Can you find me a family? Can you take me to the United States?
These are questions we receive almost inevitably when visiting older children in orphanages. Many older children understand and desire a family. It’s painful to know that so often, we will not be able to find a family for the oldest among them. There are so many older children in need of families, though understandably, few families are open to and prepared for the challenges that come with parenting older children.
Several of our team members recently visited a Ukrainian orphanage for school-aged children. Within seconds of stepping out of our van, we were asked by a beautiful teenaged girl if she could come to the U.S. She asked in English, so we could clearly understand her question. Our team members have been asked this question or similar questions many times before by children. Even though this is a relatively common occurrence, I never know exactly what to say when I know we most likely will not be able to help such an older child. What can you say?
When asked such a question, I am also keenly aware of the likely difficult and lonely life that awaits the older orphan once she’s released from her orphanage in a few short years. Unfortunately, she is, too. We just have to smile and respond without committing to any outcome. This teen was not the only one who asked for help on this particular trip, and there are many more like her.
We also met an eleven year old boy who had only been at the orphanage for only a few months. It is likely that he was removed from his family home due to abuse or neglect. He shared that he didn’t have many friends yet, but hoped to come to the United States. What a brave child to be open to this and trusting of the adults around him to want travel to a new country to spend time with a family in the United States for the Ukraine Hosting Program. Many of the children traveling from Ukraine with our hosting program likely do not know much about the United States, but they know that they want a break from orphanage life, however they can get it.
The hosting program is very special especially for older children without families. It may be the only opportunity for these older children to fully experience a loving and stable family environment.
We’re seeking a family to host the oldest two of the sibling set pictured above. If you are interested in hosting them, or any of our other host children this summer, please contact us.