Adopting Alex

Kathleen and I have adopted a five year old Guatemalan kid by the name of Alex. Well, maybe “adopted” is not the right word because Alex will remain in Guatemala with his Mom and little sister while we continue to hang out in California.

My wife and I will be more like surrogate grandparents sending this agency in Guatemala 20 bucks a month to help his mom keep her five year old boy in food and clothing, to cover medical expenses and to pay his tuition in school.

Like any grandparents, surrogate or not, we can send our little guy presents from time to time. Having had kids of our own, we will be savvy enough to include a gift for Alex's little sister, too. We are also encouraged to write our new grandson and send him pictures of ourselves and family. Someday, we hope to visit Alex and his family in Guatemala.

The agency sent us a picture of Alex along with a mini-summary of his living situation. Our new grandson lives in a home made of dirt blocks with a dirt floor and corrugated tin roof. His mom cooks over a fire using clay pots. The household income is approximately $10 per month, most of which is earned by mom doing laundry.

We don't know too much about Alex yet other than he likes to play with cars and that one of his main jobs around the house is to carry firewood for his mother. Mom adds that he is also very good about taking care of his little sister. Alex's Dad died three or four years ago.

The agency we are working with is called The Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. They are the ones we are trusting with our donation each month to make sure it is spent for Alex. To be honest, Kathleen and I wondered at first whether this could be all a con job. Could we really trust the agency to use our donation honestly. But, from the checking we did, these folks have a good reputation. The American Institute for Philanthropy gave them their highest rating. Eighty-six cents on the dollar goes to direct services for the kids and old folks. Less than 15 % goes to administration. That sounded pretty good to us plus the fact that the Christian Foundation now sponsors nearly a quarter million kids and frail older people in third world countries all over the world.

We decided to give this person to person thing a try after being bombarded for years by a host of do good agencies asking for our donations. CARE, UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services, the list goes on and on. We started to get on overwhelm. Much as we would like to help them all, we simply couldn't do it. Helping one kid, five year old Alex, seems

more do-able. We see his picture. We know where he lives. One day, we hope to pay him a visit.

I'll let you know in future columns how our adopted kid is getting along. If any of you want to check out the possibility of extending your family to the third world, I'm sure there are other agencies who will arrange for you to do what Kath and I are doing or you could contact the agency we are working with at 800-875-6564. Their web address is Just don't ask to adopt a Guatemalan kid named Alex. He's ours.

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