Once we found out where to go, we stopped at the girls’ house first. We saw where they ate and where their rooms were. We got pictures and documented everything. We met all the girls’ friends and housemates who smothered us with hugs, kisses and compliments. They were so excited to meet Ezzy and Ella’s mommy, and they kept asking when the girls were coming back to the orphanage. But I have to say that walking outside to the back of the structure broke my heart. It was pure concrete and wires. And that is how they all were. I am thinking the kids won’t think our desert-scape in Las Vegas is half bad. 🙂
We met with Juan P.’s housemates in the upstairs of the girls’ house. They were there for a class or something, and his house is apparently far away. Anyway, we took a picture of them in their little smocks….absolutely adorable!!!
Daniel’s house was just as tragic, but the boys cracked us up. They also got pencils because I forgot I had them in the backpack until then. There was a picture of Danny on one of the walls, which looked a couple of years old. It was so cute, so we snapped a pic. It is the only thing we have from that long ago. He must have been six, I think. Apparently two of the boys in his house are paper-ready and just waiting for someone to want them. They actually looked like twins–but they are definitely brothers. Wynette, the social worker, says they are her favorite boys in the house. And if I had room, I would take them.
You can see me above passing out things (the children are talking to Daniel, our translator–he’s amazing). And the three additional pictures are of the children’s class/housemates. After we toured all the houses, we went back to the main office to talk with Wynette and Jairo, the psychologist. They are sooooo amazing. Our children were given the best possible support by them–I truly believe that. And although this orphanage is in desperate need of supplies and resources, the staff truly loves the children. They were so warm and loving. And our children speak very highly of their caretakers. We spent a good 45 minutes with Jairo talking about what can be improved for future families, how we have felt the last couple of weeks, and what we can do to help improve the facility.
Also, Wynette said that if there is anyone we know now, or in the future, who would like to adopt, we can contact them and they can deal directly with the family. That way the family can choose what agency, if any, they want to work with. If we adopt from Colombia again, we will probably not use an agency, but deal directly with ICBF through a private Colombian Adoption lawyer. It is much cheaper, and doable now that we know the process. Plus, we all know what has happened with Commonwealth. I’m not ready to go through that again.
After we finished at Michin, we went for a guided tour of CRAN–they are the facilitating foundation that our agency worked with. Once we were in direct contact with CRAN, things went much smoother. Our adoption is the first joint effort between CRAN and Michin. CRAN’S facility and programs are much better funded. CRAN is actually where we picked the children up the first day, and it is where the children would come for medical treatments and to visit us via the internet.
Here are a few pics:
You can really tell a difference between the two facilities (especially in the videos–adam is working on them.) Regardless, there are still too many children. And look at the last picture of the sea of semi-sleeping children. These are all of the kindergartners trying to nap after lunch before class. And the pic with me shows the holding room where the kids waited for us the day we picked them up. There are some couches on the other side of the room.