KidsFirst Foundation, Indianapolis, is sponsoring a Ukraine hosting program in collaboration with KidsFirst Adoption Services.

A news release reports, “We are planning to bring 10-15 Ukrainian orphans ages 9-15 to the states from Dec. 15-Jan. 9 to stay with host families. ... This is a great way to incorporate giving into the holiday season and to provide an orphan child the experience of a lifetime! This may be one of the only opportunities for these children to experience what a safe and loving home looks like and to provide exposure to find their forever families.”

Some of the orphans are living with foster families in the Ukraine and others are in a group orphanage.

Adoption caseworker Jillian Price explains, “A few of these children’s parents died and other family weren’t able to care for them or did for as long as they could. Some children’s parents weren’t in a position to parent and chose to relinquish their parental rights, and some were removed by social services for abuse and/or neglect.” They aren’t orphans because of Ukraine’s war with Russia.

To view photos and short biographies of the children foundation members hope to host, persons can go to https://www.kidsfirstadoption.com.

The photos and descriptions tug at your heartstrings.

Natasha, 14, placed third in a recent international biking competition. Ivan, 9, who adores soccer and swimming, would like to be a police officer when he grows up. Sasha, 14, is described by his foster family as “kind, level-headed and quiet.” Lena, 11, plays guitar and loves exploring nature. Ada, 13, dreams of being a doctor and helping people.

Because they may know a few words, but will not be fluent in English, “we have multiple volunteers to interpret, including KidsFirst founder and executive director Inna Pecar, who is from the Ukraine. Inna will be making herself available around the clock for any of the hosting family or children’s needs,” the caseworker says.

Price offers suggestions of great activities for families to do with the children: bowling, museums, swimming, crafts, drawing, painting, cooking, decorating and looking at Christmas lights. “Any shared experience and time spent together will be perfect. Happiness and love are universal and do not require a shared language. The impact is unimaginable and priceless.”

While it’s fine if families have children of similar ages, families with older children or no children are great for hosting as well, according to the caseworker.

There are four ways persons may participate:

• Hosting only

• Sponsoring airfare for a child (about $2,000 per child)

• Donating an airfare portion

• A combination of hosting and donating

Host families must live in Indiana, have at least one family member stay home with the child/children, complete orientation training and have a mini home study provided by KidsFirst, and provide a loving, safe and friendly home environment for the holiday season.

“We hope people will respond,” Pecar says.

She emphasizes, “We do not have any expectation that host families will adopt. This is truly a hosting experience. We’re hoping children will get an experience of spending the holiday in a family environment in a different culture. We expect families to take part in some activities we’ll be doing” in Indianapolis, where persons considering adopting older children could participate.

The time for families to make hosting commitments or donate airfare is now. Price says, “We need to turn in information for hosting families to the Ukraine Nov. 15.”

For more information, persons may call KidsFirst Adoption Services at 317-843-2300 or email Price at jprice@KidsFirstAdoption.com.

Three previous hosting programs involved Russia and Kazakhstan youth, according to Price. “This is the first (with kids) from the Ukraine.” Of organizing past hosting experiences, the director says, “It was the most stressful and the most rewarding thing I ever did.”

Recently Pecar reunited with two 26-year-olds who were adopted when they were 9, one by a host family and the other by a family she met while being hosted. “That just shows the impact.”

She observes, “I think it’s an amazing feeling to take part in something so big when you as a person do something which creates opportunity for a different life for a child who’s an orphan. It’s such an incredibly rewarding feeling to be part of that.”

I honestly feel if we would be able to get this community together and make ... (hosting) happen for these kids, that will be a holiday miracle.”

“We feel it’s just a very unique opportunity to give back.”

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-717-3113.