You will not “fix” them while they are here, it takes a lot of time for kids to heal.
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 Torvinen’s! They are a family of 7 with 2 children adopted from Ukraine. Please read on for their stories and advice below:
What event or feeling led you to want to host/adopt?
I was very sick that day and was surfing my FB feed. A friend of mine announced that she was hosting a boy through P143 on her page. Intrigued as I had never heard of such a program, I started to look into what hosting was all about. After a lot of research, we talked as a family to decide if this was something that we wanted to do. Our kids were of course on board from the beginning, even giving up Christmas gifts as the deadline was soon approaching and it was a financial hurdle. Even though it was last minute, we felt God calling us to host. It was a quick decision, but one that would impact our lives forever!
How did you feel when you met your child for the first time?
The first night we met Vadym was so much fun. We thought he knew more English than he did as he said he had English classes. Truth was, he knew “yes” and “thank you”. He ended up with a Big Mac that he didn’t like because he said “yes” and that is when we knew we’d have to work a little harder with the language. We all laughed and had a good time. The kids swam in the pool and had a blast. Our first impression of Vadym was a good one as he was good natured and fun. Our hearts of course went out to him and we wanted to do as much as we could for him in the short time he was visiting.
At what point did you know this child was part of your family?
The hard good-bye at the end of hosting was a huge indication that he was already a part of our family. Whether he would be adopted or not by us, he was already embedded into our family. He had a complicated family situation in Ukraine and we were not even sure he would be able to be adopted. We kept in contact with him which strengthened our relationship and hosted him again in the summer.
While in Ukraine, his biological family was split on whether to let him come with us or not. We watched Vadym fight for his future and that helped solidify where he wanted to be.
What was your favorite moment during the hosting process? (Example: a funny moment with language, cooking together, a breakthrough moment, etc.)
We had so many favorite moments! During the hosting process though, one of my favorites was the boys sitting on the couch reading their Jesus Storybook Bibles. Vadym had a Ukrainian translation. This just brought a huge sense of peace to my heart. Also, when Colby and Jake put fake mustache on Vadym and a safari hat then proceeded to teach him to say, “Hey, wanna go on a safari?” He came down to my husband and I with all seriousness asking the question. I wanted to die of laughter, especially with his Ukrainian accent.
What was your favorite moment during the adoption process? (Ex: meeting other kids, meeting other people in-country, trying new foods, etc.)
It may not be a favorite moment, but definitely a favorite outcome. During the process, I met Svitlana. She is the one who helped with our hosting but while in-country, she visited me many of times and helped in so many situations. She is the real deal and a true friend. We are friends still and I treasure that so much. She has stayed at our home during hosting seasons and our family just loves her so much.
I also loved learning the culture and experiencing new sights, foods and gatherings in Ukraine. It is a different world and I am thankful to be able to go and be a part of where Vadym comes from.
What was your hardest moment during the hosting process?
Hands down, good-byes were always the hardest!
What has been the hardest moment since the adoption?
Because this process of adopting Vadym was a long one, there were a lot of hard moments. One was when we found his brother that he was bound to in the process. It was a miracle that we found him, that in itself was an amazing story orchestrated by God, but Vadym had to ask him to be separated in order to be adopted. It was hard because his brother didn’t know what to do. He was just about to turn 18 but didn’t want to be adopted but yet couldn’t take care of Vadym either. The rest of the family never stepped up, so they couldn’t take care of him either. It was an impossible situation for the brother.
Another bittersweet moment was when I met Vadym’s Dad for the very first time. We went out to dinner without a translator so it was a little difficult. When it was time to depart, he shook my hand firmly and with tears in his eyes, he said “thank you”. We have since established a strong relationship with his family and have visited again to help keep their relationship strong. The goal was not to take Vadym away from his biological family, but to grow it instead.
What is one bit of advice you can offer to a new host family - one thing you wish someone would have told you?
Try to prepare as much as you can relating to hurt children. Use your hosting days to include them in your "normal" life. Keep their world small without spoiling them rotten. It is hard to do but you don’t want them to think real life in America is like going to amusement parks everyday and buying new things. It sets them up for failure. Speaking of setting them up for failure, put your valuables away that you don’t want stolen or broken. These kids are survivors and sometimes fall short when tempted. Just know that you will not “fix” them while they are here, it takes a lot of time for kids to heal. Watch out for red flags and if you can, host them a couple of times before you plan to adopt so that not only you can see their true personality, but that they can see yours and make the decision for themselves if they want this life.
What do you wish you would have done better to prepare for hosting or adoption?
We hosted at the last minute initially, so we could have definitely prepared better had we had more time! More training would have been good and learning more about his culture.
Regarding adoption, I wish that I would have thought better about what grade to put him in. We held him back for language purposes but it affected him his senior year when he was too old to play sports. It may not seem like a big deal to most, but he loved wrestling and was very good at it. He would have had a better opportunity for offers after High School had he wrestled his senior year. Also, the down time that he had since he didn’t do sports led to some not so desirable habits. In hindsight, I would have worked harder to get him academically caught up and put him a grade higher.
How have your relationships changed with friends/family after your hosting/adoption experience?
We mostly had a ton of support during hosting & adoption. There were a few people that ignored the adoption which definitely hurt. I don’t think they realized that it was as significant for us as going through birth.
After Vadym turned 18, we definitely had judgement from others on how we dealt with our situation. It was hard, but it was necessary.
If you hosted the same child you adopted, did you find it beneficial? Would you have adopted without hosting first?
Absolutely! It wasn’t until our second hosting that was an extended season over the summer that we learned of Vadym’s true personality and he with ours. This helped us have more realistic expectations with his moods and past. He opened up more and we learned more about him. He was able to see that we were not an exciting family but we love deeply. It was not only good for us, but good for him so he knew what he’d be getting into. We were not looking to adopt as we were still raising 3 small children, but after hosting came along and we met Vadym, we decided to pursue it.
How has your adopted child adapted to their new family and home?
Vadym is 21 now and is out on his own. As mentioned before, we had a hard time after 18, but we are doing great now and he is employed and is pursuing a welding career by taking classes at our local college. He is a good kid and we are happy that he is in our lives and that we can call him family. We hope that the seeds that were planted flourish and he takes them with him as he grows his own family.
To Contact our Featured Family:
Jeffery & Brandy Torvinen: firstname.lastname@example.org
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