Tag Archives: foster care

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Interview Questions with Tiny Green Elephants (from our first two hostings)

As I prepare to leave tomorrow to Latvia to finalize the immigration process for my kiddos,  I thought it would be fun to take a look back at our experience after the first two (of four) hostings. I know many people wonder what that looks like. Well–wonder no more, here you go!!!

Tiny Green Elephants did a “Look into Orphan Hosting” post highlighting our family’s hosting experience.

  1. What made you want to host an orphan and how did your family feel?

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for those who don’t have a home. Growing up my parents were an excellent example of unconditional love. As a child, we always had someone living with us, usually one of my older brother’s friends who had been kicked out of their house for whatever reason. My mom’s heart had no boundaries and she would take in whoever needed a loving home.

My husband and I would often talk about our desire to adopt. Over the past few years we began opening our own home to others. It began when a dear friend of mine needed respite care for a boy from Burkina Faso they were hosting on a medical mission. After this, we took in my daughter’s friend who had been kicked out of his parent’s and grandparent’s house, and was six months shy of graduating from high school. He stayed until he successfully graduated high school and got a job. From there we took in my 20 year old niece who stayed with us a year and gained her driver’s license for the first time, got her first job and first apartment. Most recently, we opened our home two different times to adult friends who were struggling. We said goodbye to the second friend just days before our host boys arrived. We truly feel that GOD led each and every one of these people into our lives, just as we believe that GOD has led us to this specific group of children.

I remember the day I saw a post about the P143 hosting program, and the more I read, the more I felt led that this was what we were supposed to do.

I sat with my oldest boy, looking though the photo listings of children. We came upon a group of five siblings. The oldest was in the back with his arms stretched around the large group. The listing said that the director called it a milestone that the oldest agreed to talk to the interview team about hosting, and that he was a good boy, in need of healing, who had been in the caretaker position for too long. That was evident to me from this photo. That young boy had the weight of the world on his shoulders trying to keep his siblings together and safe. That struck a chord deep in my heart, and I kept thinking to myself, “here’s this boy, finally brave enough to try hosting, and he’s unlikely to get chosen because he’s in a group of five.” I also noticed a sweet, playful, slightly mischievous looking littlest boy in the picture who reminded me of my own “joyful” child. I prayed, and I was convicted that these children were the ones.

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My children were immediately on board, but I knew it was going to be a stretch for my husband. I was honestly surprised that my husband, after thoughtful consideration and prayer, agreed. In a way I thought there was no way he would agree to this. So to me, the fact that he did, was a sign from God that this was the right thing to do.

As for the rest of our extended family and friends, it was a slower process. We fielded a lot of questions about why we would spend so much money on children we didn’t know, wouldn’t it be mean to bring these children into our homes and then send them back to an orphanage, how would we communicate with them since they didn’t speak English, what about the safety of our own children, etc. We always brought these concerns to God and He continued to calm our hearts and our fears, and comforted us that we were on the right path.

  1. What were your feelings and preparations before you Hosted?

Before we hosted I had a lot of excitement and anticipation of their arrival. I couldn’t wait! Yet at the same time, I had moments of “WHAT AM I DOING?!” Those were usually the times when my own three boys were driving me bonkers and I would let fear take over and convince me that I couldn’t possibly handle three more boys. (however, through this process, I have learned that fear is a liar!)

There were a lot of preparations. We had to set up our guest room with three twin beds and come up with clothing for three more boys, of which I wasn’t sure exactly what size they would be. Friends were awesome and the hand-me-downs poured in. The only things we really ended up buying were beds, socks, underwear, and shoes! I also began studying the culture and learning some of the language of the country.

  1. Share with us some of your hosting experiences, what was it like day-to-day. What stands out to you as really special.

I remembered the advice to live your life normally (as possible) during your hosting period. The point was to immerse these children into a loving, home environment, not fill their every waking moment with extravagant vacations and trips to the toy store. Perhaps also because we were adoption minded, we truly tried to allow them to join our family as it is, in all its imperfections, and all its day-to-day delights.

It. Was. Awesome!

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Our day-to-day experiences were pretty normal, just amplified times three boys. What does that mean?

Well, it was louder, and dirtier, and, um, stinkier. But we also had more smiles, more shouts of glee, and more joy. Ohhh and bandaids, we went through a lot of band-aids.

The bedtime routines stand out to me as the most special. The boys clearly loved this special time of gathering together as a family at the end of the night, praying together, bedtime hugs and snuggles, and being tucked in at night. They quickly began to pray with us, and the prayers they would pray touched my heart deeply. Things like, “thank you God for mom and dad who loves ALL boys”.

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I asked one of the boys during the second hosting trip what their favorite part of coming to the US was, and I was pleasantly surprised with his answer. It wasn’t what one might expect from a child (playing with new toys, getting Christmas presents, etc.) It was this–

“Prayers. We don’t pray at orphanage. Here we pray with food and bedtime. I like. And hugs and kisses goodnight. No hugs and kisses goodnight at orphanage. Never. Here-always.”

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Breaks. My. Heart. That’s what these children wanted and needed and appreciated.

God. Love.

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4. What were some of the highlights of hosting? Why? What were some of the hard parts?

Beyond what I described above, another highlight for me was when the oldest, 12 years old, began calling me mom. The younger two started that right away (even though we didn’t introduce ourselves with that) they seemed to follow suit with our own children, but it took the older one a bit to let his guard down.

DSCN4538

The language barrier was difficult, especially at first. We craved to have long, deep conversations with them; that was just impossible to do in the beginning. However, I must point out how truly fast children pick up another language.

Between trips their English skills exploded. By trip two, we didn’t need google translate and we felt that we were able to carry on conversations using simple English. The hardest part of the language barrier remained that we had three siblings who all spoke this other language better than us, so when they would argue it was too much, too fast, for us to be able to understand what was being said.

Then, of course, the very hardest part is saying good-bye to these children that we had fallen in love with, worrying about them while they are away, and trying to parent them from a distance.

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5. How has hosting changed your life? Or the life of your hosted child?

Hosting has absolutely changed my life. I quickly found that WE were the ones changing for the better, that WE were being blessed beyond measure from knowing and loving these boys. We became LESS SELFISH. We became MORE PATIENT. We became MORE LOVING. We were more conscious that the words coming out of our mouths reflected light.

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Was it easy? NO. Was it loud? YES. Was it worth it?

ABSOLUTELY!

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For all the work that it takes to raise six boys every day, we also enjoyed some of the most PEACEFUL, JOYOUS, and LOVING moments of our lives!

We have decided to adopt the three boys…and their two sisters who were too young to be hosted, to keep them all together and bring them into a forever home filled with love for them, kisses, prayers and the ability to be kids. The two sisters who we have yet to meet (and have been separated from their brothers since they were moved to foster care shortly before the boys came to the US the first time), we hope to reunite together with their brothers in a forever family of love.

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I can’t wait for that day!

And I honestly believe that even if we weren’t adoption minded, that we would have changed the lives of those three boys for better by showing them the love of Jesus and by immersing them in a loving household during their hosting trips.

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Interview Questions with Tiny Green Elephants

Tiny Green Elephants did a “Look into Orphan Hosting” post highlighting our family’s hosting experience.

  1. What made you want to host an orphan and how did your family feel?

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for those who don’t have a home. Growing up my parents were an excellent example of unconditional love. As a child, we always had someone living with us, usually one of my older brother’s friends who had been kicked out of their house for whatever reason. My mom’s heart had no boundaries and she would take in whoever needed a loving home.

My husband and I would often talk about our desire to adopt. Over the past few years we began opening our own home to others. It began when a dear friend of mine needed respite care for a boy from Burkina Faso they were hosting on a medical mission. After this, we took in my daughter’s friend who had been kicked out of his parent’s and grandparent’s house, and was six months shy of graduating from high school. He stayed until he successfully graduated high school and got a job. From there we took in my 20 year old niece who stayed with us a year and gained her driver’s license for the first time, got her first job and first apartment. Most recently, we opened our home two different times to adult friends who were struggling. We said goodbye to the second friend just days before our host boys arrived. We truly feel that GOD led each and every one of these people into our lives, just as we believe that GOD has led us to this specific group of children.

I remember the day I saw a post about the P143 hosting program, and the more I read, the more I felt led that this was what we were supposed to do.

I sat with my oldest boy, looking though the photo listings of children. We came upon a group of five siblings. The oldest was in the back with his arms stretched around the large group. The listing said that the director called it a milestone that the oldest agreed to talk to the interview team about hosting, and that he was a good boy, in need of healing, who had been in the caretaker position for too long. That was evident to me from this photo. That young boy had the weight of the world on his shoulders trying to keep his siblings together and safe. That struck a chord deep in my heart, and I kept thinking to myself, “here’s this boy, finally brave enough to try hosting, and he’s unlikely to get chosen because he’s in a group of five.” I also noticed a sweet, playful, slightly mischievous looking littlest boy in the picture who reminded me of my own “joyful” child. I prayed, and I was convicted that these children were the ones.

IMG_7040

My children were immediately on board, but I knew it was going to be a stretch for my husband. I was honestly surprised that my husband, after thoughtful consideration and prayer, agreed. In a way I thought there was no way he would agree to this. So to me, the fact that he did, was a sign from God that this was the right thing to do.

As for the rest of our extended family and friends, it was a slower process. We fielded a lot of questions about why we would spend so much money on children we didn’t know, wouldn’t it be mean to bring these children into our homes and then send them back to an orphanage, how would we communicate with them since they didn’t speak English, what about the safety of our own children, etc. We always brought these concerns to God and He continued to calm our hearts and our fears, and comforted us that we were on the right path.

  1. What were your feelings and preparations before you Hosted?

Before we hosted I had a lot of excitement and anticipation of their arrival. I couldn’t wait! Yet at the same time, I had moments of “WHAT AM I DOING?!” Those were usually the times when my own three boys were driving me bonkers and I would let fear take over and convince me that I couldn’t possibly handle three more boys. (however, through this process, I have learned that fear is a liar!)

There were a lot of preparations. We had to set up our guest room with three twin beds and come up with clothing for three more boys, of which I wasn’t sure exactly what size they would be. Friends were awesome and the hand-me-downs poured in. The only things we really ended up buying were beds, socks, underwear, and shoes! I also began studying the culture and learning some of the language of the country.

  1. Share with us some of your hosting experiences, what was it like day-to-day. What stands out to you as really special.

I remembered the advice to live your life normally (as possible) during your hosting period. The point was to immerse these children into a loving, home environment, not fill their every waking moment with extravagant vacations and trips to the toy store. Perhaps also because we were adoption minded, we truly tried to allow them to join our family as it is, in all its imperfections, and all its day-to-day delights.

It. Was. Awesome!

IMG_2145

Our day-to-day experiences were pretty normal, just amplified times three boys. What does that mean?

Well, it was louder, and dirtier, and, um, stinkier. But we also had more smiles, more shouts of glee, and more joy. Ohhh and bandaids, we went through a lot of band-aids.

 

The bedtime routines stand out to me as the most special. The boys clearly loved this special time of gathering together as a family at the end of the night, praying together, bedtime hugs and snuggles, and being tucked in at night. They quickly began to pray with us, and the prayers they would pray touched my heart deeply. Things like, “thank you God for mom and dad who loves ALL boys”.

IMG_2014

I asked one of the boys during the second hosting trip what their favorite part of coming to the US was, and I was pleasantly surprised with his answer. It wasn’t what one might expect from a child (playing with new toys, getting Christmas presents, etc.) It was this–

“Prayers. We don’t pray at orphanage. Here we pray with food and bedtime. I like. And hugs and kisses goodnight. No hugs and kisses goodnight at orphanage. Never. Here-always.”

IMG_1704

Breaks. My. Heart. That’s what these children wanted and needed and appreciated.

God. Love.

IMG_7954

4. What were some of the highlights of hosting? Why? What were some of the hard parts?

Beyond what I described above, another highlight for me was when the oldest, 12 years old, began calling me mom. The younger two started that right away (even though we didn’t introduce ourselves with that) they seemed to follow suit with our own children, but it took the older one a bit to let his guard down.

DSCN4538

The language barrier was difficult, especially at first. We craved to have long, deep conversations with them; that was just impossible to do in the beginning. However, I must point out how truly fast children pick up another language.

Between trips their English skills exploded. By trip two, we didn’t need google translate and we felt that we were able to carry on conversations using simple English. The hardest part of the language barrier remained that we had three siblings who all spoke this other language better than us, so when they would argue it was too much, too fast, for us to be able to understand what was being said.

Then, of course, the very hardest part is saying good-bye to these children that we had fallen in love with, worrying about them while they are away, and trying to parent them from a distance.

IMG_1197

5. How has hosting changed your life? Or the life of your hosted child?

Hosting has absolutely changed my life. I quickly found that WE were the ones changing for the better, that WE were being blessed beyond measure from knowing and loving these boys. We became LESS SELFISH. We became MORE PATIENT. We became MORE LOVING. We were more conscious that the words coming out of our mouths reflected light.

IMG_1520

Was it easy? NO. Was it loud? YES. Was it worth it?

ABSOLUTELY!

IMG_1925

For all the work that it takes to raise six boys every day, we also enjoyed some of the most PEACEFUL, JOYOUS, and LOVING moments of our lives!

We have decided to adopt the three boys…and their two sisters who were too young to be hosted, to keep them all together and bring them into a forever home filled with love for them, kisses, prayers and the ability to be kids. The two sisters who we have yet to meet (and have been separated from their brothers since they were moved to foster care shortly before the boys came to the US the first time), we hope to reunite together with their brothers in a forever family of love.

DSCN4544

I can’t wait for that day!

And I honestly believe that even if we weren’t adoption minded, that we would have changed the lives of those three boys for better by showing them the love of Jesus and by immersing them in a loving household during their hosting trips.

a broken best

This partial post was written by my friend, Nicole A Webb.  Her selfless love hosting a child with cancer, on a medical mission from Africa, will inspire you to give your best as well, even when it’s broken.

I stared at the form in front of me searching for a box labeled “imposter”.  I was not her “parent” or her “legal guardian”. I felt I had no right to sign for her medical care, though there was a single piece of paper on file stating otherwise.  I made a hasty in the “other” box, then walked away avoiding eye contact with the receptionist.  With each step to the waiting area, my weight doubled under the knowledge that I just gave permission for a child who is not my own to be poisoned.

Ma had been with our family just two weeks before her first chemotherapy treatment.  She came to the States from Cote d’Ivoire, Africa, through a medical missions organization.  Doctors in Africa originally thought she had glaucoma, and that she would return to her family after surgery and a 2-month stay.  Doctors here determined she instead had retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer.  One eye couldn’t be saved.  A lengthy treatment plan was put into motion to save her life, then to save her eyesight.

“Ma Sylla,” the nasally voice of the in-take nurse roamed across the waiting room and scratched my ears like sandpaper.

“It’s Ma, like the month of May,” I said, attempting politeness.

“I’ll make a note of that on her chart,” the nurse mumbled.  They never said it wrong again.

I felt an immediate pang of guilt for my abruptness.  I don’t know how her name is actually pronounced, or what her family calls her.  Ma, like the month of May, is just the name we imposed on her.  She had only been on this earth a sickly single year, so she was unable to otherwise correct us.

After taking her weight, height, blood pressure and temperature, which terrified her, we made our way to an infusion chair.  We were given a blanket and pillow and told to make ourselves comfortable.  As if.

“Thank you,” I whispered.

Ma had buried her head into my chest during her vitals and only now, several minutes after the nurse had vacated our presence, did she dare to take a peek.  She gazed up at me with her one remaining dark chocolate brown eye.

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Please click here to read the ending to this inspiring post and learn more about Nicole and her family.

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Questions…

Wouldn’t it be better to adopt children from the United States?”

“Isn’t it mean to take a child from their culture?”

“How can you adopt children who speak another language?”

“Isn’t it cheaper to adopt through foster care?”

“Don’t you already have four children?”

We have asked these same questions of ourselves…

Why, yes, it might be easier to adopt five children from the United States.

It is unfortunate that these children are leaving their country.

It would be more convenient if the children had English as their native tongue.

It would be cheaper to adopt five children through foster care in the U.S.

I do have four biological children.

But really, what is important here?  What really matters in the end? That we “take care of our own here in the US” or that we take care of God’s children?

Adoptees Worth it!

The fact of the matter is, these children have almost zero chance of being adopted in their own country, either singly (which would be devastating to these siblings who are intimately bonded to each other) or most certainly as a group of five.  As the Orphan Court Director said when told that a family wanted to adopt all five siblings, “no one here will do that.” In fact, it is rare for sibling groups this large to stay intact, here or abroad.

Adoptable vs unadoptable

The three oldest are boys, and there are some developmental delays, further decreasing their chances of being adopted.  Worldwide adoption statistics show over and over that girls are preferred over boys, younger children are preferred over older children, and children without developmental delays are preferred over children with special needs. The facts are that these children have the odds stacked HUGELY against them! They have been held in an orphanage for three years already.  They have now been split apart and the statistics support the conclusion that the boys would probably stay there until they age out of the system. The entire sibling group would never be reunited in a family together.

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And to answer the question, “why would anyone adopt from an orphanage versus the foster system, especially when adopting from the foster system here in the US would cost so much less money?” Well, I can only speak for myself, but I feel strongly that children were never, ever, meant to be raised in an institution. We are fortunate to live in a country that no longer has orphanages. As broken as our own foster care system may be, I feel that it is still better than living in an institution. However, there are more than 8 million children currently living in orphanages.  Georgette Mulheir, the Executive Officer of Lumos, gives these startling statistics about children who are raised in institutions:

“…children raised in orphanages are 10 times more likely to be involved in prostitution, 40 times more likely to have a criminal record and — shockingly — 500 times more likely to commit suicide.”

There are vast differences between institutions, some much, much better than others. However, in the end, they all lack what a child needs most – a family.

So for those who ask if it is it cruel to remove a child from his or her country, I would ask is it cruel to leave them in an institution or separated from their siblings when we have the ability and desire to reunite them as a family?

To those who ask if it is hard that they don’t speak English as their native language,  I would say that it is not nearly as hard as worrying about your siblings who haven been taken away from you after already losing your parents.

In response to the question, “Is it expensive to adopt five children internationally?”  I would say reuniting siblings into a forever home of love is priceless.

In a perfect world there would be no need for orphanages, foster care, or adoption.  In a perfect world all children would have all of their needs met all of the time. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world. I am inspired by the awareness of these problems and of organizations such as Lumos who are working towards changing the circumstances that lead to children being orphans in the first place, such as poverty and disabilities.  In her TED talk, Mulheir calls for “radical resource redistribution” that would channel the monies that are currently being used to fund orphanages into programs that would support birth parents and foster families, both financially and otherwise.  The only problem for my kiddos, is that change takes time.

So, why them? I don’t know why. Ask God.  He led us down this path. He whispered in our ears that these were the children we were to call our own.  He has convicted us countless times, in many ways, that this is indeed the path we are supposed to be walking.    We trust that He has a plan. He knows.  Maybe someday we will look back and understand why and maybe we will never know this side of Heaven. I honestly don’t know. But I do know that we have been called to these specific children.  I trust Him.

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