Laura and her host siblings pose with the Estonian flag before going for a canoe ride.

Our New Estonian Family Member

I saw a Facebook post about hosting opportunities in our area. It seemed natural to say, "Yes." We are a foster family, and hosting kiddos is what we do. I reached out, and the process began. 

We were paired quickly with a young lady from Estonia. Our first reaction was, “Yes! It’s really happening!” Our second reaction that came in the same breath was, “Where is Estonia?” We started Googling and reading about the home of our student. 

Our big kids were excited to learn about and welcome a new family member. They quickly started planning her welcome sign for the airport and making lists of what we could share with her about our world. We listed foods, holidays, traditions, and local events. Before long, we had pages of things. It made me very proud as a mom that my kids actually recognized parts of their simple life as special and worthy of being shared. 

When we finally made contact with Laura through email, the questions and planning began. We learned she hadn’t ever had corn on the cob. As Midwesterners, this was inconceivable! Our emails quickly changed into Facebook messages and Snapchat streaks. When we picked her up at the airport, it was like we were picking up a long lost friend. 

Our first weekend together was one adventure after another. Of course, we made corn on the cob and showed her how to shuck and clean it. We went to the grocery store and watched Laura make videos of the produce section. Her mastery of the English language is impressive and her random, “What is the word?” questions make us giggle. 

We helped her sign up for classes and get started on her first day of school. After that, she just meshed. Laura is so outgoing and sweet that the students fell in love with her. She joined the cross country team and has improved her time with each race. She was also voted as the junior class homecoming representative. 

Homecoming has been an adventure, because her school doesn’t have anything like it. After two weeks of talk both at home and school, she’s gotten excited! A dress was chosen, and she was officially asked in true Bismarck fashion with a big sign by a fellow cross country runner. 

Our family has truly grown from this experience and will continue over the coming months. Our oldest daughter and son have already said they don’t ever want her to leave. A piece of our heart is now Estonian. 

—Stacy Pickett (IL), host mom of Laura (FLEX, Estonia)