New Horizons for Children increases chances of adoption

HUNTERSVILLE – Tonya Sordi’s parents’ hostile divorce left her absent of a father for most of her childhood and full of feelings of rejection, being unloved and unwanted – feelings similar to what orphans often experience.

Seven years ago, she encountered God’s love for her as his child. During a difficult night, she recalls physically feeling his presence.

“He held me the way a father holds his child,” Sordi said. “I just felt this unbelievable love radiating from him, and I thought that if I could do that for one child, if I could get one child to know his father’s love, his world would be completely changed.”

So when Sordi read in a newspaper about New Horizons for Children – An International Program for Hosting Orphaned Children, the mother of four knew she had to extend love to a child without parents.

About every six months, the organization posts eligible children on its website. Families choose who they want to invite into their home.

When Sordi saw 8-year-old Latvian native Maksims, she knew immediately he was the boy for her family. Without conversing with each other, her husband and 8-year-old son both chose the same boy.

Maksims, along with more than a dozen other Latvian orphans who would be hosted by other families, arrived at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport on June 27 to begin their five-week visit.

“Unbelievable,” Sordi commented on how it was going so far. “He’s so precious … My husband and I looked at each other. It’s blowing our minds.”

It’s the little things, she added, to see him smile and laugh so much.

The Sordi’s took Maksims swimming the second day after his arrival, and he called Sordi “mom” to get her attention before he dove underwater.

“I just was thankful he could show me how long he could stay under water so I could choke back the tears,” Sordi said. “I was so emotional about him calling me mom, so joyful, but at the same time so much pain that it’s so easy (for him) to call somebody else mom and dad.”

Mooresville mother of four Lori Golsch felt similar affection when her host child Artjoms, 13, started to call her “mom” instead of “Lori.”

“How do you ever let go of that?” Golsch said. “We’re dreading that five-week point where we have to send him back. I try not to think about it.”

This is Golsch’s first year to host a child. Like most host families, she doesn’t know much about her child’s story of how he became an orphan.

Without intervention, upon release from the orphanage, 60 percent of girls will end up in prostitution, 70 percent of boys will live on the streets or in jail, and 15 percent will commit suicide within two years, according to the New Horizons’ website.

Host families seek to give orphans an experience of living in a loving family, providing them with hope for their futures.

Golsch said she hopes Artjoms returns to Latvia knowing that people care about him and that he matters.

It’s something that most orphans don’t feel, considering stigmas, Mooresville host mom Dawnmarie Grack explained.

 “If you’re an orphan, people don’t want to hire you because orphans are thieves, orphans are bad people,” Grack said. “Like it’s the kids’ own fault.”

This is the second summer that the Gracks are hosting Markuss, 12.

Richard Grack remembers he and Dawnmarie struggling with the language barrier the first summer, but Markuss and their son, Hugo, 5, connected immediately.

“They would get along and interact like normal brothers,” Richard said. “It was fascinating to watch.”

The two boys talked the family into joining ATA Karate in Mooresville. The Grack’s continued when Markuss returned to Latvia, and now, Richard assists instructing classes and the recently returned Markuss is slated to receive his third belt at the end of July.

It was at those classes that the Gracks met the Gloschs and told Lori Glosch about the New Horizons program.

“It’s a God thing,” Richard said. “I just look at it, Markuss planted a seed here, but then we sort of developed it, and now it’s carried on to the next season … If we sat down at the beginning of the summer and said what this was going to be like, how’s this going to go, we never would have scripted that. It’s truly amazing.”

Though New Horizons is a host-only program, 65 percent of children who are eligible for adoption find homes after being hosted – either by their host families or another family they met during the experience, according to the organization’s website. Those who don’t participate in New Horizons, or a similar program, have less than a 1 percent chance of getting adopted through a traditional process.

Though the Gracks aren’t going the adoption route, at least not now, Markuss has become one of the family.

“He’s our family,” Dawnmarie said of requesting Markuss for a second summer. “He’s not, but he is. We didn’t want anyone else to take him. You can’t have my boy.”

Want to know more?

More information about New Horizons for Children can be found by visiting www.newhorizonsforchildren.org.