Top row: Lily, 17 and Luna, 15; Jordyn, 13; Nolan, 10, Nick, 8, and Noah, 5; Javier, 13. Middle: Layla, 10; Roman, 15 and Reid, 12; Luisa, 12; Jago, 9. Bottom: Antonio, 16, and Arlo, 9; Slade, 4; Maddox, 10, Miles, 9 and Mason, 5; Marko, 7
It was nine months ago that we cancelled hosting for summer 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak, heartbroken for the children but knowing the safety of all involved had to be at the forefront. We reassured ourselves “This time next year, this will all be a memory.”
Now here we are, almost a year later, cancelling summer hosting… again. Even after months of cancelling trips, weddings, school, and more, this stings afresh. We look at the faces of children from Colombia who we were preparing to host, and worry “will they still find an adoptive family?” Hosting has always been about finding families for the children who wait the longest for adoption: older children, sibling groups, and children with special needs. As a result of our last hosting session in 2019, every single child found an adoptive family! Hosting gave families a chance to get to know the child and prepare for when they come home forever, making sure they had the resources in place to parent well. Without that reassurance, will they still come forward, taking the leap?
It’s a question we can’t answer; only you can. This requires you to be brave. Adoption is always a step into the unknown whether you host your child or not, any family who has hosted will tell you they learned new things about their child after adoption. So we implore you, to dig deep and find the courage to say yes, even if it’s with a nervous heart and trembling hands. We will come alongside you and walk you all the way to the finish line of adoption and beyond, supporting you after you come home and start the hard work of becoming a family.
As of this post the Colombia adoption process is open and moving forward. Travel to Colombia for adoptive parents is open at this time; no quarantine period is required, just negative covid testing before and after arrival. Colombian adoption authorities understand the importance of preparing children for adoption, and most families can Skype/Facetime with their child regularly leading up to the adoption. Our Post Adoption Support Specialist Adriana Chaves is from Colombia and fluent in Spanish, and is ready to support you and your child after you come home. View the children waiting for adoption here, and complete a free Prospective Adoptive Parent form to connect with an adoption specialist and start the process to bring your child home!
When we talk to families about the children who typically wait for adoptive families, there are some common themes: usually children with medical or developmental needs, lots of boys, older children, and siblings. Many families will reply that they are open to siblings, however, the majority of those families are only open to a pair of siblings. So when we learn of a group of three or more siblings who must be placed together… a lot of those raised hands go down.
This is understandable, adopting two children already means more than the double the adjustment, so bringing home three is not something to undertake lightly. That said, I wonder how many families say “no” immediately, without considering- could we really bring three home? It’s not for every family, and we never want families to delve into something they aren’t prepared for, but we hope to encourage you to think about whether you might be the family to keep three siblings together. And who better to help you think through if you could than the families who have already done it?!
Shane and Sarah were first time parents when they adopted. After having their niece stay with them for a couple years in high school and college, they felt prepared to adopt older children, and joined MAA’s hosting program in summer 2018. “Originally, we thought we were more suited for hosting/adopting one child because the thought of three was overwhelming at first,” says Sarah. “When we learned of three girls who needed a hosting family, we went on a whim and gave it a try! We felt an instant connection with our girls and had the space for three.” Shane and Sarah hosted when the twins were 9 years old and the eldest was 13, and they were able to travel to Colombia and finalize the adoption the following year.
Other families already have some parenting experience under their belt when they decide to bring home siblings, like Chelsea and Steven, who had one son adopted domestically when they brought home their daughters from Colombia at six, four and two years old. “We think it definitely helped. We had established our parenting style and knew (at least somewhat) what to expect from kids his age and younger.”
Richard and Leonardo also had experience parenting, having previously fostered a single child, and a pair of siblings, but never three at once. They knew they eventually wanted more than one child, but thought they would ease into it by adopting one child first. However, their views changed after a trip to Colombia and learning of the need for families willing to adopt larger sibling groups so that children could stay together. “We realized that we could keep these families together and do so much good from this while still keeping within our comfort level.” It was only a couple months into the process that they learned about the group of three children they would ultimately adopt, who were four, five and six years old when Rich and Leo brought them home earlier this year.
Bringing siblings home together has a lot of benefits and joys, for parents and kids! “Being able to see these beautiful children growing together in our home is hands down the most rewarding,” says Richard. “The children are so tightly bonded to each other that it made the transition emotionally easier on them.” Sarah agrees, “We are so happy they have each other to maintain some of their heritage and traditions. I think one child would get lonely at our house and we didn’t think we could afford to go through the adoption process multiple times.” Siblings are often the one biological familial connection an adoptee has left, so maintaining that by keeping children together has enormous emotional benefits.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without challenges though! “The most challenging thing about adopting three children is of course building on each child’s strengths and improving their weaknesses without any of them feeling left out,” reports Sarah. “These children have deep hurt, and strong emotions come out when recognition, praise, or discipline is given to one child and not the other.” Meanwhile for younger children, Richard says the biggest challenge was “hands down the temper tantrums that they learned from being in an orphanage”- times three! “The three would feed off of each other which made for some challenging times.” However, he says it didn’t last long, and with consistent parenting and structure new, more appropriate behaviors emerged within a month.
So what’s the most important quality for families who are considering adopting a group of three? “Flexibility. Life is going to change like never before and it’s going to keep changing. It’s easier when you can go with the flow and adapt,” says Chelsea. Richard says the key for them has been a strong family foundation- physically, financially, and emotionally. “Having a strong bond between my husband and I has made this transition so much easier for us and the children.”
So as you consider the type of children your family is open to adopting, take the time to think about whether you could adopt three siblings together. It’s important to be realistic about your resources, but don’t let fear prevent you from saying yes to something hard but beautiful. “It has been the hardest thing we have ever done. I was honestly terrified the entire 6 months we spent preparing for this adoption. Terrified we would regret our decision. Terrified we would fail at parenting 4 kids under age 7,” says Chelsea. “But it has been the BEST thing we have ever done. My husband and I and our son have grown so much as a result of this experience and we love our three girls to the moon and back! It feels like they have always been a part of this family and we truly believe we were meant for each other.”
We are currently advocating for sibling groups of three in Colombia, Bulgaria, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic. To learn more about these children who wait, fill out the free Prospective Adoptive Parent form today to connect with an Adoption Specialist!
Hosting an older child from a foreign country, who has been living in an institution, can seem intimidating and full of unknowns. Read Part 1 of Niki H’s story here, about they came to decide to host a child in order to advocate and find their adoptive family, then come back for Part 2 below, and learn how in searching for the adoptive family for a child, they found the missing piece of their own family- twice!
I admit, committing to adopt AiJun was probably the scariest thing I have ever done, but by faith, I agreed. On the way to the St Louis airport at the end of the hosting stay, we saw one of the most beautiful, full, vibrant rainbows we had ever seen. I felt in my heart that it was God’s promise to me that everything would work out. I was no longer anxious about adopting AiJun, and I felt a peace about our decision.
The next year was full of the necessary paperwork and preparing to go get AiJun. AiJun had been bullied in Kindergarten, and had been permitted to drop out of school for three years after the bullying took place. After the hosting visit, he went back to China and told his caretakers that he wanted to go to school again. We were thrilled to hear that he had a good experience at school during the year we were going through the adoption process. What’s more, our church immediately began raising money for our adoption. We received $6000 from our church, $2500 from a matching grant through Lifesong, $4500 in donations from friends and family, and $5000 from a ShowHope grant. We also received an adoption tax credit. After all my worrying about the money given to adopt AiJun instead of helping our son Peter with college, I felt that we had given Satan a black eye!
We have now had AiJun two full years. He is the same kid now that he was three years ago when we hosted: fun, caring, loving, and always ready for an adventure. He has blessed our family in more ways than I can count, and I feel beyond blessed to be his mom. Adopting an older child turned out to be the perfect fit for our family, as he is only six months older than our last child, Aimee. They are even in the same class at school. It is almost like having twins! As a matter of fact, I find it ironic that both their names begin with “Ai” and both their names are five letters long. The four cousins that came over are now all grown up, but we still see them often. Our first calling was to help out our niece and nephews, but our second calling was to adopt AiJun, and we are so glad that we answered God’s calling.
Our kids are 20, 18, 15, 12, and 11. Peter, our oldest, is attending our local community college this semester for cyber security certification and he also attended a training for four weeks in February in WI to become a sergeant in the National Guard. Emma, who just graduated high school, works at a local nursery and is making plans to take a gap year to volunteer at an orphanage in Haiti this winter. Ashley will be a sophomore in high school, and AiJun and Aimee will be in sixth grade. Our perspective on adoption has definitely changed drastically. Now we see it as God sees it. Adopting AiJun took something painful, hard, and sad and turned into something beautiful, happy, and healing. That doesn’t mean there won’t be days of heartache and sadness for AiJun, but I have learned that adoptions are stories of redemption. There is not a day that goes by that we don’t marvel at what a blessing AiJun has been to our family, and even though we knew he needed us, we now realize that we needed him more.
But our story doesn’t stop there. This past spring, I felt the urge to do more for orphans. I decided to let the social worker who wrote our home study know that if the hosting program needed a family to host, we would be willing to host again. By late May, we were asked to host a sibling group of three: Sara, age 13, Melany, age 11, and Bryan, age 9, from Colombia. When my husband heard we were hosting again, he said, “You know we’ll end up adopting them.” I told him we were just advocating and being helpful and that we couldn’t possibly adopt three more children! But, just like three years before, within days of hosting the three children, the thought of adopting them began to enter our minds.
However, the logistics of providing a home for
three more people was daunting. Our house only has three bedrooms, so our
sleeping arrangements would be tight to say the least. But, as usual, God was
at work to make sure everything was taken care of. Our pastor, who has always wanted a pond and who is also a skilled
carpenter, offered to finish our basement in exchange for the pond he always
dreamed of having.
Sara is sweet, smart, and very mature for her age as she has had most of the responsibility of her two siblings. Melany is adventurous and fun-loving, and Bryan is a typical boy who loved to fish in our pond. They aren’t perfect, and we won’t be perfect parents, but God’s handiwork is evident, and we rest in Him and His truths. It has been fun to watch AiJun’s face when we ask him if we should adopt, as he is on the other side of the situation now. He just beams and says “Yes! We should adopt them. They don’t have a family!” We are looking forward to spring of 2020 when we will travel to Colombia to get our three new children. We will be parents to eight children, but God will be with us every step of the way, because God is good, and He loves the orphan. Thank you for reading our story.
Many families are interested in hosting but are scared of the unknowns- what will the child be like? Will the language barrier be too challenging? How on earth will we say goodbye at the end? Read one family’s experience with hosting and how it changed all their lives for the better…
As a teenager dreaming of my future family, I wanted children and I wanted a big family. I also remember thinking how neat it would be to adopt a child someday. But for many of us, myself included, life doesn’t play out exactly as planned. As the years began to pass (eight years to be exact), God blessed us with three children, Peter, Emma, and Ashley, and a thriving business.
In the spring of 2006, we received the devastating news that our sister-in-law had died unexpectedly at age 37, leaving four children ages 11, 9, 7, and 2, whom she had been homeschooling. At the time, our children were 6, 5, and 2 and I had chosen to homeschool as well. Even though our hearts were broken, God had a plan.
I knew when we had found our house that it wasn’t a coincidence that God provided us a home within walking distance of where they lived. So I followed God’s lead and reached out to them by inviting them over to homeschool with us twice a week that fall of 2007. On September 13, 2007 our fourth and final child, Aimee, was born. I was happy to help out my niece and nephews, but as the years passed and my children grew, the prospect of adopting seemed less and less of a possibility. It had always been a dream to adopt a younger child, not a child half grown, and my children were no longer babies or even toddlers. Adopting an older child entailed a set of circumstances that I just wasn’t comfortable with.
However, time has a way of changing things, and it wasn’t too many years before some of my kids were high school age and we decided their current needs would be best met in public school. By this time I had dismissed the prospect of adoption entirely. However, my second child, Emma, had not. By the age of five she had begun to express interest in our family adopting and at a young age had a huge heart for orphans. In the summer of 2015, our church began promoting a hosting program. Emma was 14 at the time. She enthusiastically showed me pictures of the host kids and begged for our family to host an orphan. As we would arrive to church on Sunday mornings that spring and early summer, people would comment and giggle about Emma’s enthusiasm that they had seen on Facebook and ask if we were hosting. I would laugh it off and reply no. At some point during those crazy years of building a business I had given up the dream of adopting a child. But God hadn’t given up.
One morning I received a text message from a close friend named Kea who had adopted a boy named Brody from China two years earlier. She said that she knew we had been somewhat interested in hosting the year before (little did she know that I actually hadn’t had any interest in hosting) and was wondering if we would “co-host” with them this summer? After further discussion, talking it over with John, and praying, we agreed to co-host one child, with her son Brody as our helper and translator. The child would be at her house a week, then our house a week, then vice versa until the host period was over. Emma was beyond excited, and promised she would help out with whatever we needed.
Then I got a phone call from Kea. The hosting coordinator did not like our idea of “sharing” a child. She told us respectfully that these children are orphans, who have never experienced family life before. They were coming all the way from China, and even if they were never in their life to receive the gift of a family, at least they got to experience one for four weeks while in the US. She said that she understood our desire to help each other by babysitting for appointments, etc. but that we each needed to host our own child. Reluctantly, we knew in our hearts that she was right, and agreed to host a child on our own.
On the way to the airport, Kea began to describe what our Chinese child would most likely be like from her experience with her own adopted son. I was surprised to hear that our host child would have only experienced inner city life. Kea informed me that he most likely won’t want to play outside. He probably won’t like our big dogs. He will be afraid of bugs. Since we live in the country and spend a lot of time outside, I braced myself for the longest four weeks of my life.
Upon arriving at the airport in Springfield, we met our host child, AiJun. He was small for his age, nine years old, and very, very tired. He did not smile at us or try to speak. Brody tried speaking to him, but could not understand the few words AiJun said. There were many Chinese translators there, helping families speak to their host children. Several came up and tried to speak to AiJun, but he wouldn’t respond. Then one of them began to play with AiJun, to get him to say something. Soon he giggled and spoke. “He speaks Cantonese,” she told us. My hopes and dreams of Brody translating for us for the next four weeks diminished as Brody only knew Mandarin.
The next morning, AiJun quietly walked down the stairs. He saw our youngest child, Aimee, who was then eight. She began to play cars with him. I was relieved to see him smile at her and enjoy the interaction. I began to make breakfast and I set out a can of sweet milk, a Chinese children’s drink, that we had bought at an Asian grocery store in Springfield the evening before. AiJun’s face lit up when he saw it. After eating a hearty breakfast, he and Aimee played more. I was hesitant to let them play outside, assuming he would be scared of the dogs, but he wasn’t. As a matter of fact, AiJun wasn’t scared of anything we assumed he would be scared of, and we were humbled as we realized how wrong we were to label AiJun as the problem child we assumed he would be. AiJun soon proved to us that he was just like any normal kid, and it wasn’t long before he was having the time of his life going on boat rides, catching fireflies, jumping off the dock into our pond, playing with the dogs, hiking, and simply being a kid and enjoying the summertime.
We were also literally amazed to discover that AiJun was super easy going and had a great sense of humor. The only thing we couldn’t get him to do was speak into our phone to try to communicate, but he made up for that with the hilarious things he would communicate with just body language. After just two weeks of hosting AiJun, John mentioned the prospect of adopting him. And I had to admit the thought had crossed my mind as well. He just seemed to fit so perfectly into our family and he was just such an awesome kid. But I was also reluctant and scared wondering how would I teach him English? Where would he go to school? How would we pay for the adoption? Is the paperwork really as bad as everyone says it is? But I had been wrong already in so many ways, that I wondered: could God possibly be was at work in this situation? Maybe we were the family that was to adopt him all along?