Kardoes family says goodbye

  • Published
  • By Airman Cortney Paxton
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
(Editor's Note: This is part 3 of a 3-part series focused on the Kardoes family's experience hosting two children from Latvia.)

Although goodbye was inevitable, it was unexpectedly hard for the Kardoes family. Aug. 3 was the day Air Force Global Strike Command's 40th Helicopter Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Michael Kardoes, his wife, Nicole; and three children, Ryan, 12; Jillian, 10; and Rebecca, 7; said goodbye to the two Latvian children they had opened their home, and eventually their hearts to.

"It was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life," Nicole said. "For a few days after they left, there were a lot of tears in our house."

The Kardoes family hosted two of the 202 children that came to the U.S. through the New Horizons for Children program. They had contact with many other families hosting children during the process and realized that the experiences each family had varied as much as the children did.

"Even though some [kids] are from orphanages, some are from foster homes, some are from the Ukraine and some are from Latvia, there have been absolutely outstanding experiences and there have been some really horrific ones and everything in between," Nicole said. "I think, as we're learning more of other people's hosting situations, ours was more on the better end of how it went."

The family said they received great support from the base; whether it was the youth programs staff enrolling Zibela into archery camp, the lifeguards providing her swimming lessons, or the dental clinic and flight docs taking the time to check on the children, the Malmstrom community was a big part of their success.

"The [Medical] Group supported, the Support Group supported - just a lot of making sure they were able to participate in things on base was very helpful," Kardoes said. "They got to go to the multicultural fair; they got to see a lot of things so that was nice."

Seeing new things and learning new things was what the Kardoes family had the chance to experience through this hosting program. They would recommend the program to anyone and are willing to answer any questions regarding their experience or the program itself.

"There are a lot of things you have to figure out about yourself and your family while you're doing it," Kardoes said. "But it's definitely a growing experience."

Zibela and Roberts left Malmstrom Air Force Base and eventually the United States, but the part of them they left with the Kardoes family is undeniably the biggest.

"They really are kids who just want to be loved and part of a family," Nicole said. "I think that was pretty evident."