– ShannonRead More
As we departed on our interview trip, in true Austin style a man sat in the terminal singing “Happy Trails” with his guitar. Well it happened – we made it! We are here in Guangzhou after somewhat of a long journey, but we finally made it! You forget how long the flight can be…7 pm Thursday departure from Austin to Houston, with a five hour layover until a 1 am flight to Beijing (which is a 15 hour trip itself), and then a four hour layover until finally our flight arrived in Guangzhou on Saturday.
“Happy Trails” couldn’t be a more fitting song to prepare two Texas girls for a two week excursion into China to visit the orphanages and meet the amazing children and staff who live and work there. For the well-traveled, you can probably understand our gratefulness for zero travel issues along the way, with not even one delayed flight despite the crummy weather happening in Texas.
When we arrived, our wonderful adoption guide, Kelly, greeted us in Guangzhou. She took care of me during my last interview trip with Kayley, and I was so pleased to see her again this time with Diedra by my side! We wanted to visit many of the sites that our own adoptive families get to see when they come for their adoption journeys, so it was straight to Shamian Island for lunch. I have to confess, I ordered chicken tenders from the famous Lucy’s – I figured it might be my last opportunity over the next twelve days!
Instead of taking the car back to Shaiman, Kelly asked if we were up to a 35 minute exploratory walk instead. After 24 hours of being stuck sitting on a plane, our immediate answer was YES! She walked us through a large square, and we ventured down a side-street lined with row upon row of shops and people. Guangzhou is a bustling city of roughly 14 million people, and this experience really opened our eyes to some of the differences between here and back home.
Ever wonder who is on the other end when you call the Children of All Nations office about hosting? Though each person in our office contributes in some way to the amazing task of bringing the children here each summer and winter, this is the group of ladies you are most likely to talk to when you reach out to us about hosting!
From Left to Right:
Cayce is the Hosting Program Coordinator for each of the current hosting programs! She is also part of the team who will help us launch our Latvia program this Winter 2015-2016! “My favorite part of hosting is watching the host kiddos and families grow together – from beginning to end of the hosting program, you really see the difference a family makes in the lives of these children!”
Amanda is the Hosting Program Coordinator for the Philippines and Ukraine Programs. She is passionate about helping the kiddos find their host family and potential forever family. “Hosting gives kids who normally wouldn’t get a second look their chance at experiencing a family…and maybe even finding their forever family!”
Shannon is the Hosting Director for all Children of All Nations Hosting Programs. She ensures each team member has the resources they need to help as many children as possible and works hard to help each and every one of the host families in all of our programs. “I love hosting because these are the children that are often labeled as hard to place. We are helping the children ‘nobody’ wanted find the family that has always been waiting for them!”
Kayley is the Travel Director for the Hosting Programs and is also a member of the interview teams that meet the children prior to being hosted. She’s part of the team who will help us launch our Latvia program this Winter 2015-2016, and she gets to work with families early on in the process when matching is in full swing. “Working with families to find a hosting kiddo is a great experience – sometimes the child that a family never thought of turns out to be their perfect fit!”Read More
We can’t believe it’s already here! Next week, our hosting team will depart for China to visit with the children for our Winter 2015-2016 China Hosting Program.Interview trips are so vital to hosting, allowing our staff to assess if children wish to be hosted and are healthy enough for travel. It’s also a great opportunity for us to gather information we know our host families want to know about the children they will soon meet!
As an added bonus, we have brought together staff from numerous orphanages to come to a training conference hosted by Children of All Nations. We hope to provide training that will assist orphanage staff in better placing the children in need with forever families here in the United States.
Our Hosting Interview Team will blog their journey from China and, as in their previous trips, will be able to highlight the conditions and needs of children overseas. This past trip taught us so many ways we can begin improving the process of hosting and adoption.
Stay tuned for blog posts about this interview trip, and follow us on future journeys to Latvia and Ukraine! If you are interested in donating to support our interview trips to help children in need, please visit our donation page to find out about how you can make a difference today!Read More
“Hon, I know you are going to think I’m crazy, but I want to host an orphan from China this summer…” This is how I greeted my husband the day that I dared to take a peek at the photo listing of children who needed placements for the summer hosting program. After adopting my daughter as an infant (I was single at the time), I felt in my heart the pull towards adopting an older child. But after marrying and settling in to the joys and challenges of a blended family, I figured that dream was behind me. Well, what a surprise when my husband said “I don’t think you are crazy!”, and we quickly moved ahead to meet the looming deadline to be matched with the child we felt drawn to host.
While we were open from the start to the idea of adopting if things went well, we were very nervous about all the ways that things might NOT go well. Hosting seemed like the perfect way to see what it might be like to add to our family in this way, and to see if this particular child was a good fit. And he was. After weeks of nervous preparation, our lives were forever changed by the adorable 6 year old boy who greeted us at the airport with a huge smile on his face. He was small for his age, and acted much younger than 6, but he drew us in with his humor and the sheer delight that he expressed with each new thing that he tried and experienced with us. I spent about a day feeling a bit worried about his immaturity, nervous about how the summer would go, but it didn’t last! I had worried so much about communication with a boy who knew no English, but really that was not a very big deal. He surprised us by singing some songs in English that he had learned in school in China (BINGO, Twinkle Twinkle, ABC Song) . He very quickly learned some words and phrases in English, and we learned a few essentials in Mandarin. What we didn’t know got communicated through gestures and pantomime. Yu Yu fell in love with ice cream at the first, unexpectedly cold lick. Every time we went out in the car after that, he would say “Mama!” to get my attention, then pantomime holding and licking an ice cream cone, as his way of asking to go get some ice cream! (I could hardly ever say no!)
The best part of hosting was falling in love with this amazing little boy. Experiencing him learning to love hugs and being held, snuggling in close and giving kisses – all things that seemed new to him. Watching him play and bond with our girls. Seeing the utter joy on his face as he experienced not only the big fun stuff, but the everyday things like a bath, being tucked in, and eating a picnic lunch in the yard. Seeing him go from fear of the water to actually swimming! Seeing how well he compensated for his right arm disability. Was every moment fun and easy? Well, no. He did his share of testing the limits, and laughing when reprimanded. He turned out to be a sensitive boy, crying easily at small things and sometimes just shutting down. Those were the times when the lack of common language was the hardest. But as the weeks went by, I feel like we were starting to see wonderful progress with his trust of us, his bonding with us, and learning to live with the limits. Those sparks of progress gave us hope that this was a good fit, and that he was meant to be with our family.
To be honest, the hardest part of hosting is right now, afterwards. Watching him leave us at the airport was one of the hardest moments in our lives. He already felt like our son, and we were losing him. Now, to be separated so many months as we go through the adoption process, it is really hard. At times it feels cruel to both him and us. But I also know that we would NOT be adopting right now if we hadn’t hosted. I know that we wouldn’t have been brave enough to take on the unknowns of an older child without meeting him and feeling him melt into our family. What a gift he was to us. What joy we have in looking forward to the day when we will finally be reunited with him, this time forever!
Thank you to Yu Yu’s Host Family for allowing us to share their beautiful story.
Visit www.orphanhosting.com to learn how you can be a part of our Hosting Program.Read More
Way to go Hosting Team! Matching is complete! We look forward to welcoming 30 children from China, 10 children from Ukraine, and 7 children from the Philippines. Thank you so much to everyone that has helped support us in our matching journey.
If you still want to be a part of hosting, read on about ways you can get involved!
Did you know that your own home is a prime vacation destination? To an orphan in the Philippines, your home is an oasis where a child can find out what the love of a family is outside of the orphanage. Last winter, an amazing group of children had the opportunity to spend a “stay-cation” in a home with a family – we want to provide that same opportunity this summer for a new group of children. Make memories like the one in the photo with a host child and be an Orphan Warrior for one amazing kid!
Bring one of the amazing children in our Philippines program to spend a 4-5 week long vacation with your family this summer! All proceeds go toward the children’s hosting costs. The kiddos in our Philippines program are healthy, know some English, and are excited to spend time with you and your family! Whether you want to host to adopt or host to advocate, WE NEED YOU! Hosting Grants ARE AVAILABLE NOW! Ask us today! Tentative dates are mid-July through mid-August, so if you’re ready to be an #OrphanWarrior, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more details. Or apply today!Read More
In the fall of 2014 we heard last-minute about the Great Wall Winter Hosting Program. Our family felt compelled to move forward with the program and host a boy during the holidays. We entered the program with the possibility that we might adopt, but it could be that we were to advocate for the child.
We chose to host a six-year-old boy who turned seven a few days after his arrival in the US. Our family welcomed him into our home and he settled in quickly into our busy holiday schedule. We celebrated his birthday, attended a family wedding, enjoyed several Christmas gatherings, had numerous play dates, and stayed at my parents’ farm for a few days. It was a delightful time and he added a lot of fun boy-energy to our home with three daughters!
About halfway through our hosting, we knew we had to make a decision about whether to move forward to adopt or to advocate for his adoption. Our prayer had been that we would know whether to adopt or advocate. He fit into our family so well and we love him so, but for reasons we couldn’t really understand, our family felt we were to advocate for his adoption. That was December 31st. Our family prayed that God would lead us to the family who was to be his adoptive family.
That night at the New Year’s Eve Service at our church, a lady I knew casually came over to ask a few questions about the hosting program. As we talked and I shared about adoption (our three daughters are adopted), it became evident that this family would probably be his forever family. They had talked about adopting at some point and recently had discussed that with the ages of their biological children, it might be a good time to move forward with adoption. On January 2, they made the phone call to Great Wall to start the adoption process.
We could not have selected a better family for him! He will join a family of loving parents with a sister and brother close in age to him. The boy is three years older and the girl is about a year older, so they will be in the same school and participate in a lot of the same activities.
What we couldn’t understand quickly became evident and the beautiful journey continues to unfold. The rest of the time he was in our home, we made more memories with him that we will always cherish! The last two weeks, we spent many hours with the adoptive family, though he did not know they would be his forever family (in keeping with hosting guidelines).
Our family is so blessed to know this family even better and have our host boy grow up in our community. Of course, the first few months, we will keep our distance as he bonds with his forever family, but we look forward to being part of his life and watching him grow! What an amazing journey for us, the host boy, and the adoptive family as several lives are changed forever through this hosting experience!
Join our TEAM and contribute to our upcoming host programs. All proceeds acquired from these t-shirts will go toward hosting grants for the Summer 2015 program. These shirts will be worn by all of our hosting kids as they arrive to meet their host families for the 2014 Holiday Program. We ask that all family members and friends that will be meeting these children at the airport purchase a shirt. The shirts will be available to order until November 5th. They are $20, which includes shipping. T-shirts will be shipped after November 20th. Send this link to your friends and families and make a difference in a child’s life by joining our TEAM today!
Do you know what TEAM stands for?