Kidsave, a nonprofit which works to move older kids out of foster care or orphanages and into permanent, loving homes, plans to bring orphaned or abandoned children, age 8 to 13, to Montclair and the New York metropolitan area from Colombia, and to find host families for them for a four-week summer visit.
The goal of this visit is to help these kids find permanent families, their own “forever homes.”
Rachael Egan, a writer and mother of two who lives in Baristaville, plans to host a child from Kidsave in July.
“I want to help a child who needs a family, and I also want to help people who have not experienced the joys of adoption, to feel that sense of connection to the world, and the other gifts that arrived along with our children,” said Rachael, whose two daughters adopted from infancy in NYC, are of Mexican and Colombian descent.
“We can’t wait to meet our little (13 year old) guest from Colombia this summer. Our youngest says she will teach her how to swim, which is pretty funny because at the moment she swims more like a rock than anything else!”
Kidsave says on its website, “Children growing up in foster care and orphanages – government run and private ones — are at great risk. These are the forgotten children. These are the children Kidsave serves.”
The Colombian orphans picked for the Summer Miracles program would have very little chance of being adopted in the absence of this trip, Kidsave says.
There is no pressure on host families themselves to adopt these children, although a number of them do go on to do so. Families may wish to host simply to advocate for a child and help them find a permanent home.
Over the four weeks, the children will experience family life, create kinships with the host family’s children, and attend weekend events that are aimed at introducing them to families keen to adopt a child. Training is provided for the host families, and there is a whole ream of safeguards in place to ensure the childrens’ safety during the program.
Another NJ family, the Chalkans of Lincoln Park, hosted a child named Ingrid from Colombia in 2008. By the time she returned to Colombia, her hosts knew Ingrid was meant to be part of their family, and her adoption was finalized in June 2009.
Ingrid’s mother Lisa Rasp-Chalkan told Barista Kids, “This program is a wonderful way to find families for older, orphaned children. Not many people set out to adopt a teen or preteen, but once they meet these children and form connections with them, anything is possible. Whether or not the host family goes in to adopt, the child develops lifelong friendships.”
Ingrid, who was about 12 and didn’t speak English when she first arrived two years ago, has adjusted well and made “wonderful friends,” Lisa said. She was named artist of the month twice at school, and student of the month once, excels at gymnastics and even cheers for her town’s football team.
There will also be an orientation meeting for the Kidsave Summer Miracles Program on Saturday, April 9th at 4:00pm, hosted by the First Congregational Church at 40 South Fullerton Street.
(Top photo, courtesy of Kidsave, shows NJ and NY families who hosted Kidsave children last summer; second photo shows, from left, the Chalkan sisters, Adrianna, 11, Ingrid, 14, Gianna, 7, and Gisella, 13 and their dog Brooklyn)