If you are committed to the benefits of adoption and the importance of “forever families” for children around the world who wait in orphanages, then you might wonder about these international “orphans” hosting programs. You might even wonder if your family would be right for hosting.
What is an Orphan Hosting Program?
The goal of international child hosting programs, often known as orphan hosting programs, is to help find adoptive families for older harder to place children in orphanages throughout the world. For many of these children, it will be their only hope for being adopted. It is a simple fact of life that it is easier to adopt a child if you have met the child. Hosting programs usually run over December and in the summer.
Keep in mind that most of these children likely have at least one living parents since only a minority of children living in institutions throughout the world are there because both parents have died. Almost all kids who participate in a hosting program, however, are available for adoption because their parent(s) and extended family are not able to raise them. Most children are over the age of eight and are considered “healthy”.
Hosting programs differ in how they are organized, but the general format is that prospective hosting parents apply to an agency with an orphans hosting program, the program selects families and provides education and training, a child is assigned to the family and usually flown to the US with a group of kids and a chaperone. Orphan hosting programs differ on how hands-on and involved they are during the hosting period. This is something to keep in mind when choosing a orphan hosting program.
The host family could be considering adoption themselves or they could be hosting with the intent of advocating to help find an adoptive family for this child. The hosting program charges a fee to the host families to cover the cost of the program.
The children always go back to their country after the hosting program, but a family can apply to adopt that specific child by going through the regular international adoption process. The majority of children who are in orphan hosting programs are eventually adopted.
Should Our Family Host an Orphan?
If you are intrigued by the idea of an orphan hosting program, honestly answer the following 7 questions.
- Can we be a “sprinter” for this child? Can we put our lives on hold for the duration of the hosting program, to prioritize the goal of being a champion and advocate for this child if we decide that we are not going to adopt?
- Are we able to understand the child’s culture and personal background is different than ours and requires us to be flexible? Are we flexible enough to make the child feel comfortable enough in our home to understand what a family can be like?
- What supports can we as a couple or family line up in advance to help us make it through the hosting experience while we prioritize advocating for this child? Do we have meal support? Do we have clothing donations? Do we have moral and emotional support from our community?
- Can we create and sustain a predictable schedule during the hosting period in order to help the child feel secure and be able to understand what “family” means?
- Are my children, particularly my adopted children, ready to handle the hosting experience? Are they secure in their attachment and in a healthy place in their understanding of their role in our family? Will it be traumatic for them when the host child returns to the orphanage at the end of the host period?
- Is the agency we are considering reputable and focused on education and training? Is that agency committed to minimizing trauma to the hosted child? Do they encourage ongoing connection within the program? Do they have staff available to help us navigate the issues we might face during hosting?
- Can we keep our family’s “world” small and fairly limited during the time of the hosting experience, to focus on meeting the needs of the child and creating a healthy family experience for the host child?
Other Creating a Family Resources You Will Enjoy
- Child Hosting Programs: What You Need to Know (one hour audio interview)
- Package of 5 courses in our online AdoptEd for Parents: Preparing to be a Host Family
Image credit: Photo by Andrew Branch on Unsplash