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Kidsave gives children from other countries chance for adoption

Brandon, 12, an orphan from Colombia, center, gets

Brandon, 12, an orphan from Colombia, center, gets help from his hosts Rita Napoli, left, and Tom Napoli, right, during a Kidsave Summer Miracle Program event held at the Children's Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton, July 9, 2016. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Google Translate has become a necessity for Sal Rotondo and his wife Nao, who don’t speak Spanish but have taken a 13-year-old boy from Colombia into their Westchester County home for the summer.

Rotondo, 48, of Port Chester, said he and his wife wanted to have an impact on a child’s life and are considering adoption, so they applied to be a host family with Kidsave. The nonprofit advocacy organization seeks families in the United States that will adopt orphaned children from other countries.

“It’s better than we imagined,” he said Saturday.

The Rotondos gathered at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton with other families in the New York area that are hosts to six Colombian children through Kidsave’s Summer Miracles Program.

The families, children and volunteers rallied together for an early afternoon of arts and crafts. As the children painted, colored and pasted cutouts from magazines and newspapers, interested parents who are not host families had the chance to see the kids and learn about the organization and its efforts.

The Summer Miracles Program matches children around the ages of 10 to 14 who have slight chances of being adopted in their native countries with volunteer families in the United States, who act as hosts and advocates for the summer.

Kidsave — which has domestic offices in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, as well as international offices — requires hosts to fill out an application, pay a hosting fee, financially provide for the children’s daily needs, fundraise and attend weekend events. There is an application fee of $275; in the New York area, the hosting payment is $1,250.

Christine Curiale, 41, of Hampton Bays, came to the museum on Saturday after hearing from a friend of a successful adoption. Curiale said she likes the idea of adopting older children because they seem less likely to be adopted.

Cathee Gelman, a volunteer coordinator for the Summer Miracles Program, said Kidsave works to ensure that the children are vetted and prepared for a summer in the United States.

Gelman, who adopted her daughter after hosting her through Kidsave, said she initially was worried about having a Spanish-speaking stranger in her home, but the experience was worthwhile. Gelman, who has three sons, said her daughter normally attends Kidsave events but couldn’t Saturday because of a lacrosse tournament.

The Colombian children arrived June 30 and will return to Colombia on Aug. 1. Once the children return, the host families have two weeks to decide on adopting a child.

Sometimes families adopt the child they hosted and other times they choose a different child, said Ivonne Droz, a Summer Miracles volunteer coordinator. The success rate of the children coming to the United States and later being adopted is about 87 percent, she said.

For those who are not adopted, Kidsave and volunteers keep advocating for them by posting on social media, handing out fliers and talking to everyone interested in adoption. If the child is under 16 — the age at which one no longer is eligible for adoption internationally — he or she can have a second chance with Kidsave another summer, Droz said.

If host parents then want to adopt, they must go through a separate process with an adoption agency, said Mary Massaro, of West Islip, who hosted a brother and sister in 2012 and later adopted them.

“We’re big kid advocates,” she said of herself and her husband, Frank, both the youngest of large families. “We thought it was important to keep siblings together.”

Massaro, who now works as a volunteer with Kidsave, said she thinks more families would volunteer if the cost were lower. Hosting and then adopting can be an expensive process, though scholarships can ease the burden, she said.

She remembered her hosting experience as being “a blast.”

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