A story of international adoption from Cali, Colombia

I worked with Jacob Taylor-Mosquera this past spring on a map to accompany his memoir. He writes about his international/transracial adoption from Colombia and his search to find his biological family.

When he first contacted me he included a link to his website. Before I spoke with him I read through his blog posts, in which he released snippets of his book, whetting my interest for more of his story.

We had a wonderful phone call, talking about travel and learning Spanish (Jacob teaches and I had just returned from a trip to Havana – and no, I don’t speak Spanish yet), and about international adoption. My nephews were adopted from Korea, and we talked about community supports and programs for Korean adoptees in Ontario, and he told me about adult adoptee networks and communities in Washington, in particular the Latin American community.

We also talked about the neighbourhoods in Cali – it’s a city of over 3 million people – and how the neighbourhoods mentioned in his book are mostly on the east side and primarily populated by internally-displaced people from conflict zones. He explained to me that Cali is like two cities in one.

Jacob wanted a city map with major roads and specific neighbourhoods labelled, and an overview map showing major cities in Colombia. This map would help his readers picture the areas of the city he references in the text.

As always, I started with a preliminary layout draft, showing the coverage area we discussed in the consultation phone call. It included only major roads and neighbourhood outlines, and the inset of Colombia with a few cities.

layout draft of Map of Cali

After initial feedback I sent along an updated layout, zoomed in a bit closer, and with the option of adding more roads. When I send options like this, they are in layers that are easy for me to turn on and off as needed.

Cali map layout draft with more roads
Illustrator layers for map of Cali

Once we had the scale and layout set, I could start applying some styles. I already did some of that in the layout drafts, applying different fill areas for this greyscale map. For the first full design draft I added labels for the neighbourhoods to the main map, and for the cities on the small inset map. And because I didn’t put the inset in a border, I added a dropshadow to differentiate it from the whitespace around the main map. I sent two options – with different fonts, different style for the inset map, and lighter roads and neighbourhood colour.  

design draft1 of Cali map with darker neighbourhoods and white inset of Colombia
design draft1 of Cali map with lighter neighbourhoods and grey inset of Colombia

Jacob liked the grey option for the inset, and the final map included a few additional points that are mentioned in the book.

Final version of Cali Map for I Met Myself Memoir

Jacob’s memoir, “I Met Myself in October: A Memoir of Belonging“, is available now as an ebook, and the paperback will be released in a few weeks. Based on our conversations, I’m sure it will be a very interesting read. Will order my copy as soon as it’s available in print!

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