According to kidsave.org, there are approximately 120,000 kids waiting for adoption at any given time in the United States. That number expands to 2 million when taking into account the entire world.
Children ages 9 and younger are the most likely to be adopted. While a child celebrates their 10th birthday, their chances of adoption decrease.
Shawn and Priscilla Tarkington never had children of their own.
Learning about the hardships that older kids go through in the world of adoption was troubling for them to process. The two decided to open up their home and hearts to help a child’s journey of finding a family.
“These are the older kids,” said Shawn, looking out to the group of Kidsave kids bowling. “A lot of these kids, this is one of their last shots to try and find a family. For that reason, we read more into it and we found out about the Summer Miracles program.”
The Kidsave Summer Miracles program is an international program where kids up for adoption from a different country come to the United States to live for five weeks. They stay with a family that is either considering adoption or helping aid the children’s journeys by connecting them to a family considering adoption.
If a child is not connected to a family pursuing adoption at the end of the five weeks, they will return to their country and repeat the program again, rather in the winter or next summer.
“For kids who we don’t have a family for or we have not yet been fortunate to find the right family for the child, we will continue to advocate for them after they go back,” said Lauren Reicher-Gordon, director of the Kidsave Summer Miracles program.
This year 29 families in the United States are hosting 41 kids from Colombia. Three of the families located in Southern California are hosting four of the kids and Shawn and Priscilla are hosting Matt in Santa Clarita.
Matt is a 12-year-old boy who was afraid to go through with the Kidsave program because of the language barrier.
After meeting and spending time with Shawn and Priscilla, he began to open up and express who he truly was:
A songbird who loves to sing.
A student whose favorite subjects are math and science.
An animal lover.
A determined young boy dedicated to learning how to swim through the free swim lessons donated to him by the Academy Swim Club.
“Every day he goes to class, he’ll come back from class and say, ‘I want to practice in the pool. I want to practice in the pool,’” said Shawn. “He’s just determined to master swimming and he puts his all into it. We took him to Florida for a family vacation, my wife’s side of the family up to Fort Myers, and this kid is like in the ocean swimming like crazy. I mean, he’s not afraid of anything and we love that about him.”
At the core of it all, Matt is simply just a young boy trying to find a home, but while in the process of it has been enjoying everything he can about American culture.
Shawn has been filled with gratitude during the entire experience and is thankful he lives in Santa Clarita, a community enriched by family values.
“We don’t have kids of our own and doing this, it’s a learning experience for us as well,” said Shawn. “It’s got its challenges but also it has a lot more rewards than challenges for us. It’ll be especially rewarding when we find a family for Matt.”
Matt’s last day in Santa Clarita, and the United States, is Aug. 12.
Those potentially interested in adopting Matt and/or other kids in the Kidsave program may contact Kidsave at tinyurl.com/2s3vdby8. Those interested in meeting the kids in the Kidsave program can attend their next event in Riverside on July 29 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at GLO Mini Golf, 1299 Tyler St Suite E106.