Superscripts: Searching for Sergio

Welcome to Superscripts, a bi-weekly summary column of past episodes of Everyday Superhumans. Each entry will cover the highlights of each episode and transcribe them into bite sized bits of superhuman inspiration for you to have on hand.

In November of 1985 a disaster struck Armero, Colombia when a dormant volcano erupted. In its wake, a devastating mudslide plummeted down the mountainside and destroyed the Colombian town. The aftermath left thousands dead, buildings in ruin, and families separated. After the event, the Colombian government did its best to restore the lost city, and reunite the families torn apart. However, in the past few years it has been discovered that three hundred children who were presumed dead are not, and were allegedly given up for adoption, their records now missing. Finding Sergio is the story of one man’s ongoing mission to reunite the missing children with their long lost parents.

To listen to the full interview with Jared Gossett, of Finding Sergio. Click here to listen to the full length episode.

What is the story behind this search for Sergio?
A dormant volcano erupted in Armero, Colombia leaving the Colombian town in ruins. Families were torn apart, homes were lost, and while the Colombian government did it’s best to return children to their families, not everyone was reconnected. Fast forward to the past few years, it has been revealed that these 300 children that were presumed dead were allegedly given up for adoption, Sergio being one of them.

What was one of the craziest aspects of this story about Sergio?
One of Maria’s distant friends comes to her and says that she has something to tell her in regards to her son. During a trip to New Orleans she was approached by a man who asked her where she was from. She told him she was visiting from Columbia. Upon hearing this the man grew incredibly excited and proceeds to tell her that he has a brother in Italy that just adopted a little boy from Colombia. He then produces a picture of young Latino boy with blue eyes. She had no doubt that the boy in the photo was Sergio.

While Maria’s friend could’ve easily mistaken the little boy in the picture, what was the convincing factor that basically proves that the picture was of him?
Sergio had very distinct blue eyes, which was not very common in Columbia. Given the recent events the chances of the boy being Sergio are very high.

What steps are you taking to help Maria find her son?
Jared is first wanting to create a small team that will take an investigative approach towards finding out more information on the missing children. He believes that the main mission should be to hire a filmmaker and a producer to go down to Colombia with him and create a 3-5 minute film (somewhat interview style, like 60 Minutes) that will spark emotion in the viewers and get the search rolling.

Why are you the one helping and not someone in Colombia?
Having traveled between Austin and Columbia extensively, Jared found that there was just a little bit of a different mentality around volunteerism and philanthropy. In that people in America tend to have more time and resources on their hands to carry out philanthropic missions like this. It’s not that Colombians don’t want to help, it’s just that Americans tend to live in a better economic conditions that allows them the time and resources to help others in need.

What else do you need alongside the filmmakers?
Right now a web developer is needed to create a website to have a platform that people can refer to to see how the investigation is moving along. Jared is also looking for a private investigator that could devote their time to track down the roots of this story and the man Maria Lucia’s friend met in New Orleans. Finally, he would like to hire a virtual assistant that will look at literally every Sergio in Italy on Facebook.

Why do you think someone would adopt Sergio illegally?
His understanding is that the adoption process is very expensive and takes an extremely long time to withstand, so parents who can’t afford to undergo the adoption process perhaps avoided certain legalities in order to get the child quicker. However, this incident in Colombia was very chaotic so who knows what exactly happened in regards to the handling of the “missing” children.