Humbled…again!

Just recently I got the opportunity to be humbled…again.   God often has a way of humbling me at the most unexpected times and revelaing just how mighty and gracious He is while showing me how far I fall short.  During those times I realize just how wonderful God’s plans are in comparison to anything I could ever design for my life.  I wanted to share one of those times with you, since it relates to our adoption.

I recently got a lovely handwritten letter from this friend who has such a heart for Christ it is a pleasure to be with her.  As with many of us, she stays at home with her children and her family has very little money to spare.  Upon opening the letter, I found a $50 bill along with a note letting me know the money was for our adoption.  I was very grateful and humbled to see such a generous bill.  A few days later I got the chance to thank her and also let her know that we were accepted to begin fundraising support through Lifesong.  I let her know that I would love to offer her the opportunity to give directly to Lifesong and receive a tax deduction for her kind gift.  She simply said, “Thanks, Melinda, but just keep the cash.  You see that was my Christmas money and I felt like God was saying to give it to your family for your adoption.”  With tears in my eyes I quietly thanked her and lifted up a silent prayer to God, thanking Him for allowing me the privilege to humbly receive this sacrificial gift towards our adoption.  All I could think as I walked away was, “how did I spend my Christmas money?”

So … why adopt from Ukraine?

It’s a question we’ve heard quite a bit: why are you adopting from the Ukraine? We’re always glad to talk about it because it is part of our adoption story.  When we first were called to adopt, like most adopting families, we had to make a decision: domestic or international adoption.  While we know that there are many children in the U.S. that need a great family, we really felt led to consider international adoption.  I don’t know how else to say it other than God laid it in our heart to look overseas.

Of course, there are many countries and lots of orphanages to consider when you decide to adopt from another country and it can be a little overwhelming.  In doing our research, we came across resources such as Lifesong for Orphans (watch a great video here about Lifesong & adoption) and Show Hope (Steven Curtis Chapman’s organization) that helped us understand that one of the best things we could do would be to work with an adoption agency that would help us navigate the adoption waters.  After a careful review, we selected Christian World Adoption, which is based in Flat Rock, N.C. and Charleston S.C.  CWA works in specific countries around the world and they can help in identifying the country that is a potential best-fit for your adoption process.  So, initially, we elected to work with … Khazakhstan.  That’s right, Khazakhstan.  You know, that large country just south of Russia!  Yeah– we didn’t know much about it either.  But, we were impressed with their approach to adoption and the condition of their orphanages.  So, we started the process.  But then, we learned that CWA had not received any referrals in Khazakhstan for siblings (if you want to adopt two children, many Eastern European countries require that the children be siblings) in the past eight years of working there.  So, after further consultation with CWA, they advised us to look into their Ukraine program.  And for us, it was immediately a good fit.  There are so many children waiting to be adopted, CWA has processed several “sibling groups” in the recent past and the timetable to adopt from the Ukraine is about 8-10 months (compared to 4 years for China).  So, we decided to change our application from Khazakhstan to Ukraine and we were on our way.

In the months since that decision, we can definitely say that we’ve learned a lot about the Ukraine.  We even followed the presidential elections in the Ukraine (wow, that was different!) to keep tabs on the political climate within the country.  It’s strange how you can become so connected to a place that you’ve never been to.  But, when God tells you that two of your children currently live there, you really want to know all you can about the place where they live.

So, that’s how we came to our decision to adopt from the Ukraine.  We are very excited about travelling there.  And of course, we’re most excited about bringing home our children from there.

One last thing: if you’d like to get a sense of what it is like in a Ukrainian orphanage, watch this brief video.  Warning: you might want to get a tissue; it’s a little tough to watch.

We’re Now on Facebook!

We’ve now setup our Facebook Fan Page and we hope that you’ll consider becoming a fan of our adoption on Facebook.  We know that many of you, like us, are on Facebook and frequently get a lot of your updates over there 🙂  Well, we’re all about finding as many ways possible to get the word out about our adoption so we hope you’ll find us on Facebook and stay up-to-date with us over there as well!  Of course, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to find our fan page, so you can simply click on the logo to the left or you can click here.

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Yesterday, our pastor at Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Bill Bowyer, delivered a sermon on the church’s role in adoption and what God’s word says about adoption.  It was a great sermon (listen to it here) and one that meant a lot to our family as we have explored these topics during the past several months and come to a firm understanding that, as Christians, we are called to care for the orphans and widows.

We’ve talked with Anna and Ryan a lot since November about adoption, our calling to adopt and what it means for our family.  And while Ryan is a little too young at this point to truly be able to understand what adoption is all about, Anna has a firm grasp on it.  In fact, she’s very excited about it — when we first shared with her our decision, her first reaction was “wow! Can we get bunk beds and share a room?”  What a great perspective from a five year old!

So, yesterday afternoon, we took a few minutes to interview Anna on camera about orphans and adoption.  As the old TV show reminded us, Kids Say the Darndest Things! Enjoy!

Anna’s Thoughts on Adoption from Jon Parks on Vimeo.

And We’re Up and Running …

We’re very excited as tonight we’ve officially setup the “JourneyThroughTheParks.com” site.  This site will track the progress of our adoption during the next few months as we work to bring home two children that God has set aside for us to adopt into our family.  We’ll explain more a little later about our adoption process, why we’re adopting, why we’ve called this site “JourneyThroughTheParks.com” and many, many more topics.  Thanks for visiting and we hope to hear from you soon!