Nonprofit brings Colombian orphans to the region for summer trip — with the goal of finding an adoptive family

by Yvonne Wenger via The Baltimore Sun

Gustavo Grams’ foster mom spread out a feast on the kitchen table of their home in Colombia on the day she gave him unexpected, life-changing news: An American couple had traveled from Maryland to adopt him.

Gustavo, then 13, had spent most of his life as an orphan, and he knew his prospect of finding a family worsened with each passing year. But an encounter orchestrated by an international adoption nonprofit in 2012 led him to his parents, Steven and Katie Grams, a Harford County couple with no children.

Kidsave, the charity that introduced the Grams to Gustavo, is now hosting 50 adolescent boys and girls from Colombia. A dozen are staying in the Baltimore-Washington area.

Kidsave says its Summer Miracles program has found adoptive families for more than 80 percent of the nearly 2,000 children, typically ages 11 to 14, it has hosted in the United States since 1999.

Like Gustavo, the children come under the pretense of summer camp. Kidsave says they learn that the goal of their trip is to match them with forever families only once an adoption is in the works.

“Every child deserves a family and safe place to be and someone who will be there for them always,” said Gustavo, an affable 18-year-old high school senior who is home-schooled.

He said he felt compelled to talk about his experience at a time when international adoptions are at a dramatic low and older youth languish in foster care both in the United States and abroad. Fewer than 5,000 children were adopted from foreign countries last year, down from 24,000 in 2004, according to the State Department. Kids older than 2 are difficult to find adoptive homes for, regardless of country.