Frequently Asked Questions

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About Host Ukraine

What is Host Ukraine?
Host Ukraine is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit, volunteer-run organization which brings orphan children to the United States during the summer, and over Christmas holidays, to provide cultural exchange and respite, allowing the children to spend time with a loving American family.

Our all-volunteer team consists of dedicated, educated individuals who are also host and/or adoptive parents who have extensive experience serving orphans, and strong connections in Ukraine.

Orphan hosting is a way to show love and care for children who have often lost everything.

Why Ukraine?
Ukraine is very open to working with hosting groups. It is also open for adoption, it families decide they want to pursue it. And many of our volunteers have a great love for the people and culture of Ukraine.
What Host Ukraine is NOT?
Host Ukraine is NOT an adoption agency. We do not facilitate adoptions or give adoption advice or counsel. While families may choose to pursue adoption through accredited adoption agencies after they experience the joy of hosting children, Host Ukraine is strictly a hosting organization.

Host Ukraine is NOT an employee-driven organization. We exist thanks to the dedicated efforts of an incredible team of volunteers who share their time and experience for the benefit of orphan children. Our volunteers all have their own jobs, families, and other obligations on top of their Host Ukraine duties.

How does hosting benefit orphan children? Isn’t it cruel to host them and then send them back?
Connecting with a family is great therapy as a respite from orphan life. Yes, returning to orphan life is sad for the kids. But the memories from their experience and the connection to people who care about them make a huge difference to their daily lives.
How many children end up getting adopted after hosting?
About 80% of children who come for hosting, are eventually adopted. Sometimes they are adopted by their host families, other times they are adopted by another family they meet during the hosting experience.

About Orphan Life In Ukraine

Where do the host children live in Ukraine?
Our host children live in state-run orphanages located throughout several regions in Ukraine. They are typically children who either have parents who are deceased, or whose rights have been terminated by the Ukrainian government. Occasionally we will also have a host child who lives with a foster family, but this is an exception.
What are the orphanages like?
Orphanages are what you might imagine them to be, even under the “best” of circumstances. They are often unheated in winter, short staffed, and very lonely places where children do their best to survive.

Children may speak highly about their “schools”, as they generally call them. This is often rooted in a desire to not appear as an object of pity, and to protect themselves while they are building trust.

What happens when children age out of the Ukrainian orphanage system?
Ukraine considers children “graduated” from the orphanage system when they turn 16 (in some cases, children are allowed to stay until age 17).

General statistics of children who age out of the system:

  • At age 16, children are considered “aged out” and are turned into the street.
  • 60% of girls end up being trafficked for prostitution/pornography within 2 years. Orphans are at extremely high risk for being trafficked and exploited.
  • 50%+ of the girls become pregnant as teenagers, and more than 80% of babies born to former orphans become wards of the state within 3 years, creating the next generation of orphans
  • 70% of the boys wind up in jail within 2 years of leaving the orphanage
  • 15% of children commit suicide within 2 years of “graduating”
What future do orphan graduates have to look forward to in Ukraine?
  • Hopelessness and homelessness
  • No family or social services support system
  • Lack of education, vocational training, dearth of job opportunities
  • Limited and/or non-existent health care
  • Prostitution, pimps, trafficking
  • Jail time for selling drugs, robbery, theft — anything to survive
  • Mandatory time in an ill-equipped military which is at war with Russia. (Soldiers are expected to supply their own bullet-proof vest, helmet, and boot – but of course, orphan conscripts have no money to do so.)
Are all of the host children adoptable?
Some children are eligible for adoption, others are not. Host Ukraine is strictly a hosting organization, and as a result, we are not able to guarantee the adoptability or parental rights status of any child.

If you have any questions about the status of your host child, we will gladly recommend qualified adoption agencies and/or Ukrainian adoption facilitators who can answer those questions definitively.

Does the war with Russia affect the children in Ukraine?
Absolutely.

A direct result of the war between Ukraine and Russia is reduced government resources to provide adequate food, medicine, and other basic care to children in the orphanage system. In addition, the war has created an influx of children into the orphanage system, creating extra stress on the social system.

In winter, it is common for the orphanages to lack even the basics. They often have little to no heat in the dormitories, no hot running water (that means no warm showers), no hand or bath soap, no laundry detergent, no toilet paper, and no feminine hygiene products.

Can’t the kids just go to college or get good jobs after they leave their orphanage?
No, unfortunately that option is not available to most orphans. Once a child has been placed in a state care-giving institution, they are viewed socially as having been effectively incarcerated. Children who have been wards of the state will have “ORPHAN” stamped in their national ID papers for the rest of their life. This ensures that they are socially discriminated against at every turn. They are not eligible to enter universities or apply for stable employment.

The best that orphan graduates can hope for is to possibly enter a trade school and try to avoid being pimped or trafficked while they survive without a support structure, often living homeless.

About Hosting Fees

What does the hosting fee cover?
Hosting fee donation is currently $3000 per child. Discounts for sibling groups and special needs children are available as funds permit.

That can seem like a LOT of money, so here’s a breakdown of what those costs include:

SCREENING & INTERVIEW TRIPS

The USA volunteer team travels to Ukraine to screen and select host children from 20+ orphanages, which includes:

  • interviewing children who have expressed interest in being hosted
  • interviewing caregivers and orphanage directors to get references and expert input for children who are being interviewed
  • observing children to assess their ability to interact and engage, emotional potential to fit well into a family environment, for overall stability to handle the hosting experience
  • researching available information on children’s histories and background (sometimes this is readily obtainable, other times it isn’t)

Ukraine facilitators and translators accompany the USA team to bridge cultural and linguistic barriers

TRAVEL

  • your child’s round-trip transportation by bus/train from their orphanage to Kiev Airport
  • your child’s round-trip international airfare to one of several destination cities (transportation beyond the primary arrival cities is the responsibility of the host family)
  • airfare for adult chaperones who travel with groups of children both in-country and international to ensure their safe arrival

DOCUMENTS

  • your child’s visa interview trip from their orphanage to the US embassy in Kiev, prior to hosting travel
  • government fees for your child’s visa application and processing in both Ukraine and USA
  • medical exams to ensure children’s general wellness before traveling internationally

UKRAINE TEAM EXPENSES

Our facilitator team in Ukraine is responsible for a wide variety of key aspects which includes, but is not limited to:

  • maintaining relationships with orphanage directors in more than 20 orphanages
  • accompanying the USA team in-country for child screening interviews
  • arranging transportation and accompanying children from more than 20 orphanages to the embassy for visa interviews
  • preparing all the children’s Ukrainian government approval documents and travel papers
  • liaising with the Ukrainian governmental departments that have oversight of the hosting process.

USA TEAM EXPENSES

  • marketing and awareness of hosting as a ministry, and available host children in particular
  • database management of children and host families
  • legal and administrative costs

HOSTING EXPENSES

  • medical insurance while your child is being hosted, to cover any emergencies while they are in your care
  • stipend for Ukraine chaperones who volunteer their holiday season (both summer and winter) to travel abroad and provide translation and oversight support to children and host families throughout the hosting season

ORPHANAGE SUPPORT

Host Ukraine seeks to maintain quality relationships with the directors of all orphanages that allow us to host their children. We are not only committed to helping children during hosting seasons, but also to helping provide a higher quality of life while school is in session. This includes but is not limited to:

  • supplementing orphanage food budgets
  • paying for heat when the schools have no money
  • providing medical supplies when needed
  • helping with medical support when children are critically injured or ill and are in area hospitals (which often are ill-equipped and do not provide adequate medicine to orphan patients)
  • supplying basic hygiene items such as toilet paper and hand soap when orphanages have none
  • Providing support during times of need, goes a long way toward building positive and trusting relationships with orphanage directors, and helping to support needy orphan children who may not be suitable for the hosting experience.

About Applying To Host

The process for becoming a host family is simple but thorough.
Potential host families must complete paperwork that includes:

  • Host Ukraine Online Application form ($100 non-refundable application fee required)
  • Criminal Background Check ($30 fee per person over 18 in your household, paid online to the company which performs your background check). Background checks MUST be completed for ALL members of your household age 18 and older.
  • Home Safety Inspection MUST be completed to ensure that your home is a safe place for children. This inspection can be performed by a licensed social worker, a police officer, a fireman, or a member of clergy. A template is provided in your application packet.
    NOTE: this is not a home study.
  • Host Family Education and Training MUST be completed in one of the scheduled Host Ukraine training sessions, prior to your child arriving. Required reading and online quizzed help prepare host families to care for children who have experienced trauma and loss.
  • Host Family Welcome Letter will be given to your child when they start the trip to America. This is a one-page letter that
Download Printable Checklist

About Choosing A Host Child

Where do I find photos of children who can be hosted?
Children available to be chosen for hosting can be viewed by registering at www.hostukraine.org/see-kids. Some available children are also listed in our private Facebook group photo albums here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1636389466637351/.

We keep the collection of child photos in a closed group to protect their privacy and ensure safety.

You must send a request to join the Host Ukraine Photo List group, and be approved by an administrator. Once you’re in the group, you can browse the list of available children in the current season’s photo album.

Can you “hold” a child for me while we think about it?
Host Ukraine’s all-consuming goal is to place every single child into a loving host family. Often we have many families inquiring about the same children. As a result, we cannot hold children for longer than 24 hours, unless hosting donations have been made.

When you choose a child, Host Ukraine will hold your child(ren) for up to 24 hours, during which time your initial (non-refundable) donation of $750 must be successfully received via PayPal, and indicated in the PayPal notes that it is toward your child’s hosting account. At the end of 24 hours, if the $750 is not received, the child will revert to “available” status in the database, or to a “back-up” family if another has expressed interest.

When the $750 is received, your child is considered “hosted”, and paperwork for your child is immediately underway, both here and in Ukraine. From this point forward, it is not possible to switch between host children.

What is the Host Ukraine refund policy, if I change my mind?
All hosting donations are non-refundable.

If you change your mind after committing to host a child, any funds applied to your child’s account will be posted as a grant to help place them with a new host family.

Please contact your team member for special circumstances.
Also, see Fundraising Questions below for more details on how to raise funds even if you have paid the hosting fees up front.

How do I get answers to my questions before I choose a child?
Feel free to ask questions from your Host Ukraine team contact, or send a message to the Host Ukraine Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/hostUkraine/), to find out more about the child(ren) who interest you. We will do our best to answer your questions based on the information we have been able to glean from their screening interviews.
What is the timeline for the remaining donations to be paid?
The hosting fee schedule:

  1. $750 non-refundable deposit is due within 24 hours of placing a child(ren) on hold. Deposit must be paid, or the child will return to “available” status
  2. $750 is due 10 days after application submission date
  3. $750 is due 30 days after application submission date
  4. $750 is due 45 days after application submission date.

Payments are tax deductible.

All payments are donations to Host Ukraine, a 501(c)3 non-profit and are non refundable.

Please inquire with your employer about matching grant opportunities.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Children who have any balance remaining on their account after the final payment date, CANNOT TRAVEL TO THE USA. Airfares cannot be purchased for children who do not have fully funded accounts. 

About Preparing For Your Host Child’s Arrival

Will our host child know anything about us before they arrive?
Only what you tell them in your family Welcome Letter. Otherwise they’ll need to get to know you over time during the hosting season.
What should I do with the items my child brings from Ukraine?
Help your child unpack, and take inventory of everything they bring. This is a good time to make sure they didn’t manage to pack any surprises, like a spare cigarette or other contraband. 🙂

Set all the items aside, and tell them that you’ll keep it safe for them to take back to Ukraine at the end of their visit. No matter how many holes are in the socks, or how you may feel about the items, the child is considered responsible to bring them back to their school. Make sure items are packed in their return bag at the end of hosting.

What will my child bring with them from Ukraine?
Usually just the clothing on their backs. Sometimes the children arrive with shoes a few sizes too small, or falling apart.

And probably nothing more. Sometimes, children will be carrying a small bag with an extra pair of underwear or socks.
But don’t count on it.

 

What should I buy before my child arrives?
Not very much, for a few reasons:

  • it’s hard to know what size to buy until your child has arrived
  • your child may have very distinctive style preferences
  • your child is guaranteed to grow while they are here.

Buying too much in advance is not only overwhelming to your host child, but the clothes you buy when the arrive may not fit them when they leave, even during the shorter winter hosting!

Pre-arrival shopping list:

  • underwear in two sizes
  • pajamas, preferably with adjustable waist or draw-string, in case they are very slender for their age
  • socks

Wait until after your child arrives to buy play clothes, dress clothes, shoes, etc…

Quality nutrition, healthy sleep, and a loving environment combine to allow children’s bodies to relax and growth spurts often kick in.

Wait to buy clothing to send back with them until the last few days before they leave, and then buy big so they have room to grow after they return.

About Your Host Child’s Airport Arrival

Where will my child land upon arrival in the USA?
Hosting fees include airfare from Kyiv to a hub airports across the US. Hub airports may include, but are not guaranteed to be:

JFK or Boston
Chicago
Atlanta
Seattle or Los Angeles
Dallas or Houston

Please check with your team contact regarding the current season’s arrival airports to find out which location is closest to you.

NOTE: If you are joining as a host family at the last minute, please be aware that many airports have waiting lists for large groups of passengers, and we may not be able to accommodate your preferred arrival airport.

When must we arrive at the hub airport?
If you live local to the hub airport, you MUST check in with your airport coordinator, in person, at the arrival location, at least two hours before the children’s flight is scheduled to land. We recognize that there is always the chance for traffic, accidents, and other delays. It is the host family’s responsibility to be at the airport early and plan accordingly.

If you will be traveling from out of town to the hub airport (or more than 3 hours away), you MUST arrive the day prior to the children’s arrival, and we strongly suggest that you plan to spend the first night in the city of arrival before traveling home with your child.

How long will customs take when the children arrive at the airport?
Remember that your child will be traveling in a large group of minors accompanied by a Ukrainian chaperone. It can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours for the group of children to clear immigration and customs. This means your family and the rest of the welcome group will need to wait together…. as patiently as possible… 🙂
What do I do when I meet my child for the first time? Can I hug them?
Take it easy, and keep it low-key but genuine. 🙂 Be gentle, remember that they are exhausted and scared and everything is totally unfamiliar. A warm smile, a side hug, giving them your welcome gift… all these things help your child get introduced to you without feeling completely shocked and overwhelmed.
What should we bring to welcome our child, when we meet our child at arrival?
a welcome poster

a small gift bag or backpack stuffed with little essentials such as:

  • chapstick
  • a water bottle
  • crackers, granola bars, or other easy snack
  • pocket kleenex pack
  • notebook and pen
  • family rules book (See Family Rules segment below.)
Who pays for my child’s extra flight if I don’t live near any of the hub airports?
Additional travel to and from your child’s hub airport is the responsibility of the host family. Children may not fly alone from the hub airport forward. If you choose not to drive to the hub airport to meet your child, one host parent must fly to meet and return with your host child.
How long has my child been traveling by the time they get to me?
Your child will have been traveling with very little sleep, and probably a lot of anxiety and nervousness, for as long as 36 hours prior to meeting you. If you live on the West Coast, it’ll be closer to 40-45 hours of travel time. Your child will be seriously jet lagged, overwhelmed and possibly numb with all the unfamiliar stimuli.
Can I meet my child immediately when they walk out of the restricted immigration area?
Please don’t rush up to your child when the group arrives.

Your airport coordinator will have a list of children and their host families. The waiting welcome group will be called forward to meet each child one at a time. A Host Ukraine team photographer must take a photo with your family and your host child — this is required by Ukraine government to prove that all children are spending their time with legitimate families in the USA.

What Host Ukraine check-in process should we expect when we arrive at the airport? Do we need to bring ID?
  • check in and show driver’s license
  • sign to receive your child’s insurance card
  • give $25 chaperone donation, in an envelope, to airport coordinator
  • take a Host Ukraine photo with your child BEFORE leaving (this is required by Ukraine to prove that each child has been handed to their host family)
What should we expect when we get our child?
Remember, your child will be exhausted and nervous beyond comprehension.
They may or may not show emotion at all.
They may smile or look totally blank.
They may or may not be hungry.
They may desperately need to use the toilet but be too shy to ask.
They may hug you back, or be stiff as a board when you try.

All/any of the above is totally normal.
Just roll with it. 🙂

Medical

What about medical insurance and checkups?
Emergency insurance is provided for all children through Host Ukraine’s partners. However, this only covers emergencies and accidents. Host families are responsible to provide adequate medical care for any illnesses or needs during the hosting period.

Exploratory checkups are forbidden during the hosting period, by Ukrainian law. You absolutely may not under any circumstances take your child to the doctor for the purpose of testing or exploring your child’s physical, mental, or emotional wellness.

What about car sickness or nausea?
It is extremely common for host children to be unfamiliar with riding long distances in a car. This, combined with anxiety and nerves, can often result in extreme nausea and carsickness.

You can help them relax and adjust by:

  • keeping chewable children’s Dramamine in the glove compartment of your car
  • keeping a small trash can lined with plastic grocery bags in your vehicle, to make any mess easy to clean in case of vomiting
What about dental or vision checkups?
Checkups for dental work or to provide vision glasses is encouraged. Many times your local dentist or optometrist will donate services for exams and sometimes even additional work or glasses and lenses.

Contact info@hostukraine.org to obtain a tax deductible receipt for services rendered by your doctor, optometrist, or dentist.

 

Shopping

How do I shop well for my host child’s wardrobe?
Big American stores can be extremely overwhelming to a foreign child, especially since they may not have had the chance to make many purchase choices in the past. We recommend making a short shopping list and letting your child help choose items from the list. You pick the items, they choose which one fits better or which color/pattern they like.
What’s an ideal wardrobe shopping list?
An ideal minimum shopping list looks something like:

  • underwear (one weeks worth)
  • socks (6 pair)
  • pajamas / long johns for winter layering
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of khakis or other pants
  • 1 sweatpants
  • 1 sweatshirt or polar fleece
  • 1 sweater
  • 4 tees
  • 2 nicer shirts
  • 1 winter coat
  • 1 pair casual shoes
  • 1 pair sports shoes
  • 1 pair boots

Communication

Will my child speak English?
Probably not. If they do, it will be very little, and they will likely be too shy to practice with you for a while. However, don’t assume that just because they don’t speak English, that they can’t understand anything you say.

Never say anything in front of your child that you wouldn’t say if they spoke fluent English. You never know how much they may understand, even if they don’t talk to you freely.

How do we use Google translate effectively?
Keep sentences short and concise.
Use exact, precise words that don’t have multiple meanings in English.
Avoid colloquial expressions that would not have the intended meaning if you looked up the words in a dictionary.

(Example: “stink to high heaven” is a colloquial expression that has nothing to do with heaven, or being high. The simple words “smell very bad” would translate much better.)

If you seem to be having confusion, try copying the translated words and retranslating them back into English to see what is really being said.

Google translate has a verbal recognition software that works excellent for English>Russian and Russian>English. However, the Ukrainian language app does not have the verbal feature.

Eating and Growing

What if my child won’t eat?
It’s completely normal for host children to have very little appetite for the first few days in America. Everything is unfamiliar, including tastes and smells. They are jet lagged, cautious, and on high alert to figure out whether they can trust you.

Keep food available, especially items like a bowl of fruit or other healthy snacks. Typically their appetite will show up after the first few days have passed and they begin to feel comfortable and at ease in your home.

How much will my host child grow?
Probably a lot. Some children have been known to grow as much as an inch in two weeks. Even for the shorter winter hosting season, assume that your child may grow a noticeable amount by the time they leave.
What if my child eats constantly?
Once the nerves have worn off, it’s not unusual for host children to eat almost constantly. Their bodies are often starving for the vitamins and minerals that good nutrition can bring. Combined with the fact that many children have experienced food deprivation and may tend toward hoarding food to guarantee that they have a next meal, it can take some time and loving guidance to stabilize eating habits.