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Open your heart and mind, and miracles happen: Pethel adoption is finally complete

By David Freeze for the Salisbury Post

Globally, 2-­8 million kids are in orphanages and in many countries, there are no credible numbers. Kidsave works to place kids, especially the older ones who are often overlooked, with a permanent adult family.

Ashley and Adam Pethel spent much of last summer as one of several families hosting a child for Kidsave of Colombia, originally hoping that they might find someone to adopt him. They already had two sons, Asher, 7, and Auden, 10, who were all boy. Ashley said, “After the first few days, our two biological sons were already asking if Juan could just stay with us! Adam and I wanted to see how things went through the summer and see how we felt led at that point. I was certain some big problems would have to arise for me to say no because Juan was an amazing kid. The connection was there. Adam likes to be more logical and would not make a decision until the end of the five weeks. We prayed a lot and ultimately felt that Juan was meant to be a part of our family. When we had to put him on a plane to return to Colombia, we knew that we had to get him back here as fast as we could….we watched our son walk away that day with everyone in tears.”

She continued, “There are lots of hoops to jump through and many approvals needed before Kidsave gives the final go-ahead for us to set a travel date. Once Juan returned to Colombia, I set out to get all of that completed as fast as I could!”

Two weeks after Juan’s return to Colombia, the Adam and Ashley could submit their “letter of intent” to let Kidsave know they wanted to adopt Juan.
When the hosted children returned to Colombia, they spent a few days at camp to help readjust and give them time to have fun and relax. This helped with the sadness most of them felt upon returning. At that point, the children are asked about their trip and how they liked their host family, including if they would want to be adopted by them.

The children have to agree to be adopted or Kidsave will not allow an adoption to move forward. Ashley said, “We felt very confident that Juan would want to come back to live with us. He told them yes every time they asked.”

The Pethel family spent 18 days, March 18 until April 5, in Colombia. Ashley said, “Colombia was amazing! The people were all so warm and welcoming, never stopping for a moment to complain or be rude about the fact that our Spanish was not great. The language barrier never mattered, and often with laughter, all figured out what was being said.”

Able to speak some basic Spanish, none of the Pethel’s are fluent yet. Their time in Colombia was so much fun that no one was ready to leave. They made plenty of new friends and hope to return soon to see them again.

On the first day, the Pethel family had a meeting with all of Juan’s “team,” consisting of his psychologist, English teacher, “mom” from the children’s home and a few others. They talked about his behaviors and things that work or don’t work for him, how he does in school, in social settings, in the children’s home and more. The Pethels were told anything they may need to know or that may help them moving forward.

The second day was called “Encuentro,” when the Pethels finally got to pick Juan up at the children’s home. From that point forward, Juan remained with them the entire time. The entire family spent five days together in Bogota during “integration week” before returning to the children’s home for another interview.
Ashley said, “This time we talked about how our time together had gone and if Juan was adjusting well. They also talk to the children alone to see if they still want to move forward with the adoption.

Then if everyone is comfortable and ready, the families are allowed to go to another town, La Mesa, where the adoption will be finalized.”
Required to spend a few days in La Mesa finalizing the paperwork process, the Pethels went to the judge’s office and signed the official adoption papers. Ashley said, “The judge talked to the children about how great the adoption is for them and how they will now be representing Colombia in America. She asked them to be good representatives in hopes of giving other children like them a chance to have the same opportunity.”

Once the papers were signed, the Pethels applied for Juan’s new Colombian ID. Juan wanted to change his name to Arkyn, joining the rest of the Pethels with first names that start with A. They then returned to Bogota to apply for Arkyn’s passport and Visa. Once all was approved and ready, the new larger Pethel family was then allowed to return to the USA.

Ashley said, “We got back on April 5th and picked up right where we left off last summer, a return to our “normal” craziness! The boys all love to play soccer and just spend time together.”
Arkyn is currently doing homeschool until the new school year starts, when he and Auden will be attending Gray Stone Day School. Arkyn said, “Kidsave is very good. I’m happy to be here.”
“I never thought I would be a dad to an adopted child,” said Adam. “But when God lays something on your heart and you open your heart and mind to it, miracles happen, and things change. Now I couldn’t imagine life without our family of five,” said Adam.

Asher added, “I’m just glad to have my brother home.”

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