What is Summer of Hope?


Swimming, boating, horseback riding, gymnastics, soccer... these are but a few of the activities that make up a summer program of fun for children. What is unique about Summer of Hope is that the participants are orphans - children without families who reside in orphanages across the world. They travel to the U.S. for a summer visit and spend four weeks experiencing life with a family.

Christian host families recruited from the community provide housing and care for the children during their stay. For the children, it’s a vacation away from the often grim, institutional setting of the orphanage. But it’s much more than that. It’s a chance for these children to be given a future and a hope for a better life. Every day thousands of children reach the age when they are no longer adoptable. Their greatest fear is being forced to leave an institution with no one to belong to and no place to call home.

Through Summer of Hope, many of the children find permanent families as a result of their sojourn to the U.S. What greater gift can be given a child than the promise of a “forever” family? Please consider how you might be involved in this very worthwhile project by hosting a child or volunteering in some capacity. The rewards will be beyond measure.


Summer of Hope Q & A’s

  1. What is the SUMMER of HOPE Program?
  2. What does The Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach do?
  3. How does the program work?
  4. What kinds of volunteers are needed?
  5. Where are the children coming from?
  6. How are the children identified?
  7. Will the children be legally free for international adoption?
  8. What are the children told?
  9. Who accompanies the children to the U.S.?
  10. What will the children do while they are here?
  11. What are the requirements to host?
  12. How is the child matched to a host family?
  13. What kind of training and support will the host families receive?
  14. Do host families have to speak the child’s language?
  15. Aside from providing a home to a child for four weeks, what else is expected of host families?
  16. What if host families find they are not able to keep the child for the full four weeks?
  17. What opportunities exist for the host families to get together during the summer program?
  18. What is the role of host families and volunteers as advocates?
  19. What happens to the kids at the end of the summer program?
  20. What if a family decides to adopt?
  21. What does it cost to adopt?

 

What is the SUMMER of HOPE Program?

SUMMER of HOPE is dedicated to providing the opportunity for orphanage children to:

  • Have a fun, summer vacation
  • Experience life in a family
  • Experience the culture and customs of another country
  • Receive medical and/or dental attention
  • Find a permanent family through adoption


In addition, the program aims to build awareness of the plight of orphanage children, and to encourage individuals, churches and communities to answer the call to care for these children who desperately need homes and families.

SUMMER of HOPE is sponsored by a non-profit organization, The Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach, and its partnering agencies.


What does The Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach do?

The Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach, along its partnering agencies, coordinates with the central adoption authority of the sending countries to obtain permission for the children to come, secures necessary background and medical information, and arranges for passports, visas and travel for the children and their escorts. The Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach, through its community volunteers, publicizes the program, raises the necessary funds, recruits host families, provides host family training and support, organizes summer enrichment activities for the children, and arranges community outreach events.


How does the program work?

The children travel to the U.S. accompanied by an escort from either their orphanage or another orphanage in the sending country. Host families are recruited from the community to provide housing and care for the children during their four week stay. While the children are in the U.S., the expectation is that they will spend their time interacting with their host family and participating in summer enrichment activities within the community. Host families provide the opportunity to experience life with a family for children who might otherwise never get that chance. The summer program also gives the children a chance to find permanent families by meeting people who have an interest in adoption.


What kinds of volunteers are needed?

In addition to hosting, volunteers are needed in a variety of areas and are essential to the success of the Summer of Hope program. We encourage host families to recruit volunteers from among their family and friends, and to also participate in some of the volunteer activities themselves. 

  • Publicists: Volunteers in the community to get the word out – from putting flyers in grocery stores to speaking to community groups and churches.
  • Fundraisers: Volunteers to solicit monetary, merchandise, or service donations from businesses, churches, civic groups, medical providers, etc. and organize fundraising events. Host families are asked to help raise the funds necessary to bring the children to their community by getting involved in any large or small-scale fund raising events for Summer of Hope.
  • Event Coordinators: Volunteers to help organize and run events, including those that will give these children exposure to the maximum number of possible adoptive families.
  • Hospitality Coordinators: Volunteers to make arrangements for airport arrival such as welcome gifts, securing a room at the airports where introductions can be made, providing snacks for the children.
  • Escort Coordinators: Volunteers to arrange housing, sight-seeing, shopping trips, and transportation for the escorts.
  • Translators: Volunteers who speak the children’s native language to help the escorts and children feel at ease and to aid in communication between the host families and their children.


Where Are The Children Coming From?
For Summer of Hope, the children will come from orphanages in the Philippines, Columbia and China.


How are the children identified?


The Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach and its partnering agencies facilitate the selection of children to participate in the Summer Program. Children are selected based on age, legal availability for adoption, and recommendations by orphanage staff of children who have the potential to succeed in the program. Despite those efforts, it is impossible to predict how a child will cope in the absence of everything familiar – language, culture, caretakers, setting, food and climate. Some children do exceptionally well after a brief adjustment period; some hit the ground running and thrive on the adventure; others struggle the entire trip and require a great deal of time and attention from the host parents. The rest fall somewhere in the middle. The Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach and its community social workers are available to support and help host families with any adjustment challenges.


Will the children be legally free for international adoption?

The Intercountry Adoption Board (ICAB) of the Philippines has made a commitment to refer only those children who are legally free for adoption. The Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF) has made that same commitment for the children from Colombia. If a family wishes to adopt a summer program child, they must, at the conclusion of the summer program, apply to the agency that The Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach partners with for the country they will be adopting from. It is up to the family to move forward in a timely manner with the adoption process.


What are the children told?

The children are told that they will be going to the U.S. for a summer vacation and will be staying with an American family. Depending upon the candor of the sending country, they may also be told that, during their stay in the U.S., they may meet someone who will become interested in adopting them. Many of the children do long for a family and will hope that their host family will adopt them. Consequently, a child may ask their host family about adoption. If this happens, families may not say that they plan to adopt the child, even if this is their intention. They may say that the adoption decision is to be made by the agencies involved and the government of the sending country. Discussing adoption can unfairly raise the hopes and expectations of a child. Even when a family intends to pursue the adoption of their host child, unforeseen circumstances may prevent the family from following through with their adoption plan, resulting in great disappointment and heartbreak for the child.


Who accompanies the children to the U.S.?

Escorts, who are representatives of the children’s orphanage, travel to the U.S. with the children. Their job is to make sure that the children have a safe visit and to observe the children with the families who may be applying to adopt them. The escorts stay with community hosts who attend to their needs, provide transportation and ensure that they are able to meet their obligations with the children and host families. The escorts will be eager to see the local sights, so volunteers make an effort to plan entertaining and culturally enriching activities for the escorts during their stay.

All participating host families are expected to have the escort visit their home at least once during the summer program. This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know an adult from a different culture and create a friendship with someone who will have the ability to help the child when they return to the orphanage.


What will the children do while they are here?


In addition to participating in day-to-day family life, various summer enrichment activities are planned for the children during their four week stay. These activities encompass only a few hours of the day and do not happen every day of the week to allow the children plenty of time to just be at home with their host families. The summer activities are selected based upon the ages and interests of the children. An effort is made to provide activities that the children would not have the opportunity to do in orphanage life. We want the children’s “summer vacation” to be memorable. A number of summer recreation programs in the community arrange special sessions for the Summer of Hope children, often donating or discounting the fees that would normally be charged. We feel that it is important to “share” the children with our community by allowing such organizations to provide these services. Adults are welcome to attend the summer activities along with their host children but their presence is not required if the recreation programs provide their own staff. We do encourage host parents to volunteer some time in helping out with activities, if possible. Host families’ biological or other adopted children are welcome to participate in any of the activities that are scheduled as long as they are appropriate for the age of the child.


What are the requirements to host?

First and foremost, we want families that host to be of the Christian faith so that the children have the opportunity to hear the gospel of Christ and come to know the loving God who cares for them.

Persons who wish to host a child through Summer of Hope must be at least 27 years old. Couples must have been married for at least three years. Host parents need to be physically and psychologically fit to host a child, and able to provide proper care and support. One parent must be home at all times to care for the child. A host parent cannot have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.

Host families must have a social worker visit, background checks and health examination. They must also submit whatever forms and documents are required by the agencies and sending country for hosting.

Individuals whose circumstances include the following may not be eligible to host:

  • History or drug or alcohol abuse/DWI/DUI
  • Criminal history
  • History of domestic violence
  • Perpetrator of child abuse or neglect
  • Psychiatric hospitalization/suicidal history
  • Psychotropic medication
  • Disrupted adoption
  • Subject of a previous unfavorable home study
  • Any health conditions that could adversely impact a person’s ability to parent


How is the child matched to a host family?

The prospective host family may state a preference as to the age and gender of child they would like to host. Although we try to honor a prospective host family’s preference, the reality is that we are looking for families for children, not children for families. Matches will be made by The Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach social workers, subject to approval by the central adoption authority of the sending country.


What kind of training and support will the host families receive?


Families will be required to meet with a licensed social worker and undergo criminal and child abuse record checks.
Before the child comes, the family will be required to attend an orientation and 15 hours of training where they can learn about the experiences of institutionalized children and issues that they may face when hosting. Families will be given a Profile of the Older Post-Institutionalized Child, a Child Talk language guide, and a recommended reading list so that they can become educated and well-informed.
While the children are here, a local social worker will be available to address any concerns of the individual families and will also conduct several support sessions with the host families as a group.


Do host families have to speak the child’s language?


Surprisingly, the language barrier is not a critical problem. The children learn English quickly, and rapidly pick up household words. However, it is helpful to learn some basic words or phrases in the child’s language prior to their arrival. During the children’s stay, the Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach will have volunteer native language speakers available to assist with translation. There are also translation sites on the internet.


Aside from providing a home to a child for four weeks, what else is expected of host families?

Host families are expected to provide the basic necessities and involve the children in an active, structured, nurturing environment while they are here. The children will likely arrive with only one change of clothing and host families will need to provide additional clothing during the child’s stay. Families can be expected to spend anywhere from $100 to $200 for clothing. This will vary depending upon whether the host family purchases new or used clothing. This expense can be reduced by using clothing that their other children have outgrown or by collecting donations of clothing from family and friends.

Each child is covered by a major medical insurance policy during their stay, but minor medical care or visits to pediatricians will be the responsibility of the host family. This policy is for emergencies and accidents. It does not cover preventive services or pre-existing conditions, nor are dental and vision care included. Emergency room charges are not covered unless the child is directly admitted to the hospital as an inpatient, or in the case of emergency treatment of an injury. Any elective evaluations or assessments are at the host family’s expense. No invasive medical procedures can be done without permission of The Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach and the escorts. Because children residing in orphanages often have limited medical care, host families are encouraged take advantage of medical services that are donated by the community for the summer program. These include a general physical exam, dental exam, and vision and hearing screening.

Families must attend weekly events that bring all families and children together, and give other families an opportunity to interact with the children.

Families are required to sign an agreement saying they will send the child back to the orphanage at the end of the four week summer program. All children must return to their orphanages at the end of the program.


What if host families find they are not able to keep the child for the full four weeks?

Sometimes unexpected things happen within a family that will prohibit them from continuing to host a child for the full length of their stay. Although The Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach does not want to move children from home to home, a poor match or a safety issue may necessitate a child’s removal from their host home and placement into another family.


What opportunities exist for the host families to get together during the summer program?

Volunteers will organize various activities and events to bring families and children together, and to give people who are interested in meeting the children a chance to interact with the children as well. Weekly potlucks provide a setting in which host parents can visit with each other, exchange information on how their hosting experience is going, and provide support and encouragement to one another. Potlucks may also be used to generate media coverage for the children. In addition, weekend outings are planned to provide fun and recreation for the host families and their children.


What is the role of host families and volunteers as advocates?

The primary and most vital role of host families and volunteers is to act as advocates for the children with the goal of finding a permanent family for each child. The opportunity to come to the United States is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these children. This means that opportunities will need to be created in the community for the children to meet people during their stay who have an interest in adoption. It is not our intention to traumatize and confuse the children and disrupt host families’ lives, but it is our intention to expose the children to as many potential adoptive families as possible. Many of our host families will participate in the program with the hope and expectation of meeting a child and moving on to adoption. They may find, in the midst of their hosting experience, that adopting an older child is not for them. Or perhaps, their particular host child is not right for their family or the child’s needs are greater than the family feels they can manage. If adoption of their host child is not meant to be, then the family needs to remain focused on advocating for the child by providing opportunities to meet other potential families. It is important for host families and volunteers to keep in mind that, through the efforts their community has made to bring the children here and by families opening their homes to host, the children have already been given a monumental gift. Advocacy is yet another gift – and the most critical obligation during the program.

Some host families may be overwhelmed by the hosting experience and/or the needs of the child and may find themselves stuck, unable to move in any direction regarding an adoption decision. A social worker will be available to address any questions or concerns they may have regarding their child, adjustment issues, typical behaviors or post adoption challenges. There will be no pressure to adopt, but there will be pressure for the family to focus their attention on their host child’s needs, and be open to supporting and participating in advocating for their future, even as they consider adoption themselves.


What happens to the kids at the end of the summer program?

After the four week visit, the children must return home to their orphanages with their escorts. The children come to the United States on a visitor’s visa and are required to return to their country.


What if a family decides to adopt?

If a family decides they would like to adopt a child they have met through the summer program, the family must inform the Community Coordinator and The Sacred Portion Children’s Outreach of their decision. Even if the family has decided to adopt the child, the child must still return to their home country at the end of the summer program. The family must go through the adoption process following the requirements of the sending country and be approved as an adoptive family. It will take approximately 9 - 12 months for the adoption process to be completed after which the family can travel to the country to pick up their child.

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What Does It Cost To Adopt?

The approximate cost to adopt from the Philippines and Ethiopia is $22,000 to $30,000. Families can take advantage of the federal adoption tax credit for out-of-pocket qualifying adoption-related expenses.  The maximum tax credit is $13,460 per child.  The tax credit is a refund, meaning that the family can receive the tax credit regardless of what they owe in federal income taxes.  The amount of the tax credit a family qualifies for is directly related to how much money they spent on their adoption.

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