Journey Through The Parks One Family's Adoption Journey

July 21, 2010

Called to Adopt?

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts,Thoughts on Adoption,Ukraine — Tags: , , — Melinda @ 7:00 am

Today when reading a facebook post from a friend, I found this link on her wall.  Monroe is in the Ukraine right now…just like our children.  I urge you to prayerfully read his story… 

“Monroe WILL be transferred in just six months time. That’s how long a family has to get to him.  The institution he will be moved to is known to be one of the worst in the country.  There is no way sweet Monroe can survive there.  Absolutely no way.”

To read the whole story from the blog No Greater Joy Mom click here.

July 18, 2010

One Step Closer…

Filed under: Gifts,Melinda's Thoughts,Our Journey — Tags: , , , , , , — Melinda @ 9:57 pm

My thoughts are more focused this week on our children in the Ukraine than in the past few weeks.  This Wed is our goal date for our Lifesong fundraising.  We have been so blessed thus far and are truly humbled by the generosity of close friends and family as well as casual acquaintances.  God has reveled himself and shown that He does in fact own the high heavens, the earth, and everything in it as He has given us some of His earthly money for our adoption.  Again, I say to myself, ” Who am I that anyone would donate so sacrificially in order for us to bring our children home?”  Quickly, though, I realize that I am asking the wrong question altogether.  I should be asking, “God, who am I that you have chosen to reveal yourself in part through my family?”  Then I realize that actually I should not spend my time asking such a question as this but instead should be spending my time praising God for exactly who He is and what He has chosen to do in His perfect timing!

Although this week is exciting for us as we see the balance on Wed from our 6 weeks or so of fundraising and sharing our story (don’t worry, money given to Lifesong on our behalf after Wed still goes to help our adoption:), this is just another summer week for our children.  Their lives have yet to be impacted by anyone’s generosity.  How amazing it will be when one day we sit down and let them know about the many loved ones who gave in order for them to be brought home with us.  I can only imagine that once they understand what God has done, they will be even more humbled and appreciative than we are.

July 12, 2010

Want to Know More About Ukrainian Adoption?

Filed under: Ukraine — Tags: , , , , — Jon @ 1:22 pm

During the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard from two different people about a group that is bringing Ukrainian orphans to the U.S. this summer and is in need of host families.  The group is called “Red Line United” and  here’s a snapshot of what this group is doing:

“In Summer 2010, we will be bringing 10-20 children from Jonkoi orphanage in southern Ukraine to spend three weeks living with families in the Raleigh, NC. These orphans will be ages 9-14, an age where it is difficult to impossible to find adoptive familes. The program’s main goal is to expose children to families that may be interested in adoption, and we need your help to find families!”

If you are at all interested in adoption or if you have a heart for providing three-week foster homes for these children, or if you just want to help this organization in their work, click here to learn more about how you can get involved: http://www.redlineunited.org

As a side note, I recently found a link to a blog run by one of my former high school teachers, Bill Finley, and his wife about their adoption experience.  They adopted a little girl from — you guessed it — the Ukraine!  And what makes it even more special — they adopted after having hosted the girl through a program similar to the Red Line United program.  Here’s a link to their story: http://www.finleylifetothefull.com It is truly amazing what God can do when one family agrees to step up and help make a difference!  Are you being asked to help?  Why not prayerfully ask God to speak to you today about it?

July 6, 2010

In our second trimester … of adoption!

You don’t have to get too far into adoption to find there is no shortage of analogies for the adoption process!  One of the best analogies I have encountered during my adoption reading, preparation, and training is the analogy of a typical pregnancy.  Having been through two typical pregnancies (if you can consider any pregnancy typical!), I found myself instantly connecting with this analogy for the adoption process.  As with any new pregnancy, the initial phase of adoption is chocked full of emotion, excitement, head spinning “what if’s”, and even a bit of a weak stomach. 

The initial phase also includes sharing the news with family and friends and wanting to tell the entire world about your growing family.  For me, the initial phase will usually also include devouring multiple books offering some insight into my growing family (by the way I highly recommend Adopted for Life by Russell Moore for anyone to read-whether or not you are considering adoption–click here to read a great review of this book from my friend, Melissa).  After you get past the first trimester of newness and become more familiar with the idea and reality of your growing family, the second trimester begins.

In our adoption process, we are in the second trimester.  We have about 4-5 months until our family is together and our adoption “pregnancy” is over.  During this second trimester, we are lovingly bombarded with questions about how things are moving along.  I long to be able to offer detailed insight each time I am asked this caring question.  The reality, however, is that we are still waiting and completing some paperwork.  We still do not know yet whether we are having boys or girls or a boy and a girl, we still do not know anymore about our travel plans, and we still have no certainty about the health of our children right now.  Much like with both of my pregnancies, life has a way of continuing with day to day happenings.  Other than a little less sleep and a few more dr. visits, my life has not been dramatically changed in my day to day world…yet. 

Yet…that is my word of hope.  I know the plans God has for my family.  He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us.  I know God has adoption plans for us.  He has plans for our family to grow in a way I still cannot fully imagine.  In the case of adoption, I do not have the constant reminder of a growing belly and a little heartburn, instead I have the burning desire to hold my children, and the faithful trust that God is in control and will allow exactly what He wants to allow as we undergo this process.  Much like with pregnancy, however, I am encouraged by knowing so many have gone this path before and have weathered the process. 

The second trimester is pretty good…feeling energetic…excited about the unknown..nothing new to share…

In my second trimester,  I will continue to get some sleep each night I can, since I hear the plane ride over to Kiev is quite an intensive “labor” without the option of the epidural!

July 5, 2010

Thoughts on July 4th and Adoption

Filed under: Jon's Thoughts — Tags: , , , , , — Jon @ 10:44 pm

July 4th is a wonderful time each year for our family.  We love to do the traditional things like grill out, make a trip to a pool and watch fireworks (lots and lots of fireworks!).  We also like to read through portions of the Declaration of Independence as a reminder of exactly why our nation was created and the principles that are important to us, especially the concept of freedom.

This year, however, I found my typical thoughts about July 4th focusing on what our children in the Ukraine will think about our American holiday once they are Americans.  To recap– when we adopt the children and bring them home with us, the moment they touch down on U.S. soil and pass through customs with their Citizenship and Immigration Service paperwork, they will become Americans– right away!  It’s exciting to know that I will be there at the exact moment that two of my children become American citizens!

So, this year, the children we’re adopting spent July 4th in an orphanage in the Ukraine, totally unaware of what July 4th means to Americans.  And next year, Lord willing, they will be in the United States, they will be Americans and they will be enjoying the holiday that celebrates freedom.  And they will do it while getting used to the idea of what their new country is all about.  Bottom line: even though the last round of fireworks is just about to die out for this year’s July 4th celebration, I’m already excited and looking forward to July 4th 2011!

July 1, 2010

Why I Want to Adopt

Filed under: Jon's Thoughts — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Jon @ 1:22 am

A couple of days ago, you heard from Melinda about “A Mother’s Heart for Adoption.”  Mel’s heart has been very clear and strong from the beginning about how she feels about the adoption and I’m glad she was able to share some of it in the video.  And, in general, I believe that it is a little easier for moms to talk about that subject.  For men, the world tells us that we’re supposed to be “tough, stoic and in control at all times.”  We “can’t be ruled by emotion” because we have to make level-headed decisions.  And like a lot of guys, I fit into that category a lot of times.  Except on this topic.  Don’t get me wrong– I’m not ruled by emotion (and there’s plenty of emotion to go around when you’re in the adoption process).  But I’ve definitely learned how to be attuned to the ways in which God has spoken to my heart about the children that we’ve been called to adopt.

So, you might ask: why do I, Jon Parks, want to adopt?  It’s a fair question.  After all, I’m the father of two wonderful and healthy children and they are definitely a blessing to our family.  I’m married to one of the most beautiful, smart and talented women around.  I’ve got a great job where I get to use my talents to do some fun and (sometimes) amazing things.   I enjoy the company of good friends and family.  So, in the eyes of some, it might seem like trying to adopt sort of flies in the face of all that.  You might even be tempted to think “isn’t bringing in two children that don’t speak our language and don’t know anything about our culture going to wreck all of that?”  Or perhaps something like “what if the adopted children have health issues?  Won’t that take away time, attention and resources from Anna and Ryan?”  It’s OK if you’ve thought that, because honestly, I wondered about some of those same things when we were first called to adoption.  Yeah, that’s right– I’m not perfect.  I was a little hesitant about adoption, too.

You see, when I was growing up, I was a part of a family of four.  My mom, my dad, my sister and me.  Two parents, one boy and one girl.  That seemed “normal” to me.  And in fact, it was quite “normal.”  I have a great family and had one of the most amazing childhoods that anyone could ever ask for.  But the idea that you might have more than two children in a family seemed, well, it seemed a little odd to me.

And then I met Melinda.  Mel had an older brother and an older sister.  As we dated, and later after we were married, we would discuss what would be the “ideal” number of children for us to have.  I would say “two”; Mel would say “three.”  It was a friendly discussion, but I was always convinced that I would win out.  Because you know, from a level-headed perspective, it is just too darn costly to support more than two kids! 🙂

And then we had Anna.  Wow.  Boy did that ever open my world.  For the first time, I saw what it meant to love someone that you didn’t really know much about.  And not just a puppy-love kind of way.  No.  Instead it was in a way that says “I love every single thing about you.  Yes– even when you poop on my hand while I’m changing your diaper!”  I love my little girl and after I learned more about being a daddy, I quickly realized that I wanted as many children as we could possibly have.

And then we had Ryan.  Ryan is a completely different personality.  In fact, he’s more like Melinda.  Very lively, great personality and really likable.  He’s also a lot like a bowling ball.  He’s always rolling around and knocking into things (and then laughing about it in a way that only a two-year old really can!).  My relationship with Ryan is a whole lot more rough and tumble (think one-on-one indoor tackle football) and it is amazing how God uses that to build a strong bond between us.  I truly love my son.

So, fast forward to the Fall of 2009.  I’m driving in my car on my way back to the office and listening to a couple talk about how adopting children transformed their lives.  That’s right– transformed their lives.  Like a lot of people, I bought into the popular belief that the parents were doing this amazing thing to help these poor little children that lived in awful conditions.  Instead, this couple talked about the way that God used the entire adoption process to transform them!  He used it to strengthen their relationship with Him.  He used it to show them how they had been adopted into His eternal family.  He used it to show them that there was much more to life than just going to work, accumulating more “things” and trying to climb the ladder in society to achieve higher levels of success.  Yes– they were going to be able to make a difference in the life of a child, but God was going to make a difference in their lives too.  And that’s where I really came to understand it– answering the call to adopt is about being obedient to the path that God has called you to and letting Him transform you.

So, why do I want to adopt?  It may sound hokey, but I want to adopt because God called me to.  He showed me the wonderful journey that I’ve been on as a father the past few years and how He used that to strengthen my faith in Him, how He made me a better father and how He transformed me as a Husband.  And He has shared with me that adoption is the next part of my journey in life.

Of course, I also want to adopt because He has shown me that there are children in this world that go to be every night and they do not know anyone called “mom” or “dad.”  There are children that, when they are afraid, they do not have anyone to turn to to put their arm around them and hold them to provide comfort.  There are children that do not have much in the way of hope beyond their relatively short time in the orphanage and almost no hope of how to avoid the evils that await them in the world.  There are children that, simply put, will be lost unless someone stands up, steps forward and willingly commits to being their parents.

That’s what I want to do.  That’s why I want to adopt.  I want to stand up and be used by God to make a difference in the lives of others.  Thanks for coming along with us on this journey.  I hope we’ll be able to share more with you about the transformation that is taking place.

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