Twice a year (summer and winter), OHHC brings a group of orphaned children to America for 4-5 weeks to live with families and experience life in a loving Christian home. The program's goal is to give orphaned children a chance for a more hopeful future by connecting them with families who will not only love and cherish them during their stay but also care about them after their visit is over.
The children who participate in hosting are between the ages of 7-16, and originate from the countries of Latvia and Ukraine. Open Hearts and Homes for Children works with an in-country partner to designate children who have been given clearance to travel and who may or may not be available for international adoption.
Host families are asked to complete a mini-homestudy, provide background clearances, attend a pre-hosting preparation session, and raise or donate the costs associated with the child's travel. The cost of sponsorship is $2,800 per child (As OHHC is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, all donations are tax deductible). This cost covers the many expenses associated with the child's travel including:
- Airfare for each child
- Transportation to and from the airport from the child's orphanage or foster home
- Luggage fees
- Meals during travel period
- Hotel during travel period
- Chaperones airfare (Approx 1 chaperone per 10 children)
- Children's visas, passports and other government documents required to travel
- Certification and Translation of documents related to travel
- Insurance for medical emergencies
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Open Hearts and Homes for Children (OHHC)?
OHHC consists of local volunteers who have been touched by the plight of children growing up in institutions in Eastern Europe. We volunteer our time so that a group of school-aged orphans may have the opportunity to meet and spend time with loving families, who can change their lives. OHHC provides institutionalized children with a vacation experience to share the love and life of a family, enjoy recreational and cultural activities, and make long term caring relationships.Go to FAQ
What kinds of volunteers are needed?
Volunteers are needed in many areas. These include:
- Host Families: Volunteers who will sponsor and host a child/children in their home for the three-four week visit.
- Publicists: Volunteers in the community to get the word out; putting out flyers, speaking to community groups, soliciting support from local media.
- Fundraisers: Volunteers to solicit donations or coordinate a fundraiser to defray the costs of child sponsorship, or to meet orphanage needs.
- Medical Support: Professionals willing to provide free medical, dental and vision services for the children.
- Translators: People who understand Russian, Ukrainian and Latvian languages and cultures to provide language assistance for host families.
- Special Projects: Volunteers to assist in meet special requests or specific needs that OHHC becomes aware of (example: collection drive for socks, hats, mittens, school supplies, toothbrushes).
What is the role of OHHC?
OHHC volunteers coordinate the children's visits; works with the regional government and orphanage directors in their home countries to obtain permission for the children to visit, obtain necessary background and medical information and arrange for passports, visas and travel for the children and their escorts. Here in the U.S., OHHC works with local volunteers to find host families, provide host family training and support materials, publicize the program and create a network of local resources for host families. OHHC also tries to secure donations to assist with identified orphanage needs.Go to FAQ
How are the children selected to participate in the OHHC hosting program?
The children that come on the program are selected based on recommendations by orphanage directors and facilitators who work with orphanage staff. In addition, our OHHC team travels to Ukraine and Latvia twice a year to build and strengthen our in-country relationships, as well as to personally meet with each child. On occasion a particular child may be recommended to the program without a personal interview, but that is the exception. The children chosen for the program are believed to have the ability to benefit from the vacation experience and to successfully adapt to family life in the United States. A brief description of the child's personal characteristics and medical history is requested from the orphanage staff, yet as a host program, the information is often limited.Go to FAQ
What kind of training and support will host families receive?
- Families will be asked to meet with a social worker and undergo criminal and child abuse record checks.
- Before the children arrive, families are required to attend a host family preparation session. The session will include hosting recommendations by professionals who work with post-institutionalized children, as well as families who have hosted older children.
- Families will be given a Profile of the Older Post-Institutionalized Child, a Child Talk language guide, and a recommended reading list.
- While the children are here, families have access to a social worker and are paired with a "buddy" to help them with should questions arise.