For the Past 10 years, Adoption by Shepherd Care has brought a small group of orphan children ages 9 to 14 from Colombia to South Florida. This Summer Hosting Program gives the kids an opportunity to experience life with a family in the United States for a few weeks when they will go on outings to the beach, attend a pool party and visit the Wow Factory indoor playground and party center. “We give them a nice two weeks,” said Nidia Sica, director of international programs for the adoption agency. However, the events are designed as an opportunity for families interested in adopting to join in, meet the host families and interact with the kids. “We pray every child will find a family and every year we see miracles,” said Sica. “Gods wants the lonely to be in families and these kids desire a parent who will care for them.”
Orphans in Colombia
Poverty, guerrilla warfare from the war on drugs and other hardships have resulted in these children living in foster homes much of their lives. The adoptability resolutions in Colombia made defenders seek to the sixth degree of a child’s background for family before clearing them for adoption, which took so much longer, explained Sica, whose family recently adopted 14-year-old Duvan from Colombia. “My son was left at three years old and no one paid attention to his situation until he was 13, and by then not many people think of adopting teenagers. But when you put a face to it and meet these kids, you find that all they want is to belong, and suddenly it’s different.”
This year nine children will visit from Colombia. Each one had to complete an application. They can’t be behind in school more than two years and must be willing to learn another language and culture. They are brave enough to get on an airplane and take a chance.
Having previously adopted one son, Sica said “We were not looking to adopt again, but when Duvan left last summer without identifying a family, our son who was adopted at 10 years old, asked ‘Why don’t we adopt him?’ I thought, we’re not the perfect family, but these kids don’t want a perfect family. They just want a family.”
Kasey Love and her husband Darin, recently adopted two girls from Colombia after hosting Sol Angie, age 13, and Daniela, who is 15, at Christmastime. They found out about the hosting program on an announcement at Mosaic Church, which they attend in the Orlando area. They knew other families at their church who had adopted. “And when we heard the announcement, my husband and I both said, ‘Three weeks is doable.’ It seemed like a logical first step.”
The Loves have three young children of their own, ages 7, 6 and 4, but they quickly fell in love with the older girls and were surprised at how well they all got along. “One day our 15-year-old told me, “I really like having younger brothers and sisters because I never really got to play when I was younger.’ …We knew we were their last opportunity to connect with a family and we felt they deserve to have a shot.”
Since the Loves speak very little Spanish, they used a translating app on their phone to help them communicate at first. “It was frustrating at times,” admits Love, “but someone in Colombia mentioned that sometimes the nonverbals are more important. With that we can make sure they know they’re loved. That’s really the heart language, and the little ones had no trouble climbing in their laps.”
Reflecting on the experience, Love said, “I think we chose to adopt Daniela and Sol because of the beautiful redemption in our own adoption story. God chose to adopt us as his children. We wanted to show that same love to these girls so that they could experience the gospel. God talks a lot about orphans in the Bible. They are very important to him. We felt called and able to take children into our home. In no way did we feel ready or prepared to adopt two teenagers, but we have learned over and over many times already that God will give us what we need for each moment. It has forced us to become more dependent on Him than ever before. It wasn’t that we rescued them as much as they rescued us from the safe and comfortable lives we would have continued into.”
If you want to learn more about the Summer Hosting Program, visit adoptabsc.org or call 954-981-2060 to find out how you can join the family outings to meet the visiting children or simply talk to other families who have adopted.
For more articles by Shelly Pond, please visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/