Adopted children are always part of our annual Send a Kid to Camp fund-raising campaign. This summer, four from the same family will attend Camp Moss Hollow, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My associate, Suzannah Gonzales, interviewed the four campers-to-be. Her report:
They have three sons (30, 21 and 19), two daughters (36 and 31) and seven grandchildren. They have started to plan retirement. So Cecelia Dianne Dorsey, 47, and her husband, William, 57, didn't think they would be raising young children again.
But within the last two years, the couple have become adoptive parents to biological sisters Shannae, 7, and Sharon, 12, and biological brothers Christian, 7, and Owen, 8.
Because her mother had many children and worked nights, Cecelia was often cared for by others for weeks at a time when she was a child. Her experiences led Cecelia and her husband to become foster parents in 1992.
"I sort of talked [William] into it," Cecelia said.
The couple have cared for 40 to 50 children on an emergency basis (for one or two nights), as well as for four other pairs of siblings. The two pairs they adopted have stayed with them the longest.
"Given our ages and the fact that our children, when we adopted these children, were grown . . . [adoption] wasn't an intention. But it just seemed the best thing to do, the right thing to do," said Cecelia, a safety specialist for the U.S. Postal Service.
"I feel kind of overwhelmed sometimes, because, for a while, I felt I was at a point in my life where I could just really lay back and just cruise through the rest of it," said William, a government contracts supervisor for Fairfax Opportunities Unlimited.
"I do sometimes feel like, `What did I get myself into?' I'm almost 60 years old and trying to have a family. But it has a lot of good points. I love the kids, and I want to see that they have the best. So it's working out fine."
Christian and Owen were the Dorseys' first foster children. They arrived when they were 1 and 2 years old, respectively, and stayed for three years. The boys then lived with their biological mother for a year, but returned to the Dorseys' home in January 1998. They were adopted in October 1998.
Shannae, then 2, and Sharon, then 7, came to the Dorseys in March 1994 with their two biological brothers, who now live with other families in Prince George's County. The girls have stayed with the Dorseys ever since.
This summer, Christian, Owen, Shannae and Sharon will attend Camp Moss Hollow for the first time. The children said they'll miss their home and family in Upper Marlboro, but they said they'd manage to enjoy themselves and write letters if they have the chance.
Soft-spoken Owen, a second-grader at Kettering Elementary School, said he wants "to go swimming, do arts and crafts, draw and practice my handwriting." When he writes from camp, his letter will say: "Dear Mom and Dad, My week was good," Owen said. His letter will end with, "When I get home, I'll give big hugs and kisses."
Christian, a smiling and playful first-grader at Kettering Elementary, said he wants to "meet new friends" and swim. "I can swim up to four feet!" he said, proudly.
However, Christian seemed concerned that Old Man Clutch, a character from a ghost story he heard about at another camp, would appear at Moss Hollow. "I hope not!" he said.
Christian said his first letter home would read: "Dear Mommy and Daddy, I had a fun week. When I get back, I'll give big hugs and kisses. And Daddy, take me golfing."
Talkative, front-tooth-less Shannae, also a first-grader at Kettering Elementary, said she wants to hike and, "Oh, yeah, I want to play with Owen. This time, I'm going in the boys' section."
"I like to giggle," she added.
Her first letter will say, "Dear Mom and Dad, I miss you so much. Can I watch TV when I get back?" William immediately answered, "No." Cecelia explained that Shannae tends to be a couch potato.
Sharon, a sixth-grader at North Forestville Elementary, said she looks forward to going fishing while at camp.
"I never had an opportunity to go to camp as a child," Cecelia said. "I just think it's good for them as far as their independence is concerned."
"I have nothing but good memories about camp, good experiences," William said.
"A lot of things that I learned in life, I learned in camp. . . . It takes you away from what you're actually used to. It gives them a different outlook on life."
goal by July 30: $550,000.
In hand as of June 19: $94,966.49.
CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAMPAIGN:
Make a check or money order payable to Send a Kid to Camp and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.
VISA OR MASTERCARD:
Call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 on a touch-tone phone. Then punch in K-I-D-S, or 5437, and follow instructions.