P143 Inspiration & News
Hosting opened our eyes to older orphans. We had previously pursued domestic adoption of a baby. We never knew about hosting until a friend introduced us, then hosting introduced us to our sons and our daughter. Preparing our home for their arrival was one of the fondest memories. We learned about our children’s lives, their culture and how badly they needed a chance. It was amazing to watch how they grew during hosting, including their self confidence. Hosting is a gateway to many new relationships, including children we met through the program. It is sweet to have the relationships I now have with children we met through hosting. The children love knowing someone cares and is willing to continue relationships established while here for hosting. The children know that someone cares and will be there for them. What would we tell others about orphan hosting… DO IT!
Both my wife and I are physically challenged, as we have two separate forms of dwarfism. We were a little apprehensive, at first, to take on the challenge of hosting a child. However, Diana’s time here exceeded our expectations. Diana fit well in our household. We enjoyed teaching her new things and helping her explore. It was a great opportunity to show Diana what it’s like to be in an environment that was accessible to her wheelchair. She navigated well with the low counters; she even prepared her own food at times and used the microwave every morning to make her hot cocoa. The low sinks gave her the opportunity to wash her hands without any assistance. We provided her with a low bed, which she easily managed. Being able to get in and out of the house via the ramp was something she seemed happy to do herself. Since we have a van with an electronic lift, she could get into the van easily. All this accessibility gave her the independence to be a normal 12 year old child. By staying with us and observing how we navigated life, in spite of our disability, hope was given to Diana that anything was possible for her. She was well loved by everyone she met and that made her feel so very special. All she needs is an opportunity to be in an environment that allows for her potential. We know that the love we feel for Diana would give her the opportunity to do just that.
Hosting made our family stronger. It forced us to use muscles we didn’t know we had. It made me a better father, especially in the difficult moments. In our first hosting experience, I refused to feel anger or bitterness towards our host child or her situation. Instead, I realized I was fighting for her and not against her. Fatherlessness, like slavery, is not a yoke easily broken and we should not expect the path to freedom for these children to be easy. We must suit up for battle and recognize that the enemy is fear and not the child. Do not fear! You will be surprised at who supports you and you will be completely proud of yourself for what you’ve done. A few weeks really can make a difference in a child’s life. They begin to trust, gain a sense of belonging and identity, and to love. They will begin to adopt your family’s culture and prefer it. It will be, at the very least, a trip of a lifetime and a taste of God’s goodness.
It all started with a puppy! We were not newbies to the plight of orphans. Eleven years ago, we followed God’s lead to our daughter in Ukraine. Then, God led us to our son in Russia. We felt fairly knowledgeable about orphan care, which brings me to the puppy. I was helping my mom find families for her litter of puppies and took one to meet an interested family. While watching the puppy play, I learned this family had hosted a child from Ukraine through Project 143. God used a “chance” meeting to plant a seed and I couldn’t get hosting out of my mind. That winter, our family participated in the Project 143 host program. We invited a sibling set to spend Christmas with our family. With four children (ages 12, 10, 9 and 7), it was a crazy, exciting, exhausting 4 weeks! I fell into bed each night wondering how I was going to have the energy to start the next day. I felt more like a camp activities director than a parent. I even caught myself counting the days until hosting ended. As the weeks progressed, we wondered if we were making an impact on the children or just giving them a nice vacation. We were considering adoption, but the idea of older children, especially a 10 year old boy, was terrifying. At the close of the program, we went to the airport not knowing if adoption was God’s plan. Yet, as we said our goodbyes, it was the 10 year old boy who kept giving hugs, calling “goodbye” until his voice was drowned out, kept looking backwards until he was out of sight. We proceeded with adoption. God had a plan all along and used puppies to initiate it. As mom to two former host kids, I learned we did make a difference during hosting. My children talk about what we did that “first Christmas.” They returned to the orphanage no longer feeling alone in the world. They had a family. Hosting makes a difference. Not just “feed a child for a month” difference, but “I have a mom and dad” difference, regardless of whether they physically join your family. If you need more help, I can set you up with a puppy…
Vika brought unbounded joy, heartfelt gratitude and unconditional love to all the members of our family. We could not have asked for a better teacher to inform us that orphan or not, opening the door to love and abundance provides for deep and loving bonds to be made. Some of our fondest memories of hosting include seeing her light up when she saw that we had new clothes for her and giant hugs that she gave…just because. If you are thinking of hosting, go into it with an open mind. If you have your own expectations or agenda of how you believe the child you are hosting should respond; you may be disappointed. Be patient, loving, accepting and let them teach you how you can love them. That is really all they want. If you have ever questioned whether this experience can change your understanding of the world, it will. We dealt with some doubters that questioned how these few weeks could make a difference. One night over dinner, one of the chaperones said to us, “The amount of hope a child gets from this month will keep them going for a year.” When we spoke to Vika on the telephone a few weeks ago, after she’d returned, I asked her how she was. She responded that things were better than ever. This was not the response I expected and asked why. She told me, “Because I hold your hugs in my heart every night when I go to bed.”
I can’t really say how hosting changed our family for the better because I feel like we had a great thing going as a family even before we decided to host. Hosting brought a beautiful, sweet 15 year old girl from Latvia into our lives and our hearts. The disheveled, nervous girl that got off the airplane stole our hearts immediately. She quickly became close with our children and they welcomed her as a sister. As a family, we did things that we hadn’t done in years, things as simple as playing games together. We would do that with our other children when they were younger, but “game night” had given way to watching TV. Checkers were setup the entire hosting period and Kristine usually won! Before she came, we felt our family was full. We felt quickly that Kristine should have always been here. We couldn’t imagine our family without her. I realize hosting may not be for everyone and you may not think it’s for you. We didn’t realize it was for us until we saw a photo on Facebook. We didn’t know what to expect but thought, ‘it’s only four weeks, we can do four weeks.’ What a wonderful four weeks. Hosting was definitely a life enhancing experience and we recommend for everyone to consider hosting. Even a few weeks in a loving home can change a child’s life and your life forever.
Article originally appeared on ABC News.
By Karen Meyer
(CHICAGO) (WLS) — Being a role model to people who share the same challenges can be rewarding for everyone.
A Chicago couple who are short in stature have taught a 13-year-old with the same disability the meaning of being independent.
From Eastern Europe to Chicago’s Southwest Side, Laureen and Thomas Lash have given Diana new outlook on life and also an amazing summer.
“We went to the Taste of Chicago. We took her to the Radio Disney. We went to the zoo, and we also took her on vacation with us this year,” said Laureen said.
Laureen and Thomas have hosted Diana since the end of June. She had been here once before in December for a month. She is now on her way back to eastern Europe.
Diana met the Lash family through an organization called Project 143.
“They had a child in their program who was a little person, and so I couldn’t believe that there was a little person in the hosting program,” said Laureen.
Diana never knew how to be independent or seen an adaptive home until she met the Lash family.
“She can do a lot of things by herself that she was not able to do before she came over here,” Laureen said. “Our light switches are at our level.”
“She is able to get in and out of the bathroom by herself,” Laureen said. “She walks the dog all by herself.”
“She can go to the refrigerator anytime she wants to get something to eat,” said Laureen. “Her English has improved. Her confidence has improved.”
This summer the Lash family took her to Washington, where the Little People of America’s conference was held over the Fourth of July.
” She was quiet at first, and after a day or so, she really got in tune with it. She started becoming more social, taking part in the games and for the teams, and every night, there was a dance, and she wanted to go with the other children,” Thomas said.
ABC7 Chicago asked Diana what she enjoyed.
“I like the dog, Max,” Diana said. “We [saw] panda elephants.”
“Her being here, she’s just matured,” Laureen said.
“Extremely proud to open and for her to have an opportunity to grow,” said Thomas.