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Psychologists prepare tot for reunion with mother freed by Colombian rebels

BOGOTA, Colombia - Psychologists are teaching the three-year-old son of a released hostage to recognize the mother he was snatched away from, showing him photos ahead of their long-awaited reunion.

BOGOTA, Colombia - Psychologists are teaching the three-year-old son of a released hostage to recognize the mother he was snatched away from, showing him photos ahead of their long-awaited reunion.

Clara Rojas was freed to emissaries of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday after six years of captivity by Colombian rebels.

Walking off a plane and into the arms of tearful relatives in the Venezuelan capital, Rojas wore a necklace with a picture of her son, Emmanuel, whom she hasn't seen in almost three years.

Born in a dangerous, kitchen-knife Caesarean section delivery in the jungle, Emmanuel was a sickly child.

When he was eight months old, Rojas said she gave the rebels permission to take him away for two weeks to receive treatment for a broken arm and leishmanisis, a parasite malady common in the jungle.

The next time Rojas received news of her son was two weeks ago, while listening on the radio to a New Year's Eve speech by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who asserted the child was no longer in the clutches of Rojas' captors: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

DNA tests confirmed the boy had been living in a Bogota foster home for more than two years under a different name, Juan David Gomez.

Elvira Forero, head of Colombia's child welfare agency, said Thursday that she spoke with Rojas, who was still in Caracas, and assured her that Colombian authorities were ready to hand over Emmanuel "whenever she decides she's ready."

In the meantime, Forero said games are being used to teach the child to recognize his given name, which was changed after he was taken from his mother.

In an interview Friday with Colombian W Radio, Rojas shied away from discussing the boy's father, one of her guerrilla captors.

"He never knew I was pregnant - or not from me anyway," said Rojas, without providing further details about their relationship.

She said she did tell fellow hostage Ingrid Betancourt, a presidential candidate with whom Rojas was kidnapped in 2002 while campaigning in a FARC-dominated area of southern Colombia.

"Ingrid was the first person I told," Rojas said. "She immediately offered her unconditional support." But soon, she said, the rebels separated her from Betancourt as well.

Three American defence contractors who were taken hostage in 2003 also were present when the child was born, Rojas said.

 
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