Marcia Engel: "Zoveel moeite om mijn eigen ouders te vinden. Voor een recht dat ieder kind heeft – het recht om te weten wie zijn ouders zijn. Ik bedacht ter plekke: dit moet anders, ik ga mensen helpen. En dit gaat verder dan het zoeken naar familieleden. Ik wil mensen bewust maken van hun rechten en mogelijkheden.”

Roadmap for finding your biological parents

1. Your adoption file

First, you should make sure your adoption file is as complete as possible.
This should contain:
1.    Birth certificate 
2.    Proof of relinquishment 
3.    Copy of your Colombian passport
4.    Name [Colombian name]
5.    Name biological mother/father
6.    Your own cedula number 
7.    Cedula number of your biological mother/father
8.    Last known address of the mother
9.    Hospital where you were born

2. Organizations to approach

If you are not in possession of your adoption papers then you can request them from several organizations:
1.    The mediation agency that helped your adoptive parents with your adoption
2.    The lawyer who helped your adoptive parents with your adoption
3.    The child protection agency
4.    ICBF (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar)
5.    The orphanage where you have been

Once you think your file is as complete as possible, try to translate it. This way you are sure that you understand everything in the file.

Mediation agency and Child protection agency
In most cases the mediation agency will charge you a fee to search their records. If you are adopted in the Netherlands the file can be requested free of charge at the Dutch Council for Child Protection in Haarlem.

Your file can be requested from the ICBF through: Maria is someone who is authorized to request your file from the orphanage where you have been. Usually you will hear that it would take 15 days. But experience shows that it often takes several months.

Your email should include the following information:
- your birth name and current name
- the name of the orphanage in Colombia where you have been
- the name of your adoptive parents
- the country you were adopted to
In order to be complete you should send a copy of the papers you have collected so far. In addition state that you are looking for your birth family and that you would like to receive a copy of your adoption file.

The orphanage

Orphanages in Colombia often indicate that due to a change in the law the file can be requested at the headquarters of the child protection agency in Bogota (ICBF) only. But if you are in Colombia visiting the orphanage by yourself they may cooperate.

3. Make yourself known on the Internet

1.    Facebook: write to everyone who has the same last name as you. That could be a lot of people but, from experience, we know it is possible to find your family that way. A huge amount of people are on Facebook worldwide, so probably also a relative of yours.
2.    Sign up with several online adoption registries, especially the Hispanic registries.
3.    Make a video of yourself and put it on various social media and video channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
4.    Join various adoption groups on Facebook.
5.    Are you in possession of a cedula number? Then you can consult the following websites: 
6.    Send your story to newspapers and television programs to reach even more people.

4. What you should know about your biological family

•    Your biological family has no right to search. Al legal ties have been severed. 
•    Your biological family has no right to access to your file.
•    The chance is very high that your family will get on non-Hispanic records.
•    All your biological family can do is to go back to where they last saw you and there leave their data in case you are looking for them.
•    There is a chance they do not know which orphanage you have been.
•    Although it does not seem so, there is a good chance that they have also started searching.
•    The chances are very small that they have no interest.
•    Most birth parents would already be happy if they know that their child is doing well.
•    Searching for biological family could take many years.