With many children in need of stable families, some La Grange-area residents are helping to address the problem.
Kidsave, a nonprofit working to find homes for older orphans from developing countries, held a picnic Saturday in Denning Park to highlight the issue and make the community aware.
One of those children, a 12-year-old boy from Colombia, has a dream that “he will find a home in a stable family,” he said through an interpreter. The program policies to not permit sharing their names.
He is part of the Kidsave Summer Miracles program that brings Colombian orphans to the United States for a month-long summer visit, where they will learn about U.S. culture and meet families that might be open to adopting them.
“Of the more than 1,800 children who have traveled to the United States, about 80 percent ended up being adopted,” said Maru Braemer, Kidsave’s Chicago Community Coordinator.
She said that since 2013, when the program began operating in Chicago, 11 of the 13 children visiting the area have found permanent homes.
The Colombian boy is spending his month-long visit with the family of Michael and Lisa Milani of Western Springs.
“A friend of ours hosted a child last summer,” Lisa Milani said, “and we’re hosting to advocate for a child and find him a forever home.”
The Milanis have three children of their own and Lisa said she worried about how a child new to the culture would react.
She even worried that he wouldn’t like the food, but noted “he does eat American food ... and he’s so calm.”
And with Google translate, the language barrier has been reduced to a minor inconvenience.
“It’s very nice here,” the boy said, again through a translator. “I’m enjoying learning the culture and having a great time with the family.”
He has been playing soccer, enjoyed his visit the Shedd Aquarium and agreed with Lisa Milani that he liked the food in America, “especially the junk food.”
He said he dreams of one day becoming a civil engineer of a soccer player, but his immediate dream is to “find a family with a stable home.”
Kidsave grew out of the efforts of two businesswomen, Terry Baugh, and her business partner, Randi Thompson.
Baugh had traveled to Russia to adopt a child and was shocked by the conditions of the orphanage she visited. The children didn’t have enough caregivers to take care of them and Baugh couldn’t forget what she saw.
With Thompson, they began research that led to the creation of Kidsave.
The group works in countries all over the world, partnering with governments and other nonprofit organizations, concentrating on children in orphanages and foster care.
With most families wanting to adopt infants or toddlers, Kidsave’s concentration on older orphans makes its work more challenging.