One of our summer host families is currently in country to adopt their host son! We were thrilled to learn her family had spent quite a bit of time at the orphanage visiting with kids who’d previously been hosted with NHFC and ecstatic when she agreed to share about her time there!
We are three weeks into our adoption in Eastern Europe. Before I left America, I prayed I would have a chance to mingle with our sons schoolmates. I wanted to make the most of my time in there. In my heart, it was a mission opportunity. It was a chance to show these children love while bringing home the one God placed in my heart.
My son has a friend, Sergiy, who had already graduated to technical school. Sergiy was hosted twice before and has two older brothers. He was host-only due to his age. I put it on my agenda to meet him for personal reasons and so that my son had a chance to say goodbye.
At first sight, he was a little rough around the edges but Sergiy was truly a diamond in the rough and a gentleman from the moment we first met. I see now why my son looked up to him. I am confident Sergiy encouraged my son to make good decisions and helped him stay out of trouble.
Over pizza, he enjoyed practicing his English. When I inquired where he had learned so much English, Sergiy told me that his orphanage didn’t have an English class when he attended, but he became a proficient speaker during his two hostings in America. At times, he paused to gather his words but he had no problem communicating his thoughts – it was really quite remarkable!
He went on to tell me that he was a Christian and that he doesn’t drink alcohol like the other boys in his school. There is nothing that can prepare you for seeing a teenager with such character in a hopeless environment. Truly there was something different about this boy. You could see a love radiating from him.
He spoke fondly of his family in America and said he Skypes with them regularly. You would think he was their American son on a foreign exchange program to Eastern Europe.
I had heard about the tech schools with their grim living environments and very little supervision. The teens frequently drink away their only opportunity to make something of themselves. I personally witnessed a group of kids hanging near the corner of the building, wasting their future. I tried not to stare, but I was deeply saddened for them – these schools are unfortunately where the future of an orphan is often determined.
You can imagine my hesitation when Sergiy invited us back to his school for a birthday party. But I was shocked; this was not the typical dorm birthday party I had imagined. The tables were adorned with bottles of Diet Coke and Strawberry Fanta. Sergiy politely poured drinks for my husband and me.
Standing there in the lobby of the technical school with a cup of Strawberry Fanta, I looked around. These kids really only have two choices. They can seize the opportunity to learn something that will help them overcome their circumstances or they can waste the opportunity and fall prey to the statistics. Sergiy was working hard to learn auto mechanics and welding. He has seen a life beyond his tiny rural orphanage, and I know he will beat the odds because of the hope and confidence he gained through his hosting experience.
Many families approach hosting with hopes of adoption or they are at least are open to the possibility. But there is another category of hosting: host-only children. These children need love poured into them. They need to know someone believes in them. They need confidence to resist temptations when they go back home and enter technical school.
I’ve spent a little over a week with previously hosted kids. It’s amazing the effect hosting has had on them. They call you their mom and dad. Not my host mom or my “American” family. The impact hosting makes on these children is enormous. One boy showed me pictures of his family “this my grandma…this my mother”…et cetera. It was so sweet. When you host, you give these kids a family. They have someone to call mom and dad even if they aren’t adopted. And I can’t tell you how proud most of them are to have a family.
Sergiy is making a difference in his own life as well as the lives of others. When a hosted child returns home, no one can completely trace the impact and influence of their experience. The effects of hosting are like ripples in the water when you toss a stone – they go out in every direction. It’s impossible to estimate how far they will go and who they may reach…if only someone will toss the stone.