(Launching a blogging series with Project 143)
Adoption. We’ve been thinking about it forever, my husband and I. We’ve always wanted to do it, and always thought we’d do it… at some point. We know that God’s profoundly committed to the most defenseless and vulnerable – the “widows and the orphans” – and that He intends for us to be, too. We know there are more than a hundred and forty million orphans in the world, and fourteen million “true” orphans (those who’ve lost both mother and father). We know those kids direly needs homes and families… and we’ve got both.
In the past six years we’ve made two cross-country moves (and one local move). And in the midst of those, we doubled the number of kids we had from two to four. We knew those years weren’t the right ones to begin exploring adoption seriously. But we kept talking about it, and two years ago I attended the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit conference when it was near us in Los Angeles. It was amazing.
Our youngest child is nearly three now, and we’ve been living in our Virginia home for fifteen months. Stability (at least comparatively!). We decided to start exploring the adoption landscape in earnest, investigating and praying about it to see if now might be a good time for us. We talked with our local foster care coordinator. We attended an info meeting for international adoption. We met with a few local adoptive families. I’ve scoured websites and spoken with reps from about six or seven reputable adoption agencies. There are so many options and potential routes out there, and trying to do due diligence with all the information, potential ethical challenges in today’s adoption climate, and nuances relevant to our own family and situation is A Tall Order, let me tell you. The paradox of choice at work again – more choices can sometimes be less helpful than fewer.
We know the demand for infants and babies is always the highest, and we’ve had four of those ourselves. So waiting in line to adopt a baby who’ll likely find an adoptive home anyway does’t seem to make sense for us. The need is greater for older children (especially 6 nd up), sibling sets, and special needs kids. The idea of older children has always intrigued us, especially my husband, but the risks can be higher– older kids have racked up more years as victims of neglect and/or abuse, institutionalization, and a host of other ills that go along with painful and traumatic childhoods. And the challenges associated with disrupting birth order are very real (our oldest kid is 8 1/2). We know this. We aren’t naive. If we were to ever enter this landscape, we wouldn’t skip into it lightly.
Over the past couple months we’ve slowly been moving toward the idea of considering adopting a youngish child from abroad, perhaps between the ages of 3 and 5 or 6, with a minor/correctable special need. Nothing had taken shape yet.
Then we were unexpectedly presented with the opportunity to host an orphan for a portion of the summer. We’d never heard of an orphan-hosting program, and we began researching it seriously, communicating with staff members and other families who’ve hosted and had positive experiences, and praying about it. One organization we were especially impressed with, Project 143. Through their “Host (HOPE) Program, they say, “you can change an orphan’s life forever by simply inviting them into your home to share in your family values, traditions, and unconditional love. All you need is a desire to show a child their worth, increase their confidence and show a kindness they have rarely seen. Host families simply need to provide a child hope for his/her future.” Children come from Ukraine, Latvia, or China and spend four to five weeks with host families. They’re usually sibling sets, age 7 or older, or special-needs kids.
It’s not an adoption program and host families aren’t even allowed speak to their host kids about adoption; rather, participating kids come to America for enrichment and English-speaking opportunities. But participating in the program often opens up new possibilities for the kids that basically don’t exist apart from hosting:
“Without hosting, orphans over the age of 6 or ones with handicaps or ones in a sibling set have almost 0% chance of finding a loving home. However, with hosting, these same orphans have about a 65-70% chance for adoption. Hosting affords a second chance to orphans who will likely never have another opportunity at finding a family. They go back (at the end of their hosting stay) changed, enriched and connected to their Host (HOPE) Family – even if separated by distance. This connection is real and provides hope. Most Host (HOPE) Families become incredible advocates for their host kids, dramatically improving the odds for these kids to find forever families.”
After lots of communication with P143 staff and with families who have participated in hosting, we decided to become a host family this summer. The hosting dates meshed perfectly with our summer schedule, and we felt that it this could be an excellent first foray into the orphan care arena. The cost isn’t overwhelming; the timeline and paperwork trail are manageable; and we felt it would be an awesome experience for our whole family to know and serve a particular child in the short-term (rather than continue pondering the possibilities of the millions). While pulling the trigger on the decision felt a little daunting (any first step into something new and worthwhile always does), we feel God’s peace and a great sense of enthusiasm about it. So. We will be welcoming an 11-year old boy from Latvia for the month of July. He speaks only Latvian, so we are going to need to bone up on some conversational Latvian pronto in the next ten weeks!
Originally posted April, 2014