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I Thought

When we decided to host an orphan, I thought it would be challenging.  I hoped we could bless him.  To be honest, I hoped we too would be blessed.  But, I had no idea…

He didn’t have a “honeymoon” period of behavior, so I panicked.  I worried about the coming weeks.  I worried about things that had not yet come to pass and put fears into my own mind. I thought it might be a struggle to make it through the four weeks with all of the candy and treats stashed away, sneaking sips of soda only when he was in bed, taking turns going to the store (because it was too much for a boy who has had nothing and has chosen nothing of his own), etc.  But, I had no idea..

Christmas was such a blessing and I started to realize I needed to focus on the here and now.  Then, he had a night in which I saw God’s hand on him.  He listened to Bible stories in his native language.  The same night, E drew him a picture and he not only accepted it – he drew one back.  I thought it might not be such a long four weeks at all.  But, I had no idea…

We bonded.  He grew.  He learned what family is, learned self-control, learned to care about the feelings of others, learned that we have expectations and rules because we care, learned that it was safe to care about us.  He learned about love.  I found out that there were blessings in not being able to go to the store so much and comfort in sticking close to home.  Still, I thought that I would be sad to watch him go.  I thought that four weeks might actually start to seem too short, but I thought I would also appreciate the return of comfort and easiness to daily life.  But, again, I had no idea…

I watched him walk away.  Tears in his eyes.  Trying to be brave.  I watched him struggle to shift his backpack from his hands to his shoulders.  I saw him drop his passport.  And it hit me.  Not only did he need a forever mama to take care of him in that moment…he needed it always.  I thought the sadness would be for myself.

I had no idea that I couldn’t enjoy any freedoms I regained because my heart was hurting for him.  I had no idea that I would not longer want to be the same – that I would cling to the parts of him left behind because those were the parts that made me less selfish and more open to love and to life.  Until he has the forever family he deserves, my heart cannot rest and I cannot take comfort in daily life.  I thought we would be changed and I thought we might change his future.  

I just had no idea how much.

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Hosting Journey

A few months ago, we started a journey.  A journey on which we thought we knew the destination, yet we also knew the journey would be like none we had ever had before.

In September, after a few months of reading about hosting programs, I found New Horizons for Children.  I was sure that, living in the middle of nowhere, we would have few (or no!) options for hosting…especially Eastern European orphan hosting (which for some reason I felt called toward).  Then, I found New Horizons and their photolisting was going live within days.  The Dad agreed to hosting and we filled out the initial paperwork.

As soon as we both accessed the photolisting, we were drawn to one sweet face.  He had blond hair and big blue eyes and the cutest little grin.  As we read about him and his desire to be a firefighter, his love for pets and the color red, we knew he was the one we were meant to host.  Then, we found out he is within weeks of E’s age.  It was clearly meant to be!

Except it wasn’t.  

God apparently had bigger and better plans for sweet K.  After paying all of our fees and completing our home assessment, we got a call to let us know K was being adopted in his home country.  Hopefully he is now spending Christmas with his FOREVER family!  

Since we were so far along the road to hosting, I didn’t want to turn away from the other kids who were waiting (I’m sure this is why we got the news when we did…had we not been as far along, we might have just walked away).  But, the photolisting was short now – thanks to all of the wonderful families who stepped up to host! – and no one really caught our eye like K.

Then, nestled at the bottom, with a blurry photo, no smile and virtually no information, we saw R.  He didn’t draw us the same way K had, but we both realized we were his chance.  Without losing K, R may not have had the chance to come be loved by a family.  He was the one we needed to step up for.  So, without any information about him (save a name, city and birthdate), we jumped…

 

And, now he’s here!

The boy who was only described as “quiet,” quickly showed us he is not.  He gave us a smile at the airport and started chattering away in Russian (which we don’t speak…although we’re picking up more every day!!), despite a 3-hour delay in customs.  I don’t know that days of traveling, waiting in line for that long and being with strange people who spoke a strange language would have been something I could have smiled about.  But he did!

We’re 4 days into hosting now.  He’s testing us, pushing the boundaries, yet he’s happy and feeling loved.  (We even had him talk to the translator to make sure…he doesn’t volunteer much!)  It’s clear he hasn’t had the Mama and Papa (after one night, he started calling us that – despite being introduced by our first names) he craves.  He doesn’t know how to handle expectations and limits, so – as The Dad says – he’s having a crash course (I mean, we’re still working on this with D…and he’s had us for 5 years!!).  

I am an over-thinker, so I find myself worrying about weeks ahead and about things that have not yet happened.  The Dad is just amazing.  Best dad ever and this is just confirmation!  He jumps right in with, “Papa hug!” and a big, pick-you-up-off-your-feet hug for R.  R adores him.  He needs this Papa time.  (Pray for me when “Papa” works three 24-hour shifts next week!)  

Thank goodness for The Dad, a few translated phrases that I’m becoming fluent with, lots of yogurt and chasing games with E and D.  I pray it will be an amazing 4 weeks!  The journey continues…

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What He’s Doing Now

I haven’t met him. I have a very vague idea of where he lives. I don’t know who he shares his room with, what he eats, how he gets his education.

But I wonder what he’s doing now.

Just like E, K turns 7 this month.

I don’t know the date. I don’t know whether anyone even celebrated with him. I wonder if he even knows a birthday can be special.

But, I want to focus on what I know.

I know he is known, loved by and matters to God. I know he is not forgotten. He will be welcomed and part of a family, if only for a few weeks. And, if he is available for adoption, I know you will hear more about him as we try to help find his forever family!

Because I know he deserves that.

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Hostess…but not the Cupcakes

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!

Are you in?

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