It’s my last day in Panama. Tomorrow I’m off to Costa Rica to spend the weekend with my sister Eva before heading back to the states. This is a video my brother and I did the other day where we talk about what it was like getting to know each other over the past 10 years.
It’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years since we first met. Sometimes people say “it feels like just yesterday.” For me it feels like a lifetime. It seems like so long ago that I walked out of the airport into the arms of my father and sister. I don’t think that’s a bad thing either. I have so many good memories since then that I can hardly believe it was only ten years ago.
People sometimes ask “where do you see yourself in ten years?” Well I can tell you that 10 years ago I would have never guessed this. I would have never guessed I would be sitting in Panama in front of the Christmas tree. I never would have guessed I would be working with my dad and cousin. I never would have guessed I would have such wonderful brothers and sisters to spend the holidays with. I never would have guessed that my mother would be writing about my story, or that people would want to hear me talk about it.
I’m trying to come up with something else meaningful to say about everything that happened and I can’t. I really wanted to write something about how incredible these past years have been and how they have affected my life. I also wanted to talk about what a great family I have, both here and in America. Maybe it’s just too hard to sum up 10 years of memories in a couple paragraphs. I’m at a loss for words. Perhaps I shouldn’t even try and just instead enjoy being here with my family.
All I can say for sure is that I am so lucky to have found these incredible people and to be a part of their lives. I know they feel the same way. I love all of you and you all mean so much to me. Happy 10 years.
Shortly after Eva saw our mother for the last time, my mother urged my grandmother to take the children and move to Costa Rica where they would be safer. In 1980, Mama Chila packed up the family to live with my aunt Vilma who had been in Costa Rica since 1978. Mama Chila brought with her Vilma’s two children Evelyn and Jacqueline. As well as Ana’s two children Eva and Ernesto. I had not been born yet and our father Luis was in Cuba recovering from the bullet wound.
Earlier that year, Vilma had married a man named Eduardo who was the son of her employer. It was not the best arrangement since Eduardo did not treat Vilma well and occasionally threatened to deport her is she ever left him. Mama Chila and Vilma both worked during the day to provide for the children. Eduardo who was not as ambitious and stayed around the house most of the day.
They didn’t hear much from Luis or Ana. Because of the war it was very hard to send messages. Ana wrote occasionally and the messages where usually delved in person by someone who was involved with the revolution. It had been a few months since Ana had last written. Then one day something weird happened. They received a phone call. Ana never called because it was much to dangerous. Mama Chila and Vilma were both out but Eduardo took the call.
Eduardo sits at home watching TV. Its about 3:30 in the afternoon. My aunt Vilma and grandmother Mama Chila have not come home from work yet. Eduardo lazily flips through the channels waiting for the two of them to come so he can eat. Just then the phone rings. He glances over at it wondering if he should bother picking it up. Reluctantly he stands and wonders over to the phone.
“Hello…is this Eduardo?” an agitated voice replies on the other side.
A little surprised by tone of her voice he replies “Yes…who is this?”
“Its Vilma’s sister Mila” She says nervously
“Mila! How are you? We haven’t herd from you in so lo…”
Ana interrupts him “Eduardo I’m sorry but I don’t have much time. Is my mother there its really important.”
Slightly annoyed by being cut off he replies “No they haven’t returned home from work yet but they should be home soon. You should call back later.”
“No there is no time can you give her a message” She is even more nervous now as someone is yelling in the background.
“Yes of course, whats wrong?” Eduardo questions.
“They found us I don’t know how.” she sounds scared now “I have to go. Tell mama chila I love her and…” she pauses slightly “tell her to take care of my kids…”
The phone clicks and Eduardo not knowing what to make of this stands for a second listening to the dial tone. He hangs up the phone, puzzled by what just happened and sits back down to watch TV.
Sometimes I wonder what it must have taken to make that phone call. She must have known when she made the call she would never see her children again. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like.
That would be the last thing we ever herd from Ana. We never knew what happened to her after that and most likely we never will.
With the introduction of my birth family came the information of my past and the story of my life.
My story begins even before I was born. My birth father and mother where around 20. My father had been influenced by high school teachers to join the revolutionary movement in El Salvador. Soon after he began his work he met my other Ana Milgro Escobar. Despite objections from her family she joined the movement as well. They were married shortly after in a ceremony of arms.
The group they were a part of the was called the FPL which was one of the sub groups that made up the FLMN. My father was a body guard to the head of the FPL while my mother worked to coordinate the different cells. (In the war people worked in smaller groups called cells. If one cell was captured it did not know enough to give away any information.) This was a very important potion for my mother who had just turned 20.
Later that year, my father was in a gunfight somewhere in the mountains of El Salvador. He was shot inches away from his heart. He spend 3 long days in hiding barely hanging on to life. If one of his brothers had not given him blood he would have surely died.
He was taken to Nicaragua for surgery. He managed to survive the operation but needed a second one to remove the bullet. This required him to go to Cuba. After four months in Cuba he had not gotten the operation and returned to Nicaragua to see my mother. At this point, my brother and sister had been sent to live in Costa Rica with my Grandmother. It was around this time that I was born. My mother and I lived in El Salvador for three month before it became unsafe to live there anymore.
My mother was supposed to meet up with my father in Costa Rica, but it never happened. She was reassigned on a new mission. She and two other men kidnapped a businessman in Honduras. We lived in a safe house for a few months, but the Honduran government found out where she was living. They stormed the house and killed my mother and the two men. This was three days before my first birthday. The police found me in a back room with two other little girls.
They did not know what to do with us so we were put in an orphanage. I stayed there for a whole year before I was adopted. They put sever notices in the paper saying that if any was missing children or knew the who we were they should come forward and claim us. No one came forward and after a year in the orphanage I was adopted.
Around this time my birth father had found out that his wife had been killed and his son was missing. He was furious at certain people within the FPL because they would not let him look for me or give him any information. Disillusioned he left the revolution and warned around Central America. He ended up in Panama where he worked 2 jobs only to earn $20 in a month. One of these jobs was doing silk screening. Think that he could do that on his own he set off to make a better life. He remarried and was able to create a stable business for him and his family.
Through a friend he learned that I had been adopted to a family in America. He began thinking about coming to America to look for me. However he had no idea where I lived so it would be impossible to find me.
In 1992 my grandmother began her search to find me. It took her a year to find an organization that would help her. An organization called Probusqueda spent four more years going though newspapers and whatever government documents they could get their hands on trying to find me. They finally completed their research in 1997 after doing an Internet search to find our phone number. We where contacted by a man working for the Physicians for Human Rights and given a copy of all their findings. After a blood test confirmed that they were my family we made arrangements to meet them during Christmas.
There are three men that share my heart, and one beautiful baby girl that has a half.
One of the men is so quiet, nice and caring boy. I remember I loved him and took care of him like a treasure. I still keep in my mind the days we used to walk hanging hands, how small and nice he was. I saw him grow up, becoming an incredible boy. His heart is one of the biggest in the earth, and he’s got a shine that never fades away. Even though his life was hard, he is now a wonderful man, and I gotta say I still love him as the first day I met him, and I am so proud of what he has accomplished though all these years. He’s been so smart at business. He gives his best in every single project. He hasn’t made to many friends, but everyone who knows him loves him as well.
The other men I never saw him grow up, but the day I met him it was a gift from God. Part of my life was returned to me and I feel now I am complete. After missing him for so long he came to me as a wonderful boy. It was incredible to get along as if we spent the whole life together. No one else understands me so well, no one else knows me as he does. He is so smart, so good. If you look into his eyes you can see how much love he has to give, and when he can, he does not hesitate. So friendly, so nice, he is quite a gentlemen. Everybody loves him since he is not selfish and wants to help any time he can. A Wonderful friend, he is loyal, and always cares about others. He’s been always special because God give him a heart that never learned to hate.
The third man is the youngest. He was so small when I met him, so quite and shy, but he couldn’t help it and now he is one of the three men that drives me crazy and owns my heart. He was the perfect company for Roberto for so many years. There are so close and always support to each other. God gave Roberto someone to share childhood, because God knew it is not good to grow up alone. He is crazy about turtles, and no one can tell why is this, but after meeting one of them in person now I understand his fascination about this wonderful animal. Nowadays he is a handsome boy, a lot more talkative now and his quote for me is: “Be adventurous!”
The baby girl that is left keeps the half of my heart. Maybe she does not know what I feel about her, but the day I saw her for the first time I was really happy. I met a cute baby and immediately she opened her arms to me. She couldn’t walk and I remember her first step. She was my baby, I remember changing her pampers and giving her a bath. I remember her mom dressing her like a princess, and a princess she was. She was a really happy child, always hugging and expressing her feelings, her heart is huge and she has a lot of love to share. She is a young lady and the nicest girl I’ve ever met. She is my love, my treasure. She means a lot to me. I wish I could give her more love and time but unfortunately it couldn’t be. Even though I know she loves me and admires me, but what she doesn’t know is that I admire her the most.
And in these few words there they are. Those are my siblings. Each of them are different, but are so a like at the same time. Not every day I can say that but by having them my life is complete. No matter the distance they truly own my heart…
Its the last day of camp august 1997. I think its 6 or 7 in the morning. I’ve been up all night. Most of it was spent in 7A. As I’m walking back to my tent I stop by in the bathroom and run into Waldyka. Hes been up all night as well. The grin of his face lets me know he knows where I have been all night. We hang out and cause some trouble. The bugle goes off and now more people are up. Everyone’s up and hanging out in front of 7B. There is a crowd of people so I climb up into Lizzy’s bed on the top bunk because there is no where else to sit. I’m so tired that with in minuets I’m a sleep. But then the second bugle goes off and its time for flag poll.
Now my parents are here and its time to say goodbye. What an amazing summer, I can’t believe its over. As I am saying goodbye I notice Yoli is crying which I think is weird. She doesn’t strike me as the type to cry. I’m so tired all I can think about is going home and sleeping. I hand Josh the envelope my parents brought for him and thank him for the best summer I ever had at camp. We pile into the car and drive off.
In the car ride my parents tell me and my brother that they need to have a serious talk with us after dinner. The though of them getting a divorce flashes through my mind for a second, but that doesn’t make any sense and I quickly push it away. It seams weird they have never done this before but honestly I’m too tired to think about it. We get home and I go right to bed. 5 hours later I wake to my mother telling me its time for dinner. Half a sleep I stumble down the stairs of our house in New Hampshire. We eat dinner. I’m still half a sleep and don’t say much.
As we are clearing our plates my mom says again “Don’t go anywhere we need to talk.” I’m thinking to my self “yea I know I’m not going anywhere.” My brother and I site down again. Now my parents are sitting next to me, one on either side. I’m really stumped whats going on?
My father has a FedEx package on the table. From it he pulls out a magazine or a newsletter. On the cover is a man. He points to the picture and says to me “This is Dr. so and so and he works with children in Honduras.” It was at that point that I knew I found my family. I don’t know how I knew but I did. My father would go on to explain that he works for an organization in El Salvador that helps find lost children. I was hardly listening, I just knew what was coming next and it took everything I had not to completely break down into tears. I had been waiting for this for so long. Then he finally says it “…they believe they have found your birth family”
He goes on to say that I have a father in panama a step mother an older sister and brother. No mention of my mother yet. It turns out that I was born in El Salvador not Honduras. Both my parents fought in the civil war in El Salvador as guerillas As part of the war my mother went with me to Honduras to kid nap a business man. The government found out about it and stormed the house. They think my mother was the one who opened the door and was killed on site.
I feel numb. I’m not sure what to make of this. In all honesty I never imagined having an brother and sister and so many family members. As for my father…well I guess I never really thought about him. The only person I really wanted to see was my mother.
After losing her daughter and grandson my grandmother, who lives in Costa Rica, she went back to El Salvador in 1993 to try out what happened to them. With a little luck she found an organization to help her. They have sent the past 4 years looking for me and found our number on the Internet…how cool. They are the ones who provided the packet with the newsletter.
There are pictures too. My parents say they have been looking at the photos and think that my brother and I look a lot alike. I glance at the picture and I don’t see the resemblance. Its a group picture and my brother is in the back so its hard to tell. There are also letters written to the lost baby “Roberto.” That’s me. Robert…I don’t know if I like that name but my mothers name is Escobar and I think that’s a cool name. Its turns out my birthday is may 22nd so I’m really 16. My august birthday is in a few days but this kind of changes things.
My father says they want to do a blood test to see if we are actually related. He asks me if I would be willing to do it. The question surprises me. Of course I do, but truthfully I don’t need a blood test, I already know its them.