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Kidsave in the News – From the Archives – Frederick, Maryland

May 14, 2011

Coming to America

Through Kidsave International’s Summer Miracles Program, orphaned children find hope

Originally published July 17, 2008

“Nine-year-old Isaac is an orphan from Colombia. He doesn’t speak English and is in a strange, new country, living in a big house with a family he met about two weeks ago.Yet Isaac is grinning ear to ear.

Through Kidsave International’s Summer Miracles Program, Isaac is staying with Natalie and Tim Gipson of Ijamsville for five weeks. Kidsave is a nonprofit organization that aims to help older children, ages 5 to 15, find adoptive parents in the U.S. while they stay with host families. These children have little or no chance of being adopted in their home country, said Sally Carlson, the director of communications at Kidsave.

The Summer Miracles program has helped find adoptive families for more than 1,400 children since 1999. According to Carlson, 93 percent of the children that travel to the U.S. have been adopted.

So far, Isaac has been a joy to the Gipsons, making himself at home playing video games and sports with their three children.

Natalie is surprised how fast Isaac has adjusted, especially since he was shy his first night with them.

“He’s very comfortable,” she said. “And I’m glad about it.”

Ana Maria Zarate is a social worker who travels with the Summer Miracles children to the U.S. and helps them settle into their new environments. Zarate said that the Gipson’s children — Ellory, 11, and twins Carter and Camille, 9 — were the reason Isaac opened up so quickly.

“They invited him to play,” she said.

Since then, Isaac hasn’t stopped having fun — playing baseball and soccer, biking, and contending with the Gipson children in Nintendo Wii games.

“He’s like the Energizer Bunny,” said Carter, who nicknamed Isaac “Smiley.”

Although he speaks only Spanish, Isaac and the Gipsons have not had too much trouble communicating.

The family has been learning basic Spanish words and phrases, and when in doubt, they try to use hand gestures, Carter said.

However, there’s one word that doesn’t need any translation between Isaac and the Gipsons — chocolate.

“He loves chocolate,” Natalie said. “He always wants chocolate.”

Ten-year-old Paula is also looking for a family.

Paula came to the U.S. with Isaac and six other Colombian children in Summer Miracles. She is staying with Natalie’s sister-in-law Amanda Mason and her husband, Greg.

Like Isaac, Paula has fit right in with the Masons.

“She’s adapted fine,” Amanda said.

Paula, who lives in an orphanage in Bogota, is helpful around the house and is very polite, Amanda said.

Paula enjoys playing card games and sports — especially baseball — and interacts well with the Masons’ children, twins Ginny and Cassie, 9; Tess, 7; and Eva, 3.

The children have even been picking up some Spanish from Paula, Amanda said.

The Gipsons and the Masons are hoping that Isaac and Paula will find adoptive families before they return to Colombia on Aug. 3.

Meanwhile, Kidsave holds events every Sunday for the children, inviting interested families to come meet them and receive information.”

For the full story, go here.

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