When my husband and I started our adoption journey 10 years ago we knew one other couple at our church that had adopted, that was it. At that time there were very few adoption blogs, no fundraising sites, support groups. We felt very different. In that time we have watched dozens of friends adopt, and of course it is an immediate bonding experience when we meet new people and find we both have adoption stories. I met Lisa at a MOPS table when our kids were little and I am so excited to hear that they are adopting Masha, a teenage girl from Eastern Europe! Please follow their blog Chosen to Love Masha for more current updates on their adoption process! They did not plan on adoption or older child adoption but were open to orphan hosting last summer; and well, I suppose the rest of the story is hers to tell. I hope you will check out their adoption blog and follow along for updates! I am so thankful Lisa was willing to share her story of her journey to adopting an older child with us! Here is Lisa in her own words…….
Our Families Story and the Journey to Masha
My husband Adam and I live in Carlsbad California with our three boys Mason, Gabe and Trent. Our life is full with sports, school, work and church. Adam and I have so much to be thankful for with three healthy kids, at this point in our lives we were not seeking to adopt. After watching our friends host 2 teenage orphans from the Ukraine last summer we were inspired by the idea of giving an older orphan without much chance of being adopted in the Ukraine, a wonderful California summer.
The goal of Guglielmo’s Hope Orphan Hosting Program is to show these kids the unconditional love of a family for the summer. The experience not only exposes these children to a huge pool of people who would otherwise never know the orphan existed, but also teaches them how to coexist in a family unit. After watching the Klimas family change the lives of a brother and sister from the Ukraine, we decided to host one of Yana’s friends from her orphanage. We prayed about the decision to host and decided we would go into this hosting with no expectations. We would love on whatever child came into our home, not with the hope of adoption but because it felt like the right thing to do for the orphan and our family. Once we decided we wanted to host for sure, Yana’s friend was already chosen by another family so they told me about a fourteen-year-old girl named Masha. She likes sports, can speak her mind, and likes to be outside not inside. She sounded like the perfect fit for my family of 4 boys and a tom boy mom.
Masha arrived in July knowing almost no English. Before she came I put flash cards on rings with common phrases in our family like “we are going to the beach”, “get your bathing suit on”, “are you hungry”, “are you scared?” etc. I put a picture on each card with the English and Ukrainian translation and made a set for Masha and one for my car and purse. These cards were like gold and really helped us communicate for the first couple weeks.
We could tell Masha had a playful heart from the beginning. Her and the boys played for hours. They would play ping pong, Candy Land, soccer, ride bikes, and chase each other around the house playing tag. Masha was having a blast being a kid. She immediately bonded with our Golden Retriever Bella. Masha would throw her ball forever. Masha did great, as long as we were at our house with our family.
Going out in public or with friends was a different story. Masha isn’t trusting of new people so she would go off alone when in a group setting. Maybe it was for attention, maybe it was to cope, luckily the disconnect didn’t last long. It took a few weeks before she learned that we surround ourselves with good people and she didn’t need to be scared anymore. We are super blessed because we have a loving family, great friends and an awesome church. Eventually Masha became so comfortable that she secretly would make fun of how happy all my friends were to meet her. She couldn’t believe how happy everyone is in America. Masha reminded us daily how thankful we are to live in this beautiful country.
As a mother the experience of hosting was really tiring because I felt like I was babysitting a friend’s teenage daughter, who couldn’t swim or speak English and wouldn’t let me out of her site, but I loved it! It was one of those life experience that is exhausting and so awesome all at the same time. I watched crazy changes in Masha’s self-confidence, demeanor and ability to communicate in words and her emotions. I watched my boys adjust to having an instant sister who stole their front seat, played pop music in the car, and took the best spot on the couch. My boys saw what we were doing in Masha’s life, they felt it and so they gave up their front seat and best spot on the couch for a stranger who finally got her turn. I didn’t just see changes in Masha over those weeks. One of the best parts for me was watching the boys watch out for Masha, sensing when she was uncomfortable and telling me we should go, watching to make sure she was understanding what people were saying to her and playing charades with her until she understood. I couldn’t have created these loving life experiences for my boys. Their hearts opened wider, they gained so much empathy for orphans all over the world and they are gaining a sister through this hosting experience.
Our family loves Masha and we are making her a permanent part of our family. Saying goodbye at the end of the summer was terrible for all of us, but knowing a child you love is in a dangerous country where you can’t be with her is even harder. We are hoping and praying that Masha’s adoption will be final by summer.
If you are local to North County San Diego, we are having a Faith Hope Love 5K fundraiser on Valentine’s Day to help raise the $30,000 still needed. Bring your kids, dogs and jogging strollers and help us bring Mash home. To sign up for the 5K or make a donation go to: https://www.gofundme.com/adopting-masha Make sure to write how many participants you are bringing and the size t-shirts you need. Thanks for the support!
Lisa, Adam, Mason, Gabe, Trent, and Masha
Thank you Lisa for sharing!! Please follow Lisa’s blog – pray for their journey to bringing Masha home to be smooth and for their transition as a family! I am so excited for them! If you are local, and love a good 5K anyway, you should totally go and support them! We want to be there so much but can’t – next fundraiser I promise Lisa! If you have been considering adoption but don’t know where to start please read “How to adopt – broken into simple steps“, if you are wondering how on Earth to fund your adoption process we shared a while back “How to Afford Adoption” – if you want to read another fun hosting story, this one just might make you cry. As always, if you would be willing to share your older child adoption story in a guest post (as an adoptive parent or adoptee) I would love to have you contact me!