Welcome Home Johan Mateo

Welcome Home Johan Mateo
March 12, 2010 - Cars make me happy!

Feliz en los brazos de Mami

Feliz en los brazos de Mami

Todo la Familia

Todo la Familia
Enjoying the day at Monserrate

Our View on Adoption

Adoption is a wonderful metaphor for our salvation in Jesus. We are all adopted sons and daughters of God, brought fully into His family and loved unconditionally. We hope and pray that we honor God in this journey and come to know more deeply the depth of His love and our true identity in Him through this awesome experience.

"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 COR 6:18

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Heading home

We are happy and a bit sad as well to be heading home with Johan Mateo -- happy for him to get to know his new home, and sorry for all of us to be leaving our "second home" of Colombia. 

What a great month full of memories. We capped off our time with a visit from Gigi, and pretty quick she and Johan were buds. We stayed at Abuelita's house in Bogota for a few days and then spent a wonderful long weekend in Villa de Leyva, an old, preserved colonial town about 3 hours away in Boyoca. Pics to come. Now our last day is filled with packing and a last chance to eat arepas, roast chicken, papas saladas, REAL aquacate, etc. Tomorrow... enchiladas!

Mike Oakes

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sentencia Day, Florencia Caqueta, March 31

Sent from my iPhone

Diary: April 1 - Fools on a train

Thursday – Up early and took the Turistren from Usaquen to Zipaquera with Mariela, Tio Alvaro and Manuel. Fun 2 hour ride on the old steam train into the beautiful countryside north of Bogota – musicians played vallenato, ladies sold homemade empanadas, etc... 

From Zipaquera, we took a bus to the salt mine in Nemocon, a cute little town 25 minutes away. We toured the active salt mine, which was beautiful and interesting.

After a tour, we bussed back to Zipaquera, got takeout and ate in the train on the way home. Good times. 

Diary: March 31 - Sentencia Day

Wednesday – Mami flew in the morning to Florencia. She almost didn’t make it due to heavy rains in Caqueta but finally arrived, about 3 hours late, at 2pm, giving her 2 hours to get everything done. The Sentencia was finalized and JOHAN MATEO IS OURS! The civil registration office was closed, though, so Diego, our lawyer in Florencia, will finalize everything on Monday. Mami flew back and arrived at the hotel at 8pm. 

Meanwhile in Bogota, Abuelita came over at noon and took Papi and the girls to Santa Fe, a fancy shopping center. We had lunch and tried to go to Divercity, kind of a mall-based Disney land, but it was packed because of Semana Santa. So we had ice cream - Johan was crazy for the chocolate – and did a little shopping. Came home and waited for Mami. 

Diary: March 29-30

Monday – Mami went to the dentist, while Laura from Zuetana gave all the kids an empanada and arepa cooking class. Yummy stuff.

Tuesday – Relaxed morning. Papi took Johan to his last gymnastics class, while Mami took the girls – along with Antje and Paula - to Norberto’s for a fancy haircut and style session. The city is starting to slow down for Semana Santa, with shops starting to close and people leaving town. 

Diary: March 27-28

Saturday – Spent the day at Romel and Alejandra’s house on the northern edge of Bogota. Saw Edward, 14 years old now and getting bigger but now real change in his situation. Played some games, ate dinner and had a good time, especially Camila and Manuel. Johan did well but had trouble napping in a place besides his bed.

Sunday – Beautiful day for a long Cyclovia trip. We walked up Calle 116 to Usaquen. We walked through the traditional market, did a little shopping, ate obleas and arroz con leche., saw some little puppies for sale, doggie tricks and jugglers in the plaza. Really cool place. 

Then Mami headed home with the kids, while Papi rented a bike and rode south along the Septima to 70th street and back, stopping at a church for an outdoor Palm Sunday service. Camila and Gisele spent the night at Abuelitas, and Mami, Papi and Mateo went on a “date”. We went back to Usaquen, to a cool restaurant overlooking the plaza called Tinaja y Tazon. Johan ate at least half of Mami’s bandeja paisa, took a little walk then home to sleep. 

Diary - March 26 - Monserrate

Friday – Big news, we heard that Mami can travel down to Florencia next week for the Sentencia (the signing of the adoption papers making the adoption legal and final). This was a big surprise considering next week is Semana Santa, but the courts in Caqueta are open (the only state in Colombia where the courts are working this week!)

In the afternoon, we went with Sylvia and Jaime to Monserrate, met Mariela. The kids got their pictures taken on “Mateo” the llama, then we rode the cable car to the top. All the stations of the cross were being repainted for Semana Santa. Day was hazy and became increasingly foggy, rained a bit. Postponed visit to La Candelaria.

Diary: March 24-25

Wednesday – big family park day in the morning with the Pfeiffers and Ybacetas, everyone had a big time. Mami took Johan home early for his morning nap, then we had school time. Went back to the pizza playground place for lunch, met Livia and Abuelita. New shoes for Johan’s little feet in the afternoon and then back home. The heat really took it out of us all. Dinner and put kids to bed early, then played Farkle with the Pfeiffers, actually had some semblance of adult time.

Thursday – Johan is still eating well, and increasingly fun and funny. Loves tickling sessions, playing hide and seek with Camila and Gisele, and anything involving cars. His “little devil” side is starting to come out a little, including biting a few times (usually Camila when she tries to stop him from doing something he shouldn’t). But overall as sweet as ever and attaching great. Today we had gymnastics for Johan – he’s showing some improvement in coordination but needs lots of work on strength, enjoyed class a lot. Gisele had swimming class, swam like a fish. Then Camila did gymnastics. Teacher was very impressed with her skills and encouraged us to continue her in classes. 

Diary - March 23

Entegracion day at ICBF, went with whole family and met with social worker. We have been so blessed with a really smooth transition. Johan Mateo is blossoming, and the folks at ICBF noted the difference in his face and countenance. We got our necessary paperwork to continue with the court process down in Florencia, which by all accounts is going smoothly. We might be ready to go by mid-April or even earlier. After that went and had Johan checked for parasites, results negative which is good news, just hope he starts gaining some weight. He seems a little heavier, and eating certainly isn’t a problem. 

Integration day at ICBF Bogota - March 23, 2010

Diary - March 22

Monday – Big day, went with kids, Abuelita, Alvaro, Romel and Alejandra and their kids to Chicaque Park, a nature reserve south of Bogota. Strikingly beautiful, we had a big hike down from the cloud forest, dropped probably 1500 feet along a pretty rough trail, took about 2 hours, tiring especially with the kids. 

Camila and Gisele did great, actually kept pace with Manuel. Papi carried Johan Mateo in the Baby Bjorn, and he was a little trooper and seemed to really enjoy being outdoors. At the bottom we ate lunch in a cool restaurant overlooking a further drop into a valley, then luckily took a jeep back up the mountain to the top. Everyone was exhausted by day’s end.  

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Diary - Week of March 15

Week of March 15

Monday – Morning walk with Papi, looked at cars at the VW dealership (a very new kids activity for this Dad). Had lunch at Jeno’s Pizza, with a big long slide and climbing area. The girls couldn’t get enough of the slide; Johan not quite ready. In the afternoon, we took Johan for first pediatricians appointment; weighed 8.6 kilos, 75cm long, head circumference 46cm. Doc says he looks great in motor skills and overall health. Small for his age but hoping he will begin to gain weight.

Tuesday – Camila doing school mainly with Mami in the morning while Johan Mateo naps. In afternoon, Johan had first gym experience with Papi at Fitness Infantil. He did well but was pretty overwhelmed. Loved the slide, tolerated the trampoline, hated the merry-go-round. The girls helped and also had swimming class.

Wednesday – Johan Mateo experienced his first children’s museum. Went to Museo de los Ninos in Bogota with family and Abuelita. He loved the hall of mirrors and lighted floor, and was more active in their gymnastics area than yesterday, seems to be gaining confidence. Gisele was grumpy for much of the time. Everyone did some art projects then saw a little show. He really loves music, fitting in with rest of family. Good nap routine developing: 10-12am nap plus afternoon cat nap from 4-5; in bed by 8 but giggling and laughing until 9pm, driving Mom crazy. Up earlier than Oakes family is used to, typically around 6am.

Thursday – Skyped in the morning with Gigi, Papa, Allison and the girls who were visiting San Antonio for Spring Break, and they got their first sight of Johan Mateo. Experiencing his first sickness, slight fever and bronchitis but we’ve got him on some antibiotics already for his little head lesions, hoping it is short lived. Girls had swim class again. Johan wore his winne the poo robe with his high-tops and he looked like a lightweight boxer (featherweight, more like, peso-pluma).  Mommy got first unsolicited beso, after 2 hours of face to face play time.

Friday – Took it easy today, Johan’s fever gone and he’s active and playful. Papi and John played a lot one-on-one, getting closer. The girls are playing well with other kids in Zuetana: Gabriel (age 5, adopted at 3 months old from Bogota; his parents are back adopting 8 month old girl, Veronica; the Ybaceta family, Anabel is Mom, Niurca is Abuelita); Paola and Michael (ages 3 and 2, siblings adopted by Christian and Antje Pfeiffer from Fulda, Germany; we’ve become close and support each other, they are struggling with the kids but experiencing daily small victories). In the evening went to El Corral for burgers with Esperanza and Claudia. Johan ate like a pig. Overtired Gisele acted like a rabid dog, pushing Papi to the limit.

Saturday – Family party day at the Zuetana with most of Liliana’s local family. First day since we’ve been here that it threatened rain so the party was moved indoors to Zuetana’s small dining area. We were packed like sardines but happy. Guests: Abuelita & Alvaro; Romel, Alejandra, Manuel (11), Rommellito (4), Dasha (also celebrated her first birthday today), Daniel stopped by at end; Esmeralda, Alejandra (14), and Mauricio, Tia Flor; Lilia, Katerine y Johan (novio), John Fernando y Raquel y Juan Fernando (3); Lucia, Fabio y Angela; Erica, Fernando y 5 chicos entre 14 y 8 (William, Antony, Sebastian, Estefani y Santiago). The clown/balloons/puppet show was a big hit; Dasha laughed like crazy. Birthday cake for Dasha.

Sunday –Went with Antje and Christian to Cyclovia along Carretera 15, then prayer time and watched a sermon from Oak Hills. Weather remains pretty warm and sunny, like late Spring in San Antonio. Took it easy in the afternoon; had a family movie day with the girls, watched Man From Snowy River.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Diary - Sunday March 14

Sunday March 14
Great night last night. Sleeps better being flat on the pack and play. Cries only for a few minutes before he falls sleep with ELMO.

Naps in the morning. We had a short but wonderful devotional with our friends from Germany –Antja and and Christian - who adopted a sibling pair a day before us. We all needed encouragement in God’s word and some prayer time. The kids played with crafts and are learning to adapt the new worlds.

In the afternoon we went to short walk with our German friends and their 2 kids, Paula 3 ½ and Michael 11/2 . No Ciclovia today as it was Colombia’s congressional elections, but still a good walk.

We spent the afternoon playing with cars, cars, cars and more cars…….very new to me.
He fell sleep on my belly for a short nap. 45 incredible minutes. He is still afraid of bath time. We tried this time small tina but he stills crys. Little bubbles ….we will see.

After the bath, Mike gives him a light massage. They are getting more comfortable together. He lays on Mike’s belly w/o problem. It was so cute to see them together and taking pictures of these incredible first memories. Theres is something very special about boys that I am now beginning to understand.

Abulita came to visit for a while and helped to play with the girls.

We did our first medical treatment on him today. He came to the entrega with 2 abscesses on the head, probably infected mosquito bites.  We drained one ….the back one….poor little fellow. He is feeling better we think.

Sleeps on his belly (when not on his Mom's or Dad's belly).

Diary - Saturday March 13

First full day with Johan Mateo:

Saturday, March 13

He is calm and has a soft spirit. He still avoid us with his eyes today, but with work and giggles he starts looking to us and smiling.

This was a “get to know each other” day. We went to the park and had fresa ice cream. Johan Mateo enjoyed it a lot!!! Ate all the ice cream. He is very petite but eats a lot.

Gisele is doing wonderful, her transition is mainly related with obsessively wearing her monkeys pajamas or her Cinderella dress. Otherwise she is a little helper, especially with changing the diaper (more than Papi) and preparing the bottle.

He likes to feed himself. We gave him a Mickey Mouse plate with 2 plastic spoons and he really enjoys playing with them. Spits out the plantains, papa. Loves eggs with ham and queso. We got him a sippy cup with 2 handles and he drinks water constantly.

Camila is playing very well with a pushing car and he loves her. He smiles at her and is getting warmer with her. He likes his space though …..not to close….

Today was abuelita’s 65th birthday, and what a great present to have him.

For bath time he does not like bubbles or the tub. Brushing his teeth is a nightmare.
I am trying to let him hold and play with the toothbrush but he rejects it completely. I will try the finger one latter.

Morning with Papi

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Com la Mama y hermanita mayor

Riendo con Gisele


The "reunion day" was like a dream. Johan Mateo warmed up so quickly
and pretty soon was smiling and playing. He laughed and played the
whole car ride home, ate in his high chair, took his bottle and went
straight to sleep. Time will tell, but he seems to be attaching to us
all and feeling very comfortable. And we are all just silly giddy
about him. It truly couldn't have been a sweeter experience, and they
were right ... he is a muñeca.

ICBF was incredible, very caring and professional, and Gladney too, as
always. A special thanks to Beth and Raul in the states, to Sylvia and
Jaime in Bogota, to Nora, to Fanny and the ICBF folks in Florencia.
And to the incredible foster family that obviously loved and cared for
Johan so well these last 8 months. Mil Gracias!

Our families have been so supportive and loving. Muchas gracias a
Mariela, a Julita y Alvaro, y a Romel y Alejandra por su apollo en
estos diás. Thanks Gigi and Papa and Al, Kevin and the girls for love
and special prayers. And special thanks to everyone who covered this
adoption and this day in prayer. We TRULY feel it and attribute all
this to God's spirit of love that moves freely and abundantly, and
also responds to the prayers of His people ... a mysterious thing but
one that days like today just make abundantly clear. Thanks God for
today and for sending Johan Mateo into our family.

Heading to ICBF

2 hours to go, maybe less. Nervous, excited, short of breath (must be the altitude). Praising God above all!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jugando, preparando, esperando...

Spent the Morning with the cousins, then moved from Mariela's to Hotel
Zuetana. A couple from Germany just got here after their reunion with
2 girls, 3 and 5. They looked happy and shellshocked, as I'm sure we
will too. Several other families are here with kids near the age of

Going out now to buy a cake and balloons for tomorrow, and to register
the kids for swimming and gymnastics around the corner at Fitness

Killing time. 24 hours to go...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Testing out Zuetana's playground

Checking out Hotel Zuetana

Great guest house specializing in adopting famies, where we will stay
for 2 weeks after getting Johan Mateo. Playground, lots of kid
activities, 3 meals a day and basically all we need, and in a great
location. We spoke to Johan from here for the first time, he heard our
voices but didn't speak much. It felt like getting a single cracker
after a weeklong fast.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Enjoying Bogota with Family

We had a safe and easy trip to Bogota and are enjoying a few days of down time in Mariela's house before moving Thursday to the hotel and our reunion day on Friday (2:30pm). Yesterday, Sunday, Romel and Alejandra and their kids came over and spent the day. It was "cylcovia" in Bogota -- every Sunday they close many major roads to cars and the people get out on bikes, rollerblades, etc.. to enjoy the day. We took a nice long walk with the girls and stopped at a great, public park and recreational area. Bogota has great parks. We came back after a couple of hours with a pretty good sunburn. The weather is crazy these days, hotter than normal by a god 5-10 degrees, probably part of an "el nino" phase. Today we had the first day of "Discovery School Bogota" in the living room, so Camila can keep up with her school work. We hope to arrange a phone call with Johan Mateo later today or tomorrow. Also tomorrow we'll visit Hotel Zuetana for the first time and get prepared for the move on Thursday.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ya nos vamos!

In just over 24 hours we will be in Colombia. Heppppaaaa!

We're somewhere in that foggy area between ecstatic and exhausted. Half-packed and half-baked, and all drugged up. Gisele has an ear infection and Camila has strep throat. Mom and Dad are just trying to steer clear of the germs (good luck!). Just to make things exciting, Liliana traveled overnight to Dallas last night for a filming of some teaching videos... lookout Hollywood.

All that said, everything seems to be falling into place. Cleared the last major hurdle when my passport and visa arrived just in time from the Colombian embassy in Houston. Whew!

We had a great talk with our Gladney reps yesterday to go over the final details. We'll be staying at the Zuetana guesthouse in Bogota from the day before we receive Johan Mateo until 2 weeks after. The Zuetana is specially designed for adopting families, so its very family friendly and knows what we'll be needing. Its in a great location, near parks and swimming pools and other activities. After that we'll spend 3 weeks at Liliana's Mom's house. And then hopefully we'll be on our way home. Beth and Raul gave us some more info on Johan Mateo's foster situation that was really encouraging. Word is he's a real "muneco" (doll) and quite spoiled by the foster mom. God bless her for taking such good care of him!

OK, back to the packing. First time we've ever packed little boys' clothes. Looking forward to trying on those little shoes for the first time.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March 12

Finally, we have an entrega date! Friday March 12 in Bogota. We will
fly this coming Saturday, get acclimated and ready for the big day.