An Ohio-based adoption advocate calls them "the forgotten children" -- 5- to 15-year-olds from Colombia and Taiwan who are unlikely to be adopted in their native countries because of their age.

An Ohio-based adoption advocate calls them "the forgotten children" -- 5- to 15-year-olds from Colombia and Taiwan who are unlikely to be adopted in their native countries because of their age.

Kidsave, a nonprofit agency founded in 1999, brings some of these children to the United States for five weeks every summer in hopes of finding them an adoptive family.

Five orphaned children from Colombia arrived in central Ohio on June 30 as part of the agency's Summer Miracles program. They are staying with families in Dublin, Lewis Center and Westerville until Aug. 6.

"These children are very grateful for all that we do for them," said Tess Fleck of Lewis Center. "They are just very gracious and say thank you often. Their smile is very genuine. Hernando, he's 9, his smile just melts you. It really touches my heart."

Fleck and her husband, Dave, are hosting Hernando and his 10-year-old sister, Luz. While they won't be adopting, they're advocates of the program.

Dublin residents Kim and Jim Baich got involved with the program with the intention of adoption. After months of searching, they found Kidsave and decided to give the summer program a try.

"The most enjoyable experience has been getting to know another child, the experience of hosting, the experience for my kids being able to get to know a different child and having the opportunity to have her share in our family life," Kim Baich said.

The Baichs, who are hosting 9-year-old Maria, have hosted several people from other countries for various reasons and always enjoyed the experience. When they find the right fit, they intend to adopt internationally.

For families who want to adopt the children they host, there is a mandatory two-week waiting period after the children return to their native country before the decision is made.

"We do not discuss adoption with children because we don't want to give them false hopes," said Ohio coordinator Colleen Shaver. "They are told it's a summer vacation to experience life with a family in the United States. When children go back to Colombia, even if the family has decided to adopt, the children are not told till about two weeks before family comes to pick them up."

If the host family chooses to adopt, they can usually bring a child home by the following February or March, Shaver said.

In 2007, eight of the 11 children who came to Ohio were adopted, Shaver said.

Eighty-two orphans from Colombia and Taiwan are participating in this year's program, which connected the children with families in 11 U.S. cities. The children are selected from hundreds of nominations submitted to Kidsave annually, Shaver said.

Before being selected, children undergo an extensive screening process that includes physical and psychological testing.

It costs $8,000 for each child who participates in the program. Kidsave pays the majority of the costs, although host families, who also are screened, pay $1,000 to participate.

The money from the families goes primarily to the cost of travel but also includes medical insurance and a $200 application fee, Shaver said.

"It's kind of nice because when you give your money to a charity you don't see directly where it goes," said Cindy Graziano of Westerville. "To see exactly where this goes is really a neat experience."

Cindy and her husband, Bob, are hosting siblings, 12-year-old Angie and 8-year-old Camilo.

Regardless if the children are adopted, Graziano said the benefits to them are numerous.

"When you see children who are extremely shy and in a shell come out and become confident and become vocal, it's a wonderful feeling," she said. "You can see their confidence building. It's incredible the amount of confidence they can build in just a few weeks. Children will thrive when they get a lot of individual attention."

Anyone interested in adoption or meeting the children before their return should contact Shaver at

More information on Kidsave is available at