Friday, October 19, 2007

Ukranian Orphans Get Free Vacation In Utah!

Yesterday evening, 45 orphans from the Ukraine arrived in Salt Lake City, ready for a 3-week vacation.
Created by an organization called the Save A Child Foundation, the program the children are participating in is a sort of foreign exchange program for Ukranian orphans.
Usually, when people come up with the plan to adopt a child from overseas (or from the USA, for that matter) they want a child as young as possible, with five years old being the oldest preferable age. Children ages 6 and older are left to grow up in orphanages.
The Save A Child Foundation wanted a way to bring attention to the older children, and hopefully find families in the USA to adopt them. So they came up with this program. The children are flown to Utah to stay with "host families" for three weeks. The host parents are perspective adoptive parents, but the children are not told about the possibility of adoption ahead of time. Letting them know that they may be adopted in the future by these host families would get the children's hopes up, as well as add tension to the situation as the children would feel like they had to be "auditioning" to be adopted! Instead, the focus is on giving the Ukranian children as many American experiences as possible. In the next three weeks, the children will spend a lot of time doing regular family activities with their host families... something that many of them, having lived in orphanages their whole lives, have not had the chance to do. All of the children and host families will also participate in a wide variety of activities sponsored by the Save A Child Foundation, including a Halloween party, the local zoo, a ranch, and an indoor amusement park.
If the host families and the children bond (which they usually do), after the children go back to the Ukraine, the host parents will begin the process of trying to adopt the children. This procedure becomes a little complicated, as the Save A Child Foundation is not actually an adoption agency. Parents who wish to adopt their special child have to find their own adoption agencies to work with. They usually have to pay about $20,000 for each adoption, as well. But, if all goes well, by this time next year, the children will be with them as permanent members of their families, instead of as exchange students!
While the plan may seem like an ideal way to find homes for some of the Ukraine's many orphans, many people have their doubts. Some critics point out that, even though the experience is supposed to be a cultural exchange, the children inevitably know other kids who have participated in the past and ended up getting adopted by host families. It makes sense that the kids would be expecting to get adopted as well, and if it doesn't happen, their hearts may be broken. Other people are quick to point out that here in the USA we have plenty of children over the age of 6 who are also in need of families. And some families who applied to be host families have said that the Save A Child Foundation wanted $30,000 for the expenses of bringing a child to the USA for the three week visit, above and beyond the $20,000 it would eventually take to adopt the child.
I would be interested in hearing what you readers think about this concept!

1 comment:

Vern Garrett said...

Hi Nicki:

Just a few comments on your article. Your article is fairly accurate. We are aware of the foster children in America, and part of our outreach is to begin helping with them also. The cost for families to participate is $100.00 (one hundred) per child and a $250.00 (two hundred fifty) dollar fee for a mini home study. Those are the total costs to participate. Save a Child is a non profit acting as an advocate for these children. The foundation covers all the costs of flights, in country transportation and expenses. You can learn more about our program at Thank you for your interest, and please let me know if you have questions.

Vern Garrett
Pres. Save a Child