What Did Hosting Mean to You?


As you may know, the Ukraine hosting program is very close to my heart, as the program is what brought three of my seven children into our family. My children had very positive experiences during hosting and remember their first time with our family fondly. It allowed for an opportunity to see what life is like in a family and give them a “vacation” from institutional living. All children belong in families permanently, but unfortunately not all children will find families. As children get older, it is less likely that they will find permanency. For these older children, it is so important that even if they do not find permanency, that they are introduced to what a family can be like for their future. Host families who decide to open their hearts and home to a Ukrainian orphan are not only educating these children about what it is like to be in a family, giving them a model for their future family, but the host families are also providing hope. Hope that one day they will be a part of a family, if not through adoption, than as an adult with their own family. Children learn the most through behaviors modeled to them and family is often not modeled to them in orphanages. Host families by their commitment for two weeks, are doing more than hosting a child for their vacation, you are teaching a child about family and providing hope.

Summer outside siblingsI asked my son, Griffan, what hosting meant to him, and this is what he wrote.

It was so much fun to come to the United States.  When I got to the airport there was a big family to meet me, I was tired but I was excited too. I was 10 when I came, and I got to celebrate my 11th birthday with my host family. 

I loved trying the new foods, some of my favorite foods were Ranch Doritos, Coco Puffs and chicken.  My favorite memory was the day we went to the Children’s Museum, Eiteljorg  Museum and McDonald’s.  I loved getting the toys from the kids meals!  I also learned how to ride a bike for the first time.  I was so surprised to see American homes, they were all so big and so nice. 

Hosting a child from Ukraine will give them a chance for them to better understand American culture, and to see how a family lives.  If people get to know the kids, they might get adopted and have a new life, and a chance at a good education. Most of all if a child gets adopted, they get a family that loves them and cares for them.  I hope a lot of families will consider hosting a child from Ukraine and will give them a chance at a future. 

Griffan was adopted by our family following our hosting experience, so his experience was colored by his adoption experience. While permanency is the hope for all children, the hosting program is not an adoption program for the child. It is an opportunity to learn about family and feel the love that a family has, and to learn new things like riding a  bike for the first time at 11 years old! Host families are able to provide so many new experiences for these children that they miss out on because of the lack of one-on-one attention provided in an orphanage setting. Even though the experience is only for two weeks, in those two week the life of a host child’s life will be changed.

Please contact us to get involved with this life changing experience for a child in need.

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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.