In 1993 Terry Baugh traveled to Russia to adopt a child. She was not prepared for what she saw. The orphanage was a huge, cold institution with an insufficient number of caregivers for all of the children. Children with shaved heads were sitting in playpens with no toys, and no stimulation. The caregivers meant well, but there were so few of them for so many children. For months after her return home, Terry could not get their faces out of her mind.
Terry shared her experience with Randi Thompson, her business partner, also an adoptive parent. As luck would have it Randi was working on a project in Kazakhstan, so on her next trip there Randi visited an orphanage for older children who were considered “un-adoptable” and what she saw there seemed even worse. She saw 15-year-old children about to age out of the orphanage to a life on their own – on the streets. These were the children the world had truly forgotten – the ones with no hope for any kind of future.
They did their homework. They learned that the neglect caused by orphanage living creates brain damage, psychological problems and slows development. They found no organization was exclusively focused on permanent family care for these children.
Randi and Terry believed these children deserved a voice – and families. They needed a second chance. These children needed a miracle. So Terry and Randi teamed up to make that miracle happen and founded Kidsave.
In the summer of 1999, Kidsave gave 177 older orphanage children summer vacations in the US with American families — and 97% were adopted. It was a miracle for these children and for Terry and Randi it provided the basis for creating Kidsave’s Family Visit Model, a program that has now been successfully tested in Russia, Colombia and the USA as a way to help older orphanage and foster kids find parents and committed mentors.
Now, working in partnership with more than a dozen governments and local non-profits, and thousands of children later, Kidsave’s work continues. Kidsave still gives foreign orphans summer vacations in the USA, but the great victory has been that Summer Miracles has taught countries how to ‘fish’ and Kidsave’s Family Visit Model is now putting, Colombian orphans in Colombian families, orphans from Sierra Leone in Sierra Leonean families and children from Ukranian orphanages in Ukrainian families. It also inspired the Russian government to move Russian children into Russian families. And, perhaps our most important work is right here at home – helping older, forgotten kids in US foster care find adoptive parents and lasting connections to caring adults through our Weekend Miracles program.
Still, countless millions languish in orphanages and foster care. Kidsave’s goal is to be a catalyst for creating much-needed change. Our goal is to inspire governments, communities and individuals to find and provide families and permanent connections for their children. We hope you will join us.
Kidsave…Because every child needs a family.
Our mission has continued to evolve and grow over the last 20 years and we will continue to advocate for older orphans and foster kids that need our help.