When I was fourteen, my biggest problem was being grounded during homecoming weekend. What never even occurred to me while I steamed and plotted against my parents was that I was lucky to be grounded because I HAD parents in the first place whose job it was to take care of me.
Lizeth is fourteen right now. Her biggest problem is that she is about to age out of the orphanage she lives in in Colombia and be on her own…left to figure out the rest of her life. Two years ago she had to make the heart-wrenching choice to separate from her younger brother Andres because their government had decided that while Andres, then just ten, still had a chance of finding a family to adopt him, the then twelve-year-old Lizeth did not.
Lizeth was left behind as her baby brother was selected by their government to fly to Maryland as part of the Kidsave program, an incredible non-profit here in the US that’s dedicated to finding homes for children who are considered “un-adoptable” — kids that are older than those who tend to benefit from traditional adoption programs. Founded by Terry Baugh and Randi Thompson, two mothers and friends who had separately built their families through adoption, Kidsave was inspired by the faces of the children in the Russian orphanage where Terry traveled to adopt her child…faces of children like Lizeth who would be booted from the orphanage and left to their own devices on the streets at the age of fifteen. In the summer of 1999, Terry and Randi brought 177 kids to the US from countries around the world to spend the summer with host families who were committed to introducing them to as much of their communities as possible in hopes of finding them permanent homes. That first summer, 97% of the kids involved in the program were adopted.
That was still the case two years ago when Andres’ Kidsave host family in Maryland, Sarah and Ryan Widman, fell in love with the boy they were hosting and decided to adopt him themselves. Now Andres’ and his adoptive parents and doing everything they can to prevent Lizeth from aging out of the system in Colombia and being out on her own when she turns fifteen next year. Unable to host Lizeth themselves, the Widmans have again teamed with Kidsave to allow Lizeth the chance her brother had. Together, they are spreading the word as far and wide as they can in hopes of finding a family who can host Lizeth in the US this summer, THE LAST SUMMER SHE IS ELIGIBLE so that she can find a family of her own.
Do you or someone you know have room in your home and heart to host Lizeth this summer? According to [Kidsave founder] Terry Baugh–
Lizeth is a sweet girl who is proud when she does well in school and has enjoyed practicing her English with her brother. She has an excellent sense of humor and shows maturity beyond her years.
Terry goes on to explain:
Our Summer Miracles host families welcome a child into their homes for four to five weeks, usually the whole month of July and the first week of August. They provide all basic needs, food, clothing, summer camp, activities and most important: advocacy. The primary goal of the host family is to introduce the child to their community, their circle of friends, religious groups, and anyone else who can help ensure the child finds a family during their stay. The program aims to create awareness of children growing up in foster care and orphanages by introducing Americans to kids who have little or no chance of finding adoptive parents in their own county. Since 1999, more than 1,700 children have participated in the program and more than 85 percent of them have found permanent families as a result.
Last summer, I had a chance to meet some of the Kidsave kids and their families, specifically one Santa Monica Mom who was so enamored with the beautiful son she’d met through Kidsave, she was spending the summer hosting two more boys while her own happy, handsome, excelling, son was on a class trip to Japan…living a life worlds away from his childhood as a Colombian orphan. It was incredible to be surrounded by people who had opened their lives to change someone elses in such a profound way, and it made me hope that one day my family is in a position to host a Kidsave Summer Miracle of our own. Until then, I’ll talk about them whenever I can. So let’s find Lizeth a host family, and give another kid a chance at a different life. If you think you can help, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.