MAFB family opens home to Latvian siblings

  • Published
  • By Airman Cortney Hansen
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
(Editor's note: This is part 1 of a 3-part series focused on the Kardoes family's experience hosting two children from Latvia. Part two will focus on how the family is adapting to the exposure of a new culture.)

It's no secret that millions of children are placed in orphanages around the world. Although the circumstances leading each of these children to these living conditions may vary widely, the struggles they face on their journeys are very similar.

For one Air Force Global Strike Command family, this eye-opening statistic hits home - literally. Lt. Col. Michael Kardoes, 40th Helicopter Squadron commander, his wife Nicole, and their three children; Rebecca, 7; Jillian, 9; and Ryan, 11; are opening the doors of their home and sharing their family traditions with two less-fortunate children from the European country of Latvia. Zibela, 9, and her brother Roberts, 4, will be the newest members of the Kardoes family from July 1 through Aug. 3.

"We're hosting these children through [an international hosting] program called New Horizons for Children," Mrs. Kardoes said. "The program's mission is to show [children] an intact, Christian-American home and to broaden their horizons and possibly put them in contact with respective adoptive parents."

Although the NHFC program brings orphaned children from Europe to homes across the United States, the Kardoes family will be the first family in the state of Montana to host children through this program.

"We'd love to maybe do some rafting on the Missouri [River]; things that are easy family outings," Colonel Kardoes said. "Things that aren't too far away but will still give them a taste of Montana."

Zibela and Roberts will not only be the first children to visit Montana through this program, but they will also be exposed to the dynamic lifestyle of a military family. However, they will not be the only ones experiencing new things.

Due to the fact that the children don't speak much English, the family will have to rely on translation programs to communicate with them. Buying and learning how to operate the translation software was only one step in the preparation process for the family.

"We had to do some bedroom rearrangements with our kids to make sure that there are beds/space and everything for them," Mrs. Kardoes said. "We've talked to our kids a lot about being patient and being kind to them and having a little bit of grace. We also bought the translation software for the iPad and rearranged some of our summer plans."

Supporting two more children is a huge task and will require some sacrifices made by this family, but entering into the challenge with great attitudes and the goal of positively changing these children's lives is what's going to make this family's experience all the more worthwhile.

"This is a great opportunity to realize how fortunate we are to live here," Colonel Kardoes said. "We get a lot out of it; we get contact with that different culture/country. That's a great experience in and of itself."