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Hosting a Child: What it's REALLY like

Hosting a Child Russia

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  Written by Martha Osborne on 01 Jan 2006

When I first began thinking about hosting a child from an orphanage, I found lots of programs….but few first-hand experiences. The few I did find were short email-group posts by families that went on to adopt the child that they hosted. This is not our plan…we have 5 children through adoption (all living at home), and 3 adult birth-sons. What we are looking for is the opportunity to give another child the chance at a family…without having to pay for his/her college education!


Here I intend to give a day by day accounting of what it is really like to host an older child from Russia.

Just after 6PM, July7th, we will begin our first hosting experience of a Russian child. As the editor of RainbowKids.com, I have advocated for years for hosting programs and finally decided to take the plunge and host a child!

Here are the basic particulars:

Our family: Mom (Martha Osborne), Dad (Bob), five daughters (from China and Korea) ages 6 (Maddie), 9 (Teresa), 10 (Tori), 12 (Katie) and 16 (Jenni). We are a host-advocate family, so we will be working hard to find our host child a family!

Host child: Dmitry, called “Dima”, a boy age 8. He is described as shy, pleasant and likes to draw, toy cars, play legos and chess, and read fairy tales. He will be staying with us from July 7-21st.

What I will NOT be doing is identifying the program we are going through (because I never personally endorse programs or agencies), or giving identifying information about Dmitry (orphanage, city of origin or last name). I think that each child has a right to basic privacy, and I also believe that it is the adoption agency’s prerogative to share information about children with potential adopting families.

What I WILL be doing is sharing with RainbowKids.com readers, on a daily basis throughout July, our experience getting ready for, meeting and hosting, and saying good-bye to our host child.

And so, the journey begins:

July 1

Word for the day: pa-zha-lus-ta which means ‘please’

Everyone in the family has the same job. We have 7 days to learn as much basic Russian as we can keep in our heads. I have assigned three of our kids 10 different words or phrases. Katie is learning “command” phrases such as: Come here, Stay, Hold My Hand, etc. Tori is learning comforting phrases such as: It’s Okay, Are you Hungry/Thirsty?, etc. Teresa is learning phrases about playing/dressing. That way I can ask them how to say certain things when I need to. Maddie is only 6, so she is learning how to say yes and no, and that is about it. Jenni, our oldest, is completely uninterested in this whole affair.

I’ve purchased 3 outfits from Target in what I hope is his size (6x).

July 2

We have converted our classroom (a large bedroom we use to homeschool) back into a bedroom. A friend has loaned us a hot wheels track and we purchases some hot wheel cars, a toothbrush and pajamas for Dima. My friend, Lisette, and her family (husband and 10 year old daughter) are also hosting. The live only a block away from us and she will be hosting a 6 ½ year old boy, Nikita They have never adopted before and assure me that they are “host only”…..ummm, her husband went out and bought an above ground pool and is searching the internet for Disney movies in Russian! Sounds like nesting behavior to me.

July 3

I really thought that I would meet with more resistance from my kids about hosting a boy. I have been pleasantly surprised at how excited the girls are about Dima coming to stay with us. However, I just realized that it is mainly because I am giving them the entire 2 weeks he is here off from school! We homeschool year-around, so they are looking at Dima’s arrival as a fun-filled vacation. I hope they enjoy it as much as they believe that they will.

I thought I would answer today one of the many questions readers are emailing me:

Q:Won’t you feel bad if the child you are hosting doesn’t get a family? Isn’t it cruel to bring an orphan over here and then send him back to an impoverished orphanage?

A: That was my main concern about hosting. But after much thought and soul searching, I learned that 96% of the children do find an adoptive home. I know that means that 4% do not, and that is tragic, as it is tragic for any child to grow up without a family. However, what about the 96%? Those are ALL older children that no one is standing in line to adopt. This is their one chance, and I will not stand by and say that they shouldn’t have that chance…for any reason. As far as the “is it cruel” question, my answer would have to be No.

For all of these kids, this will be their first time experiencing a functional, loving family. Even if they never are adopted, they will have had the chance to know what a good family is like…and perhaps they will go on in their lives to create just such a family as adults.

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