Changed In Three Weeks


“His favorite subject is math.”
“Outside of school he loves to play soccer, and he’s competitive on the field.”
“His greatest wish is for a bicycle.”
“He loves to play outside.”

These are a few of the descriptions of our host son from his bio. Initially, we were drawn to him because of his age and because in all of his pictures he was clearly refusing to have a “serious” photo taken! He had a silliness we loved and a glint of mischief in his eyes that we couldn’t resist.

However, his bio gave us pause. He wasn’t anything like our two children! Our children are self-professed “bookworms” that happily spend their weekends cuddled up indoors with a novel. They have no interest in sports and despite both of them having been given bikes at different points, they never learned to ride because they’re more what one might call “indoorsy.” To add insult to injury, they both HATE math! Would hosting a child that enjoyed life in the opposite ways of my children be an “opposites attract.” scenario or an “oil and water” situation?

Our host son had been with us for about 2 weeks when I was making dinner one night. It was a rare cool Florida evening and the windows were open. I heard what could have been shrieks of joy or screams of terror (with kids it’s sometimes hard to say which is which) from the front yard. I ran to our big picture window and was greeted with the most wonderful scene. Our two children were fully engaged in a game of street soccer. They had dragged our recycling bins out to use as goals and had roped one of the kids from down the street in to make the numbers even.

This type of thing happened over and over during our hosting. Our long-forgotten trampoline became a place for actual jumping instead of just a place to read because “Mom made me go outside.” Scooters and skateboards that have been in our garage forever were collecting dirt and mud instead of dust. Our kids always love to spend time in pools, but suddenly it wasn’t about casual floating but about dive contests and lap races.

It worked in the other direction as well. Our host son was an “on the go” type kid from the time he woke up on day one. He would near the end of an activity and ask “what’s next?” before we could even finish. We had prepared for his arrival with things he could do for independent play (kinetic sand, art supplies, legos, etc) and they went largely untouched for the first week. One afternoon after school though the house was suspiciously quiet (Moms, you know that sound, the sound of no sounds!) and I went in search of the children. I found them, all 3, sitting on the couch in the media room reading books.

The moral of the story is, hosting isn’t always going to be perfect. If you wait for the one child that is exactly the “right” fit for your family, you’ll never host. If you feel led to host and you feel drawn to a child, even if it doesn’t “make sense” on paper, I urge you to give it a shot. The beauty of committing to hosting a child from another country, another culture, another life experience, is they are going to teach you and your family just as much as you can offer to teach them. Our host son has returned home, however, we are still playing soccer in the street.

Thank you Morgan Phaneuf for sharing your story!!


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Natalie Mai

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