THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) –Thomasville's Open Door Adoption Agency is partnering with a new hosting program to bring international orphans to America.
Open Arms for Children will bring school-aged Ukrainian children to our area with the possibility for adoption.
But first, they need to find host families.
Thomasville's new Open Arms for Children chose Ukraine for its first international hosting program. Host families will choose a child to bring into their home for 5 weeks in December, all without the child knowing there's a potential for adoption.
"They're just on a cultural exchange trip," CEO of Open Door Adoption Walter Gilbert explains. "It creates an opportunity for potential adoptive families to observe the children without the child under pressure or feeling like they're on display."
Mary Beth Goodwin, the Open Arms for Children Hosting Coordinator adds, "We just want them to have an experience where they can just enjoy the holiday season and feel the love of a family. Some of these children may not know what it's like to have anyone care about them."
Although adoption isn't discussed during the child's visit, many families end up going that route, even though the child is not of traditional adoption age.
"Children who are in orphanages who are school-aged obviously don't have the same opportunities to get adopted as some of the younger ones," says Goodwin.
"No one comes to us asking to adopt a 6, 8, 10, 14-year old child. Nobody." Gilbert explains, "But we're finding that 60-75% of the time, they fall in love with the child and want to bring them into their family forever."
Which can alter the life course of these children. Most Ukrainian orphans age out of the system at 15 years old, leaving with no job, life skills, or family for support.
"About 60% of those boys will end up in a life of crime and about 70% of the girls end up in a life of prostitution. So we have to have families to bring these children over," urges Goodwin.
"More importantly, these orphan children need families," adds Gilbert.
Even if it's just for five life-changing weeks.
The process of adopting goes much smoother after the hosting program because most of the paperwork and requirements have already been met.