Conowingo fam­ily hosts Colom­bian child in need of adoption

Cecil Whig - - & - By BRI­ANNA SHEA

bshea@ce­cil­whig.com

— For a few weeks this sum­mer, the Ford fam­ily will grow by one mem­ber.

The Conowingo fam­ily is cur­rently host­ing 12-yearold Leidy, an or­phan from Colom­bia, un­til Aug. 1 in hopes of help­ing her find an adop­tive fam­ily. Leidy is one of many chil­dren who will come to the United States this sum­mer as part of the 2016 Sum­mer Mir­a­cles pro­gram, which is run by Kid­save, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that helps to place chil­dren in adop­tive homes.

The Sum­mer Mir­a­cles Pro­gram places chil­dren 11 to 14 years old with host fam­i­lies for four to five weeks and is open to both hosts who are in­ter­ested in adoption and those will­ing to work with the or­ga­ni­za­tion to help a child find an adop­tive fam­ily. The goal of these sum­mer vis­its is to try to find these chil­dren per­ma­nent homes, said Beth Dresing, co­or­di­na­tor of the Wash­ing­ton D.C., Mary­land and Vir­ginia Sum­mer Mir­a­cles pro­gram.

Kid­save and the Colom­bian Fam­ily Wel­fare In­sti­tute, or ICBF, have an agree­ment to keep per­sonal in­for­ma­tion pri­vate un­til po­ten­tial adop­tive fam­i­lies go through the adoption process, so no back­ground in­for­ma­tion about Leidy other than her age can be dis­closed, Dresing said.

Amy Ford said she found out about the or­ga­ni­za­tion through an­other fam­ily who’s in­volved with Kid­save in Fe­bru­ary and her and her hus­band Jeremiah be­gan the host ap­pli­ca­tion process in mid-April. The process in­cluded a $275 non-re­fund­able ap­pli­ca­tion fee as well as $1,250 to bring Leidy to the United States. The Ford fam­ily also un­der­went back­ground checks, so­cial worker in­ter­view and home vis­its through Catholic Char­i­ties of Bal­ti­more, an adop­tive agency that works with the or­ga­ni­za­tion, Amy said.

The agency man­ages the host fam­i­lies, and han­dles sit­u­a­tions such as if the host fam­ily de­cides to adopt the child. The or­ga­ni­za­tion paid $5,000 for items such as pa­per­work and visas, Amy added.

The fam­ily did not know

CONOWINGO

they were ap­proved by ICBF, the Colom­bian gov­ern­ment agency that deals with child wel­fare, un­til a few weeks be­fore Leidy ar­rived, Amy noted.

De­spite all the pa­per­work, the Ford fam­ily’s goal in host­ing Leidy is to help her meet po­ten­tial adop­tive fam­i­lies, show her around the area and show her a good time, Jeremiah said.

Amy said she has al­ways had a pas­sion for help­ing older chil­dren and noted this may be Leidy’s last chance to be adopted, es­pe­cially in the United States, due to her age and be­cause the adoption process can take many months.

Leidy may meet a few dozen fam­i­lies within the up­com­ing weeks, Jeremiah said. In many ways, the fam­ily meet­ings are a “game of sta­tis­tics” be­cause the more fam­i­lies Leidy meets, the higher her chances of get­ting adopted.

“My hope is that, I would like her to meet at least three fam­i­lies, who def­i­nitely say, ‘ Yes, we would like to pro­ceed with adoption,’” Amy said.

Amy wor­ries that if there are only two po­ten­tial fam­i­lies in­ter­ested in Leidy, one may back off be­cause there is a fam­ily al­ready meet­ing her. Amy said Leidy and the other chil­dren need more than one pos­si­ble fam­ily be­cause there are many fac­tors that can af­fect the fam­ily’s abil­ity to adopt a child.

Although, there is a lan­guage bar­rier be­tween the fam­ily and Leidy, they have been able to work through it. Jeremiah said he is in the process of re­learn­ing Span­ish through talk­ing and lis­ten­ing to na­tive Span­ish speak­ers. The rest of the fam­ily have all learned “min­i­mal Span­ish,” Amy added

Jeremiah said there are nu­mer­ous in­ter­preters they can call, some of whom are pro­vided through Kid­save, as well as fam­ily and friends. The fam­ily can also com­mu­ni­cate through body lan­guage.

For Leidy, her time with the Fords has gone very well so far and she is en­joy­ing it, Leidy said, speak­ing through MaryCarol Sk­aggs, a trans­la­tor. Leidy said she and the Fords will go to the beach for two days and that she also hopes to go ice skat­ing.

Leidy said she loves to ex­press her­self through play­ing dif­fer­ent games. She also loves to speak Span­ish with who­ever.

While she loves Colom­bian food, she does en­joys Amer­i­can break­fast food, she said.

The Ford chil­dren have also en­joyed hav­ing Leidy stay with them.

Seren­ity, 11, said she was ex­cited when she found out she was go­ing to be a host sib­ling. She’s look­ing for­ward to the dif­fer­ent trips the fam­ily will go on such as to Turkey Hill Ex­pe­ri­ence, the beach and a tram­po­line park.

“It’s pretty nice to have an­other per­son in the house to talk to, even though there’s a lit­tle bit of a lan­guage bar­rier,” Seren­ity said, not­ing that she and Leidy are both talk­a­tive, although they can’t al­ways com­mu­ni­cate as well com­pared to two peo­ple who speak the same lan­guage.

Jus­tice, 9, said the three of them of­ten play games to­gether, such as toss­ing a ball and try­ing not to let it hit the couch or the ground.

Ashtin, 22, agreed and said they all have a lot of fun to­gether.

“It’s pretty amaz­ing, I love to be able to see her get ex­cited about things,” she said.

So far, Ashtin said her fa­vorite part of Leidy’s visit has been watch­ing her lit­tle brother Austin and Leidy in­ter­act with each other be­cause she sees how ex­cited Leidy be­comes when they see each other.

She said she uses the trans­la­tor on her phone, asks Jeremiah to trans­late and uses hand ges­tures to get around any com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues with Leidy.

Leidy and the other chil­dren in Kid­save will re­turn to Colom­bia after the visit be­cause their visas ex­pire after a pe­riod of time, Dresing said. If po­ten­tial fam­i­lies have ex­pressed in­ter­est, the process, which can take any­where from six to 12 months, will be­gin, she said.

CECIL WHIG PHOTO BY BRI­ANNA SHEA

The Ford fam­ily, Amy and Jeremiah, Seren­ity, 11, Ashtin, 22, and Jus­tice, 9, pose with Leidy.

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