Part 1: The adoption, a leap of faith and a miracle reunion. – Nelson/Roberto

I was adopted from an orphanage in Honduras in 1983. My adoptive parents had just started the adoption process and were probably about a year away from getting a child. Then one night they got a phone call around 9:00pm saying that there was a child available for them however there was no picture, no background information and they would have until 3:00pm the next day to decided. I don’t think this ever happens in adoption cases.

Thankfully, after a long night with not much sleep, they decided to adopt. They were living in the Boston area and had to rush to get everything ready before leaving for Honduras. It was the beginning of April and they had to be down in Central America by May. As they were getting ready to leave they found out that they would need FBI clearance in order to travel to Honduras. This normally takes 4 or 5 weeks and they only had one. To their surprise someone pulled some strings for them and Senator Kerry’s office was able to get them clearance in 2 days.

They flew down to Honduras where they were provided with a place to stay and a lawyer to help them with all the paper work. Again, this never happens. As the adoption went on the people involved where very hush hush and wouldn’t tell my parents anything. They mentioned something about a gunfight but wouldn’t say why I was up for adoption or why they were trying to get me out of the country so fast. My adoptive father speculated that I was illegitimate sun of the president or something like that. They did learn that our Mystery Politician was overseeing the adoption and this explained where all the political help was coming from.

They finished the adoption and took be back to the US with them. The judge who oversaw my case required that my father mail her updates every 6 months. My father diligently sent letters for almost 2 years. While talking to another parent about there experience he learned that these updates were not part of the normal adoption process and he promptly stopped. This seamed to the make the whole adoption that much weirder.

I grew up knowing that I was adopted (My parents are white and they always told me I was.) But they couldn’t tell me who my parents were or even when I was born. This was very hard for me growing up since it meant it would be next to impossible to find my birth family. My Adopted father had this newspaper article that someone had gotten for us. The article had a picture of a man who had been killed around the time that I went into the orphanage. As I was growing up he would look at the picture and try to see if there was any resemblance between us.

Then one day the impossible happened. My parents got another phone call at night in the summer of 97. A man called from an organization called Probusqueda that looked for lost children in El Salvador. It turned out I had been born there not Honduras and my birth family had been looking for me for 4 years. My parents told me soon after when I got home from summer camp. It was a huge shock for all of us.

The organization sent us pictures and letters from them written to the lost child Roberto(that’s me.) After a blood test to confirm that hey were indeed my family we started to make arrangements to fly down. In truth they really didn’t need to do the blood test. I look exactly like my birth father and a lot like my older brother.

That Christmas we flew down to meet them the for the first time. My adopted parent were nervous that I would want to stay with my birth family but that never really crossed my mind. Since then I have been down about twice a year to visit them and we have become one big family. Its been truly an amazing and I’m so lucky to have had such wonderful adoptive parents who supported me all these years and when I went to meet my birth family.

Part 2: My Origins, how I was separated from my family.

Being Adopted – By Nelson/Roberto

I think adoption is one of the most wonderful and at the same time one of the most difficult things I have experienced in my life. The joy of adoption can best be described by the quote that begins this blog.

Losing ones family obliges us to find ones family. Not always the family that is our blood but the family that can become our blood.

However, no matter how great my adoptive parents have been, growing up as an adopted child was not always easy. The most difficult emotion I have ever had to deal with was the uncertainty that came from being adopted. I imagine that most if not all adopted persons go through a similar experience sometime during their life.

Perhaps in my case these feelings might have been harder to deal with. For my parents did not even know birthday never mind how I came to be adopted. Today I could not imagine my life without my adopted family but back then having them was not enough.

There is just something about your birth-mother/birth-father that you can never forget or completely let go of. You want to know what they look like, if you look like them and what kind of people are they. But most importantly you want to know: Why was I given up?

To this question there is no easy answer. It is something that I struggled with and watched my friends struggle with. Some were more vocal than others but you just knew even the quiet ones were thinking about it too. You wonder how can the people who gave you life simply give you away? Well I’m sure it’s never that easy and I’m sure they never forget either.

I used to sit at night staring out of my window wishing I could just see my my mother. I thought if I could just see her, she would make everything better. These feelings never went away, no matter how hard I tried to fight or ignore them. But that all changed when I met my birth family.

Being reunited with them was incredible to say the least. I went from not knowing my birthday to having three new siblings and a huge family that had been looking for me all along. It seamed to answer all my questions about who I was and if I looked like my parents (I’m practically a carbon copy of my father.)

However I feel like I am very lucky in this respect. I have herd a few stories of people who went looking for their birth parents only to find they had nothing in common and could not relate to each other. I wish I could say “Don’t worry one day you will find your birth parent too and everything will be alright” but I know that’s not always the case. Not every adoption story has such a happy ending.

In the end I wonder how much finding your birth parents really matters. Yes finding them did answer a lot of my questions and it did take away the awful feeling of uncertainty but I don’t think that’s what mattered most. I think what mattered the most was the family that we have became.

I hardly think of it as my adopted family and my birth family anymore. When people say “oh you found your real parents” I say no I found my birth parents. I don’t even like to make the distinction between them. I just like to think I have two sets of parents and one BIG family.

Family is more than just being related because sometimes even our own blood doesn’t treat us as they should. Family is about caring for people and loving them unconditionally. Family is what we found in them and what they found in us.

Not always the family that is is our blood but the family that can become our blood…

Iraq is the new El Salvador? – by Nelson/Roberto

This weekend I watched Salvador which is a movie about photo journalist Richard Boyle who travels to El Salvador during the begging of its Civil War. The movie depicted the violence surrounding the country at the time. It stars James Woods and was directed by Oliver Stone.

The movie takes place during the early 80’s. This was also around the same time that I was born and separated from my family.

On one side you have the right government forces who control most of the couturiers wealth. On the other you have the peasants and farmers of El Salvador who are supposedly getting help from communist countries.

I found my self drawing many parallels with the current war in Iraq. There is a very sobering scene about half way through the movie where Richard Boyle is arguing with the US military general. Boyle has just returned from the mountains of El Salvador where he has taken pictures of the guerrilla fighters. The general is drilling him for about the types of weapons that the guerrillas have. When he explains that they have simple rifles the general refuses to believe him claiming that “military intelligence” says that they have RPGs and other weapons supplied by communists.

This sounds all to familiar to me. I remember very clear George Bush making claims that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” and was being backed by terrorists nations. I think its sad really. Are we doomed to repeat our mistakes?

There is also a clip of Ronald Reagan talking about the communist terrorists and how they could take over Central America and then even north America. Once again this sounds all to familiar.

In El Salvador we funded the war because we were afraid of communists. We invaded Iraq because we were afraid of Terrorists. Honestly I think the only different between then and now is September 11th. Because of 9/11 congress allowed President Bush to lead us into a war we had no business starting. Thankfully congress did not let Regan invade El Salvador because it might be like Iraq is today. Even so it is still a very violent place to be and it might be getting worse.

Another interesting scene in the movie was when Boyle interviews the guerrillas. There was footage of them training. I can only wonder if this is what my father went through. They also mention and act out what was known as “the final offensive.” This was supposed to be the last big push by the rebels to take over the country. However it turned out to be just the beginning of a bloody 13 year war. My mother mentioned this in her last letter.

Overall it was a really good movie and I recommend if you are interested in El Salvador’s Civil War or want to see the parallels to Iraq that I mentioned.

Was it all in vain? – by Nelson/Roberto

While surfing the web this week, looking for other blogs about El Salvador I came a across the A Different View of a Good Life blog. The author meg has spent some time living in El Salvador and she writes about her accounts there. In this post she talk about the violence in El Salvador.

El Salvador has a culture of violence and trauma reinforced by a history of a brutal civil war; a war that ended with some peace accords that basically lied to the people by saying things were going to change. It is true, things did change. Many say that the poverty rate is worse now than when it was in the war. Imagine that, the people have gotten poorer? The rich politicians have brought in their neoliberal politics and trade agreements (CAFTA) to benefit their friends in corporations. And the people are slowly losing their right to march and protest the injustice going on in their country because as the government likes to say, the protests of the left are terrorist acts, so now there is new terrorist legislation.

Then there are the gangs. The gangs of El Salvador originated in the US, but with the slick deportation process of the US government, El Salvador found a new problem to deal with. The gangs are neither leftist or rightist, but Tony Saca likes to think the gangs are all leftist (even if Arena does pinta y pega with gang members during the elections). And so, with the easy solutions of the Arena government, all the youth of El Salvador are a target. So much for treasuring your future!

So when you couple a history of violence with a people in growing need for food, shelter and jobs, youth who are being targeted, gang members who target everyone (especially busses), and the slow political process that takes human rights away one by one, one might find a breading ground for a whole mess of effects brought on by this culture. One such effect is widespread violence.

A lot goes on in this country every day. Busses are attacked and burned if they didn’t pay the gang fare. Patrons of busses are robbed or killed every day. In the night there are shootings, and we have a homicide rate that is through the roof. Occasionally there are protests, but the last one turned into a police instigated riot with helicopters equipped with gunmen.

A few months ago one of my cousins almost died her when her husband shot her and killed their baby son. This was very hard on my grandmother and it took her a while to get over it. Maybe a year before another cousins on my fathers side died in a car jacking incident.

I wasn’t close to either of them but in a way this is so depressing to me. I mean my family lost so much in this war. My mother gave her life and my father lost his home, his wife and his son for 16 years. For what? so that the country could become even poorer?

He has been through some very hard times in his life and you can see how the war has affected him. I would hate for him to find out it was all for nothing…