Journey Through The Parks One Family's Adoption Journey

December 7, 2011

Reflections on Elliott’s Adoption: One Year Later

Filed under: Jon's Thoughts,Our Journey — Tags: , , , — Jon @ 6:30 am

Today, December 7, 2011 is a special day for the Parks family.  One year ago today, Melinda and I took a short cab ride from our hotel in Ukraine to the orphanage that our newest child, Elliott Peter, had lived in since he arrived there from the hospital as a small baby.  In some ways, it was the end of a big step in our journey that had begun exactly one year and one day before when we officially began our adoption journey.  In other ways, it was merely the start of an incredible time that we wouldn’t trade for anything.  But that wasn’t what was on our minds as we took the ride to the orphanage.  Instead, we were excited.  We were nervous.  We were in awe of how God had been at work during our time in Ukraine.  We were ready to officially get our youngest son!

As we made that drive, I had a million and one thoughts running through my mind.  But one thing in particular stood out.  You see, I was in the delivery room for the birth of Anna and Ryan and I remember what it felt like waiting for them to arrive.  I remember the excitement of the birthing process.  I remember the activity.  I remember the anxiety.  And then, almost in an instant, they were born and I got to witness them taking their first breath.  It was very exciting to me to know that both Anna and Ryan would grow up calling me “daddy.”

Melinda & Elliott at the orphanage

Melinda & Elliott at the orphanage

It was different for Elliott.  I wasn’t there the day he took his first breath.  Unfortunately, we don’t know a lot about that day.  I’m sure there was a lot of anxiety as he was born nearly 2 months early.  However, I will always remember the day Melinda and I were standing in a small room in an orphanage the day after Thanksgiving 2010 waiting for a worker to walk in carrying our new son.  As she entered the room and I saw him for the first time, I knew in an instant that I loved him, just as I had the first time I saw Anna and Ryan.  It may seem strange to say that, but we knew that this was the child God had led us to.  We were ready right then and there to take Elliott home and oh, how our hearts ached each day that we could only go and visit with him for 3 hours, before we had to return him to the arms of the caregiver.  But now, on this day, December 7, 2010, we would welcome him into our arms and we would never, ever have to return him to one of the workers.  This is what we had longed for.  This is what we were ready for.  No longer would Elliott be an orphan.  He was now our son.

On that cold, December morning, as we pulled in through the gates of the orphanage one final time, it seemed as

Ryan, Anna and Elliott at the NC State Fair

Ryan, Anna & Elliott at the NC State Fair in October

through the grey clouds lifted for a short while to signify that it was a new day.  I remember the anticipation we felt as we waited to get the coveted slip of paper that would allow us to officially take Elliott home.  We made our way to the building his group lived in and climbed the stairs one last time.  As we handed the piece of paper to the worker, her eyes grew wide and she became very excited.  She knew that this piece of paper, this one small, simple piece of paper meant that their darling little “Petruccio” (their fun way of saying Petr, his given name) was finally getting his forever family.  He was going home.

The team of caregivers gathered around us as we held Elliott and they were waving, crying and smiling.  This had been the “family” that God placed Elliott in until we could get there.  They were all he knew.  To be certain, they were sad, but they knew that this was what was best for him.  He was now with his “mama” and “papa,” and they told him so.  As we started to head out the door, they were shouting “pica, pica, pica,” which was their way of saying “hello” and “goodbye” to our little guy.  He smiled, but was very comfortable in Melinda’s arms as we made our way downstairs and into the cab.  As we got in the car to drive away, Elliott began to cry.  He’d never been in a car before in his life and I’m sure it was quite scary for him.  But eventually, we were able to soothe him and reassure him to the point that he settled.  From there, we began the journey toward home and all that would be ahead for us as we welcomed him into our family.

Looking back over the past year, we’ve seen so many changes in Elliott from our time in Ukraine.  For a boy that was so small, he’s gotten quite a bit bigger!  He eats just about everything in sight, he loves playing with trucks and occasionally getting into a little mischief.  He’s also built a very

Elliott in his Appalachian State shirt

Elliott proudly wearing his App State shirt!

strong bond with his brother and sister.  Early on, I made up a little song called “The Best of Brothers” to let them know how special it was to have a brother and would sing it to the boys as we put them to bed.  Now, they do all the normal things that brothers do: wrestle, laugh, make strange noises and try their hardest to team up against their sister!

But the most exciting – and revealing – thing, to me, happened fairly recently.  The morning after I returned home from a business trip to Minneapolis, I came downstairs to find Elliott running around and playing an elaborate game of “chase” with Anna.  Elliott saw me and instantly ran over to me to give me a big hug and was shouting “daddy, daddy, daddy!”  In that instant, I knew that this boy, who spent the first 1 1/2 years of his life without a family to call his own, was exactly where he was supposed to be– with his family, in his home, safe, secure and loved.

It’s been an amazing year.  Here’s to many more, my son.  We thank God for bringing you into our lives and we love you!  Happy “gotcha” day!

July 4, 2011

Elliott’s First Ever July 4th Celebration

Filed under: Jon's Thoughts,Thoughts on Adoption — Jon @ 8:15 am

It is amazing what kinds of events can transpire during the course of a single year. At this time last year, my wife, Melinda, and I were in the process of adopting our youngest son, Elliott.  As we marked Independence Day last year, I took a few minutes in a post on our adoption blog to look ahead at what life might be like for our son as this would be the last July 4th he would spend without a family. (clarification: at the time, we did not know if we were adopting 1 or 2 children, and we did not know that Elliott would be the child God had chosen for us; we learned all of that in November once we arrived in Ukraine).

Now, we are celebrating July 4th, 2011 and Elliott has been home with us for a little more than 6 months.  In many ways, it seems as though he has always been in our family, which is a good sign.  But every now and then, Melinda and I think a little about what life was like in Ukraine and how that contrasts with life in the United States.  Our little

Melinda & Elliott at the orphanage

Melinda & Elliott at the orphanage

Elliott, who is really starting to show his personality now, lived in a Soviet-era orphanage, complete with the requisite cinder-block walls and institutional feel.  Elliott was well-loved and cared for there and we will always be grateful to his caretakers for what they did for him during the first months of his life.  But, children aren’t meant to live in orphanages.  They are meant to be a part of families who love them, care for them and provide for them.

On July 4, 2010, Elliott was just another child in a ward of a Ukrainian orphanage without a lot of hope in life.  On July 4, 2011, he is a bright and vibrant child that is excelling in his development, chasing his brother and sister and delighting his parents with his laugh and his wonderful way of saying “helloooo!”

Melinda, Elliott, Ryan & Anna

Melinda, Elliott, Ryan & Anna

To me, this is the quintessential American story.  A child, without family and without hope in his own land, is given a new chance in a new country.  Today, Elliott will join us as we travel to the old State Capitol building in downtown Raleigh.  He will stand with us as we listen to a reading of the Declaration of Independence.  He will hear the music, see the colonial themed costumes and enjoy watching all of the people on the grounds.  He will enjoy his lunch sitting on a blanket on the lawn outside on the Capitol grounds.  He will enjoy eating homemade ice cream with friends.  He will see fireworks for the first time ever as we watch, from a safe distance, in the town of Rolesville.  And he will fall asleep in his own crib, safe and secure.  This year, on Independence Day, Elliott is a little two-year old boy, growing up in America.  Will he know the difference between last year and this year?  Probably not.  But we, his parents, will.  And we are so thankful to have this charming and sweet little boy in our family.

Happy 4th of July everyone!

note: this entry is cross-posted on JonParks.com

January 26, 2011

Wow…a month already!

Filed under: Daily Prayer Request,Home,Melinda's Thoughts — Tags: , , , , , — Melinda @ 9:54 pm

I thought I would try to give a quick update about what’s going on at the Parks’ house.  We have been home a little over a month with Elliott.  We have had many new “adventures” since Elliott joined our family.  The first couple of weeks were extremely hard as we dealt with and worked on several different things:  helping Elliott use sign language at mealtimes instead of screaming through them all, helping Elliott gain comfort with riding in cars, going outside, baths, diaper changes, putting on pjs, and putting on shoes ( instead of screaming through them all!), helping Ryan adjust to sharing a room, helping Ryan learn not to put anything (no matter how kind hearted the intent) in Elliott’s crib with him at night—no books, no wipes, no stuffed animals, etc…, helping Ryan adjust to his nap/rest time being in the bonus room in a special tent while Elliott napped in the boys’ room, and helping Anna adjust to having two younger brothers!

Dr. Karyn Purvis, an expert on adoption issues, bonding, and connecting, encourages new adoptive parents to spend much of the first two months just being with their newest family member as much as possible.  She talks about how infants naturally get the time at home all day with their mommies, especially if nursing, and how children who are adopted can “catch up” on many of the things they missed out on as babies like rocking, being fed, being sung to, etc…  We believe that our family needs a little more time of just being at home (and at the various dr. offices) while we continue to foster some bonding and continue to adjust.  Elliott will be us for the rest of his life and will have lots of opportunities to make friends and get out and about, so we see absolutely no reason to rush these first precious times. 

 I have had several local and far away friends ask about how I am doing since I haven’t been around and have been pretty silent on email, Facebook, and on the phone.  I am doing well!!  I am very busy just meeting and trying to understand the needs of all three children while also maintaining our house (food, laundry, etc…).  I will certainly be ready to return to the fellowship and study at church when we feel like Elliott is ready.  Since a church nursery has many similarities for Elliott to his orphanage setting (lots of children, fewer workers, shared toys, etc…) we do not want to push him into the setting before we think he is ready.  We also cannot predict what behaviors may come out once he is back in that setting again!  Also, we want to strengthen the bond he has with us by us meeting all of his needs including diaper changes and feeding, before someone else meets those needs for him (even if just for an hour or so). 

God has given me such wonderful friends. One friend knows how lonely Sunday mornings can be when everyone is having fellowship at church and you are not able to come Sunday after Sunday and she has come and visited with me and Elliott during one hour of church.  What a blessing to me!  Other friends have continued to email me prayers they have lifted for us during this transition.  Just reading the words of their prayers has encouraged my heart and connected me with them in Christian fellowship.  A few others have come and stayed while Elliott and I visit many of the various doctors all over Raleigh.   So far he has just been to several screenings.  We have seen our ped several times, an orthopedic specialist (we were released from him last week), we have a vision check with a ped ophthalmologist next week as well as a check with an ENT and a visit to the endocrinologist to check for a very low vitamin D level as well as to check a few other things.  After that we will head to a cardiologist to check out the possible heart issue and then on to the neurologist to investigate the medical file stating that one stomach of the brain (a little background…we still have no idea what the Ukrainian drs meant when they were talking about stomachs of the brain, so it will be another new adventure…for the record-we are not at all concerned about Elliott’s health at this point!) was enlarged when Elliott was younger.  I am praying that a month or so from now we will be done with the many dr. offices and will be able to be cleared to just routine visits. 

 We still covet your prayers for Elliott to bond with us as his mommy and daddy and sister and brother.  Also for the wisdom of all of the doctors we will see over the coming months.  Finally, I covet your prayers for Jon and I to continue to grow stronger in or marriage in the midst of the many transitions and challenges we face each day.  My personal prayer is that each morning I will wake up and remember that I need God just as desperately as I did each day while we were in the Ukraine.  I pray that my false sense of control or comfort will not overshadow my real need for a loving God and His grace and provision and wisdom on a daily basis.  God is certainly at work in mighty ways in our family and I want to be sure that I do not miss out on His plans.  While in the Ukraine, Jon and I both read much of the book, Crazy Love by Francis Chan in which he talks about how everyone’s life is really a drama in which God is the main character and we are each only the supporting actors in our own lives.  I want to keep that perspective and make sure I do not miss God at work in my life during these long days and new adventures!

December 17, 2010

Adjusting and Connecting

Filed under: Home,Melinda's Thoughts — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Jon @ 3:01 pm

I realize I never posted that we actually arrived home…but once we were home things got very busy:)  The plane ride home was as you would expect a 9+ hour flight to be with a 17 month old who hardly knows us and who has never exeperienced as much stimulation as three plane rides and busy airports!  We endured it and promised Elliott he did not have to travel on long plane rides again anytime in the near future.  We did get a great USCIS agent in Washington D.C. when Elliott officially became a citizen.  We asked if there was any balloons or confetti and he laughed and said “no” but he would offer Elliott a high five if he didn;t look so darn tired:)

One of the biggest adjustments for me has actually been my lack of time.  Not that I did not expect this to be true, but after spending three weeks with mainly having one 3 hour appointment each day and no other chores or commitments, I have been rudely met with more responsibilities and adjustments than I really anticipated.  I am having to work harder than expected to keep Christ my focus and rely on His strength now that we are home.  I have found myself in constant prayer conversation giving Him praise for the million little blessings all day and asking for wisdom with Elliott, wisdom with Ryan, wisdom with Anna, wisdom…wisdom…wisdom.

Anna and Ryan are a wonderful big brother and big sisiter for Elliott.  They are anxious to help him, teach, him, hug him, etc…  Reconnecting with Anna and Ryan and finding our new rhythm as a family is my biggest priority each day and is a bit of a slow process.  Ryan, especially, is having some trouble reconnecting with me and letting his feelings out from all that has happened for three weeks.  His difficulties remind me how hard it is when I am away from God by not doing my bible study, neglecting my prayer life, or even not listening to praise music.  I am sure God mourns my silence much like I am mourning the struggles Ryan is having to reconnect with me.  The difference, of course, is that Ryan did not choose to be absent from me for three weeks.  When I neglect God, it is my choice whether or not I realize it at the time.

We are adjusting and I have written on my planner the date when we would have been home for 30 days.  I am not going to be too concerned with habits or adjustments until that 30 day mark.  Once we are at 30 days, I can focus on habits or patterns in sleeping, adjusting, attitudes, that may have crept in.  What I mean is, if the boys are waking each other up now while sharing a room, I am not going to think it will be that way forever..If Elliott screams every time he sees a car and thinks he has to get in, I am not going to think it will be that way forever.  I am going to ask for strength for each day and celebrate each day and then look for issues that need addressing after 30 days.  We are ALL adjusting to one another, to sharing rooms, to reconnecting for now.  We are going to hibernate and fall in love as a family again for as long as it takes.  If I seem to have gone silent or have disappeared from events and usual happeneings…you will know why!

December 10, 2010

We Are Ready to Travel for Home!!!

Hello, friends!

We finished up our final paperwork and got Elliott’s travel visa for our return trip home!  All of our requirements are finished.  We are so ready to begin our long flights home.  We are going to head to one final trip to the Ukrainian cafeteria after Elliott finishes his morning nap:)  We are prepareing our suitcases and are going to head to bed early since our driver will be picking us up at 3am to head to the airport.  We are still praying we will not be delayed due to heavy snow in Munich.  We are trusting that God has allowed the weather and He is guiding our steps, so we will certainly be where we need to be tomorrow ( we just pray we are on a plane).  Thinking through logisitics of flying such a long distance with Elliott has been challenging, but we are prepared as we can be with what we have available!

When we touch down in Washington, D.C. we will hand our sealed packet of information to the USCIS officer at the airport, and at that moment, Elliott will officially become a U.S. citizen.  I am sure there won’t be a big fanfare, but we will make our own big fanfare!

Elliott has been a real trouper since we got him Tuesday.  he has had so many “firsts” and has handled it far better than we expected.  I am ready to get back to our home where things are better equipped for a curious, fast crawling little boy!  I will really appreciate so many things when we get home that I had previously taken for granted.  One of those will be a “child-proofed” home!

We do not expect to have any internet access once we leave our apartment in Kiev to go to the airport.  We will have computer access again once we are home.  Please join us in prayer for God to open the door wide for our flights to be on time and for us to arrive home quickly.

Thanks for the prayers for Jon’s eye.  He got to speak with his eye doctor yesterday.  We were able to google the russian alphabet and translate the name of his eye drops ( thank goodness for Proper nouns!) and find the eye drops on a Google search so Jon could tell his eye doctor the name of the drops.  After some back and forth , his doctor was able to let him know he could both drops together.  He also has an eye appointment for Monday afternoon!  He has had some relief from the pain.  His eye is far from healed, but the relief from the extreme discomfort has been a blessing for him today.  We both pray the lengthy time in an airplane does not agitiate again beyond what he can ease with his drops.

With our very late arrival on Saturday night combined with jet lag and logistics for Elliott to sleep, etc…we will not actually see Anna and Ryan until Sunday.  Please be considerate if you happen to see either of them before Sunday and don’t mention our exact arrival day!  We will let them know we are getting in late Saturday, but we will finally get to see them on Sunday! We are ready to begin the process of bonding and adjusting as a family of five.  We have some reconnecting and connecting to do between all of us:)

We are overwhlemed by the connectedness we have felt while here.  We spoke with a few more families today at the Embassy.  One mom thought she would be here for 5-6 weeks and she has been here for a little over 3 months due to various glitches.  She and her three new children fly out for Paris tonight.  It was amazing to hear her story.  We have so much additional insights and blessings from God to share with everyone when we return.  There are so many things that are just too numerous to record each day.  I can say that I feel VERY privileged to have been on this adoption journey and feel so humbled as I have seen our awesome God more this trip than I could ever have imagined.

December 9, 2010

Med Clinic, U.S. Consulate … Busy Day!

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts,Our Journey,Ukraine — Jon @ 10:50 am

Hello, friends!

We have been on-the- go most of the day. It has been a whirlwind of going here and there.  Poor Elliott missed his morning nap today because of our appointments, and it occurred to me that he has never in his little life missed a morning nap!  His caregivers at the orphanage always put the children down for nap in the morning and then again in the afternoon.  I do not think Elliott knew what to make of how tired he was!!

We get to go to the Embassy tomorrow for our interview and for Elliott’s visa.  That is the last os our official appointments before we head out on Saturday morning.

We have been watching CNN World here in our Kiev apartment since that is an english-speaking channel.  They were just reporting on all the snow in Germany and the delayed and cancelled flights.  We are praying that we will not have cancelled flights in Munich and that our delays would be short-lived or not at all.

We met a couple of other families today at our appointments.  After talking with them and hearing their adoption journey here in the Ukraine, we realized again how much God orchestrated the events of our journey in a way that was perfect for our family.    It was so great to talk with them.  First, it was great just to speak english with them!  Secondly, though, it was wonderful to hear how God had worked in their adoption journey in a way they said was perfect for them.  One mom we spent some time talking wth while waiting at the clinic told us how she kept hearing God tell her about snow before they left to come here.  She said she told her friends before she left that she just knew there would be feet upon feet of snow.  When they arrived, however, they meet their new daughter and found out her name in Russian means snow!  The mom started crying about what a confirmation is was for her to know that God had chosen this little girl for their family and He was gracious enough to confirm it with the word snow!  That family is on our same flight from Kiev to Munich, so we get to enjoy talking with them for one more leg of our journey before we part ways.

Please join us in prayer for Jon’s eye.  As some of you know, Jon has been battling a recurring eye infection since July.  It has flared up again and he is in extreme pain.  He brought some prescription eye drops with him, but they do not seem to working this time.  The doctor at the clinic was very concerned about Jon before she examined Elliott and referred him to an opthamologist at the clinic who gave Jon two different prescriptions for his eye.  Our concern is whether he should take these drops in conjunction with the others he is already taken.  For now, he has decided to tough it out, if possible, until we are home.  His eye is somewhat swollen, very irritated, and is interfering with his ability to do any of the required paperwork or even to see to go to the store and get some water for us.  We both feel like his eye issue is spritiual warfare.  We have felt that way since it began in July and kept coming back.  Please pray for God’s healing and for a relief from the pain for Jon.  Also, pray for wisdom in taking the new medications.

We are growing more and more excited and ready to get home the closer it gets.  We cannot wait to get Elliott home and to get our whole family of five together.  We are so ready to hug and kiss Anna and Ryan as well!

Thanks for your prayers.

December 8, 2010

Back in Kiev!!

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts,Our Journey,Ukraine — Jon @ 8:30 am

Thankfully, we all survived the 10 hour overnight train ride back to Kiev last night.  Upon our arrival to our new apartment (you really appreciate traveling light when you move so many times in one trip!), Elliott got a good two hour nap, Jon got a good 1 hour nap, and I got to enjoy the LUXURY of a washing machine and did 2 “loads” of laundry already!!  We got a rare privilege this afternoon for lunch as well.  We got to eat lunch with a precious, beautiful missionary family, the Cliftons.  It was great to talk with their three children and to speak English with all of them!  I even got to enjoy a cheeseburger at the local TGI Fridays!

Elliott seems to be doing well as we learn his eating and sleeping patterns.  He’s tinier than we thought, now that we’ve gotten a good look at him.  We cannot wait to watch his growth take off during the next year.  We have our embassy and med clinic appointments tomorrow and then we return to the embassy on Friday.  We should be traveling home this weekend!  Please continue to join us in prayer over the next few days as we finish up and especially while we travel.  18 hours of travel with a 17-month old is challenging under any circumstances!  That’s all for now.  We’re going to let Elliott take a nap in here where the computer is.  Have a wonderful day!

Melinda, Jon and Elliott Parks

December 7, 2010

Elliott is With Us Now!

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts,Our Journey,Ukraine — Jon @ 7:24 am

What another whirlwind day!  We have been all over this region gathering various documents and signatures!  We got a new official birth certificate for Elliott, closed his bank account, and got his passport.  Elliot took his second car ride ever (his first being from the hospital where he was born to the orphanage.) He was very freaked out about getting in a car, but then he was so fascinated by the sights going by as we were driving, that he forgot how freaked out he was:)  He will experience his first train ride tonight as we go back to Kiev and then he will have his first airplane flight on Saturday…yes, Saturday! We have been cleared to book our return flights for Saturday.  We can hardly believe we  will be home just shy of three weeks after we left.  We really cannot believe that Elliott gets to come home with us.  Only a month ago we were not sure we would even be traveling before Christmas and we thought it was not even a possibility that Elliott would be able to come home with us in only one trip!  God has moved mountains in our lives.

As I type, Elliott is playing with Daddy in our hotel room.  Elliott has already heard Jon talk about the finer points of Eurpeon football as they bonded over some eurosports on the television.  He is a handful in this hotel room, so it is probably a good thing we are going to have an apartment in Kiev…a little less fancy:)  Elliott will enjoy his first dinner outside the orphanage tonight with us before we board our train at 8pm.  I can only imagine the next several days!

We are thrilled to be connected, however, with some local missionaries in Kiev..thanks, Melanie Lenow! We hope to meet with them if time permits!

Hopefully we will have internet in Kiev and we will be ablet o check in as usual.  Please pray for our last leg of travel…that we do not encounter flight cancellations or delays as well as Elliott’s peace and trust that he is safe with us.

Melinda

December 6, 2010

Elliott Peter Parks is Our Son Officially!!

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts,Our Journey,Ukraine — Jon @ 9:34 am

What an amazing afternoon!  I could not possibly explain our court experience here in this note except to say that I have not recently been so imidated in my life.  I kept thinking in my mind about Jesus when he said to Pilate that he has no authority but that which God has given to him.  I kept looking at the judge thinking that he has no authority in our case except that which God has given to him (John 19:11).  God orchestrated events in such a way that our judge today granted an immediate decision for us to be Elliott’s parents.  This was unlike either of my two previous deliveries in which I became a mommy again:)

We do not actually have Elliott tonight.  He will spend his last night in the orphanage tonight completely unaware of what has been decided in his life until we are able to go tomorrow and take him away from the orphanage forever.  Even then, we are not expecting him to be happy about leaving, in fact, we are fully expecting him to be upset when we get in a car and pull away from the only home he has ever known.  We’re completly comfortable with whatever emotion comes out from him because we do know that better things are coming for him in his life.  How true that is in my own life.  I think I know what is best and often for me that means sticking with what I am comfortable with and what I know, when in fact, God sees the full picture of His plan for my life, and I am sure He often is okay with my lack of understanding of His plan, but He does expect me to follow Him.  We are okay with Elliott’s reaction to leaving with us tomorrow, but we do expect him to find security in us…not in the events of his life right now…but in the fact that he trusts us and we are safe for him.  God is safe for me to trust anytime, regardless of what is happening in my life at any given time.

From here, we should be able to wrap up documents tomorrow and head back to Kiev on Tuesday night.  We will have a full day in Kiev with no appointments on Wednesday, and then should have our two appointments in Kiev on Thurdsday and Friday.  For now, we have been told we should be able to begin our flights back home on Saturday.  We will know more tomorrow and will clarify before we book our return flights.  We will likely book those on Wednesday!  My mind is spinning from all that has happened today, so I think I might cut my update a little shorter than usual!  Please give God thanks and glory for how He has worked in our adoption journey today and this entire trip.

One final thought for now…Jon checked and found that we “offically” began our adoption journey by registering with our agency last year on Dec. 9th.  We will be completely done with our process almost a year to the day from when we started…WOW!!!

Melinda

December 4, 2010

Update from Saturday!

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts,Our Journey,Ukraine — Jon @ 9:46 am

Hello!

First, I want to say how wonderful it has been to hear from so many friends about Elliott!  It helps us feel a little more connected–and it is just plain fun to celebrate Elliott with our friends and family!

We had a great visit today.  The weekends are much quieter at the orphanage and we do not have very many workers coming and going through the hallway/mudroom where we play each day.  Elliott was playful and ready to have some fun.  Since the weather has warmed up here a bit, we asked if we could take Elliott outside again, but we were told the doctor said we could not take him outside.  A little disappointing, but we must follow the rules.  They did say we could take him to the music hall to play with him.  We were a little excited for a change of scenery, but the music hall is a larger room that has very dirty and somewhat dangerous floors..not good for a little boy who gets around by crawling everywhere.  We enjoyed the larger space by doing some dancing with Elliott and some flying around the room!  We also got some good airport layover practice by playing with him while sitting in some chairs.  As is the case with any child about his age or younger, the never-ending game of drop the toy from the chair to the floor so mommy or daddy can pick it up was a favorite!!  He did pretty well playing in the chair with us with just a few toys, so I have at least some hope that we might be able to survive the ariport time ( naive hope, but hope none-the-less).  We decided to head back up to the hallway where Elliott could crawl around and we could play with more of the toys. Well, once again by about 2:30 he began to get so sleepy that he nearly fell asleep while I was holding him.  I told him he had to wait about 30 more minutes before falling asleep, but he apparently did not agree:)  Jon and I held hands and said a little prayer with Elliot, for Elliott, and when we were finishing, his eyes were closed and his thumb had dropped out of his mouth.  About that time, however, one of his caregivers came out and brought his food and drink so we could feed him.  We were so thrilled to be able to feed him, but also so conflicted since we knew he was tired!  He did perk up when he saw the food.  It was some sort of meat and rice mixed together into an oatmeal consistency.  He had a bottle of some type of juice as well.  He slowly ate bite after bite.  He was so tired he could hardly chew and swallow, but we were not sure of the expectations or if he would get any food again before tomorrow, so we felt like we had better try to encourage him to stay awake and eat!  It was wonderful to be able to meet his need and get to feed him, but also heartbreaking that he was so tired and really needed rest first before food.  We did tell him that when he was in our care, we would be able to better meet his needs since we would see the full picture of what his needs really are.  Even as it was, he did not finish the entire little cup of food they gave us to give him.  I am praying that his tummy is not hungry tonight and in the morning because of us.

Playing with Elliott in the Music Hall

Playing with Elliott in the Music Hall

I do know, however, that as much as I already love Elliott, I know God loves him more and has taken care of him his entire life.  For months, Jon, Anna, Ryan, and I have been praying that our children in the Ukraine were not scared, were getting loving care, were not going hungry, and were laughing and having some joy each day.  Jon and I talked several days ago about God had answered every one of our prayers!  Elliott does not seem scared at the orphanage, he is not going hungry, he is receiving loving care, and he is getting to laugh and have some joy with his caregivers!  My faith is so small sometimes.  I cannot get my mind around just how much God cares for the fatherless and the least of those on earth.  God will meet Elliott’s needs for us tonight and in the morning.  God may even be preparing Elliott to accept our care more readily when we get to be his sole providers and his forever family.  In much the same way, God provides for me each day.  I am in awe of God’s provision for me the longer I spend here.

Please continue to join us in prayer that the court decision on Tuesday would be favorable and that Elliott would be given to us and in our care by Tuesday night.  Pray  for the legal logistics to go in our favor so we would be able to head back to Kiev for our offical documents, etc…as early as Tuesday night or Wednesday.  Although spending some extra days in this region have given me more experiences to share with Elliott when he grows about his hometown, I am certainly ready to head back to Kiev and be one step closer to heading back home. I cannot wait to hug and kiss my other little ones, Anna and Ryan.  I am also anxious for our new family of five to begin the process of getting to know each other and bonding and adjusting.

One final observation for today..kids are kids no matter the region or language.  Earlier this week after it snowed, Jon and I were headed to a very early dinner and we came upon a handful of middle school girls and boys who gotten off the bus from school and were either waiting to catch the local bus home or waiting to go in and eat.  The boys were boisterous and were all making and throwing snowballs at each other and at the girls.  The girls were all huddled together giggling and making a pitiful attempt to make one snowball and toss it at the boys.  I almost laughed out loud as I realized that God created people who are similar in so many ways…regardless of language, culture, environment, etc…  It was a good reminder to me that every person I see was created especially by God for His glory and for His purposes!

Melinda

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