Category Archives: Hosting

The First Day of Summer

We had such a fun day. SUCH a fun day.

Big L slept in late, as can only be expected after traveling for about a full day. So, we played outside.
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Shortly before noon, I got Big L up. She did not want to eat. We checked in (via phone call) with her chaperone, who said not to worry about it yet. So, we decided to walk to the farmer’s market. A large, indoor market.
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(She held Lena’s hand the whole way there. And we found a robin’s egg on the sidewalk.)

I google translated telling her to tell me if she saw something that she liked. That she could pick something for herself. But, she sort of shrugged and didn’t seem too interested in anything. We did grab a couple of things I thought she might enjoy– sausage, homemade pierogies. And, they sell pizza kits, which sounded good to me this morning.

All 3 of my kids got a huge pickle on a stick. Reed and Lena had gotten them before and reallllllly wanted to get them again. You don’t deny your kids a pickle on a stick.
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Big L pushed the stroller the whole way(about a mile) back. I kept offering to take it, but she insisted.

This homemade pizza kit that just happened to sound good to me this morning was the key to getting her to eat. 4 pieces later and I felt much less worried about her dietary habits.

Big L really seems to enjoy doing Lena’s hair. And Lena loves it, too.
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One of Lena’s love languages is physical touch and it is likely one of Big L’s too, based on how much these two are touching and cuddling.

Over lunch, when we having some awkward silence moments, we invited my sister and her kids over to play. But, then we pulled out the baby pool and everyone was playing happily again.
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So when 5 of my sister’s 6 kids ran into the yard and my kids ran off to play with them, Big L looked a bit overwhelmed/nervous again. We had some very awkward introductions. Ooops. Telling them to come over was a mistake.

Not so fast. I asked my sister if I could squirt her kids with squirt guns. She said, “yes” and it was ON. Within just a couple of minutes, everyone was in on it and laughing hysterically. My mom told my nephew to get Big L. And before too long EVERYONE was soaking wet and still laughing hysterically.
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After that, the silliness just continued. We played in the yard with my nephews and niece. The two preteens, Big L and my nephew got in a little good-natured battle over Lena. Who was allowed to tickle her.
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Lena loved it.

There was twirling and rides on shoulders. The girls were just having a blast, with just each other’s company.
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Gus got some tickles, too.
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My sister and her family left and things calmed down a bit before dinner.
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Lena’s hair was brushed out again and now styled into a little bow.
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Reed, at his request, even got a new hairstyle.
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We played a rousing game of UNO, where Big L beat us again. I think maybe I’ve won once and maybe Lena has won once. And Big L beat us about half a dozen times. She is very sharp and competitive. But good-natured, telling me “sorry!” when she gives me a “Draw Four”.

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Reed is truly clueless about how to play the game. It’s almost funny. He is very sloppy with showing his cards, so Big L kept telling me that he had a color when he’d say he didn’t.

Our last event of the evening was watching Frozen. My kids were pretty bummed that we missed movie night last night. Frozen wasn’t on my movie-night list, but my kids were very excited that I picked it and I thought it might be an easier one for Big L to follow.
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I’m not sure if my favorite part of watching Frozen with this crowd was: 1. Gus singing and dancing along very enthusiastically to a movie he knows the soundtrack of, but has never seen. 2. Lena explaining the important parts to Big L… in English. Which Big L doesn’t understand.

Such a great day, just wondering how we can live up to it tomorrow!

67 Things I Want Her to Know

I’ve been working on a couple of projects related to hosting. One of them is a paper chain. There is a link for each night’s sleep she will take in our care. She will remove one each night and it will help her understand how long she has left with us. 67 little links.
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“What if that’s difficult for her?,” one person asked.

So, inside each link is something I want her to know. About half are bible verses and half are affirmations. Things like “L is a joy to be around.” or John 3:16.

The very first she will open is “L is brave”. I wrote this in her welcome letter, which she’ll receive on the plane, too, “you are brave.” I wrote that we know she’ll be tired and maybe a bit scared. That’s okay. She’s brave. To leave her friends and her country and get on a plane to spend a summer with strangers, that requires bravery. I want her to know, right away, that we know she will have hard feelings and those are okay, too.

It’s hard to believe that she’ll be here on Friday, but we’re almost ready and super excited!
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Endings

“Let me see redemption win, let me know the struggle ends.”

I heard this song on the radio today, and while I’m not usually such a big fan, it summed up my feelings.

When we first decided to adopt, we decided to adopt two children from the same baby house. From the children on Reece’s Rainbow, we were draw to “Quinn” and “Erika” (Lena) and committed to them. About a month after we first committed, we were told that “Quinn” had been taken into foster care (in Ukraine). It was okay. A bit sad, but we knew it could be good for him, if he found his forever family in Ukraine. “Ilya” (Reed) was added a few days later and we were instantly drawn to him.

I wondered about “Quinn” from time to time. Then, out of the blue one day, I got an email.

It was Quinn’s mama. His forever mama. Telling me how she met both Ilya and Quinn. She loved them both and knew they would both be good sons. But, it was Quinn who “captured her heart” and she couldn’t leave him, knowing he’d be moved to an institution after his fourth birthday, which was creeping close.

So, filled with pain and guilt (her words, not mine) over leaving Ilya, she adopted “Quinn”. And like any mother, she wondered about Ilya. How he had grown, how he was doing in his family.

Then, she stumbled upon my blog. She saw Ilya… and emailed me. She told me this whole story, sent me photos of Ilya (Reed) that I had never seen before and told me all about Quinn and even sent some recent photos of him.

My heart about burst. How their stories were tangled up in ways I never knew before. And, this gift, this sort of closure. Knowing not just that Quinn had a family, but that he was thriving.

I want to know a song can rise, from the ashes of a broken life.”

While we took “losing” Quinn in stride, losing “Helen” was devastating. We had met her. We had held her. Played with her. We were ready to bring her home.

She, too, is thriving in her forever family. Her mother doesn’t email me, but I’ve found updated photos. She looks happy and healthy.

Losing her was difficult. But, we found our Gus. We chose his name quickly, and our family referred to him as Gus even before he came home.

Around that time, the song “Beautiful Things” by Gungor had recently become popular. We heard it everywhere. On the radio, in church. We listened to the entire album at home.

As a late English language learner, Reed struggles with his comprehension sometimes and often confuses a more common word for a less common one. So, it was purely a mistake when he started singing, “You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of Gus.”

And that’s just it. Gus is the one we never knew we needed, but he is one of us. He fits.

The question of the day today seems to be “how are you feeling?”. Thank you for your concern, dear friends.

Disappointed is a good word for it. Concerned for our host girl. Wondering if or how much she knew and if her heart is aching.

But, with our adoptions, I’ve seen how God has taken our desire to give 3 children a home and in the end, 5 children have homes. I doubt that “Helen’s” family would have stepped forward to adopt her, had we not been so close to bringing her to America.

With adoption, I learned quickly that there is no promise of easy or painless, but it’s always worth it. In the end, it’s all beautiful.

I think the same might be true of hosting. Or, any time we step out in faith.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28

I know this is not the end of our host child’s story. I hope her story will become a beautiful one, and known to us in this lifetime, like those of “Quinn” and “Helen”. I know that’s a lot of hope for, but that’s never stopped me. I have crazy hope for all of those beautiful things.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” -Isaiah 43:19

Preparing

Our sweet host girl will not be here for another 43 days (not that I’m counting), but we have so much to do to prepare for her arrival.
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Of course, at the top of the list is fundraising. We have $1120 left, plus the additional cost of her flight to our airport.

Two quick FYIs:

  1. Our auction ends tomorrow at 10am PST. Please go check it out and bid!
  2. I added some new photos this week AND I’ll be sending print orders to the lab tomorrow as well. If you’ve been thinking about ordering, now is a great time! Here’s the link to Moose Prints. 

If you’d just like to donate, here’s a link for that as well.

So, what else do we have to do?

Well, hosting involves a bit of paperwork. Not too bad compared to a Russian adoption, but a bit. There’s also a lot of training that goes along with it. There is much required and recommended reading, and then we’ll also have a full day of training in June.

We also have to prepare her room. We are fortunate to have a guest bedroom, but it is set up for an adult guest. We’d like to do a few things to make it better suited for a pre-teen. And shopping– wow. She will very likely come with only the clothes on her back, so we need to get some clothes for her, as well as a toy or two. We may try to get her a bicycle as well, as bikes are a common summer activity here. Of course, the challenge is that she’ll have to learn how to ride it, too!

Lastly, we’re just prepping ourselves. We recently started a new devotional with the kids, a routine that we know will be an important routine to include her in when she is here. And praying, praying that we will be prepared to welcome her here and that she will be prepared to let us into her life.

Any great advice from previous host families on how to prepare?