Be a Host Family

The children who participate in the summer program are typically between 7 and 14 years old. During their stay in the U.S., the children are placed with Christian host families who are either considering adoption or who will advocate for a child to find a permanent family. People love to adopt babies, but are often afraid of the unknowns and challenges they will face if they adopt an older child. Many are scared away by the images of institutionalized children they have seen in news reports.

The Summer of Hope program can take the fear and risk out of adopting an older child by giving prospective families an opportunity to see and evaluate first-hand the challenges and rewards of adopting an older child.

Hosting a child is an opportunity for a family to meet and interact with a child in the home environment in order to make sure it is the right fit for their family before making a lifetime commitment.

During their stay in the U.S., the children participate in day-to-day family life. The host family provides a nurturing environment and the basic necessities. Each child is covered by a major medical insurance policy but minor medical care or visits to pediatricians are the responsibility of the host family. The children do benefit from receiving dental care, which is often much needed. Medical and dental services are often donated by physicians and dentists within the community. The children are involved in summer activities such as swimming lessons, gymnastics and soccer. Summer of Hope volunteers organize a number of activities designed to bring host families and children together, and to give non-hosting parents who are interested in adoption a chance to interact with the children as well. Surprisingly, the language barrier in hosting a child is not a critical problem. The children learn much English from other children they interact with in the summer activities and quickly pick up household words. Volunteer “native language” speakers are available to interpret and help families communicate with their children.

Host families who are not planning to adopt, or who are unsure about adopting, must do all they can to help their child find a family by exposing him or her to as many prospective parents as possible during the child’s stay. This includes participating in all program events, completing weekly personality profiles of the child to share with prospective families, making videos and photos of the child available and being accessible to talk with the sponsoring agency and prospective families about the child.

Families interested in hosting a child must complete the necessary requirements and pay the necessary fees. Part of the process of being approved as a host family includes a visit from a licensed social worker followed by a written assessment of the family’s suitability to host. Host families must also participate in 10 to 15 hours of formal training to adequately prepare them for their hosting experience. Before the children come, host families will have an opportunity to attend a number of orientation sessions where they can learn from the experiences of other adoptive families who have adopted older children. A host family handbook with helpful materials is also provided.

As the local sponsoring organization, we must raise the funds needed to bring the children. Volunteers are recruited to help with the community fund raising efforts and host families are expected to contribute time to this as well.

At the end of their summer stay, the children must return to the orphanage. Those families who have committed to adopting begin the paperwork process through the adoption agency representing the child and then travel to their child’s country to complete the adoption. The time required to complete the adoption will vary depending on how soon the parents make the decision to adopt, and how quickly they are able to complete the necessary steps. The separation and waiting time is hard once a family has bonded with a child. However, the adoptive families are usually able to keep in contact with their child until they are reunited.