People coming into my house kind of sets off my OCD tendencies and exposes all of my insecurities. I’m sure it’s not clean enough or smells funny or they will open a cabinet and see the disorganization that lives inside.
As a result, just last year I explained to a coworker why I have NO interest in hosting an exchange student (our local college has Japanese students needing hosts nearly every year). She tried to persuade me what a great experience it would be, but it sounded like a nightmare. Cleaning, trying to entertain and generally living up to any and all possible expectations…no thanks.
So, it might seem surprising that we’re having a long-term house guest this winter.
That’s right, for about a month at Christmastime, we are hosting an orphan from Eastern Europe. And…it was my idea. In fact, I sort of had to talk The Dad into it.
See, I am completely moved by the plight of orphans in Eastern Europe. Obviously our foster care system has flaws and it isn’t ideal. But these kiddos? Well, it’s hard to imagine the conditions they live in.
They own nothing. All of their clothes are shared – meaning they often don’t fit and kids may have one outfit for a week. “Caregiving” is something very different. Kids in a “good orphanage” get held occasionally and taken outside. But, if a child has any sort of disability or is in a less quality orphanage? Some will spend their lives in a crib. 😦 For something as relatively minor as Down Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, kids may be sent to an adult mental institution at the age of 5.
Read that again. Five years old.
Sadly, those in the most dire circumstances often don’t live to be a teenager. But even for those who have a caregiver who actually does care and have an opportunity to go to school (still nothing like opportunities for education here), the future isn’t exactly bright. At about age 16 (it depends on the country) they receive a few hundred dollars and set off into the world.
I honestly cannot imagine how I would have tried to cope with no family, no real ties to anyone, few or no job skills and a few hundred dollars…at the age of sixteen.
It really isn’t a surprise then that about 70% of girls turn to prostitution and boys are likely to deal drugs (over 60% becoming hardened criminals before adulthood). Horrifying, but not all that surprising given their life conditions.
So, what can I do? I’d adopt if it were just up to me and there were no other complications or roadblocks. Right now, that isn’t reality though. But, The Dad and I agreed we can host. We can show one little guy (who happens to be exactly the age of E and have a love for firefighting and cars, just like D!) the love of a family and the meaning of Christmas.
So, “K” is coming (God-willing). He turns 7 this month and loves dogs and cats. E can’t wait to share his room and D can’t wait to teach him about baseball. And I, well, I just want to show him love – regardless of any challenges that may come. The Dad’s planning to show him the fire station and truck and get him some stickers and pencils to take to his friends.
Maybe you can do this too? Believe me, I’m not anything special. I’m nervous and exciting and honestly don’t quite know what we’re getting ourself into. And I’d love to share the experience with some other first time hosters!