Exploring Your Colombian Roots

***Please note: Families of FANA WNY does not facilitate birth family searches***

In many cultures around the world, understanding one’s heritage and culture helps explain who we are today and how we became that person. Some cultures stress this understanding more than others. International adoptees have the heritage and culture of their country of origin (or birth country) as well as that of their adopted culture.

Perhaps you have an interest in knowing more about that Colombian heritage. You may or may not want to visit Colombia, or even try to reconnect with people who knew you in Colombia, or with your birth family. These are very personal decisions with no right answer that fits everyone. However, we hope to expose you to the richness of Colombia, to encourage you to consider visiting, and to help you find a way to connect to other people and resources that can help you determine the best path.

Connecting to Colombia

Even without traveling to Colombia, abundant resources are available to provide you with a sense of the country and a better understanding of the great history and culture of Colombia.

For general information or if you are considering a visit to Colombia, see the Colombia at a Glance page.

We encourage you to join Families of FANA, come to our events, and enjoy the wealth of cultural activities available to you in this area.

Homeland Visits

Is a visit to Colombia right for you and/or your adoptive family? Many families and adoptees have made the trip and, for most, it has been a rewarding and enriching experience. The success of the trip is related in large part to how well expectations have been set beforehand: What is the purpose of the trip? Where will we go? What might we see?

The age of the children/young adults involved and where they are in their own personal adoption journey will influence what they gain from the experience. Families with children of all ages as well as young adults have had meaningful, positive, and sometimes life-changing visits to Colombia.

  • Barker Foundation Article on Homeland Visits: For another detailed discussion of homeland trips and their considerations, read this article by Barker Foundation Executive Director, Marilyn Regier, who has run homeland tours to Asia and Latin America.
  • Barker Foundation Homeland Tours are described on their website.

You can also arrange your own visit to Colombia. If you are part of a family built through adoption from FANA, then FANA welcomes your return visits and encourages you to spend time visiting the orphanage. Guides and translators are available to help with your visit. For more information on visiting FANA, contact FANA at contact@familiesoffana.org.

Other organizations run homeland visits, although not specifically to Colombia. However, their experiences may help you understand the advantages as well as challenges of undertaking such a visit. One such organization is The Ties Program, Adoptive Family Homeland Tours, offering homeland tours to a variety of countries. For another view on homeland trips, read the section on homeland tours and heritage trips written by Adoptive Families Magazine.

Birth Parent Search

In Colombia, adoption is officially confidential, and adoption records are sealed from public view by the courts for up to 30 years. The Minors Code, Article 114 of Decree 2737 (enacted in 1989) provides that “All documents, administrative decisions, and legal decisions concerning adoption processes must remain confidential for a 30 year period.” The law does permit adult adoptees and adoptive parents to review the records.

“Copies may only be produced upon request of the adopting parents–this request may either be direct or through an attorney or family defender; upon request of the adopted person who reaches the age of majority; or upon request of the Office of the Inspector General in the investigations that may arise…”

The law further states: “…without affecting the content of article 114, every adopted person has the right to know about his/her origin and the character of its family links. The parents (of an adopted minor) will decide on the moment and conditions in which it will not cause the minor harm to know such information.” (Minors Code, Article 115 of Decree 2737/1989).

Nevertheless, undertaking a search for a birth family can be complicated and not always successful. The Colombian Embassy website recommends addressing inquiries to theInstituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar and offers additional information in its section on Frequently Asked Questions.

That said, some adoptees from Colombia have successfully looked for their birth families. If you choose that route, we encourage you to connect with others who have done it, as well as with adoption professionals who can help prepare you for the life-long impact of the search process.