Summertime Program Leads to Adoption of Colombian Girl


(Monday, May 19, 2008 5:49 PM EDT)

Last August, Colombian orphan Ingrid Chavarro had to say good-bye to Mike and Carmen DeSenne, the host-family she stayed with as part of KidSave Summer Miracles, a program that brings orphans to the United States for the summer.

But the good-bye wasn't for long.

Ingrid (who now goes by her middle name, Lorena) is now a DeSenne, and has been living in Arlington since February.

“We'd talked about adopting for about two or three years,” Mike DeSenne said in a recent interview. “When we met Lorena last summer, it all fell into place.”

The DeSennes started the adoption paperwork very soon after Lorena's departure. They received approval in November and then in January headed to Bogotá, Colombia for five weeks to finalize arrangements.

“It was a lot of waiting, so we tried to treat it as a vacation,” he said. “We got to know each other better.”

Lorena experienced a lot of “firsts” as she traveled in Colombia with the DeSennes. Going to the beach, snorkeling and riding a horse all were new experiences to her, on their trips around the country.

But probably the most exciting experience for all of them was bringing Lorena to her new home in the United States in early February.

And because Lorena had been part of the KidSave program and stayed with the DeSennes last summer, transition to life in Arlington was a smooth one.

After a flurry of doctor's appointments, vaccinations and an assessment of her education level, Lorena (who couldn't speak English upon arriving in the United States) started fourth grade at Claremont Elementary School at the end of the month.

“The school is awesome,” DeSenne said. “She's starting to understand everything. It's amazing to see.”

Since the school also is an arts-focused school, Lorena gets to sing and dance - two of her favorite activities - a lot of the time.

Lorena also really enjoys spending time with her parents bowling, eating pizza and watching movies. She will start ballet lessons soon and has a great time riding her pink bike (pink is her favorite color).

“I'm not sure if it's an issue with every parent of an 11-year-old daughter, but we've graduated to three laundry piles from two: whites, darks and pinks,” DeSenne said.

One of the only things Lorena hasn't gotten used to since being adopted is the Washington, D.C. traffic. Other than that, “the transition has been great,” he said.

Of the nine orphans who came to the United States last summer through KidSave's Summer Miracles program, four (including Lorena) have been adopted and four more are in the process of being adopted.

“It's been life-changing for us. We couldn't be happier,” DeSenne said. “Last year, we couldn't imagine having an 11-year-old. But now, we can't imagine not having her.”

And what's Lorena's favorite part about being in Arlington with the DeSennes?

“I have a family,” she said.

Mike and Carmen DeSenne adopted their new daughter, Lorena, from Colombia. They had met her when Lorena came to the U.S. last summer.

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