When did you participate in MAA’s hosting program?

We participated in MAA’s hosting program in summer of 2016 (China) and summer of 2019 (Colombia).

How old was the child(ren) you hosted?

AiJun was 9 when we hosted him, Addie was 13, Melany was 11, and Phillip was 9 when we hosted them.

What types of things did you do with your host child(ren) during the hosting session?

With AiJun we mostly stayed home and/or just did what we would normally do. AiJun was quiet and just went with the flow. Our son joined the military while AiJun was with us so we went down to St Louis to see him get sworn in. We went to the city museum in St Louis with AiJun- he loved it! We also hosted a family reunion while he was with us and went to a museum. AiJun loved swimming in our pond and going on boat rides in the river. We also took him to Chinese restaurants. Our Colombian kids were much more verbal and active. We went to a Mexican restaurant several times and also found a Spanish speaker (teacher at the school) to meet with us a couple times to make communication easier. We used google translate on my phone, but having a translator was super nice as sometimes google translate didn’t translate accurately. I was working during that time, so friends had background checks done so they could watch the kids while I worked. Our pastor and his wife took them to the zoo, another friend took them to a hands on kids museum, another friend had the kids over to swim in  her pool. We played games that did not require language or required very little language – charades, uno, Dutch Blitz, etc.The Colombian kids had a shorter hosting stay – 2.5 weeks – so we didn’t have as long as we did with AiJun’s host visit. One weekend was spent in Champaign at the MAA picnic that all the host kids were required to attend, the other weekend was spent at our local county fair. While in Champaign we went to a water park. The kids really liked everything they got to do!

What was the best part of hosting?

The best part about hosting was to get to know the kids and learn about their culture. It was fun learning about the food they eat and the holidays they celebrate. The Colombians were especially eager to share with us their experiences. 

What was the most challenging part of the experience?

The most challenging part for me was trying to make the visit fun while staying on top of laundry and house cleaning haha! One day I did ask them to help, which they did, but you feel like they are guests and you want to show them a fun time. However, two and a half weeks is a long time to only have fun!

How did the experience impact your entire family (other children in home)?

The hosting experience impacted our other children in good ways, even if they did not know it then. They learned to look to the needs of others for a few weeks and share our attention. 

What advice would you give to a potential host family?

I would advise another host family to make an itinerary before they come. Find a translator near you. Don’t be afraid to ask the kids to help with chores. Ask about their culture and be interested in what they tell you – don’t just be eager to share American traditions. Learn about and be prepared to make food from their country while they are here -they will love it! Also- if you have kids at home, let them know that things are going to be crazy and your attention will be split between them and the host child/children. Ask your children to help you by asking the host child/children good questions about their country and making them feel at home. You are hostesses as a family, it is a group effort! 

Would you do it again?  Why or why not?

Yes we would do it again. However, we have zero space to put a host child because we have adopted the four kids! We have two bio kids still at home so we have six kids at home. We do not have enough bedrooms for any more people unfortunately, even for a host visit. I try very hard to promote it in my church every summer that there is hosting! Hosting has blessed our life. It is such a wonderful experience to be able to advocate for a child in need or meet the child that you are considering adopting. Like I said, adoption has captivated our hearts and made us better people!

We are currently seeking host families in Utah, Illinois, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to host a waiting child in July 2023. To learn more about the program, please visit our website or email misty@madisonadoption.org.