Soon after Carolina Avendano and Aric Smarra met in 2009, they started talking about adoption. Eight years later they heard about Kidsave and its Summer Miracles program in the DC Metro area on National Public Radio — just in time to make it to the last summer event. It was a pool and picnic party and a chance to meet older Colombian orphans who were just about to head back to Colombia after a 5-week visit with host families in the Washington, D.C. area. There they met siblings Sofi, age 14 and Emmaus, age 10. They spoke for only a few minutes, but the couple immediately felt a connection.

The children returned to Colombia just days later. “We couldn’t see our children again before they returned to Colombia that summer, but we learned we could bring them home for a 2-week visit for Christmas.” Carolina and Aric petitioned for this, and were soon Skyping with the kids.

The kids returned to the DC area and, “we had a wonderful Christmas together last year,” said Carolina. “They were the best presents life could offer! We were advised to focus on getting to know them, not on activities. But we didn’t listen, and we tried a lot of activities at first. Soon, we were exhausted and grumpy. So, we slowed down a little and that’s when the enjoyment substantially increased. We found out how much we love jumping in bed to read to them at night, ice skating, and biking with them. We were a family!“

“The hardest part,” said Aric, “was to return our kids to Colombia after the two-week visit was up. On that day their faces were sad. Sofi started acting up as we drove to the airport. We were so inexperienced we didn’t realize that her actions really meant, ‘Please don’t send us back! Our life in Colombia is lonely. My brother and I need parents right now!”

On January 1, 2018, Carolina and Aric submitted a letter of intent to adopt. Just after Thanksgiving 2018, they went to Colombia to bring their children home in time for Christmas. “Meeting them in Colombia was awesome. The room was full of joy and love, and we all were hugging and kissing each other,” said Carolina.

“Family integration will take time,” added Carolina, “but we are not alone. With Kidsave, we found a huge family that supports us in this new journey. We encourage each other by sharing our experiences, and our family continues to grow in love and strength.”

Carolina and Aric continue to support Kidsave’s DC Community and area and have been dedicated volunteers along with their children since their adoption.