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Nov 19, 2019

Documentary Tells Foster Youths' Stories of Finding a Family

After more than a year of filming at Kidsave events, a new five-part A&E series called, “The Day I Picked My Parents" sbout Kidsave's Family Visit Model and its use was aired in September and has now been seen by about a million viewers. 

It tracks ten youth who are participiating in Kidsave's Weekend Miracles Program as they search to find their forever families. Through Kidsave, they have a voice -- and a choice -- in picking their parents.  The series has been received positively in the US child welfare community as well as by the public.

 A viewer in Connecticut described watching the show. “I turned on the first episode and could not stop watching. It was so moving and inspiring,” Comments from other viewers have been similarly encouraging and many have asked, “how can I do this in my community?”

The series was re-broadcast on the FYI Network and is available on-demand on various cable networks and online. You can watch the series at: https://www.kidsave.org/the-day/. It has led to inquiries from child welfare leaders across the U.S. about the Kidsave Family Visit model and possibly implementing it in their jurisdictions. Inquiries are coming in from Arizona, Georgia, Arkansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington. Beyond Los Angeles, many other counties in California have expressed interest in the program.

On a national level, Kidsave met with 18 congressional offices calling for support of the program at the federal level and held a screening of the series' first episode for congressional staff in Washington, D.C., in October.

Randi Thompson, Kidsave’s Co-Founder and CEO, said that, “While these journeys to finding permanent homes often have many twists and turns, we hope viewers were inspired by the resilience, personality and potential of these kids. We hope that more people will decide they too want to make a difference in the lives of foster youth, after watching “The Day I Picked My Parents.” 

The 10 Foster Kids in The Day I Picked My Parents
The 10 Foster Kids in The Day I Picked My Parents

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Nov 19, 2019

19 Ebola Orphans Now Living With Families

Sierra Leonean girl in her new school uniform.
Sierra Leonean girl in her new school uniform.

Nineteen children who were orphaned during the 2014 Ebola crisis and have been living in orpanages ever since, werer recently placed with sutiable kin or in new families by Kidsave and its partner social workers in Sierra Leone.  Kidsave not only finds suitable parents, it goes deeper, to be sure the match is lasting and really gives that child the boost they need.  Our social workers persevere, monitoring the children and providing extra resources as needed to be sure the match is a success. 

Sometimes, that extra boost is as simple as an extra mattress and bedding. Sometimes it means providing a poor mother with a  microloan to be able to afford the extra food to feed one more child. Kidsave recently followed up on the last group of children placed and found that 17 of them were unable to attend school because their families could not afford school uniforms and books.  For just $300 -- or less thatn $18 each -- these could all be purchased.  One Kidsave supporter learned about the need and quickly sent in $300. She told Kidsave she felt wonderful -- enabling 17 children to go to school!  A small price for such a great investment in their future.   

Here are some photos of the kids with their supplies and in their new uniforms.

Student with new uniform and supplies
Student with new uniform and supplies
Zainab with her new uniform and school supplies.
Zainab with her new uniform and school supplies.

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Nov 19, 2019

Katya's Summer Miracle Story

Katya and her sister, arriving in US for 5-weeks
Katya and her sister, arriving in US for 5-weeks

We're taking a step back in history with this report, to feature a "graduate" of Kidsave's Summer Miracles Program, who participated when the program was working with Russia. This is to show our dear readers how one life was changed so dramatically.. Today, this program helps older Colombian orphans, but the program started by helping older Russian orphans.

Ekaterina (Katya) was born in the city of Tver, Russia. Her birth family struggled financially and worked multiple low-income jobs to raise their four kids. But when their father became abusive due to alcoholism, food became scarce. She remembers eating raw flour out of the bag just to fill her stomach and going to neighbors’ homes begging for food.

Katya became malnourished and was hospitalized. After multiple complaints, she and her three siblings were moved into two orphanages. Kayta endured many hardships, but in 2001 at age 6, had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. with her sister to participate in Kidsave’s Summer Miracles program, which at that time was working in Russia (today the program works with Colombia). The girls were matched for hosting with a couple that decided to adopt them.

“Flying on a plane for the first time was scary and exciting,” she said of that trip in 2001. “I carried the little that I owned in a white plastic bag and held on tight to my sister’s hand. I didn’t fully understand what was happening, but with my sister by my side, and the volunteers and translators from Kidsave nearby, I felt safe and taken care of.” Katya has many stories of adapting to new foods, having her own toys, having enough food, going to camp and playing without worrying about anything.

After the Kidsave program, the girls returned to Russia and things seemed worse now that they had something to compare it to. to our experience in the U.S. The adoption process was stalled due to the events of 9/11, but eventually they came back to the US. The girls grew up on the Eastern short of Maryland.  “I had the opportunity to have a very normal and stable childhood.” After high school Katya attended College, studied anthropology and studied abroad.

Katya’s mom passed on in 2018. Today, Katya does communications work for Kidsave. “I work for Kidsave every day in her honor and her commitment to raising me. My parents gave me an opportunity to learn how to be in a loving family, and they gave me a great education. I will forever be grateful to them. I hope to give back to Kidsave and help the kids still out there in the same position I once was, looking for a forever family.

Without the guidance of the Kidsave organization, it’s events, camps, and team, I would not have known the life I’m proud to live today. My Kidsave trip opened up many opportunities for me – it truly changed my life.”

Katya, her sister, and their new parents in the US
Katya, her sister, and their new parents in the US

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