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Saving A Kid Can Be A Summer Miracle

August 15, 2002

From Russia with love is for real this time, not just a James Bond play on words. It is real because of Summer Miracles 2002.

Operated under Kidsave International, the six week Summer Miracles Program is designed to match orphan children from Russia and Kazakhstan with potential parents throughout the United States. Since its inception in 1999, Miracles has found homes for 630 out of 714 orphans.

Tuesday, 30-plus Summer Miracles kids toured various sites in Alexandria starting with the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in the morning and concluding at the Torpedo Factory that afternoon. They also enjoyed lunch at the Austin Grill and a late afternoon treat at Ben and Jerry's.

Kidsave International seeks to find a permanent family for every abandoned child worldwide. The ultimate goal is to do that in their country of origin whenever possible.

The non-profit organization started when Terry Baugh, now its president, traveled to Russia to adopt her first child. At the same time, Randi Thompson, now executive director of Kidsave, was working in Kazakhstan. They both observed the same problems in those country's orphanages.

Baugh has emphasized, "Our goal is that by 2025 efficient systems will be in place worldwide that will enable all abandoned and orphaned children to move expeditiously into permanent, loving families." To accomplish this they concentrate on three primary objectives:

* Put a face on a big problem,

* Work to encourage governments to change the policies that perpetuate the psychological damage caused by the lack of a nurturing parent, and

* Test and promote successful models for change.

"Our kids range in age from five to 15," said Veronique de la Bruyere, director of community relations for the Washington Summer Miracles Program. "We still have children who are available both for hosting and adopting."

KIDSAVE INTERNATIONAL and Summer Miracles now operates in 20 cities throughout the country, according to de la Bruyere. "Summer Miracles is dedicated to providing the opportunity for orphanage children to experience life in a family," she emphasized.

In addition to finding families who will adopt the children and serve as hosts, Kidsave is also engaged in the Secure Futures Program, according to de la Bruyere. "That program is designed to have every child, not adopted, linked to a family in their native area and to teach those families how to take care of their own," de la Bruyere stated.

"Under Secure Futures, donations of just $1,500 guarantees that a child will receive $125 a month for one year to help them get computer skills, English language skills, and extra medical services. But the medical is more in terms of psychological help than actual medical treatment," she explained.

"Sponsorship of $1,500 can be made by individuals and businesses," de la Bruyere said. "It is particularly necessary to get the older kids to be self sufficient because when they reach their late teens that are released from the orphanage and they are released onto the streets."

ACCORDING TO Kidsave data, it costs about $4,500 for each Summer Miracles child to come here for the six week period. Whether they are successful in being adopted or not, at the conclusion of the Summer Miracles Camp each child must return to their orphanage. They all come here on tourist visa.

Those who have been placed with a family in the United States then begin the formal adoption procedure. "The older they are the less likely it is they will be adopted and the closer they are to being released from the orphanage. That is why the Secure Futures Program is so critical," de la Bruyere said.

Last year's Washington area Summer Miracles Program was able to find adoptive families for 24 children. "This year we have more girls and older girls," she verified.

For more information contact Kidsave International at 202-331-1110 or on their web site at www.kidsave.org.