He was protecting himself from the pain of saying goodbye.
Laurel F - Host/Adoptive Mom
Leading up to departure day were always the hardest. I was a mess inside but trying to hide it and he’d very noticeably begin to shut down and shut me out. Of course he was preparing for and protecting himself from the pain of saying goodbye but those were always heartbreakingly tough days.
Over the last 10 years, Project 143 has been a part of orphan hosting and witnessed many adoptions from our families. In an effort to help educate those going through the process of hosting, adoption or both, we have compiled some questions and presented them to our previous families. Every experience is unique and while the questions may be the same, the answers will be very different! Please join us over the next couple of weeks as we share the stories of these families in our Host/Adoption Q&A Series! Our second family to be featured are the Frazer’s! They are a family of 7 with 1 child adopted and 2 long-term host children from Ukraine. Please read on for their stories and advice below:
What event or feeling led you to want to host/adopt?
Initially a Facebook post about hosting. This led us to host a sibling pair three times and then, for the fourth hosting, we added a third, non-related boy so our other host son would have another boy in the mix instead of all girls. Our other two host children are host only, the third boy was not although we didn’t host with adoption in mind at all.
How did you feel when you met your child for the first time?
I was excited to meet him but also nervous as to whether he’d fit in and get along with the other kids and they with him. My nerves were eased considerably after the first day because right away he fit in quite seamlessly. He was easygoing and followed the lead of our other host kids. I’m sure it helped his comfort level that they were there also and had been with us previously.
At what point did you know this child was part of your family?
I remember the moment quite vividly. It was July 27th, we were at our cabin and out on the boat for the day. I remember looking at him and being completely overcome with feelings of love for him. I knew at that moment that he had stolen my heart and that he was meant to be a part of us. But I didn’t know how my husband felt so I didn’t address adoption with him until mid August. And I knew that since he was available for adoption we would either have to decide to adopt or be willing to let him go so that he would have the possibility of finding another family. In my mind that just couldn’t happen because he was my son.
What was your favorite moment during the hosting process? (Example: a funny moment with language, cooking together, a breakthrough moment, etc.)
One moment that stands out is when I joked with the boys that I’d give them $20 if they completed a large lego set we had purchased for them. The next morning, to my great surprise, he presented me with the completed lego set and requested his $20. He had stayed up almost all night, sleeping only two hours, so he could finish it.
Other favorite moments were the ones that just happened naturally; when the kids were teaching one another English/Ukrainian words, when laughing and silliness broke out between them all during nerf gun wars, movies, mealtime, my oldest daughter doing mud face masks on the boys, etc.
And I loved experiencing the attachment process and watching him open up little by little, trusting a bit more although very slowly over time and letting us into his heart. It took time and a lot of work and it’s still an ongoing process but so worth it.
What was your favorite moment during the adoption process? (Ex: meeting other kids, meeting other people in-country, trying new foods, etc.)
My absolute favorite moment was immediately after court when we could tell him that we were officially his parents AND that the judge waived the 30 day wait so he’d be home with us before his next birthday (as had been his wish and a promise I had made to him a year earlier on his birthday before I knew COVID could significantly delay the adoption process),
Other favorite moments were always when we were first reunited with him on all of our trips to Ukraine. It was always such an amazing feeling to finally be together again, to hug him, and to talk to him in person without a phone or computer screen between us. I also loved exploring Kyiv with him, taking him to places in his home country that he’d never been, and having him introduce us to his favorite foods and other pieces of Ukrainian culture. We were able to take him to two Ukrainian soccer games on our second adoption trip. He loves soccer and had of course never been to a game so sharing that experience with him was really special.
What was your hardest moment during the hosting process?
The last couple days leading up to departure day were always the hardest. I was a mess inside but trying to hide it and he’d very noticeably begin to shut down and shut me out. Of course he was preparing for and protecting himself from the pain of saying goodbye but those were always heartbreakingly tough days.
What has been the hardest moment since the adoption?
There has not been a specific hardest moment but rather generally difficult transitions and dynamics. It’s understandably hard to bring a kid who has lived in an internat (orphanage)for a period of time into a family environment with rules and expectations. It takes time for all to adjust and for him to accept and understand the new environment and the concept of parenting and family, school, social cues and responsibilities.
What is one bit of advice you can offer to a new host family - one thing you wish someone would have told you?
Have no expectations and meet the child where s/he is in the given moment. It’s a wild ride of highs and lows and it’s exhausting at times, one of the hardest things I’ve done. BUT the rewards are so much greater than the hardships. It’s changed my life and our family’s life more than I could have ever thought possible.
What do you wish you would have done better to prepare for hosting or adoption?
I don’t think you can ever have enough information and training on trauma so soak in as much as you can.
How have your relationships changed with friends/family after your hosting/adoption experience?
Relationships with friends and family haven’t changed at all. Everyone was/is very supportive.
If you hosted the same child you adopted, did you find it beneficial? Would you have adopted without hosting first?
We would absolutely never have adopted had we not hosted first. Adoption was not on my husband’s radar at all, in fact he had always been generally opposed to it. I cannot imagine adoption without hosting first because we were able to learn so much about him and he us over the two hostings, our two visits to Ukraine, and continued communications between hostings, visits, and during the adoption process. So much work on attachment, bonding, communication, trust, and expectations was accomplished over the year and a half before he officially came home. That work was invaluable and has helped immensely in easing his transition into our family and life in the US.
How has your adopted child adapted to their new family and home?
He has adapted really well! He’s in school full time and making great strides (he hadn’t attended school consistently in Ukraine for over four years before coming here), he’s made friends, he’s on a soccer team, he’s learned to downhill ski and loves it, and he’s learning to listen to us, respect other adults and rules, and he’s continuing to grow and heal from his past.
What is your top resource (or 2 or 3) that helped you and you want to share?
The Connected Child, Ukrainian Adoption Connection Facebook group (and other groups), Students with Interrupted Formal Education, Trauma Sensitive Schools for the Adolescent Years
To Contact our Featured Family:
Laurel F. :email@example.com
We would love to hear your story!!
You can choose to share anonymously or share your name/contact at the end.
THANK YOU in advance for your time and heart to encourage, inspire, and share with those behind you in this journey.
2 unique links depending on if your story continued to adoption:
• Hosting: https://forms.gle/xigTXtm65nMbLDgZ8
• Host/Adopt: https://forms.gle/tDqVjDaZkrjRDWco7