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Working for miracles
Host families help children find homes
Adams5 es
The Adams family (sans 2-year-old Margaret) get together for a picture with their two Colombian host children. From front to back and left to right: Miguel Moncada, Sam Adams, Kyle Adams, Anlly Moncada, Charlotte Adams, Jeff Adams and Ana Adams. - photo by Emily Saunders
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To learn more about the Kidsave programs, including Summer Miracles, and how to get involved, visit
Two Forsyth families have opened their homes to children from another nation this summer.

The Madda family of south Forsyth and the Adams family of central Forsyth for the past month have participated in the Kidsave Summer Miracles program by serving as host families for children from Colombia.

The program, which has been in operation for a decade, seeks to help older children living in orphanages in foreign countries find adoptive families in the United States.

Kidsave also sponsors additional programs for older children in foster care in some U.S. cities and other countries.

Children selected to participate in the program spend five weeks with a host family, who promote the program and work to find the children “forever families,” said Mary Gleason, volunteer coordinator for the Atlanta area.

Gleason explained host families work to find adoptive families by utilizing local media outlets, sending e-mails, through local groups like churches and civic clubs and other grassroots efforts.

In her experience, she said, the host families end up adopting the children about 50 percent of the time. She herself adopted the first two girls she hosted through the program.

The two Forsyth families participating in the program this year have actively taken their guests to several metro-area events through Kidsave including bowling, pool and inflatables parties. The events allow the children to meet prospective families in a natural and fun setting.

Susie Madda said several families are interested in possibly adopting 10-year old Luisa Fernanda Saray Gomez, which isn’t a surprise to Madda.

“We never expected her to be so well adjusted, so sweet, so happy, so charming, athletic and intelligent,” said Madda. “[Having her here] has been more fun than I ever could have imagined.”

Madda added that Luisa “fell right into the family,” which includes husband Don, Nicole, 12, Danielle, 10, and Michael, about 2 years old.
“Our 22-month old goes right to her,” said Susie Madda.

Ana Adams has had a similar experience with sister and brother Anlly, 10, and Miguel Moncada, 9.

“They’re in general real good kids,” said Adams, who with husband Jeff has four children of her own — Sam, 9, Charlotte, 7, Kyle, 5, and Margaret, 3. “They’re fun loving, happy, they get along well with others ... they’re not demanding, they’re easy children.

“The fact that they’ve come to a country they’ve never been to, to people they’ve never met and survived it ... I was really kind of amazed. Overall, I’ve just been like ‘wow.’”

While the summer has been fun, it has come with a few challenges for both families.

Susie Madda said probably the biggest has been the language difference.

“But that was one of the reasons we wanted to do this, was to use our Spanish more,” she said, noting she had several years of the language in high school and college, and her daughters have taken it every year at Pinecrest Academy.

“Nicole knows a lot more than she lets on,” joked Susie Madda. “Through her and a sort of sign language, we’ve done OK.”

Language hasn’t been a major issue at the Adams household, as Ana is fluent.

“My family is from Argentina,” she said. “So that’s really helped.”

With their host mom translating for them, the Moncada siblings said some of their favorite parts of their summer trip have been spending time in the family’s pool, helping to take care of the younger children in the house and shopping in American stores.

They also have liked American foods. Some of their favorites have been ice cream, Fruit Loops cereal and ketchup, which the Adams said they enjoy so much, they “suck it right out of the packets.”

Both sets of parents said one of the major things they have enjoyed about the program is watching their own children develop life skills such as getting along with others from different backgrounds, making compromises and learning to serve.

Ana Adams said one of the best moments for her came when 7-year old Charlotte voluntarily cleaned out one of her drawers so Anlly could have more space to put her things.

“In the orphanage where they come from, the mentality is every man for himself,” said Ana Adams. “It was kind of different for [Anlly] to see someone being genuinely sweet. It took her a while to understand. It was touching.”

The children will be heading back to their home country Tuesday.

Due to legal issues since Kidsave is not an adoption agency, whether or not they have prospective families lined up, all the children must return to their home country at the conclusion of the program.

Neither the Maddas nor the Adams plan to adopt their host children due to the number of their own biological kids, but both hope they have had a positive influence in their lives.

“No matter what, we’ve shown her a normal, stable, loving family, something she’s probably never seen before living in an orphanage,” said Don Madda. “That will have an impact on her whole life. This could literally change her life forever.”

“I just can’t say enough about these kids,” added Ana Adams. “They’re somebody’s treasure just waiting to happen.”

E-mail Crystal Ledford at