A Bittersweet Goodbye
In the ideal scenario, the kids enrolled in Children International stay in the program until they’re 19. Some time in the two or three months following their 19th birthday, they officially exit the program, at which time they write a final letter to their sponsor. Sponsors then have the option of sharing contact information with their sponsored child through CI, and it’s up to the child whether to stay in touch.
Unfortunately, though, not every sponsorship experience crosses the same finish line. There are a variety of reasons that a child may leave the program early. Sometimes, these reasons are positive for the families. In one recent case, I contacted CI about a child I was interested in sponsoring, only to be told that the family’s income had recently increased significantly and the family had therefore chosen to withdraw from the program. Sometimes families move to other parts of the country for better jobs. In other cases, the circumstances are not as good. CI families live in extremely difficult conditions, and I can only barely begin to understand the choices they must face.
On the whole, Ward and I have been very lucky with our girls. We’ve had two graduate the program as planned, and a third who has just turned 19. We have three more girls on track to graduate by the end of this year. We have only had one instance, last year, when we were not able to sponsor a child until she turned 19 (she moved outside the program area to live with her baby’s father’s family and was therefore no longer eligible to receive CI services).
And so it is with especially heavy hearts that we say a premature goodbye to Keilyn today.
After my trip to Guatemala last week, we knew that there was a strong possibility that Keilyn would be unable to remain enrolled in CI’s program, but we didn’t expect things to happen quite this quickly. I was unable to meet her as planned due to an unexpected situation, which the local CI staff explained to me in as much detail as they could without violating Keilyn’s privacy. Likewise, I’m unable to share the exact circumstances surrounding her departure publicly, but I will say that ultimately, we believe this will be for the best.
Although we sponsored Keilyn for only a few short months, we will miss her terribly. We would have loved to have been able to do more for her. We hope that she will be safe, well cared for, happy and loved, and that her future holds only wonderful things.
Because of the specific circumstances, I think it’s unlikely that we will be able to remain in contact with her, although I have asked CI just in case. I will nevertheless continue to hope that our paths will cross again one day, and will be forever grateful that she touched our lives for a little while.