Host an Orphan, (and mess with a child's head), Program

 The introductory sentence reads benign enough:

If you’ve ever felt blessed for everyday things in life that are easy to take for granted, like family, you may appreciate the warm thoughts behind‘s Summer Miracles program.

[From:  Host an Orphaned Child this Summer, April 5, 2011 ]

But upon closer review, the "treat your-self and an orphan to an adoption plan" Summer Miracles program is actually another way for key adoption advocates, like Mary Landrieu, to promote ICA, like so many with an adoption-plan want.   Humanitarian effort for the difficult to adopt poor orphan, or another way to mess with people's heads?  Let those touched by foreign adoption decide.  But first, lets look at the small details of such a grand summer program... a program that uses volunteers to do all the door-to-door advertising.

Kidsave, a nonprofit network takes older children (ages 8 to 13) from American foster care, Russia, Colombia, and Africa, and places them in host homes, in affluent towns, for a four-week visit.  The goal is to help find permanent placement, through adoption.  However, in this Summer Miracles Program, there is a big focus on the "poor foreign orphan".  So, while I myself have no problem with domestic adoptable children getting such a four-week visiting opportunity, "locally", I do think the foreign orphan trial period is tasteless and cruel, especially when one reviews the parent-company funding partner-list, financially supporting Kidsave, the non-profit biz that helps facilitate foreign child trade.

The sheer brilliance of this promotional program is this:  hosting families are not obligated to agree to a purchase-plan -- all they have to do is showcase the kids, so others can look over the inventory, and decide if a foreign orphan would fit and feel right in the potential client's home.

It does not hurt if the showcase advertising hosting family already has an adopted orphan or two. ("I not only help support the big sellers in Adoptionland, I'm a paying member, and proud orphan owner, too.")

However, <sniff, sniff, reaching for my tissue...> a marketing crisis is on-hand, as today's press-release states:

Kidsave has announced an urgent need for individuals to host orphan children from Colombia this summer to support the organization's Summer Miracles program.  

The Kidsave Summer Miracles Program brings older orphans from foreign countries to the USA for five-week summer visits.  Older children are often harder to place than babies, however, children who are hosted in the Summer Miracles Program have greater success in finding adoptive families than other older children waiting for adoption because people have the opportunity to meet and live with them.  Families who have experienced long waits for adoption are often able to reduce the wait time by hosting a child through Summer Miracles.  Both single and married hosts are welcome.  

"It is not okay for kids to grow up without parents," said Lauren Reicher-Gordon, Director of Kidsave's Family Visit Programs, "Through no fault of their own they've lost their parents and ended up in government care. The amazing thing is that once people meet these children, they fall in love and frequently adopt."  Of the 1,600+ children aged 5-15 who have traveled to the US via the Kidsave Summer Miracles Program, over 85% have been adopted with approximately half being adopted by their hosts.

Individuals and groups are also needed to help get the word out about the children, host events with them, and provide or help raise funding to enable their vacations. 

[From:  Kidsave Summer Miracles Program Provides Opportunities to Give Back to Needy Orphans, April 18, 2011 ]

Now, what kid living in a foreign orphanage would not LOVE to see how stackable washer and dryers work, or daily mail and meals look like?  What foreign orphanage director is NOT hoping a few extra thousands of dollars comes his/her way, thanks to a new speedy foreign adoption-plan?

How can others not see the harm and dangers aggressive adoption facilitation can bring to those considering this hosting program?


A New Kind of "Summer Camp"

WOW! And the director gets rid of the kid for a few weeks or months on top that!!! Reminds me of the "ole' Fresh Air Fund", where they take inner city kids and send them to live with WASP families in the suburbs so that they could have fun all summer and see how the other half lives.

Nothing like showing the kids the marvels of the Western world then...BUZZZZ (insert aggravating buzzard noise of your choice!)...time is UP...back to poverty and living in sub-standard conditions.

How...kind? Yes indeed...what in the world are they thinking???

Message to APs: Do the kids a BIG favor, get over your guilt for "having it all" and truly help the child have a better future by donating to services in their community or country.

Fresh Air Program

My parents hosted a child through the Fresh Air Program.  Michael "Muddy" Banks first came in 1970 when he was five years old and returned every year for 13 more summers when he aged out of the program at 18 years old.  He came down for several more years outside the program for Christmases, weddings, graduations, etc.  We also visited Mike and his family twice in the Bronx, each time staying for the weekend.  We lost track of Michael in the mid 90's.  I wish I knew where he was.

My wife and I hosted another Fresh Air child in 1996.  "Mac" was also five years old when he first came to visit us in the summertime.  He was an awesome playmate for our son (same age) whom we adopted a in 1995.  Once again, Mac returned each and every summer for the next 13 years until he also aged out of the program.  Mac was not "poor" nor did he come from a broken home.  Mac is now 20 and has visited us several times outside the program.  My son is an usher in his wedding next month in Brooklyn.  We'll be there as well.

Not surprisingly, my wife now interviews prospective families for the Fresh Air Program.  She believes in the program, as do I.  I suppose I'm one of those WASPs who hosted a inner city child for the summer only to return them to their life of poverty.

Perhaps I should have written them a check instead.


Food for thought...

Just a general question, no need to reply...just some food for thought.
Though your kindness is does that make a child's life better and those of generations to come?
How does it improve the actual community that the child lives? It is a band-aid.
See the bigger picture.

It's a Band-Aid

I think my grasp of the bigger picture is as good as most, thank you.

The Fresh Air Program may not improve the actual community that the child lives... other than to improve the actual child.  I know I benefitted from the program with a Fresh Air Brother growing up  - and again as a Fresh Air host family.  I believe that intracultural connections like those made possible through the Fresh Air Program can only foster better understanding and the breakdown of stereotypes, you know, like the rich pompous suburban WASPs and the impoverished inner city child.  We also hosted two Rotary foreign exchange students and realized the same benefit.

The city kids seem to enjoy it based upon the very high return rate each summer and our experience was not unique by a long shot.  The program is entirely voluntary - no one is compelled to participate. I'm pretty sure our son Mac enjoyed his summers in our neck of the woods, especially the tent camping trips.  But at the end of the summer, he was more than ready to get home to his neighborhood, friends, and family.

So it won't cure cancer or reduce crime, nor does it make those claims.  Maybe it is a band-aid and perhaps you think I should be doing something else.  Where do you send your checks?



Yo, super-dad, you know the

Yo, super-dad, you know the charity you give is much better when you stop advertising what it is you do for so many. Otherwise, you read like a typical look at me savior AP. Not a good look, if ya know what I mean. A good deed done is good, but let’s not keep highlighting it.


"Not a good look, if ya know what I mean"
Pot. Kettle. Black. Much?

Geesh. I found this site looking into the idea of hosting a child, but I'm amazed to find someone basically calling someone else a jerk for what they did for others.

No wonder there's so much strife in this world. People's attitudes are shamelessly rotten toward their fellow man. In my book, people that open their homes to others and provide an example of being selfless should be praised, not heaped scorn upon. Like there's not enough scorn in the world, and too much charity!

Not a good 'look' indeed, as if being charitable to your fellow man is only about how one 'looks' to others.

Sorry, but just a pitiful display.


My spouse is Colombian & US citizen and we spend a fair amount of time there with family. We are financially secure and were interested in this program and interested in adopting an older child. Obviously we would be able to offer the child a new life here and retain his culture and language in a more stable environment with our family in Colombia several times per year. Upon adulthood he / she would have stable opportunities and loving connection in both countries. They didn't seem to interested. They were more concerned about the events showcasing the children to potential families.

Washington insiders

Kidsave International is a much bigger player in Adoptionland than first meets the eye.

Here is a list of agencies they facilitate:

Agency Country
World Child International
For Every Child Adoption Services Taiwan
Commonwealth Adoptions International Inc.
Children's Home Society & Family Services, Minnesota (CHSFS) Peru
Asesoría de Adopciones (AdA) - Adoptionsberatung e.V.
Baker Victory Services Colombia
Families for Children
Children's Home Society & Family Services, Minnesota (CHSFS) Colombia
Families for Orphans Coalition
Wide Horizons for Children (WHFC) Colombia
Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children

Almost all of these agencies not only procure children through Kidsave, but they also sponsor Kidsave. Another important sponsor of Kidsave is the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, So this parading of foreign orphans at the behest of adoption agencies, is actually paid for with tax payer's money. Of course when the deal is made (which happens in more than 80% of the cases), the purchasers of these foreign goods are given a nice tax-cut.

Kidsave International is also one of the initiators behind that horrible Families for Orphans Act, annually spending large amounts of money (reveived from the Federal Government) to lobby the Federal Government for this more business-friendly legislation. Having Senator Mary Landrieu on the board of directors obviously helps playing the Washington insider game.



They are also affiliated with Orphans Overseas agency.

I cannot tell you how many families I have met over the years who hosted kids through this program, then they received the big sales pitch to adopt the kids, signed contract, wrote checks only to find out several months down the line that the kids are not even legally available for adoption.

It puts a new spin on profiting off of children. Fly the kids overseas, take them to amusement parks, then ship them back to crappy institutions. Fleece families out of their money in the process. The kids are hurt, families are scammed and the organizations walk away with some nice media exposure for their deeds and a much larger bank account.

ask an orphan

i didn't like this post at all. i worked in the orphanage in Russia. now bringing kids for holidays or summer is a common thing in Russia. not only your American companies do it, but companies in Italy and France. You are upset with the fact that kids have a chance to be "showcased" in order to be adopted. I get it. But did you think for a minute, but kids not only get showcased, they also explore your culture, some may be first time in their life experience a normal family relationship. Why it upsets you so much they will be showcased? How kids are harmed? I asked 11 kids who came last year from different program in Italy. None of them had regrets, none of them felt they are being subject of transaction. All of them were very happy, all had memories for the lifetime. And if some of them will get adopted, it is a bonus, don't you think.

Happy memories and first-meetings

I think exposing children to new opportunities and new different cultures and way of life is a wonderful gift... I simply have a probem with the sales-pitch that goes along with these programs, as little is known about the people showing an interest in housing an orphan.  How is child safety guaranteed?  How are these adults vetted?  What type of monitoriing is being done to ensure these children are not being neglected, molested, or abused?

None of them had regrets, none of them felt they are being subject of transaction. All of them were very happy, all had memories for the lifetime. And if some of them will get adopted, it is a bonus, don't you think.

Pedophiles and those who beat/"discipline" children for small offenses do not show their true colors during an interview or brief visit.  These hidden behaviors often manifest themselves much later.... after the supervising eyes have left and the metaphorical dust has settled.  Sudden shifts in the home-life experience also take place if a mentally ill PAP suffers a relapse, due to stress or medication change.  Our archives on abused adoptees prove not all adoptive homes are loving safe places to be.... this seems especially true for children from Russia.  With that, I cannot agree that "none of them [the orphans?] had regrets".

Ask an older "orphan" who was abused post adoption placement.  Ask an older orphan who's adoption was disrupted.  I promise if you ask that so-called orphan to share his or her thoughts on the adoption process and American adoption-experience the response will be very dfferent from the more pleasant publicized opinion you seem to prefer.


Sending countries blessing?

Why do sending countries even allow this? Is it encouraged?

 It seems that so much delay occurs with ICA in the first place, but it seems odd that a country would send an orphan to the US so that the child might get adopted. What happens next? Does the child go back to their country or able to stay with the host family/future AP until the paperwork is done? Seems contrary to Hague rulings. Regarding all the kids raving about this experience. I doubt it.

Do the kids even know how to speak...English? Just wondering.

Kerry or Niels- why do sending countries allow this to even happen?

Why are they sent?

I don't think sending countries have much to say in terms of "allowing" or not allowing  these pro ICA programs to exist;  the bigger problem may be they don't stop or help regulate these programs.  There may be many reasons for this 'oversight', but I think the majority of these schemes are done through private companies or charities making monitoring a bit tricky.  How can a government regulate such activity without people going berserk and issuing 'Big Brother' complaints?  All a government agency can do is maybe receive some financial kick-back, through taxes or fees... but my understanding of entrepreneurship is limited.

So one has to ask why would an orphanage director want to treat the orphan kids to a long-distance summer trip?  The answer is easy.  It saves and earns money at the same time.  Think of the donations that can be made.  Think of all the children who can be sold placed.  If you are the middle-agent (like orphanage director, or director of an adoption agency) you'd have to be stupid not to participate in something that increases the value of that individual business.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise a person who claims to work for a Russian orphanage does not like my original post and thoughts regarding programs like Kidsave from Kidsave International... an orphanization organization, based in Washington DC.  Together with the Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS), Kidsave International lobbies congress to pass the Families for Orphans Act, making foreign aid dependent on the number of children placed for adoption.

It's sick math.

Orphan Hosting Program


(I had technical difficulties when first attempting to post this, so my apologies if it posts twice. Since I'm reposting, I will also add one paragraph here at the top: In the hosting program I describe below, the host parents and anyone else in the home must complete FBI and state criminal history checks, fingerprinting, child abuse checks in all relevant states, a home inspection by a social worker, in-person training at designated program locations, and most have also had home studies. The host parents complete application essays as to their views, values, experience with children, etc., supplying references. The children's well being is monitored through their routine phone calls to chaperones (speaking in a foreign language), weekly photos, weekly reporting of weight gain or loss, reporting of health issues, and the host families provide vision and dental exams. A description of my hosting experiences is offered below:)

I hosted through a different international orphan hosting program for 5 weeks in the summer of 2009 and again in the summer of 2010. I hosted siblings the first time and one of the same children the second time.

I'm not a wealthy WASP. My background is that I was fortunate to be raised by great parents who were also career public school teachers; they've been role models for me in terms of focusing on the well being of children. I've always hoped to be a Mom (but have struggled with student loan debt and thus the required professional focus in my 30's and 40's instead). I've never been able to afford to travel abroad, myself.

Before hosting, I really worried alot about the issues you raise in your article (whether a return to an impoverished enviroment would be a cruel process, etc). My initial worries didn't match up with the actual experience of hosting, from my perspective or from the perspective of the children who came to me.

Of course it would depend on the personal circumstances of the individual child, but some children have strong connections in their home country and really do just want a summer experience abroad. Some don't want permanence here, but are interested in coming back on a student visa, for a year, later on, when older. So the idea of building an intermittent connection here does genuinely appeal to many of them, perhaps surprisingly. Having someone on the other side of the planet care about how school and home are going for them does matter to them.

From my perspective, as someone who is in the lower middle class but who has love and stability to offer a child (and cool prospective grandparents to offer an adoptee), there were some disappointing aspects of the experience:

Adult influences in their life in Eastern Europe had pressured them to want adoption based on what they perceived my wallet had to offer, rather than what my heart could offer. I focused on taking the pressure off of them, but remaining open. (The program also had strict rules about not discussing adoption during the hosting process, which was to protect everyone involved. I followed the rules.)

I hosted children who, as it turns out, were in long term, loving foster placements in Eastern Europe, rather than in an orphanage. Because I struggled to save for the program and did hope to make a connection leading to adoption, it might have been best for all concerned if an orphanage child had been placed with me, who was in greater need of a home life. (Again, I never pressured these children to want adoption, but remained open.)

Eventually, after the hosting process, the letters stopped coming from the foster mom in Eastern Europe (and therefore the child who couldn't write in English), at the point when I went through a government layoff due to a budget crisis, as part of the recession. Of course that was also a period of ineligibilty to adopt, until securing new employment. I had hoped to maintain some level of connection with the kids no matter what the circumstances, and regardless of whether an adoption would result. They now do not seem to be reciprocating in maintaining any connection, after I hosted for two years, which I find sad.

Many host parents want to be a genuinely good resource for children, and many hope to become great adoptive parents, if it is right for the kids. Not to be negative, but among the group it was not that uncommon for the host parents to feel somewhat "used" by the way things operate, since we aren't made of gold and some of us do have the dream of parenthood; more effort could be made by the program to match people up who want the same things.

But despite the ups and downs, in the long run, the children and the host parents each know they added something to each other's lives, as would more routinely occur for someone who gets to become a parent.

I respect the purposes of your organization, but I think the experience of hosting and being hosted can be quite different than you might expect. The host parent's own perspective about it also evolves over time (in part after the bills are paid off!). These organizations aren't perfect, but the one I participated in is "hosting only" and fully non-profit. The children that the director has adopted, once reaching adulthood, have spoken about their "before and after" experiences in very compelling ways. It is a worthy process.



Thank you for taking the time to share your experience... I believe it IS important to note the power good honorable adults have in this world;  such adults can provide a very positive influence on a child - orphan, or not.  I also agree that too much emphasis is placed on what's in a person's wallet or financial portfolio;  If more agreed love and parental ability should not be measured by one's wallet and the contents within it, many so-called orphans sold through foreign orphanages would be reunited with living family members, and not shipped to countries with a reputation of having wealth.

With all due respect, there are three unfortunate flaws I read within your post. 

First, as our abuse cases prove, back-ground checks, home-studies done by paid social workers, and superficial post-placement monitoring does little to prevent and remove adult-sized riff-raff from adoption pools.  However, I am very glad to read The children's well being is monitored through their routine phone calls to chaperones (speaking in a foreign language), weekly photos, weekly reporting of weight gain or loss, reporting of health issues, and the host families provide vision and dental exams.  Perhaps this level of attention is given because the number of children sent far away is small, and their stay is short-term/limited.  In any case, the vetting and monitoring of foster/adoptive parents is still an issue that needs radical change and improvement.  Back-ground checks, SW home-studies, and friendly written recommendations are simply not enough. 

Second, as IRS documents prove, non-profit does not mean chosen employees are not receiving a salary.  The belief that not-for-profit = volunteer is a fallacy that needs to be corrected, as many within the adoption industry are making well over 6-figure salaries.  This selective salary-making kinda takes the "altruistic interests" out of an operating adoption agency, complete with hard-working adoption facilitators.

Third, in the case of Kidsave, this organization not only cooperates (works with) several adoption agencies, the organization has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying and has established a very cozy relationship with congress.  One should question that relationship and what it means to be pro-ICA in America.

As a final added note, I felt a twinge of sad empathy when I read:

 Not to be negative, but among the group it was not that uncommon for the host parents to feel somewhat "used" by the way things operate, since we aren't made of gold and some of us do have the dream of parenthood; more effort could be made by the program to match people up who want the same things.

The fact that some well-intended hosts end-up feeling "used "only makes this particular adoption facilitating program all the more murky, making me wonder who does Kidsave really serve? 

I would have hoped that you

I would have hoped that you investigated more thoroughly the Kidsave organization before you bashed it here. The summer hosting program ONLY brings children from Colombia who are available for adoption. Most of them are 10-12 years old and parental rights were terminated years ago (our son had been available for adoption for almost 8 years). They are NOT an adoption agency. They work very closely with the Colombian welfare agency and also have programs in-country to encourage permanency within that country. You stated they bring "orphans" from Africa which is simply not true. They have instituted a program in Sierra Leone where the goal is to assist for mothers to keep their babies or for the children to be raised by another woman within the same community. They also have a program in Russia that works with teen moms (many of them "orphans" themselves) to teach them to parent and help them keep their babies so they don't end up in orphanages or foster care. They also have a program in Russia to find families within country for children living in orphanages. Finally, they have programs in DC and LA to pair teen foster children with adult mentors. Sometimes, these relationships lead to adoption and sometimes it is simply a lasting relationship to assist the foster child aging out in navigating life. I agree that there needs to be a larger focus on ways to encourage family preservation but there also needs to be advocacy for the children who will not benefit from that because they are already in state care. Kidsave works towards both of those goals.

On the other hand

No one in this thread suggested KidSave is an adoption agency, so your's is a bit of a strawman attack.

Come to speak of KidSave and their relations with adoption industry, they are huge, so while it would be wrong to conflate KidSave with an adoption agency, it is fair to say they operate as an adoption facilitator.

Agencies like Baker Victory ServicesChildren's Home Society & Family Services, Minnesota (CHSFS), Wide Horizons for Children (WHFC), For Every Child Adoption Services, have all cooperated with KidSave for the placement of children.

At the same time, KidSave is one of the of the initiators of the Families for Orphans Coalition, an adoption lobying group, which furthermore consist of Buckner International, Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS), National Council for Adoption (NCFA) et al.

This coalition centered around the main spokes people of the adoption industry, authored and promotes the hideous Families for Orphans Act. which we wrote extensively about here, here and here.

You see, we actually do our home work, unlike you assumed.

KidSave may do good work in some countries, so do some adoption agencies, but at the same time the adoption industry remains a predatory institute, which KidSave wholeheartedly embraces.

My mistake, that was a

My mistake, that was a different comment thread. However, there are several facts misrepresented in the original article and in the comment section, especially the fact that the children may not be available for adoption. While there is definitely a dark side to adoption, is it really fair to paint this organization in such a horrible light as one done here? So, you do not agree with the Families or Orphans act, therefor you condemn the entire organization for the good work they do every where else. Kidsave presently only has very loose ties with adoption agencies so that they can provide the social services required by law while the children are here. One of the concerns mentioned by Kerry in one of the comments was that the host families were not monitored but that is what the relationships with the adoption agencies is for, to protect the children while they are here. They conduct the home studies, background checks and other social work necessary during the summer. Kerry also mentioned that she didn't think the sending countries had a say in the children coming. First of all, it is just ONE sending country (Colombia) and Kidsave works with them. It is actually Colombia who recommends children to travel. I understand that people have issues with the adoption industry, especially when it is a first resort and no effort is made for family preservation. What I don't get is why you have an issue with finding families for children that have no other option. Like I said, my son was in the system for 8 years! I am simply looking to protect his voice. Is it fair for you to take away his opportunity to have a family?

you confuse me

I don't understand how KidSave can have very loose ties with adoption agencies, while at the same time entirely rely on adoption agencies for the protection of children. It seems to me the safety of children is of primary concern and that the organizing party should seriously know the safety-providing party before even thinking about outsourcing that responsibility.


It was implied here that Kidsave has a business connection with these adoption agencies. By "loose ties", I was referring to that in a financial or business sense. The agencies are an integral part of the program because of the social work they provide. You may be interested to know that the agency that provides the social work services (paid for by the host families) is not licensed to adopt in Colombia. They ONLY provide support. Host families have to pass multiple clearances and home visits before and during the children's stay. They meet with the Social worker once a week. A social worker or psychologist from Colombia stays with the families for a week, meets with the children once a week and calls the children every few days.

There is another option.

There is another option. Improve domestic care so ICA is not needed.

They do that to

They have programs in country for that purpose as well


I just realized that the statement about the children not being available for adoption was also on the other thread but it does link to this article and is the same author.


That "incorrect" information comes from those with more personal experience than me with this particular organization. 

As a founding member of PPL, I believe it's necessary to include information that relates to details I receive via private email, or written posts like:

I cannot tell you how many families I have met over the years who hosted kids through this program, then they received the big sales pitch to adopt the kids, signed contract, wrote checks only to find out several months down the line that the kids are not even legally available for adoption.  [From:  OO ]

It's been my experience most who have such information about an organization do not want to make name/contact information available to the public because they are afraid they will receive unwanted attacks, much like the one that's been coming from you.

Personally, I'm very glad your experience worked out so well.  Perhaps your adopted son feels the same.  However, yours is not the only experience worth mentioning.  The less-than happy experience deserves to be mentioned, too.  With that, I think it would be rather myopic and narrow-minded to think ANY organization busying itself with ICA is nothing but altruistic, and without a few self-serving interests that may have nothing to do with "a child's best interest". 

If the not-well-liked "critic" helps bring an awareness, like a need for better practice in Adoptionland, then all is not so bad.


my experience

I have been involved with Kidsave for 4 years and this has NEVER happened.

Before bashing...

Read the fine-print. 

You stated they bring "orphans" from Africa which is simply not true.

At no point did I make such statement or claim.  I simply stated this org has programs in Russia, and Africa, as well as Columbia -- which they do.   I also quoted an article, which clearly stated:   The Kidsave Summer Miracles Program brings older orphans from foreign countries to the USA for five-week summer visits.

The word "countries" implies more than one country is doing the sending.  [Original press-release can be found here: ]

Truthfully, in terms of a domestic-crusade, I do think Kidsave can do much good for family preservation programs and DOMESTIC adoption options, around the world.  But then they have to push the foreign orphan crusade. 

My question is:  why does the ICA card have to be pushed so hard... on Americans... who may have a growing interest  in adopting an older child?  America has plenty of available adoptable kids... do we really need imports, with all those added import fees?  Is it because foreign orphans would be so much more grateful for all things American than those who have spent far too many years in America's defunct care-system?

Fine print

Here is the direct quote from your article, "Kidsave, a nonprofit network takes older children (ages 8 to 13) from American foster care, Russia, Colombia, and Africa, and places them in host homes, in affluent towns, for a four-week visit."

If you read the history of the organization, Kidsave was started as a result of the founder seeing older children in the Russian orphanages growing up completely ignored and wanted to do something to change it. As they became more involved, they also saw a need domestically and started the weekend miracles programs. As they learned more about what could be done to preserve families and encourage permanent solutions within countries, they initiated the teen mom and weekend miracles programs in those countries. There most recent endeavor in Africa works within the cultural norms there to try help children stay within there community.

I would not say that they "push" international adoption. They do push to find families for older children. The ideal is for all children to raised by their natural parents. That is not always possible (in my son's case definitely not). Next best family members, then community, then country. The reality is there are children both here in this country and globally who want families. Kidsave works on both those fronts. Their weekend miracles program has grown and at least they are trying to do something.

According to other reports...

At the risk of sounding petty, I would like to use excerpts from a report,"Kidsave: Adoption by 'tryout'",  written in 2001 and featured in USA Today, to clear a misunderstanding.  This piece contradicts the idea that only children from Colombia are sent to America to be "tried-out" as adoption-material:

At age 10, Constantine left his orphanage in Russia with not much more than a pair of sandals, an extra T-shirt and a toothbrush. He was told he was going to summer camp in the USA.

"I thought I was just going for a 'rest-out' from everything in Russia," he says, sitting next to his adoptive mother, Terry Baugh, in their living room in Washington, D.C., nearly a year later.

After a lovely description of the then-adoptable child, the article continues...

Constantine is one of 242 orphans and abandoned children from Russia and Central Asia who have found homes with American families this year through Kidsave. The program, which is supported by private donations, has found homes for 453 children ages 5 to 15 since it was started in 1999 to "eliminate the harmful institutionalization of children," says executive director Randi Thompson. There is a catch, though. Some of the children who come to America are sent back when an adopting family can't be found, and that doesn't sit well with many adoption experts.

See, this is where some problematic issues within the adoption industry are universal, and not limited to the year of said event, or the names of parties involved. I'm betting when an adoption plan can't be made, that doesn't sit well with the kids who have to go back to life in the orphanage, either.

No one who has already been abandoned wants to be rejected, too.  This point needs to be considered very seriously by the very adults wanting to host "the poor (traveling) orphans" used in this program.   The intentions may be good, but there is emotional harm that can be done when a child is sent overseas in the guise of a "vacation", but everyone knows it's a last-ditch effort to find a home and family.  Ah, to be the child who leaves the USA knowing he is not wanted.... by anyone. 

Rejected, again.... only this time, the rejection is bigger.

The article continues about the effects a "failed trip" has on those young kids, forced to "go back":

"You can imagine the incredible devastation," says Joyce Maguire Pavao, director of the Cambridge, Mass.-based Center for Family Connections, a non-profit counseling center for adoption and foster-care families. "These kids already have abandonment issues and then they're sent back."

Eight-year-old Misha left his orphanage last summer and came to America with great expectations. Misha has blue eyes and sandy hair, and he can recite Russian poetry by Pushkin. His caregivers in the orphanage where he lives say he is an artistic child who likes music and dancing. Misha was sent to live with a ranching family in Montana, though, and he floundered. After six weeks, Misha was sent back to the orphanage.

Thompson says Kidsave workers do everything they can to make sure each child finds a home. Their success rate is high. Of the 470 children who have participated in the program, all but 17 have found families.

Here's my favorite part, because it's all part and parcel of the lure of the foreign adoption plan:

 Parents who adopt are asked to make a donation to support deinstitutionalization and adoption programs for the country where their child is from, usually between $500 and $2,000.

Ah yes, the forced orphanage donation.  Gotta love how that works itself in...

So whether we nit-pick about the name of the sending country, or not, there are some basic facts that need to be considered before thanking Kidsave for ALL that they do for adoptable children. 

While their success rate to find "suitable homes" for "hard to place children" may be high, one does have to wonder what happens five weeks, even five years after the adoption agency and the folks at Kidsave go away, leaving the newly-formed family alone.  Far too many of our abuse cases feature APs not properly prepared for the children they receive.  In many situations, the parents state the child was fine, at first, but things began to change, like when the child started school.  Even more disturbing is the questionable re-homing trend that's picking-up in the USA.  However, this stuff doesn't make much news because, well, underground networks try to be a wee bit secret, and most people think all adoptions end-up A-OK.

Because post adoption monitoring is not mandatory in the US, I don't see how any one can say, with any certainty, the summer-trial offer made through Kidsave prepares both PAP and involved children for the realities that take place post-adoption.  In fact, I'd be curious to learn if there have been any or many complications that made life in the adoptive home very difficult... so difficult the adoptee had to be sent away?  I believe this is information both the US government and sending governments need to know, for future statistic keeping.

Last, but not least, if we're talking about a "child's best interest" in all of this, shouldn't we wonder what happens to the returned kids, once they go back to their orphan-life in their assigned orphanage, like unwanted goods?  (Will the memory of a "vacation of a life-time" turn out to be the most disappointing of all expectations?  Or will they eventally get over it, like most orphans do?) 

I still maintain taking older children overseas for an adoption audition is cruel to the kids. It reads too much like The Orphan Trains, another movement that served many potential adopters well, made the adoption industry grow by leaps and bounds, and left more than a few adopted kids on those trips wondering, "What the hell just happened?"

And I still maintain, if Kidsave is going to send kids to try-out new homes, at least keep the trips local and domestic.  Keep foreign trade out of it. 

One more...

That article (as you pointed out) is from 2001. Each year Kidsave holds debriefing meetings at the end of the summer with social workers, host and volunteers to assess what can be done to improve the experience for the children. Also, newspapers are notorious for getting the facts wrong. I'm not sure Misha traveled with Kidsave but ALL the children go home at the end of the summer whether there is a family considering adoption or not. In fact, you are not permitted to send a letter of intent until 2 weeks after the children have left. Talking about adoption while the children are visiting is strictly prohibited. The donation quoted has NOTHING to do with Kidsave. Kidsave is not an adoption agency. Those donations are typically part of the adoption process and vary depending on agency. I would thing an adoptee would shy away from talking about adoption as "foreign trade". My son is not a commodity. He is an amazing boy who just wanted a place "where he belongs and feels loved" (his words). On that note...I'm out! I think we will just have to agree to disagree. Thanks for responding rather than dismissing me. I'm not trying to change your mind, I just wanted to make sure the facts were clear.

No need for further reply, just an FYI

I would thing [sic] an adoptee would shy away from talking about adoption as "foreign trade". My son is not a commodity.

Many of us shy away from such talk around APs.  We know better, really.  However, referring to one's own adoption in terms of being bought or being a parent's "purchase" (like a travel souvenir) is not all that uncommon in smaller, safer circles.

In fact, the more an adoptee knows about ICA, the easier it is to see how the word "poor orphan" really sells, big time, especially to Americans who don't want to adopt from America's own foster care system.

Foreign trade is often just a euphemism, anyway

I would thing an adoptee would shy away from talking about adoption as "foreign trade".

As cognizant grown ups, often with children and grandchildren, businesses, advanced degrees, and life experiences of our own, each adoptee has our own analyses of the adoption world. There are many good reasons to regard ICA as a foreign trade, in fact, there are instances in which "foreign trade" is really just a nice way of saying "human trafficking".

My son is not a commodity.

Yours isn't, to you, anyway; that's great. There are indeed, however, those adoptees, fosters, borrowed children and others in-care, who get treated as exactly that: objects to be bought, sold, acquired, collected, and shown off. Unpleasant to think about may it be, I don't see the point in denying that this happens.

post adoption

I just wanted to point out that Colombia requires 2 years of post-adoption home visits, reports, doctors reports and photos. Okay....I really I'm finished ;)


Countries can require all post-adoption moniitoring they want, but if adoptive parents don't comply, then no one in this world can enforce that requirement. Quite a few AP's know this and refuse to cooperate with post adoption monitoring, claiming it to be an invasion of privacy.

Post-Placement Reports Reality

Yes, many countries "require" post placement reports. The reality is that though adoption agencies or social workers may visit a post adoption home, the question that needs to be asked is "what happens to that report of a 45 minute visit?" You see, who does it get sent to? The adoption attorney in the birth country or a central authority...just to be filed? That is the reality.

What happens when an agency closes? Do you really think the AP will find another agency or social worker to do yearly post adoption reports? $eriously? There is no one to enforce followup or surprise visits nor interviewing teachers or pediatricians. That is the reality. So don't lull yourself into believing that "post adoption reports" really show the reality of what is going on in a home.

"Adoption Material", adoption-objects

Last, but not least, if we're talking about a "child's best interest" in all of this, shouldn't we wonder what happens to the returned kids, once they go back to their orphan-life in their assigned orphanage, like unwanted goods?


Why should we? Returned children are adoption-objects, symbolic placeholders in the service of someone else. They are not people, they are not persons, they are there for the use of others, the dumb bastards.

They should be grateful to even be considered adoption materials by their do-gooding betters, in the first place!

Somebody in America needs to complete their personal identity with a child, so they, too, can say, "I am a parent!" and thus compete with their babymaking peers. Why are you trying to deny that to them, by smearing Kidsave and everyone ever involved with it, ever!

(Sarcasm, obviously, for those who did not catch it.)

A very sad truth

All sarcasm aside, while there are some really great caring APs -- the sort that really surprise the likes of me -- there is a significant sub-set of APs who treat their adopted children like bad-tempered animals or like sex objects, ready to be exploited.

I wish the more defensive APs would recognize this subset exists, so critics, like myself, are not seen as the side in need of "convincing" all is quite good, but rather, sincere child advocates who know about some significant problames and  want to help others bring forth more positive change (in the name of child safety) within the adoption industry.

APs have to speak up

I am an AP. I know APs that are great and I know APs that are not equipped to parent a child. I also have read of APs that abuse children. APs need to speak up. APs need to advocate for better safety measures for children who instead of getting a loving "forever family" get a family that is dysfunctional and either suffer emotional abuse, chaotic lives or abuse, some leading to death. There is alot of division in the world of APs and the brave APs that have spoken up either against the corruption that occurs with agencies or sending countries are quickly shunned by other APs. Until that division ceases, there will be no reform. It is time to stop being selfish and unite to demand better oversight for the placement of children.

In unison

APs need to advocate for better safety measures for children who instead of getting a loving "forever family" get a family that is dysfunctional and either suffer emotional abuse, chaotic lives or abuse, some leading to death. There is alot of division in the world of APs and the brave APs that have spoken up either against the corruption that occurs with agencies or sending countries are quickly shunned by other APs. Until that division ceases, there will be no reform. It is time to stop being selfish and unite to demand better oversight for the placement of children

Adoptees need to do the same. 

Unfortunately, it's been my experience that many adoptees AND adopters look at the own lives, forgetting how different those also touched by adoption have it.

I do believe both adopters and adoptees can be SOOOOO sensitive AND self-centered, making unification a real challenge,  Best way I can see a unified front forming is if we start to simplify the rights, the wrongs, and the really triggering issues.
For example, I think it's safe to say there ARE some adptions that simply end-up really bad, and should never have happened in the first place  These situations should be used as examples to enlighten and educate both adopters and happy adoptees who fail to recognize good positive outcomes are not always the expected givens so many receive.
What both APs and adoptees need to see is there is a lot of gray, on both sides, so one needn't immediately feel he's being labeled or pigeon-holed when another mentions "troubling trend" or "common problem".  
There's too much deemed adoptable or good enough to adopt, when more should be filtered by those involved in the adoption process.  For instance just as the dangerous and unstable APs need to be removed from the adoptive parent pool pool, so do the really damaged kids NOT fit for adoption, or life in a "normal" family/home environment.  But who's going to be brave enough to say who's fit and who is unfit?  It smells too much like a form of discrimination... a huge taboo in a world trying too damn hard to be PC and not "offensive".

This is a clueless post from

This is a clueless post from somebody with no idea how Kidsave, summer hosting or Colombia adoption works. It would ruin YOUR story arc if you bothered to investigate before condemning. Whatever your own issues are, your "plan" for care of foreign orphans is utopian, non-pragmatic, and sentences hundreds of thousands of kids to institutionalization. Hooray for you. Good job.


Given all we should know about child trafficking for the adoption industry, (and all the harms institutional living (orphanages) can create for a child), is ICA, and all it's programs that support foreign child-trade, the best form of Orphan-Care?  Based on my own experience and feedback from APs struggling with traumatized adoptees, the answer would have to be no.

NOT the best interest

As someone living, caring, loving and parenting a traumatized child I can ATTEST to the fact that ICA is NOT the best form of "orphan-care".

First, she is NOT an orphan. Second, nothing takes the place of a mother. Third, all the folks involved could have been more of a "savior" and given the mother services so that she could care and feed her children. Fourth, the said "adoption triad" are victims of a slew of greedy orphan-creating people. What ICA has become is really the corporization of children.

Did you know

Did you know that Kidsave in a nutshell, matches a PAP with a child and introduces a child BEFORE the PAP is paper ready or legally allowed to have a child in the home for the weekends as per State requirements and Children Services requirements.

Do you know that "summer hosting" and matching a child to an adult that has not had background checks is unethical.

Do you know the effects of taking a child from Russian who has been raised in an orphanage all their lives and placing them for a few weeks of "summer fun" with people who cannot speak the child's language nor know nothing about institutional trauma, only to be shipped back to the orphanage after the "summer fun" is over is probably not in the best interest of the child.

Do you know that Colombia adoptions is riddled with corruption, falsification of documentation and coercion though the adoption industry continues to promote the myth of its "cleanliness". The number of Visas issued to the US from Colombia was low for a reason. You may want to see the stats of why only 216 children were adopted last year from Colombia:

Along these same lines, here is a story of an adult adoptee finding her birthmom in Colombia.
and...surprise...what does she find? Answer: corruption and coercion and falsified papers. Sound familiar?

I agree that anyone who doesn't know this stuff

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