Chasing the American Dream

AC Milan soccer camp coaches Diego Aversa and Gabriele Gallicchio with Jhonatan during a weeklong soccer camp run by coaches with the official soccer camp of the Italian soccer club.

Ten-year-old Jhonatan, from Columbia, South America, is having a very busy summer: soccer camp, tennis camp and a trip to Capital Hill, where he met several Senators. He’s also staying with an Urbana family for five weeks with the hope of finding a family of his own.

Jhonatan is one of 11 orphans from South America and Russia in the Washington, D.C., area this summer through Kidsave, an international organization that seeks permanent homes for older American and international kids who currently live in orphanages or foster homes.

“He is caring,” said host mom Amanda Mason about Jhonatan.

He’s an above-average student. He loves sports and everything American. “He is trying so hard to learn English; he’s always asking for the English names of everything,” she said.

An avid soccer player, Jhonatan was one happy camper during his week participating in the AC Milan Junior Camp hosted by FC Frederick at St. Thomas More Academy in Buckeystown. Working with coaches from the official soccer camps of AC Milan, he had an experience of a lifetime. Mason said she was grateful for the generosity of FC Frederick, which allowed Jhonatan to attend the camp for half price.

Weekends are spent at Kidsave get-togethers where Jhonatan can meet prospective families in a non-stressful way that allows casual interaction. This year about half of the nine host families are considering adopting themselves, according to Mason. Others, like the Masons, host to act as advocates for the children.

For most of the children, the trip to the D.C. area will be the only chance they have to find an adoptive family, according to Mason, who said the last meet-and-greet event is set for August 1.

This is the second time the Masons have hosted a Kidsave child. Amanda said the first experience was so successful they wanted to try again. Two years ago Paula stayed with the Masons, and Amanda was pleased to report Paula was adopted last year by a wonderful family and will begin Oakdale Middle School in the fall.

“She’s doing very well,” said Mason. “It’s a great program; it provides an opportunity for people to see that these kids are normal, wonderful kids. They just need a home.”

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