Hosting and Adoption of Older Children in Eastern Europe


In recent years, Ukraine has been a very popular country to host orphans ages 6 and older. Hosting gave many families the unique opportunity of giving an orphan child the opportunity of a lifetime. They would get to experience family life during a 3-4 week visit to the U.S., as well a cultural exchange with the chance to experience a summer of fun! For families, it gave them the opportunity of giving a memorable vacation to a child and for some families it was an experience that gave them the opportunity to “try on” adoption.

The beauty of the program for many families was having a child that had lived in an orphanage setting in their home. They would get to see firsthand what the children were like and sometimes that was all that was needed to help them make the decision to pursue adoption. Most of the families that participated wanted to host children six to nine years old. In Ukraine, there is great need for children over the age of nine and/or part of a sibling group of three or more because of the popularity of hosting and the desire for children that were singles or a sibling group of two. These children, like all children, deserve the love and stability of a family.

Many families tend to have a lot of concerns about older children. How will I communicate? What will they be like? Don’t they have attachment and bonding issues? As someone who has adopted older children, I understand those concerns. In regards to language, people are often surprised when I share my story of how quickly language comes! My girls who were adopted at ages six and seven from Ukraine were able to communicate in English within three months and fairly fluent by six months.

Please understand that I am not saying that children coming from an institutional type of setting are not without issues or baggage. As for bonding, it is different for each child and depends on what their backgrounds may be. As parents, it has not always been easy. There have been hard times, but I can see progress and the good often outweighs the bad. If given the chance I would do it again. My older children very much wanted a family and want to be here. There are so many children that have the same desire to belong. In my opinion, if a family educates themselves on what to expect, learns different parenting techniques that work for institutionalized children and develops a strong support system, there is a very good chance for a positive experience.

Many older children are desperate for the love and stability of a family. For families that can be open to older children, Ukraine is a relatively fast process for an international adoption. For families that do not feel prepared to adopt an older child but had hoped to adopt a child six to nine years old from Ukraine, Bulgaria presents a wonderful opportunity! There are many healthy children available with little or no wait – boys and girls! For the sake of many waiting children, check out our Bulgaria program! Who knows, your child may just be waiting for you!

Lydia Tarr works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptions’ programs in Bulgaria and Ukraine. She is the adoptive mother of four children from Ukraine and was recognized as a 2013 Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Angels in Adoption Program.