So, I have been thinking about all those great families who are excitedly anticipating their first hosting experience.  The arrival time is growing nearer and the kids will be here in less than 3 weeks!  There’s so much to do: preparing their bedroom, translating house rules, preparing English lessons, scheduling dental and vision exams, compiling a small wardrobe, planning summer activities, hours upon hours of prayer… the list can be unending! 

I have been thinking back to when my family was in that same little boat 6 months ago and thought it might be helpful to share some of the things that my family wishes we would have known before hosting or other surprises that we didn’t expect along the way. 

Before hosting, I wish I would have known…

  • …to not have too many expectations of what the kids will be like.
    It’s kind of funny how you create this idea in your mind of what the host kid will be like.  It will more than likely be wrong because usually all you have to go off of is 1 picture and a few sentences.  Sasha didn’t end up being what I expected, which wasn’t bad, it was just unexpected… haha, it’s hard to explain. –Me
  • …Ukrainian!
    The language barrier is a lot bigger than you expect!  You will find yourself trying to speak any other language that you know besides English, and for us that was Spanish! –My Sister
  • … some info about their background for conversation.
    It’s hard to know what you can and can’t talk about with a child when you don’t know much about their background.  It could have been more helpful to know more about his life & culture beforehand, just so we could casually mention some things throughout our 5 weeks of hosting. –My Mom & Sister 
    (Oops, maybe my dad and I should have talked to them a little more about the things we learned at the NHFC Training!)
  • …to make time & create special bonding moments.
    These kids have missed out on so many things that we take for granted in a loving family.  Someone to cheer you on at your soccer game, someone to take care of you when you’re sick, someone to tuck you into bed at night.  As a host family, you have lots of time to share that special love and affection orphans need so desperately, and it may take a little planning to make sure those things happen among the busy schedules of family life. –My Mom

It surprised me that…

  • …he was not concerned about material things.
    On the last days of hosting when Sasha packed his bags, he wasn’t concerned about taking back the toys and games we gave him for Christmas.  It seemed the most important thing to him was the photo album we gave him.  He knew what was really important. –My Dad
  • …you can never give too many hugs!
    Even with a 14-year-old boy, there’s no such thing as too many hugs.  At times it seemed like I hugged him too much, but that is something the kids really need.  And when you realize the kids are back overseas, you wish you could hug them just one more time. –Me  
  • …he was so easy to love.
    He bonded with us so easily and quickly called us “mom” and “dad.”   We barely did anything and he just loved us without any hesitation.   We are so blessed to have had him in our lives. –My Mom

I love how you can still see Sasha's bright blue eyes shining through that creepy mask!

Previous host fams, feel free to join in! What do you wish you would have known before hosting?  What are some things that surprised you?