Leaving Corporate America to Find Hugo

I remember staring out of the window of the 60-floor corporate building above Grand Central overlooking all of Midtown Manhattan traffic. The corporate cold temperature of the office and cold chill radiating from my manager made that February day even more unbearable. I stared aimlessly at my computer dreaming that a mouse would chew the wires so that I could go home.

At twenty-four I stared out that window seat hoping to find meaning. I needed to grip even an ounce of faith to get me out of where I was at one of the most soul drenching and life-sucking positions with a turnover rate higher than the ceiling for opportunity. I knew I needed to make a difference in this world and I knew it would start by leaving where I was and doing one of the most difficult and terrifying things of my life: finding my birth family.

I ended up amicably leaving the company a week later. I remember waking up the next morning after a long night out in Brooklyn and thinking to myself, "Wow, this is it. No income, no job, and not even sure this was the right decision." But, I did what I thought I needed to do next, which was plan a trip to Medellin, Colombia and hire a search agency to find my birth family.

I had scheduled my trip to Colombia for April 23rd which out of complete coincidence was the day I was adopted. However, I don't believe in coincidence and began to see little signs from the universe that began to take shape into actuality after making this decision. At first, I didn't think I was going to hire a search agency. The inner child came out of me and imagined myself knocking door to door asking if they've seen my birth mom, holding a sketch I've drawn of her in my mind. I prepared the Spanish script in my head and imagined the faces that would greet me at the door. I imagined so vividly the sounds of the streets and the heat burning on my neck. Reality kicked in and decided to hire a search agency.

Shockingly, within about two weeks I was told to get onto a skype call with the head of the search agency. A week before that, I had found out my birth father had been killed in a motorcycle accident. I was sitting in Starbucks trying to piece together life while listening to a homeless guy shuffle through his stale newspaper when my mom gave me the call. So when I was told to get onto skype, I knew there was no telling what the tone of the call would be.

I was asked, "Is your name Jordan? I said "Yes." They asked, " Were you born on February 2nd, 1995?" I said, "Yes," still not quite sure the tone of her voice. Then, finally, she asked, " Do you like late birthday presents?!" I said, "Of course.." And then she said, " I have found your birth family, and they would love to meet you!" I thought I was dreaming. The rest of what she said I blacked out and genuinely don't remember- I just knew I had a half-brother and another mom who wanted to see me.

On the plane ride over to Medellin, I knew my life would change forever. I was now staring out of the window overlooking my birth country, unsure of my career, unsure of how I was going to make money, but I had more faith than I ever had before. My path was beginning to form understanding and the heaviness surrounding my adoption was beginning to turn to light.

After a couple of days, I had met my birth family and was overjoyed with the unconditional love and support they showed for me. They fed me and showered me with a welcome home party. My birth mom unraveled my adoption story and spoke to me about the trials and tribulations she went through with no money, no job, and little hope to bring another child into this world. She told me that she kept the adoption to herself in fear that her parents wouldn't accept me. However, miraculously one day she heard on the radio that Casa de Maria y El Niño orphanage was taking in pregnant women to work there and get the prenatal and medical care they needed to deliver a healthy baby. She left my half brother and parents and told them she found a good-paying job in Bogota and said she'd be back in 4 months. Little did they know, she was pregnant and doing all she could to give me a better life.

I felt grateful and admired by my birth mom's will and strength to get me the prenatal and medical care I needed to be healthy. After hearing her story, I came back to the United States filled with ideas as to how I could use The Hugo Project to help even more children around the world. I started to do some research on children in third world countries and quickly found out the staggering numbers of malnutrition in 3rd world countries for children. I saw the rates in which children were dying because of vitamin deficiencies as a result of a lack of proper nutrients.

So I partnered with a nonprofit called Ricebowls, an incredible nonprofit organization that works in 12 different countries to feed orphaned children. These meals are locally sourced and nutritious meals that just for a dollar a day can feed a child 3 meals! We are still working to get resources for the children of Casa de María, however, right now because of the success we've had and the happiness it's given us we've decided to tackle malnutrition, another issue to help orphaned children.

If you were wondering more about just how much malnutrition affects children, take a look at my blog, " 7 Malnutrition Facts You May Not Know."

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