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Kidsave in the News – The Mason Family

May 16, 2011

We first met the Mason Family through their wonderful blog chronicling the adventures they had hosting a child in 2008 and 2010, and their subsequent journey to adopt their second Summer Miracle child. Gazette.net has done a new piece on the family as they await bringing Jhonatan home from Colombia for good.

Family anxious to welcome Colombian boy

When Urbana residents Greg and Amanda Mason and their four daughters decided to host a Colombian child at their home last summer, they asked the international adoption agency for a girl.

The Masons agreed it would be easy for one of their daughters to share a room with the girl, such as the family had done two summers before when hosting a Colombian child that was later adopted by another local family.

But since the family wasn’t looking to adopt and instead advocate for the child, they were matched last and paired with a boy.

“At first I said ‘probably no,’ but I would have to talk to everybody else,” said Amanda Mason, adding that the family debated and decided to participate in the program, hosting then 10-year-old Jhonatan from Colombia.

Fast-forward to the end of the five-week summer stay as the couple saw some families interested in adopting the spunky little boy, but none seriously.

“We just became very, very, very attached to him,” Mason said. “It just kind of came to us … maybe we’re supposed to adopt him.”

The family participated in Kidsave International, a nonprofit child advocacy program aiming to end institutionalization of children, which runs the Summer Miracles program that matches the American families with children.

The children, ages 8 to 13, live with host families, attend summer camp and have the opportunity to experience life in the U.S. Host families work together to support the kids and each other while acting as advocates in finding families. Though the organization is not an adoption agency, those interested in adopting the children can do so through a different channel.

In an effort to help children like Jhonatan find permanent homes, Amanda Mason is planning to host information sessions for the Summer Miracles program on Saturday and March 2.

“They’re basically just an informational session where people can learn more about Kidsave and the organization itself,” she said, adding that those interested in hosting, volunteering with weekend events or helping as an interpreter with the children could come to get information.

She said for families interested in hosting, Spanish skills are helpful, but not necessary.

Summer Miracles organizer Lauren Gordon said last summer that out of the 1,600 kids who have visited with the program, more than 85 percent of participants were “home,” or in the process of being adopted. Often it’s through the networking of the host families this happens.

Mason said she discovered the program online a few years ago and can share experiences about her family’s two times in the program.

To be hosts, the families go through a mini-home study — not as lengthy or involved as an adoption would be. The house is checked and parents are interviewed together while children are interviewed separately. The host family pays a fee of about $1,500 to have the child stay, and the rest of the costs are covered by Kidsave fundraising.

The Masons — including 12-year-old twins, a 10-year-old and a 5-year old — will hopefully welcome home Jhonatan, now 11, in a few months, Amanda Mason said.

“When you’re in it, it’s definitely more of a process than you realize from the outside,” she said of the adoption procedure. “We weren’t planning to adopt, so we had to start from scratch.”

Approval from the United States, Colombia and immigration makes April the earliest the family could go to pick up their newest member, who visited their home in December. Amanda Mason has been to Colombia twice herself to visit with him.

Jhonatan’s legal name currently is “Jonatan,” but he prefers “Jhonatan” and Amanda Mason said the family would probably let him select the spelling and they would have it changed.

She said the girls are excited, and Jhonatan said he was as well.

“He’s a little bit sad to leave his country and his foster family he’s been with,” Amanda Mason said. “But overall he’s happy and excited…I think it definitely helps he knows where he’s going.”

The family has a bedroom waiting, and Amanda and Greg can’t wait to start parenting Jhonatan. “We’re just anxious to get him home and move onto the next stage,” Mason said.

Adoption information sessions

Two information sessions about Kidsave International and the Summer Miracles Program are scheduled.

-3 to 4 p.m. Saturday and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 2

-Urbana Regional Library (upstairs meeting room), 9020 Amelung St., Urbana

-Free; registration requested to castilloaa@gmail.com

-Contact Lauren Gordon, 310-642-7283 or summermiracles@kidsave.org or visit www.kidsave.org

acochrun@gazette.net

For the full story, go here.

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