As I've tried to process the changes in our adoption over the past couple of weeks, many thoughts have been going through my head. The biggest question of all, obviously, is "Where do we go from here?" The answer, at this point, is "I don't know." I wish I did. Before now I _knew_ we were on the right path. I had very clear revelation that we were doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing. Now that that path is closed, I don't know which direction to turn. The biggest problem is that I really don't know which direction God wants us to go. I've been praying hard for direction, but so far I'm still just confused. So for now I'm looking into pretty much every possibility under the sun, praying a lot, and hoping that at some point our direction forward will be clear.
Which brings me to this post. One of the options I've considered going forward is hosting. That's where you invite an orphan (or 2 or 3) into your home for 3-6 weeks over the summer. Most orphans don't know much beyond the walls of the orphanage where they live. Even if the staff is wonderful and caring, there's just not money for many trips or cultural experiences or many things that we take for granted. And even more than that, most of these kids have no idea what a family really looks like. They might sort of know, intellectually, what a mother and father do, but they've never seen it, and they don't really know. How can they ever be expected to grow up and be able to hopefully move beyond their upbringing and start families of their own if they can't even picture what a family is?
Hosting gives families a chance to give orphans the experience of their life. Many orphans who are hosted learn to swim or ride a bike for the first time in their life. They might see the beach, a zoo, a museum, an amusement park, or a concert for the first time. But even more than all the things they get to do, they get a chance to build relationships, and to see what family relationships are all about. They have a model that they can use as they try to, against all odds, make a normal life for themselves after aging out of an orphanage.
Though one of the best parts about hosting is that many of the orphans don't have to use just a one month model of a family to build on the rest of their lives, because more than 65% of children who are hosted get adopted. Some people host with adoption in mind. It's a great chance to see if a particular child or children will mesh well with the children you already have at home. This is of particular concern when adopting older children or sibling groups, and if you're nervous about these issues it's great to have a chance to test the waters before making a long-term commitment. But even if you can't adopt, hosting can be a wonderful opportunity to show a child unconditional love and teach them what a family is, and most people who host without adopting will take the opportunity afterward to advocate for a family for the child they hosted. Even if you can't adopt, the fact that you hosted a child would raise their chances of being adopted exponentially, both because their face would now be out there for others to see and consider, and because anyone considering adopting them would have someone who knew them who they could talk to. That's a wonderful things when you're thinking about international adoption.
So, if you have a heart for the orphan but can't adopt, or aren't ready to yet (or already have, or whatever!), consider hosting a child. There are a number of organizations currently looking for host families for the coming summer. I've seen the children all of these organizations are listing, and they're precious. I don't know the rules about posting pictures of these kids, so I'm just going to link to the websites and let you go there to get the information on how to see pictures.
Children's Cultural Connection
New Horizons for Children
And a special shout-out -- Children's Cultural Connection has about 10 kids on their hosting list who have to have families commit to them by April 1 or they won't be able to be hosted. For a few of the kids, it's their last chance to be hosted before they age out, so if you're thinking about this at all, especially about an older child, please go look and see if maybe you want to open your home to one of them!
Also, please share this info. These kids deserve every chance they can get. I'm still pretty new to this whole hosting thing, so there's lots I don't know, but if you have any questions I'd be happy to try to answer them or direct you to someone who can, so please, feel free to comment or e-mail me!