I am so excited to share another guest post with you today! In June 2013, we featured the Johnson family on Give1Save1 Europe and raised $2,166 for them to adopt a sibling group of three boys from Ukraine. On November 14, 2013, D (age 11), N (age 9) and E (age 7) came home from Ukraine and joined their forever family. Erin has written an update for us about their adoption journey. I thought it would be encouraging to pre-adoptive and post-adoptive families and families considering orphan hosting!
We hosted our two oldest boys for a total of 3 times before adopting them all. I am a volunteer for our hosting organization and I can't say enough about how awesome older kids can be BUT also how I think hosting first is important if you have other younger kids in the house. Its not really an "interview process" for the kids, but a chance for you to get to know them and them to get to know you. The older kids in Ukraine have a choice if they want a family to adopt them. They have to write a letter saying they want to be adopted. We didn't go into hosting with the intent to adopt older boys. We just wanted to give an orphan a summer away from the orphanage. What ended up happening was we fell in love with them. We had three little kids already. Our two boys were 6 and 4 and our daughter was 5 when we hosted N for the first time in the summer of 2012. We decided to host D and N for Christmas mostly to prove to ourselves that what every said was true; you cannot adopt kids that much older than the ones you already have. Well, they were wrong. A few days before the boys had to go back to Ukraine, D asked us to adopt them all. We started the process a few days after they left. We hosted D again for the summer while waiting for our paperwork to be submitted to Ukraine. It was a great chance to bond more with just him, and for him to learn English. The first time we hosted D, he stayed zipped up in his jacket almost the entire time. He was so hurt and withdrawn. When he came back for summer, he was a different kid. He walked out with the host group up on his tip toes looking for me, asking where our other kids and the dogs were at!
We had to wait and wait and wait for our boys to come available for international adoption. When we FINALLY made it to Ukraine and walked into their orphanage it was like something out of a dream. The facilitator was telling us how the boys still had to agree to be adopted and he thought that they would probably say yes, but we had to ask them anyways. We sat down in the director's office and in came our boys. Every time we hosted, we met the boys with huge welcome signs at the airport that said, "Welcome to America!" They came in to meet us with welcome signs of their own that said, "Welcome to Ukraine Mother & Father." I cried. The director said, "So do you want them to adopt you?" "DA!!!"
We've been home for 3 months now and while we're all still adjusting, it has been amazingly smooth. With the two oldest having been here so much, it was like they just walked back into our house like they never left. They had beds, clothes, toys, and knew where everything was. The youngest boy (E) is the sweetest little guy and happily followed his brothers to America and a new life without ever looking back. We have had our share of the kids working through the new dynamic of additional siblings, and there have been fights, but nothing really mean spirited. Mostly we've had some frustration over our new kids feeling like they have to write their name on every.single.thing. that is theirs and wanting to start WWIII over someone else touching it or always always always wanting to be eating. These kinds of things are to be expected though and have been pretty easily addressed. Our boys started school within 3 weeks of being home and are doing really well. They were in school in Ukraine so it made for an easier transition to just enroll them here with our other kids as well.
The things I hear the most from people about hosting are, "I would host, but I don't think I could send them back. It seems cruel." Well, to them I like to present a question. If you died, and your kids were in an orphanage and someone had a chance to love them but only for a little while, would you rather they just left them and did nothing at all? Or would you rather they loved on them, got them dental care, bought them glasses, fed them, prayed over them, clothed them, taught them, and sent them back as they cried because they loved your child? Yes, its easier to do nothing, but I don't think our hearts do much good for God if they aren't breaking for what breaks His. An orphan's life is already cruel. Hosting offers hope.
The other thing I hear is, "I'd adopt, BUT I don't have the money." To them I say, neither did we! We started the process by sending a $200 check and a prayer with our application. The prayer was, "God if this is what we are supposed to do, You have to bring the money." Eight months and $40,000 later we were in Ukraine.