Sunday, December 06, 2009

First Story, Part 2

Just a short update for those who are following along with what we're doing to try and make the life of a kid better and at the same time, make a better story of our own lives.

Yesterday, my wife & I spent almost all day in an orientation session to learn about hosting an orphan from Latvia over Christmas.  Here are the big things I came away with:
  1. The importance of avoiding the a-word could not be stressed enough. Despite the fact that he will know very little english, the a-word is one that he'll know. They really don't want to raise the expectation levels of the kids only to have them be disappointed.
  2. To that end, the kids who are hosted won't find out that they're going until right before they leave.  As I understand it, someone will show up, ask them to pack and then they go. On the way to the airport, they'll get a letter that was written by the hosting family - translated into their native language. Ours included pictures and a small description of each family member. The pictures we included were a picture of the whole family, a picture of the room he'll stay in and a couple of pictures of the kids playing with the dog (so that he'll know we have a dog, and that the dog is friendly with even the little kids).
  3. A statistic was presented: 30% of people who host describe themselves as "open" to the a-word, but 70% actually adopt. To which, I said, out loud, "Aww. Crap!"
  4. After he's been here for 2 weeks, we will receive a form from "the organization" that's coordinating all of this. We will have to answer this question: do you wish to adopt the child you're hosting. We will have to answer either: "Yes", "No", or "Uncertain". If we answer "Yes" the child will be taken off of the organizations web site completely.  If we answer "No" the child will be put back on the website in order to encourage other families to host, and possibly adopt. If we answer "Uncertain" the child will be put back on the website. In this case, if someone else decides to pursue adoption they will contact us first to determine if we'd made a decision.  My reaction: wow that's not a lot of time to be able to make that big of a decision.
The orientation session was good, but it could have been more efficient. I felt like they covered a lot of stuff that was in the required reading. By the end of the day, I was getting pretty fidgety. But we did meet many of the other families that will be hosting in our area as well as some who'd flown in from the entire opposite side of the country. I really enjoyed meeting them. We've already planned one group activity. We are hopeful for more. Group activities are good for the kids because they get to interact with other kids in their own language.

When I told my mom about this, she thought we were completely crazy. I took that as a good sign that we're achieving at least one of our goals with this.

Other things we know now that we didn't when I wrote the first post:
  • The child's flight will arrive at 11:52pm on a school night. They encourage the entire family to be there and to be excited. I'm not sure how we'll pull that off. My wife wants me and my oldest son to go while she stays home with the younger 3. This is not the kind of thing I get really hyped up about. So it may take some divine intervention to get me excited.

    And the kid will just have spent the previous 30 hours traveling. Which seems like a long time until you put that into perspective that he's only known about who he was going to meet 30 hours earlier. So, he'll be exhausted and nervous at the same time.
  • So far, our criminal checks have come back containing exactly nothing. Which is oddly relieving. I didn't expect them to contain anything, but I couldn't avoid the paranoia that they might contain something for which we were wrongly implicated.  
  • The FBI investigation has not yet been received. We have to call the FBI and ask them to expedite. The friends of ours who got us into this program did the same thing, and the FBI had lost their requests. It's pretty late in the game, I really hope they have not lost ours.
  • The paper work that I fretted about was either not as hard as I thought, or my wife (having done nearly all of the work) did a fantastic job of hiding that effort from me.
We have pictures of the child that we're hosting. I was thinking of posting them here, but that's problematic. I may have already spoken too much about our consideration of the a-word. I don't want to get "the organization" in trouble, as they are only a hosting organization, not an adoption agency.