Summer hosting programs for children from foreign institutions
have come a long way. Now they are offered practically all year round.
And a growing number of families do it not for adoption purposes necessarily,
but just to give one more child a chance to see a different world, a
better life, and, may be, help find an adoptive family.
We wrote about varies aspects of hosting in our previous
#63, our online
class for hosting preparation and we speak about it during
Below is a discussion of hosting issues that some families
preparing for a new hosting season may have.
Q. We would like to help out by hosting a chaperone
or translator. My questions have to do with what our obligations might
be. Would it be bad form if the adult chaperone had a sofa bed in the
living room? What kinds of things are the chaperones most interested
in accomplishing: relaxing, sight-seeing, earning money, acquiring new
skills? Would they like to do odd jobs at our house for money, or would
that be off limits? Would they generally require a lot of transportation?
A. Valerie Schendel
I think I can answer a few of your questions as I have hosted both kids
and chaperones (escorts) over the past several years. I have also had
the greatest opportunities in placing both children and escorts in homes
for a number of host programs. Currently I am assisting Project
One Forty Three (p143) with their program. Here is my opinion
based on what I have done myself and recommended to others.
The escort has just brought numerous kids across the "pond"
- she probably needs a rest! Depending on how long you host her (the
full time or just a day, week or two) some privacy is recommended. She
will not need her own room but the general courtesy of not having kids
run through the area while she is sleeping would be a huge help for
her. But a sofa bed is usually fine - just giving her a couple of days
for getting over jet lag.
She will also need to be "on call" for the program
for a variety of reasons. The program will typically provide her with
a cell phone for this. But purchasing a phone card is highly recommended
- so that she can call and check in with her country/orphanage/husband.
This too is usually provided, but extra minutes never hurt.
While the escort is here she would love to experience
American culture first hand. Many foreigners do not know what America
is really like; more importantly they do not know what Americans are
really like. Sightseeing is absolutely a fun thing to do. I so enjoy
seeing my local "famous" areas through a new person's eyes.
For example, we took the escort and hosted child to Niagara Falls (we
live not very far from the falls), and that visit was amazing! Visiting
Niagara was on the list of things the escort wanted to do. Many come
with the idea of what they would like to see or do while here. Going
out to dinner, visiting a park, a mall - all of these things were absolutely
wonderful for each escort that we hosted. One escort was absolutely
in love with dollar stores!
The escorts typically will have some spending money, but
it is always nice to help out a wee bit more. One thing we were able
to do is to contact a Ukrainian community in our area. I know of other
families who found out about local Russian communities as well. The
ladies of the community took the escorts to church and into their homes
& shopping, so the escorts really had a great visit! This is not
something that has to be done, but certainly a nice thing to do if you
I would not recommend "hiring" an escort. They
have already been hired by the hosting organization. They will of course
welcome additional money (we Americans are known for our generosity,
and the thinking sometimes is that we are all rich), but they are not
here to do chores. However, that being said, taking in a shopping trip
was a great way for me to thank our escort for cooking an entire dinner
for us (at her insistence). She even offered to show me how to make
some of the local specialties of Ukraine. Many of the escorts chipped
in for housework and gardening and so forth, just because they wanted
to. Some have opted just to spend their day relaxing outside or in their
rooms, but most of them that I have met welcomed the opportunity to
help and were thrilled to visit area attractions.
Regarding transportation: this largely depends on the
escort and the program. If a child really needs assistance in a home
other than your own, it would be a nice gesture to aide in getting the
escort to the home, the airport or what not. You will not have to purchase
airplane tickets, or spend an extraordinary amount on gas to do this,
but this is the only thing that I can think of out of the normal family
activities that would require extra planning regarding transportation.
Basically the escort is a guest in your home, so whatever you would
normally do is acceptable.
Note: Not all of the escorts speak English. Our escort
and I had a blast trying to figure out what each was saying using the
little books. But some escorts speak English fluently. The language
barrier is usually not an issue if both parties are willing to work
it out playing charades.
What I would recommend the most, is treat the escort as
if she is a guest in your home at first, and then she will quickly become
a member of the family. Our last host still refers to me as her sister
in America. I have communicated with all of the escorts that stayed
with me over the years. The ladies whom I have met, rapidly became friends
to their host families, and many were incredibly sad to see them leave.
It is almost like you "adopted" an adult!!
Hosting an escort is wonderful, and I for one thank
you for considering this. There is definitely a need for this, and I
think this is just a good time to show someone how great we Americans