Statistics show that there are between 143 million and 210 million orphans worldwide today. Studies have shown that each year, approximately 14 million of those children worldwide grow up and age out of orphanages by approximately 18 years of age.
In Russia and the Ukraine, 60% of the girls become prostitutes, and 70% of the boys become hardened criminals. Most people are completely unaware of that fact. Even Terry Baugh, who traveled to a Russian Orphanage to adopt an infant, was unaware of this fact.
It was not until Baugh heard about her friend, Randy Thompson’s experience while visiting an orphanage in Kazakhstan that she realized this truth.
During her visit, Ms. Thompson saw face to face the older children that the world had ultimately forgotten about.
Together the two friends teamed up and created “Kidsave International,” a non-profit organization whose mission stands on the motto, “Because every child needs a family.”
As an adoptive mother, Baugh was aware first hand of the obvious statement that, “Parenting a child from an institution is full of joy and challenges.” She also realized how children are poorly treated in orphanages.
“It is not okay that children are able to languish in government care without stimulation,” added Baugh.
Studies show that children who are not stimulated by loving parents as infants have higher chances of suffering from brain damage, not having enough growth hormones, and having cognitive problems.
It sounds unrealistic, but most of us are not aware of what happens in orphanages, especially in developing countries.
Russian orphanages are massive, cold institutions with an insufficient number of caregivers to properly take care of all of the children.
In the summer of 1999, Kidsave International brought 177 children from Russia to Washington DC and Los Angeles with the hope of finding these children families. That following summer, 97% of those children found families through their host-families or became children of the host-family themselves.
As of 2011, Kidsave has catered to children in orphanages in Russia, Kazakhstan, Peru, Columbia, Sierra Leone and the United States. To date, approximately 2,700 children have found homes through Kidsave. In addition, through Kidsave Sponsored programs; more than 10,000 kids have been helped worldwide.
Although it might seem like all good news, Baugh has surely had her share of hardships and struggles with being the co-founder of the organization. One of the largest issues has been public awareness, both locally and globally.
When the public is not aware of an issue, they do not care, and when they do not care it usually leads to the government not caring as well. That leads directly to the second problem faced by Kidsave. This problem is the lack of government funding for the program.
The United States Government has not made the issue a top priority regardless of numerous tests, which have been conducted such as the Bucharest Early Intervention Study.
This test has proven that children lose intellect after being in an orphanage for two years or more.
Kidsave currently has two major successful programs. The first program is Summer Miracles which takes place during the summer. This program which is promoted and advertised as their signature program, involves children coming to major cities in the U.S. and staying with a host family for six week periods. The hopes are that the children will find permanent families.
The second program, which is short term, is called Weekend Miracles. This program is targeted towards children in foster care located in the Kidsave focus cities, Washington DC and Los Angeles. Because the kids are American natives, the need for a long-term stay is eliminated because there are no language or culture barriers. Both programs have been very successful.
With the awareness aspect taken care of, I thought I would touch base on a more personal note.
Kidsave really stands out to me because I was once in the same situation that many children worldwide are in today. I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in May of 1993 and adopted in April of 1995.
Fortunately, I was young enough not to remember much of anything from the orphanage. My earliest memory was of my “Thomas the Tank Engine” themed birthday party, which is nothing abnormal to any other American six year old.
My family’s involvement with Kidsave began in the year 2000, when we agreed to step in as a backup host family to a young boy named Sasha (Russian equivalent to Alexander). He came to us with nothing but a single outfit and a roll of toilet paper. We quickly nourished him with what was probably an absurd amount of clothes and personal items, some of which he surely had not seen or heard of before.
It was quite an experience and although we did not decide to make him our own, a different family we knew took the initiative and went through the grueling adoption process and made him a member of their family by the end of that year.
A few years passed and in the summer of 2003, two children, Masha and Ruslan, came into our home and we immediately fell in love with them. At the end of the summer we made a life changing decision and decided to make them a part of our family.
The following May, we traveled to Russia to finalize the adoption plans. Unfortunately the adoption did not work out for reasons pertaining to the Russian Government. However it was a life-changing experience and it would not have been possible without Kidsave.
This experience showed me what I potentially could have been like had I not been adopted. I also received a huge culture shock. Coming from an average American household, I gained a much broader view of how other people live and all of a sudden everything seemed to have more value.
Following that experience, my family continued to host children from other countries. However, 2006 marked our last summer of participating in the Summer Miracles program.
We still continue to support Kidsave in every way we can. Terry Baugh and her three children have grown up with me and it is something I would not take back under any circumstances. I firmly believe in Kidsave as an organization because “Every Child Needs a Family.”