Jeimmy GrandeMy name is Jeimmy, I am 22 years old.  I spent the first 10 years of my life with my large biological family in Colombia, 11 brothers and one sister.  My parents had difficulty bringing food to the table for such a large family; they were uneducated with minimum wage jobs.  Nevertheless, none of us went hungry.  My mother always did the best she could, given the circumstances. When I was seven, my mother left my father because he was an abusive alcoholic.  My younger siblings and I went to live with her and another man.  We did not want to leave our father, but we did not have a choice.  My mother’s new partner was not kind to us; we suffered verbal and physical abuse. At age 10, my sister and I ran away from home.  We were placed in foster care for a while, then spent five years in orphanages; during that time, my sister and I received professional help to deal with any psychological trauma, we were safe, and well taken care of.  In 2004 we travelled to the US as part of Kidsave’s Summer Miracles program and spent the summer with a host family.  This kind family wanted to adopt us, but we decided not to accept, knowing it could have been our only chance of a new life.  In 2006, because of Kidsave we travelled to the US again, and spent our summer with the Grande family.  We decided we wanted a new beginning with the Grande family, and were finally adopted. When we arrived in California, we were teenagers — it cannot get more complicated than that!  It wasn’t easy learning a new language, adjusting to a different life style, and learning to trust our new family.  Leaving Colombia was very difficult; I love my Colombia and miss it very much.  We try to keep our culture alive by spending time with other adopted Colombian children from Kidsave’s Summer Miracles program.  My family and a few others meet each year in March for a camping trip.  We also have an annual Christmas Eve party, where there is typical Colombian food for the kids and their families.  I enjoy seeing all the kids so grownup and well. Even though I miss my Colombia, I cannot say I would give up this wonderful gift from God.  The gift of having people who love us, care for us, and believe we can make something wonderful of our lives.  Now that I am in college, learning so much, I realize that I have the opportunity to share my life experience with others.  I want to share the love and compassion I have been given by people who were not obligated to do so, who made the choice to love me and care for me even when they did not know me.  With the help and support of my parents and people who cared for me, we have overcome obstacles and enjoy the gift of a new life.  I am truly grateful for people in the world who care enough to change the negative circumstances of so many children and give them a new beginning.