The emotions don't just end when the hosting ends. It is hard when they are on the other side of the world and there is not a lot you can do to help them when they need it.
I don't think I could have done adoption without knowing my parents first. Hosting made it less scary, it was just a short vacation that turned out forever.
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 fourth family to be featured are the McLane's! They are a family of 6 with 1 child adopted from Ukraine. Please read on for their stories and advice below:
What event or feeling led you to want to host/adopt?
We always felt led to adopt. When the adoption program that we were in closed, we decided to try hosting. Our oldest son asked us when we were going to do it. My husband and I discussed it and decided we were too busy. The next night my husband asked if this would be the thing we regretted not doing when we were "old." The next day we got in touch with a hosting group. 😉
How did you feel when you met your child for the first time?
We were pretty nervous, but not as nervous as her. She threw up on me at the airport! At that point, the mom-mode kicked in--just trying to take care of her.
Yulia: It was the scariest moment ever. I had so many questions. Where am I going? Who am I going with? Are they nice? But then I saw my picture on the poster and it didn't seem so bad. But then my stomach took over and I puked on my mom's shoes.
At what point did you know this child was part of your family?
Hmmm... That is a very difficult question to answer. Yulia always fit in with us, but our first hosting had some pretty interesting twists. We knew she would be a part of our lives and us a part of hers forever, but we didn't really believe adopting her was a possibility. We chose to host again and again and in the end, we ended up able to adopt her after all. It was a VERY long process--1225 days to be exact.
Yulia: Well after being there four times, I couldn't imagine not being a McLane. I believed my mom would get it done. She did.
What was your favorite moment during the hosting process? (Example: a funny moment with language, cooking together, a breakthrough moment, etc.)
My favorite moment during hosting was during the winter of 2017. It was the minute she broke rank from the group at the airport and ran for me. There was some CRAZY weather in Ukraine that year and the kids were delayed 2 days. I had been waiting in Denver for the 2 days and I was just so nervous she wasn't going to make it at all. First thing she said, "I want to shower, see my room, and eat at the restaurant." (We have a family restaurant). Phew!
Yulia's favorite moment: ALL OF IT. But one time my mom said my outfit was adorable. I thought she meant bad or horrible. So I felt bad, but then she explained and we thought it was super funny. Now she calls me adorable all the time as a joke for us.
What was your favorite moment during the adoption process? (Ex: meeting other kids, meeting other people in-country, trying new foods, etc.)
There can't be just one.
Although the whole process was long and nerve-wracking, in the end it seemed like everything was amazingly orchestrated. It was awesome to see it all come together. The pandemic caused some significant delays, but then our SDA appointment day was on HER BIRTHDAY. That had to be a sign that it was all to work out. And it did. It also caused us to be in Ukraine at the same time as several other families we've come to know. That added a really fun twist. COVID also afforded us the opportunity to take one less trip for the adoption and leave right after court. This meant a lot to our daughter. She really wanted to get home ASAP since COVID made her miss so much more time with us. When we arrived at the orphanage to "meet" her for the "first" time she ran from the building for us and pretty much tackled us with a hug & lots of tears. Our facilitator translated what the orphanage director said when she saw that happen. She basically said that was all she needed to see and she would gladly sign off.
When she was writing her letter saying she agreed to be adopted by us, the social worker continually asked her over and over if she was sure, Yulia stopped, put her pen down and told her very clearly that she could ask as many times as she wanted, we were her parents and nothing would change that--all the while giving her fierce Ukrainian death glare. 😉
Last, when after the second day of court, the judge said YES and even waived the 30 day wait. THAT felt awesome.
Yulia's favorite moment: When the plane touched down in Idaho.
What was your hardest moment during the hosting process?
The hardest moment during hosting is every time she left. Our house was always just a little too quiet. Our youngest son always said he missed how the upstairs always smelled better when Yulia was around (we had only boys).
Yulia: Going back to Ukraine.
What has been the hardest moment since the adoption?
We have only been home four months so I am not sure we've hit a "hardest moment" yet. If we had to pick something that is the biggest struggle, it of course is technology and finding that balance between healthy communication with those still in Ukraine, and too much communication. Parenting a teen who has had no real parenting regarding technology is a struggle for real.
Yulia: It is just so hard to believe that I will not have to leave again. I just keep thinking when we plan things that will happen in the future like vacation, driving lessons, and a job, that I will really be here to do it. I keep thinking it might end.
What is one bit of advice you can offer to a new host family - one thing you wish someone would have told you?
Know that supporting a child after hosting can be very emotionally difficult. The emotions don't just end when the hosting ends. It is hard when they are on the other side of the world and there is not a lot you can do to help them when they need it. Waiting for communication can be a killer.
Yulia: Families should learn a little of the language if you can. If not, use some Google Translate or some pictures like clip art to help. Families should also make sure that the kids in the home really understand what hosting will be like. My parents did that and I think it was good that my brothers wanted me to come.
Host kids should work on English and know that all people that would host kids are probably good people otherwise they wouldn't do it.
What do you wish you would have done better to prepare for hosting or adoption?
I wish we had a better understanding of Ukrainian language. Every little bit helps. Other than that, we were in the process for so long that we prepared, prepared, and prepared. When the reality is there though it is different! That said, many of the strategies we use come from readings and trainings so pay attention, they do help!
Yulia: I wish I had gotten to know who my family was before hosting. Some of the other kids had letters. That might have made me less nervous.
How have your relationships changed with friends/family after your hosting/adoption experience?
Our family and friends have been waiting for Yulia to come home for so long, it all seems pretty normal at this point. Some of our family and friendship relationships have deepened through hosting and adopting. Our people have supported us in ways we didn't even know we needed. When we were in Ukraine and one of our kids at home had a medical emergency, everyone was there to help. It was pretty wonderful to see all of the people we put down on paper that "might" help us were actually there to help.
Yulia: I feel like it hasn't changed a lot. I have known my friends here and family here for so long it just feels normal now. I made some pretty good friends from hosting that I still talk with. I think we will always be friends and that is cool. For kids that aren't adopted, they can stay friends in Ukraine.
If you hosted the same child you adopted, did you find it beneficial? Would you have adopted without hosting first?
We found hosting to be beneficial. We think it is a wonderful opportunity for host families and host children both whether adoption is a possibility or not.
Yulia: I don't think I could have done adoption without knowing my parents first. Hosting made it less scary, it was just a short vacation that turned out forever.
How has your adopted child adapted to their new family and home?
Yulia has adapted quite well so far. I think one silver lining to the COVID craziness is that it has forced us to do a lot of the things that are suggested from adoption professionals. Keep our community small, don't go do big crazy things that set unrealistic expectations, really slowly transition into school (2 days a week, upping to 4 days a week soon), and really just spend a lot of time together at home as a family.
Yulia: I think I fit in perfect. I think unless I talk, people wouldn't even know I wasn't from Idaho.
What is your top resource (or 2 or 3) that helped you and you want to share?
The hosting group and support resources P143 provides are really, really, helpful. Having other people going through the same process you are makes it so much better!
Yulia: Learn English English English
To Contact our Featured Family:
Lacy & Eddy McLane: Lacy@projectonefortythree.com
We would love to hear your story!!
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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