What is the purpose of hosting an orphan for the summer? (Our FAQs Answered…)

Some of you may wonder what is up with hosting an orphan from an orphanage for 5 weeks through programs like New Horizons for Children. What is the purpose? Why is our family hosting? Maybe some of you have wondered, but not been bold enough to ask as you can clearly see how the Lord is working in our hosting story for the sake of our host child. I have gotten some well-meaning questions lately from well-meaning curious people–so to clear up any curiosity or wondering, I thought I’d post some of the questions we have received lately to help others understand the purpose in hosting. (As they say adoption AND I’ll add in hosting is not for the weak of heart–you have to be ready for questions and not let them effect your heart! You can imagine how they might be hard to hear especially when you love your girl so!)

So here they are–our FAQ’s answered…

Is the purpose of this visit for your family to decide if you want to adopt her? I can’t imagine her being with your family and having the time of her life being in a family and then having to go back to the bleakness of the orphanage or worse yet, aging out.

New Horizons and other hosting agencies are NOT adoption agencies. They are hosting agencies only that find Christian families to open their homes and hearts to love on these children two times a year (5 weeks during the summer and 5 weeks during the winter). In many countries (like Ukraine), the orphanages close for the summer and winter to save on costs and these waiting children are sent elsewhere–to guardians homes (some times distant relatives), to camps, to the streets–it may look different for every child. While most of these children ARE adoptable–this program is to show these kids the love of a family and of Christ–and it’s a pretty sweet deal that they don’t sleep on the streets for 5 weeks and instead are in loving, Christian homes to protect and keep them safe.

Our purpose in hosting was not to adopt–only 20% of hosting families host for that purpose. Our family isn’t in the position to adopt an older teen right now–but we are called to do what we can and we can open our home and hearts for the summer. While I know it might seem hard to be with a family for a time and then return to the orphanage, she did not come over with the assumption that adoption was an option. She is also well aware she is aging out–and that adoption may not be the best option for her. Do I think being on the streets this summer would have been a better option? Absolutely not. Do I think she now knows what family can be like and that she now has a new perspective of what mothering is? (She has even told me this–that she has learned in her short time here how to be a good mommy, and she hopes to be one some day too!)

What I do know–is that our sweet girl came to our home without a family to call her own–and now she has one…even if it’s across the world. Do I think it’d be better for her to be with us forever or to fulfill the dream she has for her life in Ukraine? Only the Lord knows–and we are along for the ride and will continue to look after our sweet girl. Do I think she is better off coming as a host child and to now be connected to a crazy family who will encourage her, support her and love her for always? Absolutely.

Our sweet girl is very aware she is aging out. And while some kids would be moping around–she has her head high. She has fought to make it this far, and we are standing beside her and behind her. While some may sit around and talk about how awful it is for an orphan to age out, we are choosing to really get to know one personally and forever impact her life. We can’t change the world of every child aging out–but maybe we can impact just one. We entered the program for this very purpose–to connect with an orphan who was aging out…and to us–she is no longer an orphan. She is our girl–and only being half way through the program our purpose is already clear. We are thankful and excited to see what God will do!

Don’t you think it is cruel to host a child–to let them come to America and see all that we have, what family is like and then they have to go back to the orphanage?

This question is well answered on the New Horizons hosting site! And it’s even better answered by the kids who have been hosted themselves:

“Many of these children have never had a positive family experience. They get a first hand glimpse of what healthy relationships can be! Some of these children have never experienced love in a healthy manner or been able to show affection. They also learn about hygiene, American culture, and they’re immersed in the English language! Their lives can be impacted greatly by their time in the U.S.A. and in your family.”

“Orphans usually feel left out, left behind and unworthy. Their self esteem is many times so low because they have been labeled in their home city by peers as “orphans”. After coming on our program for 4-5 weeks over Christmas holidays or during the summer months, most children learn as much English as they would typically learn in 4-5 semesters if taught at home in their school. This gives the children pride in themselves and helps boost their self esteem tremendously!”

“Receiving unconditional love and nurturing and being treated as a member of their host family who will usually maintain contact even after the child returns home to their orphanage. This gives them hope. Learning that they do have a Father, the same Father in Heaven that we all have…who loves us dearly and is always with us and lets them know they are never alone.”

There’s nothing cruel about showing a child love, increasing their self esteem or sharing the love of Christ with them. While it may seem cruel–they really don’t see our “stuff” so much–they want and need to simply be loved. And to watch their self-esteem be boost that they now have positive stories to share is huge! They no longer have to make up tall-tales pretending they have people that love them or tales about things they have done or places they have been. Hosting makes a forever impact in the lives of these children. As you may have learned from our child’s story–when she came here she was making up things she had done to impress us that were not true. She didn’t have experiences to even share with others that were good or that brought joy to her heart to share. While hosting has been more than this momma expected, it is worth every single ounce of extra energy it has required. I think everyone should host just once in their lifetime;).

If you host and feel led to adopt–can you? Are there other ways to love and support your child if you aren’t led to adopt?

Every case is different, but when you sign on to host at New Horizons most all the children are available for adoption–and there is a special note if they are not yet available for adoption OR if they are about to age out. They ask all host families to never use the “a” word (adoption) EVER in conversation as they don’t want the children to think this is the intention of the program. AFTER the child returns to their country, if a family feels led to adopt–the hosting agency will recommend agencies that work with that particular country that families may use. If a child you host has younger siblings (many do as you have to be 5 years old to come on the hosting program), they require siblings to remain together when adoption is considered. (This information is also given on the child bios you look through for hosting).

If you host a child for hosting and loving them only–AND they are available for adoption–you are able to advocate for them and help find a family for them. Almost 80% of the children who are hosted are eventually adopted by their host families or by a family who the host family found or had contact with.

For children who are aging out, there are a couple of different options families can be a part of in order to continue to minister to their host child. Some children continue in their education or continue on to a trade school. Families are able to support them in their education in different ways. It’s not as easy for Ukraine, but when hosting a child from Latvia family’s are able to get older children student visas to return and study in the states and potentially live with them while they complete school here in the state. Of course the child would have to WANT this–especially an older child. Some older children at 16 will prefer to stay in their home country instead of moving to a new culture with a foreign language–so for these kids families may be led to support them around the world while they advance their studies in different ways.

We would love to host, but we have young children. Do you recommend waiting to host when they are older?

Hmmm…this depends. I have 4 children at home with me ages 7, 6, 3 and 2. We are hosting a 15 year old this summer that requires about the same amount of attention as all 4 of my littles put together. For a family that just has 2 small children, I think this is totally doable. Would we and will be do it again? Absolutely! The amazing stuff FAR outweighs the hard stuff. If I can do it, anyone can. Something to keep in mind: the longer a child has been in an orphanage and without the love of a family–the harder it may be for them to adjust to home life and a family. The hardest part for us has been finding things that our 15 year old and our 2 year old BOTH want to do. The next time we host, we will probably have their ages closer together–but we know without a doubt we were absolutely called to host our T!

If you are able to find a little margin in your life, than I think it is doable for you to host now. If your plate is already a bit full, I’d probably encourage you to wait until you are able to create a little extra margin for giving a lot to a child that needs a lot. Compared to other hosting experiences, I would say that our hosting experience isn’t actually the norm. Part of that though has more to do with age and layers–so I would encourage you to pray over the children as you pray about hosting them–read their bios carefully–and ultimately follow the Lord in who you feel Him leading you to love for the winter or summer.

Alright. Our family would absolutely LOVE to be a part of loving a child for 5 weeks–to show them family–to show them the love of Christ–to know they are not alone and to know even though we are across the world–that we are always here…and that they will forever be a part of our family. HOW in the world can I host and where do I sign up??

There are many different hosting agencies. You can check out New Horizons–the one we are hosting through and you do NOT have to live where we live to host! You can visit the NEW HORIZONS SITE BY CLICKING HERE. They will be posting photos and bios for winter hosting (month of December + 1st week of January) after the summer program is completed. You can go ahead and fill out a pre-application now. You will receive an email when the new photos and bios are up–and you can host a child as early as THIS December! (If this Christmas is too soon or crazy for your family—go ahead and fill out the pre-app so you stay connected and get an email in the spring for summer hosting!)

Y’all have a great weekend! We got up EARLY this morning and T is on her first trip and experience to grandma’s house! Every child needs to know what it’s like to go to grandma’s for the weekend! I think she’ll come home as rotten as my toddlers. Mom said she picked out CocoaPuffs, ramen noodles and lots of fruit at the grocery store. And she’s going to DeSoto Caverns tomorrow with my parents–so I hope they take lots of pictures for her scrapbook! We already had plans to take her to the water park tomorrow–so instead of canceling if it doesn’t rain I think we’ll still go and just have some connecting time and fun together. We sure will miss the charade fun for the weekend!!! My friend Kelly caught me doing charades to Frankie baby without realizing it–so I guess momma needs a little R&R so I’m geared up for the 2nd half of our hosting summer when she returns!

Blessings!

Andrea

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