Conowingo family hosts Colombian child in need of adoption
— 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
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.
The Ford family, Amy and Jeremiah, Serenity, 11, Ashtin, 22, and Justice, 9, pose with Leidy.