Luis Jaime Acosta
Bogota – Three-year-old Jhonatan was playing with his brother Alfonso in their garden in western Bogota on Sept. 25, 1987, when a family friend approached, inviting him to buy candy.
Jhonatan went with the man, vanishing without a trace for 32 years.
Older brother Juan Jimenez, then 5, was looking out the window when the man took his brother and grew up with his mother Ana’s grief over the disappearance.
Years later, in 1994, the man came to the house and alleged the boys’ stepfather had asked him to take the child. He said – falsely – that Jhonatan had been adopted in the United States.
Juan vowed to find his brother.
“That was the obsession for me,” said Juan, who moved to the United States in 2007 to work as an actor. “I grew up seeing Mommy suffering so much … that was my big desire, to try to do something in this situation.”
Juan found the man who had taken Jhonatan on social media, but the man died before they could meet. Then a DNA company donated a test in the hope he could match with Jhonatan that way.
In 2019, Juan got a message from 34-year-old lawyer in Norway, who said he had been adopted at age 4 and was trying to find his biological family.
“The (DNA) result suggests you are my half brother, uncle or nephew,” the message said. “It seems I am closer to finding more information about what happened in Colombia in the 80s.”
Juan went to Norway in January 2020 to meet Jhonatan, now John. The brothers then returned to Colombia.
“I always wanted to find my family,” said Jhonatan. “It was hard for me going through all my childhood, not knowing about my biological family.”
Trapped in Colombia by a coronavirus lockdown on a visit last year, Jhonatan studied Spanish and celebrated the 29 birthdays his Colombian family, including delighted mother Ana, missed.
“We can never get back the 32 years we missed. But we can make the next 32 the most amazing moments in our lives,” Jhonatan said.