Roots in Colombia: Bergstroms return to the place where they became a familySue and Craig Bergstrom and their daughter, Tina, traveled to Bogota, Colombia in August to visit FANA orphanage, Tina’s home for the first four months of her life.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
The Bergstroms returned in August to the place where they became a family more than 18 years ago.
Sue and Craig and their daughter, Tina, traveled to Bogota, Colombia, to visit FANA orphanage, Tina’s home for the first four months of her life.
“I had a whole mixture of emotions. I was excited, nervous, kind of scared, anxious. I didn’t know what to expect because I had never been there,” Tina says.
Her main goal for the trip was to see what was in her adoption file at the orphanage (Fundacion para la Asistencia de la Ninez Abandonada in Spanish).
Having turned 18 last September, the records were open for her to review.
She learned that her mother was from Boyaca, a small community about a three-hour drive down the mountains from Bogota.
Her mother – Rosa Cano – was 19 years old when she gave her up for adoption. Her unnamed father was 31. Her birth parents met at a party and had known each other for about 10 months when her birth mother became pregnant.
“I didn’t really know what to feel,” Tina says. “It’s kind of weird when you think about the life you could have had, I suppose. Or the mother you could have had.”
Her birth mother’s farm family didn’t know she was expecting a child. She arrived at a “mother’s home” in her ninth month of pregnancy. The record isn’t clear on whether she ran away to the mother’s home or told her family she was leaving for work.
Maria Teresa, the same orphanage official who handled Tina’s adoption 18 years ago, emphasized that her birth mother had given her up out of love. She knew she couldn’t support her financially — and wanted her to have the love of both a mother and a father.
Tina also was given a copy of a small photograph of her birth mother.
“I’ve definitely wondered what she looks like — how much we look alike,” Tina says.
According to Sue, Tina has her birth mother’s eyes and hair. Both of them are pretty.
“I was really satisfied with the information I got. I’ll always keep it with me,” Tina says.
“It kind of feels like I’m complete now. I know more about my heritage and who my birth mother was. And I have no problem with not getting to meet her. I’m satisfied with what I have here, and knowing that she gave me up in love. It’s a blessing that she would give me up when she knew that she couldn’t take care of me. I have such a good life here and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Tina is the Bergstroms’ only child. Over the years, they’ve tried to help her learn about her Colombian heritage.
They’ve also kept in touch with other families with children adopted from Colombia through a group called Friends of FANA Minnesota. The families get together several times a year so the children grow up knowing others of Colombian heritage.
Every year, Friends of FANA holds an essay writing contest for the teenagers in the group.
Tina won this year’s contest and $1,500 for the trip to Colombia. She wrote about public perception of Colombia, and how it affects her as a person of Colombian heritage.
People often have negative views of Colombia, fed by news stories and movies about war, drugs and poverty, Tina says.
She has learned good things about the country known for its gold, emeralds, fruit and coffee. The trip there – and meeting its friendly, stylish citizens – reinforced the positive image of Colombia in her mind.
The Bergstroms aren’t threatened by Tina exploring her roots.
“I just always wanted her to have all the information,” Sue says. “I feel really secure in our relationship. So I just want to help her learn whatever she wants to learn.”
Sue and Craig each own and operate businesses.
Sue’s company, HR Connections, provides resources to people who work in the human resources field. Her office is located in the Calhoun Beach Club in Minneapolis.
Craig is a home remodeling contractor. His company is True North Remodeling.
He’s been a carpenter for 26 years and was a subcontractor for Landsted Homes for 15 years.
The Bergstroms reside in a spacious home near the Rolling Ridges Girl Scout Camp east of Hudson. They’re founding members of Faith Community Church.
Tina went to elementary school in Oakdale, Minn., during a period when the family lived there to shorten Sue’s and Craig’s work commutes.
The family returned to Hudson at the beginning for middle school for Tina.
Tina graduated from Hudson High last spring and is now attending Century College.
She was a Miss Hudson candidate twice during her high school years and was president of the Diversity Club her senior year.
She joined a high school choir as a senior and got to go with it on a tour of Europe. Craig went along as a chaperone.
“I’m definitely glad I live here,” Tina says. “People always ask me if I have visited Colombia and if I would ever want to move there. I always say no, because I’m so used to the United States and I’m comfortable with it.”