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A Look into Orphan Hosting : A 17 Year Old Boy

This is a very special hosting story.

A 17 year old  boy.  Who had never been hosted before.

A family welcomed him in despite fear in their hearts, and fear from others.
I love this story, love it.  The words and feelings are easy to sense and pick up  as you read the words, see the pictures.  This boy was loved, more than he may even understand.



1. What made you want to host an orphan? How did your family feel?

The idea of hosting an orphan had never occurred to us before September. I didn’t even

know you could do something like that. Then I saw a post on Facebook about hosting

during the Christmas season and sharing love and family with someone who doesn’t, or

maybe has never, had one. How sad, and how sweet, all at the same time. I have two

young kids at home, ages 9 and 6, and I wasn’t sure how the dynamics would be. My

husband was completely on board with the idea of hosting an orphan. That’s when it hit

me… “Oh my goodness! Assuming we get approval, we are actually moving forward with

this!”   My kids were excited. They each thought they would be getting a built in playmate

for a month!


2. What were your feelings and preparations before you hosted?

To be honest, there was a very small part of me that was hoping my husband would say

“no” to the idea of hosting. Then I could at least tell myself, “Well, I tried. It must not be for

us.” And that would be that. So I was shocked, nervous, scared, and super excited all at

the same time when he said yes. Then we started to look at the photo listings board of all

the orphans in the program that needed a loving home. So sad. There were so many of

them, and these were just the kids who had been approved by their orphanage, by the

NHFC team, by their home country, and by the US embassy. The flood of emotions came

pouring in.


Through a lot of prayer, tears, nervousness, and uncertainty, we ended up picking a boy

who turned 17 years old in October. He had never been hosted before.   And… that was

about all we knew. I started to get scared when people would say things like, “You have 2

young kids at home, including a 9 year old girl. Why would you be bringing a 17yr old boy

into your house who you don’t even know?   You are asking for trouble!” Was I scared…

yes!   I also heard things like, “He’s 17. He doesn’t need you. A young kid would benefit

more from this.  “Really? Really? Because a 17yr old doesn’t need love or a family who

cares for him and doesn’t need to see how a family works together on a daily basis before

he gets kicked out of the orphanage at 18 and is on his own?  We all need love and we all

need family and we all need people who support us… even as adults.


I just kept on praying, and trusting, and crying. I was WAY out of my comfort zone. What

did I do? Before he came, I doubted our decision on the boy we had chosen. Did we

make a horrible mistake? But those sweet words kept rushing into my head and calming

my heart… “Trust Me.”   It is so amazing to me now, looking back at how I was feeling

before we met our boy, how much God was forcing me to trust Him. He knew…. He

always knows. He knew the right kid for us and knew the right family for this kid. We

prayed, we listened, and God is so good and faithful.


3. Share with us some of your hosting experiences, what was it like day to day, what

stands out to you as really special?


Day to day was hilarious. This sweet 17yr old boy was not scared or nervous at all

coming here to America. His first time being hosted too! If we let him, he would sleep in

until 1pm everyday! We all joked about that… and we all had fun trying to wake our guy

up every day… which sometimes took awhile with a lot of shaking and even some little

ones jumping on his bed.


He was always great about whatever we had going on for the day… or even if we didn’t

have anything going on for the day.




He loved trying all of our foods and he realized that

he LOVED carne asada burritos! He was so sweet and playful with my younger kids and

never ever got mad at them.


Our guy got along so well with our extended family, joking around, being silly, wrestling,

answering questions, etc. I remember him telling me that he likes to play beach volleyball,

and I just stood there like a dear in the headlights. You see… I’m from San Diego. He

doesn’t live anywhere close to a coast where he is from, and his country isn’t really known

for beaches. Beach volleyball? Did I hear him right? Turns out he plays volleyball on the

dirt. Not the beach. No where close to the beach. I figured we needed to fix his “beach

volleyball” experience.



So, the day after Christmas, we went to the beach, his first time

ever to a beach, and we played real beach volleyball! He was even brave enough to go in

the ocean.



4. Overall, what were some of the highlights of hosting? Why? What were some of the

hard parts?


Oh my. The whole month was full of hosting highlights. I loved every bit of it.


Often, just he and I would stay up late together after my young kids were in bed. That is when I

would ask him questions about his home, his life story, his friends, etc. He was always

open to answering my questions. We would show each other pictures of friends, of fun

things we have done. We would play rounds and rounds of Uno and play car racing video

games. I loved those times together. That is when I really saw him put down his defenses,

laugh, get excited, share about his life. It is at those times when we bonded the most.



On his last night with us, he asked me to stay up with him all night. How sweet… a

teenage boy wanting a mother to stay up with him on his last night with us. My husband

was the one doing the early airport drive, so we knew he had to get some sleep. There

we were, just he and I, laughing together over funny videos, sharing more stories and

pictures. Finally when I thought I wouldn’t last another minute and was starting to say

goodnight to him (at 3:30am), he said, “Nope. You can do it. We switch to Uno.” And

there I was… wide awake again getting beaten, yet again, in Uno. It took him a couple

rounds to realize that I was dealing him 3 cards for my every 1 card. He laughed when he

realized I had been cheating… and of course he still won those games.

The hardest part… a couple of hard parts actually. It was hard for me thinking that he was

bored hanging out with us. I figured he was used to being more active doing the crazy

things 17yr old boys do. We weren’t that family. But he never complained…. not once.



I rolled my sleeves up, got my inner tomboy out, and played soccer with him in the street

for hours, took him to trampoline parks, the beach, race car driving, etc.

My own kids were EXTRA out of control while he was here and driving me crazy (they

wanted his attention ALL the time) and it was hard knowing how to

discipline them in front of our boy while still showing that I loved them deeply and cared

for them.


The most difficult part? Having to say goodbye to him at the end of the 4 weeks.



For sure, hands down, super painful and heart wrenching. This boy, even though he is 17, he is still

a boy, who I opened up our home to, our family to, our life for the past 4 weeks and is

now heading home and I didn’t know if I would ever see him again.


All the questions I wanted to ask but didn’t came flooding to my head. I wondered if he even felt the same

way about me and my family as I do about him. Does he care? Was this just a fun

vacation to him and he won’t really think about us in another week? I wanted him to stay

with our family so badly, but we all knew it couldn’t happen. What is really sad is that he is

17… he’s in this weird limbo stage where he is too old to be adopted yet still in the

orphanage until he is 18. I knew he had friends back home and was missing them. I knew

the place where he lives is actually not so bad and he has a lot of privileges and is cared

for pretty well. I didn’t ache for him with what he was going back to… I ached because I

knew I would miss him. I ached because I opened up and let my guard down as well,

loved this kid that God brought into our lives, and now was having to say goodbye to him.

Loving another person hurts, but it is so worth it.



5. Now that they are gone, how has hosting changed your life, or the life of your hosted


To be honest, I don’t know how we have changed his life. I would like to think that we

showed him love, showed him Christ, showed him how a family operates day to day with

communication, compromises, schedules, etc., instilled a sense of value and “being

special” in his life that he might not have had before, but I don’t really know. It is hard

when the other person doesn’t communicate that back to you. I might never see the

rewards of the seeds we have planted, and that is hard. We have told him that we love

him and are always here for him. We are on his side. I don’t know if he gets that or how

much meaning that has to him never having lived in a traditional family.

He has definitely changed our lives. We put ourselves out there, trusting in God who is

bigger than us. All those fears and concerns I had before I met him just melted away as

soon as he embraced me at the airport upon his arrival. All those thoughts of, “You can’t

do this,” quickly vanished as we interacted with our guy on a daily basis and just loved

him right where he was. I have learned to trust more, to love more, and hopefully not to

worry so much about God’s plan! Would I do it again? Yes!


I pray for our boy. I pray that he would feel God’s love. I pray that he would accept Christ

(my 6 yr old was preaching to him for the whole 4 weeks trying so hard to get him to

accept Christ). I pray for the life that is ahead of him once he leaves his orphanage. I pray

for the things that are out of my control. And I pray for peace…. peace in my heart instead

of the pain of missing him. Peace knowing that we did all we could do to show him love

and Christ while he was with us. Peace knowing that he cares for us even though he

hasn’t expressed it in a way that I am used to or as often as I would like. Peace in Christ.



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  • votemom January 22, 2015, 4:10 am

    thank you soooo much for sharing. lifting this precious young man up in prayer now. God is ALWAYS doing something.

  • Wendi G January 22, 2015, 7:49 am

    what a great summary, Jessica! You are an encouragement and blessing! Awesome.