Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

Child Hosting Programs: Getting Prepared to be a Host Family

December 01, 2021 Creating a Family Season 15 Episode 49
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
Child Hosting Programs: Getting Prepared to be a Host Family
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever thought of hosting a child for the summer or over the winter holidays? Check out this show where we interview Kathy Holiday who worked in adoption for 25 years and she supervised the child hosting program for Children’s House International.
In this episode, we cover:

  • What are child hosting programs?
  • What is the purpose of a child hosting program?
  • What are some of the ways different agencies design their hosting programs?
    • Whether they are open to families that do not want to adopt, but are willing to advocate for the child. 
    • When they have host sessions. What times of year?
    • Length of time the children are here. 
  • How much does it usually cost for a host family?
  • Are there many differences in cost to the host family?
  • What type of training?
  • What is the age range of children commonly available for hosting?
  • What type of special needs do you commonly see?
  • What are the children told before they come? Are they aware that they are "on trial" to be adopted? (Be on your best behavior if you want to get adopted?) Do hosting programs put too much burden on kids and set them up for feeling like a failure?
  • What type of trauma have the children experienced in the past? 
  • Influence of trauma. Typical behaviors you might see in the short term.
  • Language issues?
  • How much information are you given on the child before you decide whether to accept?
  • What type of home study is usually required?
  • How to prepare children already in the home? 
  • How much do you share with the children in the home about your interest in hosting? Should you share that you might adopt the child?
  • Disciplining a host child?
  • What type of support should you expect from your hosting agency?
  • Advocating for your host child or for other children in the orphanage. What do you mean by advocating and how do you do it?
  • If you decide to adopt this child, what is the typical process and how long does it take?
  • What are the benefits to being a host family?

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Please pardon the errors, this is an automatic transcription.
Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family talk about adoption and foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport both the host of this show as well as the director of Today we're going to be talking about child hosting programs. Specifically, we're going to be talking about getting prepared to be a host family. We will be talking with Kathy Holiday. She has worked in international adoption for 25 years, and she supervises the child hosting program for Children's House International. Welcome, Kathy, to Creating a Family. Thanks, Dawn, nice to be here. All right. So what is the purpose of child hosting programs? And first, I guess, tell us what they are? And then tell us why we're why we are doing them? Well, a hosting program, and there are several countries that offer this, it's a number one, it's a way to give a child the opportunity to experience life in the US and with the family. And that, you know, depending on the country, the child may or may not be adoptable. Some countries really emphasize adoption, and that, you know, like Colombia, Ukraine, where not all children that come for hosting programs are available for adoption. And that's not the case. So it does depend on the country. Gotcha. Okay, excellent. So do you as a host family? Do you have to commit or at least plan or being open to the idea of adoption, before you bring your child open? Or can you just be willing to say I'm willing to have this child experience a family life experience life in the US? But I don't my plan is not to adopt this child? Well, again, it does depend on the program. Now, I know, with Ukraine, there are a lot of families that post children every year, and they they don't really have any plans to adopt them. And you know, the children may or may not be adoptable. But the ones they are they advocate for and you know, and they do end up finding families for them. So that's, you know, that's one thing now with Columbia, they the country really does want you to be open to adopting that child. However, realizing that if the child isn't a good match for your family, that you will, you know, if you see that, you know, while they're there that you will try and advocate with other families with your church groups, or you know, what other means that you have, you know, the goal is finding the child a family. Okay. And when you say advocate, what you mean is advocate to find a family for that child. Right. Right, exactly. So how long are the children usually in the US in the host family? And if they're participating in a child hosting program? Well, it does depend on the program. But usually, it's between three and four weeks or five to seven weeks, summer programs are usually the longer programs the five to seven weeks, mainly because there's just more time and more to do. And the whole program in the winter, which just generally over the holidays is a shorter time. Okay, so how much does it cost? Or does it cost the host family to participate in hosting program? It does cost almost all agencies that that have hosting programs go through an intermediary hosting group, there are several out there, and and they make all the arrangements for the children to come and the transportation and, and organizing everything and they do tears, they do charge a fee for that. And it's generally between 20 $503,000. And the great majority of that is is the transportation costs of getting the children, you know, to enter the homes and back again to their country. And they have to get the kids passports and because most of these children. Yeah, as there's a lot involved, there's be some medical, there's yes, there's a lot of involved. And yeah, that takes a lot of staff to do it as well in the country and out. Sure. Okay, what type of training is usually required for host families to prepare for a child coming in? Some countries don't really require any, which is probably not a good idea. Columbia does require the 10 hours of The Hague courses and you know, we recommend that all the families take them, they're just, you know, valuable information. And of course, we always send them to creating a family to our aid package. Right. Okay, excellent. Yes, what age children are available for hosting. The youngest single child is probably going to be about nine however, most of the children are more between 10 and 14 to 15. Now, there are sibling groups that are available and so occasionally we'll see a five year old and an eight year old that are attached to a 14 year old sibling. So it does vary.

Okay. And you know, with international adoption now, which is not the same thing I realized, we tell people that for the most Part, your child will have some form of special need, if if only having experienced trauma had been raised in a orphanage for older kids, but also other medical special needs, our special needs the norm for kids who are participate in the hosting program. And so what are some of the special Naisha commonly say? Well, your you know, the most common are going to be you know, developmental delays, learning, you know, disabilities, you know, those kinds of things, you know, we do bring some children over that, that do have some medical needs, but they have to be very easily managed, like HIV, you know, where it's pretty straightforward, the meds that they're taking, you know, they do screen the children, you know, to make sure that, number one, it's the right thing for the child, and you know, that it can easily be managed. Okay, so less medical special needs in hosting programs and more of the issues that are associated with having been institutionalized, or the trauma of children having been whatever it is that placed them in state care. Okay. Uh huh. All right. You know, what, I think what a lot of people wonder is, what are the children told before they come? Are they aware that they are, for lack of better word on trial to be adopted, the whole idea is, you know, what, their, their, the countries are pretty strict, they do not want, you know, these children to be told that this is a possibility for an adoption, that just is, yeah, as a horrible amount of pressure. You know, this is just a vacation. You know, that's what they're told this is a learning opportunity to experience life in another country. And that's what they're told, you know, families are asked, please not discuss adoption with them, you know, we don't want to get them, assuming they're going to be adopted, when maybe it's not going to work out that's devastating. So, you know, we're very careful, you know, about preparing the families to not go there, even if they know from day one that that is a child meant to be there, you know, to please not discuss it at that point. And so, you know, that's, we hope that, you know, we know, we realized that the older kids are pretty smart. And they've already seen this happen with some of their friends that have been hosted. And, you know, they're adopted, and so they make assumptions. But, you know, we really like for the families to not discuss that a lot with their, with the kids at all, really, okay, we talked some just a moment ago about that. The expectation is that the child that's placed in your home and a child hosting program has experienced a number of different traumas in their life being raised in institution is traumatic and being removed from their birth family are however that happened. And then also whatever took place that forced them to into state care is generally a traumatic event. So trauma is something that these kids have experienced, what are some of the typical behaviors that a host family might see in the short term? Now, this is obviously these kids are here, for the most part, no more than seven, eight weeks at the max. So you're not going to see the full range? Because you're not going to have them that long. But what are some typical behaviors that Pam family should be prepared for in the short term? Well, I think most of the kids, you know, for the first week or so are really shy, I mean, this is such a huge change for them. And it's, it's really pretty much overload, you know, so a lot of them are shy, that's really what we see most with, with the children, you know, the differences, you know, they behave differently. I mean, some children are, you know, really very active. And, you know, families need to be prepared that they handle, you know, stress and, you know, it's so different for every child. So you know, that, once they settle in, they seem to do well. The one thing with these programs is there's there's always a column, a chaperone that comes over with a child. So there is from their country here in the US, that are available all the time by phone by whatsapp. So that if there is anything, you know, that there's just a misunderstanding, or the child is really, you know, district playing some behaviors that are just not, you know, not common, then that is a resource that they the family should go to first. So that, you know, they can explain what's happening and then and then the chaperone can talk with a child and find out what's going on and help they're so in that does happen. I mean, children are confused easily with this, and it's good to have that resource. And of course, you know, is always available as well.

Yeah, one question I think that most people wonder is, so generally speaking, the fact the host family is not going to speak the same language of the child, how big are language issues and what can families do to prepare, I would assume the chaperone We'd be available to help interpret but not 24/7 Yes, that's true. You know, of course, Google has been a godsend. I mean, with with languages, you know, Spanish, of course, is more common, you know, a lot of people speak, you know, Spanish, but they just kind of get by, I mean, it's certainly a wonderful thing if the host family speaks the language, but that's not always the case. And, you know, they, they just, you know, kind of get by using, you know, the your cell phones and everything else. So it used to be dictionaries. Now, it's a lot more, it's a lot easier. There's just a lot of programs on phones that can help with that. Yeah, thank goodness. Right. But that the hosting organization always has resources for, you know, translations and you know, when needed, etc. That's a question I think that people should ask when choosing a hosting program is what type of support will be given in general, but the in specific what type of language support is provided? Okay. Have you enjoyed what you've been hearing today, we are so excited to offer you more expert based content just like today's podcast. Thanks to our partners, the jockey being Family Foundation, the website to get these free courses is Bitly slash JBf. Support, that's bi T dot L y slash JBf. Support. And you can find several free online courses. There's a great variety of topics to choose from one that you might like is seven core issues and adoption in foster care. Again, go to the website Bitly. Slash JBS support. Thanks, Jackie. How much information is the host family given on the child? Before they say yes, they're they're willing to open up their home to host this job? Well, you know, what they see on the on the page from, you know, the hosting organization is basic information. They do get, you know, a little bit more detailed information on the child's history, and, of course, a lot more information on on there, if they have any special needs and what those are and how they're arranged, etc. But it does really, program by program, you know, how much is available, and you may not have the full amount you may not? Another question to ask the agency is you do want your agency to share any information that they have. And that's another good question to ask. Yes, is a home study where our audience is familiar with a typical adoption or foster home study? Is a home study required for a host family? No, it isn't. However, there is a small short version of a home study we call the home safety report that is required. It's it's basically I know, for Colombia, it's like a 30 question form that that a social worker fills out. I think it's similar for the other programs. It's just basic information about the family, there will be some criminal background checks, of course, to make sure that that's all in life. But it is a very, very short, short, short homesteading, it's, it's not nearly as detailed. Okay, do most of your host families have children already in the home? Not all of them. I mean, some dudes, probably most of them do maybe two thirds. And another third don't. Okay, that's interesting. So, if you do have children in your home, how should you prepare the children are in the home to welcome a child for, you know, anywhere from four to eight weeks. I think that, of course, depends on the age of your child, you know, but, you know, they do need to, you know, say where they're bringing a child to, you know, so they can experience, you know, life in the US, and it kind of makes you more of an exchange student, you know, type of thing, maybe, you know, you know, if they're older, you know, and understand, you know, that maybe adoptions and shouldn't be discussed with them, etc. You know, you don't really want an older child to say, hey, we're checking you out for an adoption, that would be awful. But so this depends on the age of your of your child, or that's in the home, do you recommend that parents share with their children that are in the home, if that child is being hosted with the thought that they might adopt?

I think that maybe later maybe once the child is there, and and, you know, of course, this is just it's so much depends on the fight with the family dynamic and the age of the children and etc. But that's kind of left up to the family. However, you know, we do everything we can to protect that child. You know, we don't want them to assume that they're being adopted, that's just the worst and especially if it doesn't happen, so, you know, there does there does need to have some, you know, safeguards so that, you know, we can prevent that. And it's not always going to happen. I mean, there are lots of situations where the kids just assume they're being adopted and You know, that's that's kind of, you know, our to work around a little bit, but, but they have a good psychologist, you know, in the orphanages and when they're back home, you know, they do a lot of debriefing and, you know, helping them, you know, come to terms with, you know, you're back in your country, it's a great experience and you know, life goes on, you know, most of these situations that children aren't even told the family may know immediately when they have the child in their home, they're gonna adopt them. But the children are not told that until that they go through the dossier, it's accepted in the country, and there's actually a referral, but to accepted, then they tell the child, guess what, the Jones family is going to be your mum and dad. I mean, that's, you know, that's how it's done. They just do everything they can, because anything can happen during this process, so that the child won't have all these expectations that could be dashed, which would be a devastation. You You're talking about the I, one of the questions I wanted to ask is, what is the typical process? If you decide to adopt this child, I think a lot of families don't understand that at the end of the hosting program, even if you decide to adopt the child goes back to their home country, and then the adoption process begins. So can you talk a little bit about the process, the typical process and how long it might take? Well, I want to mention Ukraine first, because that is a big unknown, I mean, the child may or may not be adoptable. And if they are, it can take a great deal of time. So that's, that's something to consider with Ukraine. I mean, not all children are adoptable. And it is a long process if they are with Colombia, it is it's much more known what families because all the all the children that come for hosting from Colombia are completely adoptable. So that's, you know, that's one big difference. If a family that's let's just use Colombia as an example, if they've hosted a child from Colombia, they feel like this is, you know, they want to move forward. They have a month after the child returns back to Colombia to submit a letter of intent. And the government, you know, accepts those reviews them and they have a then they have a number of months to get their dossier together it more or less reserves that child for them. And, you know, the dossier is? It varies, it just varies a lot. I mean, usually, I mean, it's taking about eight months now, you know, that includes the USCIS approval, which is taking way too long. And then they couldn't submit the, you know, we submit the dossier to the country, you know, they review it, then there's a referral made and then there's another three months, you know, before they can bring the child home, and that's all purely the US government that's taking their time to approve the child to come. Really 10 months after the child leaves is is pretty, I'd say, an average, but maybe an optimistic average it here and now. So much depends on the timing. You know, with USCIS right now, it's been very slow. And right now I'm saying 10 to 11 months after your child goes back, you'll be able to go pick them up, which is it seems like a very long time, unfortunately, especially in the life of a child. Exactly. And it really children both in the who are already in the host family's home as well as the child who is has been hosted and will be adopted. Right? Both ends, right? If you have enjoyed this or really any other creating a podcast over the years, can you please do us a big favor, go to this website, rate this A family and leave us a rating and review if you're feeling generous. It's a simple way to help us reach others who can also benefit from resources we provide. Again, the website is rate this A family. Thanks. disciplining a host child. Seems like it could be a sticky wicket. Yes, not knowing this child. They're in your home, you have to have certain expectations. But what do you what do you tell host families as far as how to approach disciplining a child Whoa, straw that's living in the home?

Well, corporal punishment is absolutely prohibited, not at all accepted. And as I mentioned, before, you know, the chaperones are there to help if there's a problem with discipline, you know, they step in, they explain to the child what's going on and talk with the family. And they kind of come up with an appropriate, you know, system so that the child knows that they're out of line, but it know that it really has to be tailored to the child, but they're, you know, we encourage families to reach out, you know, to the hosting organization, and the chaperone and of course, children's house as well. You know if it is an issue and we'll come up with a solution Okay, well, that's a great segue into what type of support should you expect from your hosting agency? We mentioned language support somebody who are they can connect you to someone who speaks the language for the child. And you just mentioned support for gift their problems that you should be able to call the adoption agency or the hosting agency and have somebody to talk to and help brainstorm with you ways to handle it. So those are two things. Right? What other type of support should do expect? You know, of course, with the chaperone, that's that's the, you know, going to be your your 24 hour support, you know, when the child come they have access to that chaperones? You know, usually it's WhatsApp, you know, a phone app, so that they can contact them anytime the chaperone, keep in mind, it's likely not going to be in your town, your city. That's right. Yeah, but they're going to be available. Uh huh. Now, now that you brought that up, I want to I want to kind of mention it with Colombia, the Colombian government requires that the Chapron stay with the host family, no more than two nights during the day. And they do that, you know, to observe the family see, you know, if there's any issues, it just kind of helps them, you know, get a good feel for, you know, the child and where they are, and, and, and all of that. And so that's, that's a good thing. The family also meets the chaperone at some point, and that I think it makes it easier for them to talk to the chaperone if there is a problem. So you know, that's, that's part of does that program that doesn't happen with the others, though. So you would have to, but all programs, send a chaperone with a child, or with a child, right, and they are available, I know they're available. 24/7. So you know that the number is definitely something that the family should have, you know, when that child enters their care, they should have a 24/7 number, you know, for that chaperone, or whatever they're called, also, the hosting agency, and you know, children's house, of course, and hopefully, your agency another form of support, is that they've provided some training for you to understand what behaviors that you could expect. Also to understand just though, what's happening, what types of typical emotional responses, so hopefully, your ad has done something to help prepare you in advance. I mean, Columbia requires it but others don't. Yes. Well, besides the HEG package, there's just a wealth of information, you know, on on your site, you know, for these children in general, you know, and we just encourage families to just dive into that, and, and as much education as they can take, it's just invaluable. Yeah, and that's creating a So yeah, we do have a lot of information directly aimed for parents, parents and kids who have been adopted or fostered regardless of whether they're coming into your house as a host child or an adopted child or a foster child. All right, what are some tips for advocating unmanned again, just to remind everybody advocating means that your expectation either because if decided, the child is not a good fit, or you you started the whole hosting, thinking I we are not an adoptive family. But we can bring this child in and advocate, which basically means try to find another family that is able to adopt the shot. So what are some tips? What do you mean by what are ways not? What do you mean, but what are ways that people have been successful in advocating for a child? Oh, just it really everything, you know, neighbors, church, schools, just, you know, your friends, just your social media, just, you know, having pool parties or whatever, inviting potential families that might be interested. I mean, just word of mouth, really, you know, every avenue that you you know, the family could think of, you know, that's that's just how they do it. Getting the child I mean, one of the tips is making sure you're you're meant to do doing things with a child that exposes them to other families, and lets other families get to know this child having them come and meet the child. That's exactly right.

Yeah, how successful what is the success? If success is defined by the child finding a permanent home in the United States? What is the success rate? Let's talk Colombia, because with Ukraine, it's well, we'll talk both they were they were speaking of these two countries only because right now, they are the two countries that have hosting programs so that we know of other countries. This will be similar to other countries because other countries, both in the future, and certainly in the past have been open to to hosting. So what's the success rate? Let's start with Colombia, of children being adopted. It's about 70%. You know, give or take can of course it's not an exact science, but definitely more than half which is Wonderful. Yes. Yeah, absolutely. What about Ukraine? I'm not sure with Ukraine, because so many that children are not available. That's, you know, that's the big issue. I think that a good many of them that are, you know, are, you know, advocated for and, and adopted. But that would be a hard one to pin. I'm not sure. It's actually not an it may not be the I said, you know, how do we rate success? How is success defined? For Ukraine success might not be defined as ultimately the style finding a permanent home in the That's right, the kids, right. And if a family is does decide to adopt, then all of the cost associated with an international adoption, then you don't save any money having been host family first, is that correct? No, not really. I mean, there may be some savings with the home study, if you've had your home safety report through a Hague accredited agency that, you know, can then do your home study, they may, there may be some, you know, some little bit of credit there, because they've already been your home and visited with you. But that would really be it. Okay. You've heard me say it before, guys. But this show would not happen without the generous support of our partners. And these are agencies who support us and support our mission, and they do it in a tangible way. One such partner is children's house International. They are a Hague accredited international adoption agency. Currently placing kids from 14 countries with families throughout the US. children's house also provides consulting for international surrogacy thanks children's house. But what are some of the Why do people host what are some of the benefits, but first of all, they may host because they have a love and caring for children and they're doing and they're doing it to be a resource for a child. But what are some of the benefits to the host family themselves for hosting? Well, there's several and you know, with with older children, I mean, these are children that it's, it's difficult to find families that will adopt a 14 year old usually, but if if the family can meet the child and see this is a great kid, you know, that's, that's really the Why are open to hosting, because it's a great way to find families. But it's a great way for families also, because they can see if the child is a good fit with their family. You know, that's important too, especially with these older kids, you know, how you how did the other kids in the home, feel about this child, you know, what, you know, what, what might it look like, and you can kind of see that, you can get a really good taste of it, you know, within those weeks that the child's in your home, and maybe just absolutely no way. But it may be Gosh, this kid fits in so well. He's just, you know, like one of our So also, you know, if another benefit is, is if you've hosted a child and you want to do you do want to move on to an adoption, you're so much better prepared, you know, what, you know, this child, you know, what their special needs are, you know, what their educational needs are, you know, going to be, there's just so much, you know, that could do know about the child already, so that you can really be prepared when they do come home. I would also think that from a cultural exchange type standpoint, it's beneficial to the host family, even if they're not planning on adopting, being able to show off our country as well as learn about the country that the child came from, that it has worked for many families. Yeah, it is. Yes, yeah. So anything, any parting words you want to share on for families, for getting prepared for being a for being in a hosting program.

Of course, education is a big, you know, key, you may want to talk with other families just, you know, learn about the culture, you know, there, that's an important thing. Also, you know, there's just a lot of things that you can do to prepare. And, you know, the one important thing is to be flexible, you know, you're going to that'll come in handy. You know, when the child comes, because it, it isn't easy, you know, it's it does require, you know, a bit of a lot of flexibility and, and, and that but the rewards are just unbelievable. I mean, they really are, you know, that's, that's the main thing. ditch your preconceived ideas, because chances are good that it will, this child will not behave in exactly the way or respond and exactly right. You're expecting, right? Yeah, be flexible, be open, be open to the well, thank you, Kathy holiday for being with us today to talk about getting prepared to be a host family. I truly appreciate it and to everyone else. Join us next week. We can't wait to see you then.

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