Gabriel was born in 1988, in Colombia, and was adopted by a Norwegian family in 1989. Growing up in a small, pretty little town in east Norway, he was the only brunette among the blonde kids.
"You can spot this darker kid in the middle of blue-eyed, blond kids in our class photo for kindergarten. I was aware of how different I was when I was a kid. My family is very kind and understanding. Then came the day we had the talk 'Yes, Gabriel... You are not Norwegian but this does not mean we love you any less. You may be a little different but you are just as important as anyone else. We will be here to support you should you decide to search for your roots'.
"This one day we were in the living room and I told my dad 'Dad, it's 2009. We live in the age of technology. Facebook exists. What if my mum has a Facebook account?'. I knew her name, the city she lived in and her birth year. I also had this age-old black and white photo in my hands. Though it was hard to figure out my mum's appearances just looking at this photo".
"We logged on Facebook and searched for my mum's full name. A Spanish name, very common in both Spain and South America. Thousands of profiles appeared. First I thought 'no way I can find her' but I still wanted to try".
"Came across this profile after a some time. The full name, the city and the birth year were matches. 'Could it be?' I thought. I was not speaking any Spanish back then. My dad spoke some after spending time in Colombia. Though it was a simple one, he helped me write a message:
"Hi, my name is Gabriel Castaño (the name I was given by my mother). I was born in Bogota, in 1988. You have the same name my mum does, just like your birth year and the city you live in. I am 21, living in Norway currently. I am looking for my biological mother. Any chance you could be her? Best Regards".
"I was truly excited! We had not heard back for a few days and then, the profile disappeared. I couldn't make sense of it. Either I wrote to the wrong person or I wrote to the correct one and created some panic. No replies for the following three years. Then one night, at the end of three years, I noticed a friend request while checking my Facebook account. You should ask my friend how I was at that moment cause I have no recollection of it. I was in total shock. The profile my mother's name. It was the one I wrote to three years earlier. We started chatting. I did not speak any Spanish just as my mother spoke no English. We were trying to communicate with help from Google Translate but it was tough. At the end, I decided to visit my mother on my birthday".
It was just like the TV shows where people reunite after years... Our reunion in Colombia was just like that. My mother and her family on one side, me and my Norwegian family on the other... We hugged each other in a circle. My mother started saying things I could not understand.
This was her story:
When my mother realized she was pregnant with me and told my father about it, my dad had done what most Colombian men did and left my mother. She was pregnant and left alone at a very young age. Her grandmother was very old and it was unacceptable for them to have a baby born out of the wedlock. Therefore, she did not have the courage to tell her family.
She had gone to Bogota and decided to find a job and stay there. I was born prematurely in 1988 at the hospital. Apparently I had some complications at birth, some of which could have been fatal. One day they had taken me away from her for treatment and that was the last time she had seen me. She could not find me. She decided to return home and not mention the issue.
"My mother's family had not a clue about me. She never thought I would find her. When she received my message three years earlier, she could not believe it and did not know what to do. It had taken three years for my mother to talk to her family about me. They had responded positively and she decided to contact me".
Gabriel learned Spanish later on. He occasionally visits Colombia to spend time with his mother and sister. He has two families nowadays. One in Norway, the other in Colombia...