Standing atop a hotel patio last December, Astrid Dabbeni scanned Bucaramanga, Colombia's, urban panorama. Glossy high rises, red-roofed suburbs and gritty slums spread for miles across the city where she and her sister last saw their birth mother 36 years earlier.From Part II:
Astrid, 41, co-founder and executive director of the Portland-based nonprofit Adoption Mosaic, had long thought of trying to find her. Yet, shortly before Christmas, as she was poised to begin, the logistical and emotional heft of that search sank in.
She had little to go on. Adoption records from the 1970s were sketchy. Even if she found her files, corruption was rampant in Colombia's adoption pipeline then; birth certificates and other documents were sometimes fabricated and unreliable. Plus, she didn't speak Spanish.
How could she possibly find one person, she remembers wondering, in a city of more than 1.2 million?
What if her birth mother was dead, as Astrid's sister suspected?
If she was alive, what if she didn't want to be found?
Astrid's daughter, Maya, 9, wrapped her in a tight hug. Her husband, Paolo, did, too.
Tears welled in her eyes.
She knew how logistically complicated and emotionally challenging birth-parent searches could be.FYI, Part I focuses more on Astrid's birth mother and how Astrid and her sister made it into the adoption pipeline; Part II talks about Astrid's adoptive parents and gives details of the search and reunion.
At one point her sister, who lives in New Mexico and who was not inclined to search, told Astrid she believed their birth mother was dead. Astrid wasn't sure searching for a dead person was a good idea.
Other questions common to adoptees bubbled up: If her mother was alive, was she living on the streets? If Astrid found her, how responsible would she feel to support her birth mother financially if she was poor? Did the woman want to be found? And, of course, why did she give up Astrid and Maria?
"It dawned on me," Astrid says, "that I might lose myself in finding my birth family."