Adopted man returns to Colombia, finds birth mother had died
::gives a nod to SJ from the K@W list yet again for this article::
(By the way sorry for dropping a huge post load today, but I’ve been out of it lately so I thought I’d make up for lost time) -G.S.
HAVERHILL — Chris Hallock was standing near a dirt trail in Colombia
when his quest came to an end — he was told his biological mother was
dead — and he wept.
Hallock, who grew up in an upper-middle-class white family in
Bedford, N.H., was adopted as an infant from an orphanage in
Cut off from his native land, he yearned to learn his roots, setting
off as an adult three times to Colombia to find answers to his past.
“I had to know what this woman looked like,” Hallock said of his
quest to meet his biological mother. “I had to know her face.”
It was on the last trip to Colombia in 2004 he learned the truth
about his mother, Ana Isabel Chunza, who died more than 10 years
earlier. He filmed the trip, including the emotional moments he found
out about his mother and later met his half-brother Roberto, and
created a 120-minute documentary film called “Rebirth.”
Hallock, 36, will screen the film at Maria’s Family Restaurant on
Locust Street in Haverhill tonight, headlining a festival celebrating
The film aims to help children who are adopted from Latin America who
want to learn about their homeland.
“Searching for the answers … burning in my thoughts for so long
have made me feel complete as a person,” Hallock said.
Haverhill resident Carmenza Bruff, who moved to the United State from
Colombia 28 years ago, has been helping Hallock learn more about
Colombia. She is a member of the Colombian Cultural Committee of the
“I commend Chris for taking the time and exploring where his roots
are,” Bruff said. “I think it plays a role in the identity part for
any human being. It’s a right an individual has is to look for roots.”
Tonight’s festival is sponsored by the Colombian Cultural Committee,
a group founded by Lawrence City Councilor Nunizo DiMarco to fight
Colombian stereotypes — cocaine production, corruption and
kidnapping, among them.
Tonight’s event costs $20 and includes a dancing show by Boston-based
BAJUCOL Colombian Folkloric Dance Group and a presentation by
Colombian writer German Ortiz.
The profits will benefit an orphanage or adoption agency in Colombia,
Hallock’s story starts in Bedford, N.H., where he grew up with his
adoptive parents, Bill and Judy Hallock. They told him early on he
was from Colombia, and would sometimes give him gifts heralding his
home nation, such as a parking sign for “Colombians Only.”
The younger Hallock remembers the moment he knew he had to know even
more about this past.
His father dropped him off to play pick-up basketball, and to his
surprise, several Spanish-speaking Latino men from the inner-city
Hallock, who was 15 at the time, thought he knew their type from
watching television — knife-wielding troublemakers. Teams were
divided into shirts and skins, and bare-chested Hallock took a quick
break to the bathroom. He prejudices hit him in the face.
“I ended up looking in the mirror and thinking, `oh my God, I’m one
of them,’ ” Hallock said of seeing his darker skin.
He has since been eager to learn the language, culture and history of
Colombia and his family.
On his third trip to Colombia, he found the small town his mother
came from and went from door-to-door with a translator looking for
her. Eventually he found his aunt who took him to a decrepit white
shack where his mother once lived. It was then he found out she died
But he also found out that he had an older half-brother, who he later
found and who told him the story of why he was adopted.
Hallock’s mother was working as a waitress in a restaurant, living in
a back room at the diner. She gave birth to him and the restaurant
owner said the baby could not live there with her. She wanted to give
the baby boy a better life and allowed police to take Hallock to an
More then three decades later, Hallock visited his mother’s grave in
the city of Bogota with Roberto.
“The visit to her grave site was never a thought in my mind before
the trip,” he said. “I had always thought I would meet her in person.”