What can we tell you about hosting? There is so much to say. First and foremost it was the best experience of our life. Not only our life, but our childrens. It humbled us in a way that we have not been humbled before. It taught us:
- Listen to your Hosting Programs advice about the children!!!!
- Don't go into hosting thinking you know everything...YOU DON'T!!!
- Patience, Patience, Patience and then a little more patience.
- Let go of the "Norman Rockwell" Dream.
- Get on Host Boards and learn from others who have gone before you.
- Hosting in Ukraine is NOT pre-selection for adoption. It is illegal in Ukraine to pre-select. Even though many people think that hosting programs are a showcase for adoption. DO NOT go into thinking like that or you and the child will be heartbroken. I will go into that in more detail a little later.
- Love unconditionally. Remember, these children may not have experienced love in the way that you have. So, they may reject you at first. Don't take it personal. But, don't give up.
- Don't overstimulate...try to have a routine. It is hard, but, try.
- Do not over do it with the gifts. This is not because you want to be stingy, it is because it is very overwhelming to a child who has not had this before.
- Remember, you are not their parent and they may not see you as an authority figure. They will see you as their Vacation Guide. This was the hardest to understand. Be flexible, don't try so hard to make them conform to your rules...it is only 3 weeks.
- If you do have to put them in time out..it is different for children in orphanages, it is best to stay with them than to leave them alone. Just sit quietly while they are in time out. Trust me, it worked. I was shocked.
- When it comes to food, don't be surprised if they don't like what you think they would like. McDonald's and Pizza isn't always the biggest hit. Sometimes, just plain ole Beef stew and bread is like eating at a 5 star restaurant.
- Oh yea, they don't like to sleep alone or in the dark. Leave the lights on....
- Be careful when going to Target or grocery stores....they might just put everything they see on the shelf into your basket. Trying to explain why you can't buy it all is sometimes very interesting!! :) No where in my quick Russian pocket guide was there " We can't buy the whole store"
- BATHS......oh wow....stock up on bubble baths. If you think going to Disney will make them happy. Think again my friend. Just turn on some warm water, and put in bubble bath and you will have the happiest camper alive!.
- Most importantly, even though there is the language barrier...there is the universal language of love. Hugs, smiles, and saying lots of "bravos" when they have done a good job will go a very long way.
- Lastly, remember...it is not the gifts that you think that will impress them. Our child was more fascinated by flipping on and off the light switches in the house. She loved the lights in our mini-van. She thought she had won the lottery when she found out we had a DVD in the Mini-Van! :), jumping on the trampoline, picking flowers (even if they are dead because of winter) and bringing them to you because they just want to see you smile. Those are the things that seem to bring them the most joy.
Hosting is about opening up your hearts and your home to a child(ren) to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity by allowing them to spend precious time with you and receiving attention and love that they usually lack back home in their orphanages. One of the goals of these programs are to give underprivileged Ukrainian children a hope for the future. Unfortunately, statistics show that up to 40% of these children were abandoned at birth and the other 60% were removed from their homes due to parental neglect. Our hosting program
as do most programs feel that providing these children with the opportunity to experience American culture, language, and lifestyle is a marvelous way of motivating and inspiring them.
I can't tell you anything about how Russian Hosting programs work. They may work differently, but, I can tell you about Ukraine. As I mentioned earlier, Ukraine does not allow for pre-selection. Many people just assume that when you host, then you can adopt. It doesn't work that way. Besides being illegal in Ukraine, it can also set you up for a painful experience.
We will be honest and say that when Alyona stepped foot off that airplane and we saw her for the first time, we just knew she was the one. She was our daughter. Our mind forgot about the politics. Don't get me wrong, many people have adopted after hosting a child. It just so happened that they were lucky enough that when their paperwork got finished and they traveled to Ukraine, the child was still available.
For us, we had those dreams that first week that Alyona was here. But, our dreams started to fade when reality started to set in and we saw that our family dynamics were not moving in the direction that we thought it would. Sophia is our oldest at 5 1/2 and then here comes a Alyona at 7 1/2 and she took over. It was really eye opening for us to realize how "birth order" was so important. We thought it would be no big deal and it isn't for many, but, it was for us. So, when I say...be careful of your expectations...your heart can easily get broken.