Imagine your family not wanting you and forcing you out of your home at a young age.

This was Estefi’s experience. Born in Colombia, her dad had passed away, and her mother did not spend any time focusing on her.  So Estefi was sent to live with her grandparents.  Her grandparents, she says, who were already raising her brother, cast her aside as a burden.  She then moved in with her godmother, who was very abusive.  “She would hit me for the smallest of mistakes, like losing hair ties, or getting my uniform dirty,” she says.  Eventually, her godmother handed her over to social services.

Estefi started to lose hope. She was told that if she was unable to find a family by the age of twelve, it would be impossible to be adopted and that no one wants an older child.

She soon learned that she was going to take part in a month-long trip to the U.S. to meet a family through Kidsave’s 2012 Summer Miracles Program.

When Estefi arrived in the United States for the first time, she was very anxious, but also very excited. When she met the Holmen family, their connection was immediate. “I knew that they were a perfect fit for me, and I just felt like I found the home I’ve been looking for my entire life.” After a month of summer fun with them, she returned to Colombia, with hopes of seeing the Holmens again.

A year later, her dreams of having a family came true when the Holmen family proudly adopted her.

Estefi was eager to begin her new life, excited about the new opportunities and challenges she would experience.  Some of the many obstacles she had to face included learning a new language, adapting to a new culture, and making new friends.  But going through and solving these challenges helped teach her positivity, patience, and perseverance. This mindset gives Estefi the confidence that she can overcome anything that comes her way.

Estefi just graduated from high school and is all set to attend the University of Arizona in the fall.  Estefi says she would not be where she is today if it not for the love and support of her family.