Journey Through The Parks One Family's Adoption Journey

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

December 3, 2010

Friday’s Latest

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts,Our Journey,Ukraine — Jon @ 10:57 am

Hello, friends!  We had a fun visit with our little guy today.  We are not sure if the caregivers feel sorry for us or think we are less than “bright” but they had pity on us and our same few toys in the hall each day and they gave us 3 new toys to use while we were playing!  It was tons of fun for us.  Little Parks LOVED the one that was a dump truck.  It made plenty of sounds and played music.  It was a shape sorter in which each shape went through the hole in a different part of the truck.  Let me just say, our little guy spent nearly an hour just playing intently and trying to figure out how the shapes got in and how to get them out.  He was very involved in his playing today and was not very interested in much guidance either.  By the end of that little marathon playing time, though, he definitely knew how to get them in, how to take the driver out, and sometimes he remembered how to get the shapes back out again!  It was so wonderful for us to be able to be with him, but mostly for us to watch his little brain working hard and watch him as he kept working to figure it out.  I certainly take for granted how many times I get to see Anna or Ryan work hard at learning something new.  This was the most intense learning we’ve been privileged to watch him do.  He is so adorable about the music.  His caregivers had said through the translator when we first met him, that he loves music.  Today, each time I pressed the music button on the truck, he would begin to sway his little body while he worked on firguring it out.  I also had some fun today with mirroring he moves.  He was playing with a ring from some stacking rings they loaned us, and I copied exactly what he did with the ring.  It only took him an instant to catch on to the fact that I was mirroring him, and he began to laugh out loud each time I did what he did!  He loved it.

We can hardly believe we only got to meet him for the first time one week ago today.  It feels like we have known him forever.  Really, I feel as though I have studied his face, his smile, his mannerisms so much this past week that I could recreate them all in mind simply by closing my eyes.  With that said, we are doing a little countdown each day ( just the two of us) to when we are praying he will be declared our son.  We are down to only three more days of regular visits at the orphanage.  I am already prepared to break down in tears when we actually get to take him away from the orphanage and he gets to be in our care!!!!!  On that note, Jon and I have been selecting a few favorite pictures and few favorite short videos (about 30 sec each) to post and share once he is offically ours.  Just the excitement of choosing them and setting them aside is fun.

We got to spend about 2.5 hours this morning “touring” our region and the sites.  It was incredible the history here as well as the museums.  We have seen several artifacts today during our tour that were older than our entire country!  Even though we are here in winter with snow around and cold weather, our drive stopped and showed us several large fountains that are turned on during the summer months.  I could picture how beautiful this area is during that time.  I am glad we got to tour and that I can honestly tell my son in the future a little more about his hometown.

We also got to talk to our case manager by phone today (from the USA).  She said we have blessed with getting th youngest referral from Ukraine this entire year.  She could not believe we were able to get a referral of such a young son and that things have been moving along so quickly.  She said that we should be so thankful that God has poured his blessing on our case so far.  I whole-heartedly agree, but I thought it was interesting that she would say that to us.  She sees and manages all eastern european adoptions for our agency.  For her to say that made me keenly aware that I am not sure I even realize right now how much God is blessing our process.  What a great reminder–in case I needed another one!

December 2, 2010

Thursday’s Latest

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts,Our Journey,Ukraine — Jon @ 9:17 am

Hello, friends!  First, let me say thank you for all of the wonderful birthday wishes!  It has been unlike any birthday I have ever had!  We did get to visit with our little Parks today for almost three hours.  He was very tired today from the beginning.  It makes me a little sad that we get to see him at a set time each day, regardless of whether or not that is a good time for him to see us on a particular day.  My thoughts today kept thinking about how wonderful it will be when we can actually meet his needs accordingly rather than trying to play with him and keep him awake when he so clearly needs a nap!  I want to be able to let him sleep when he really needs it and play when he is ready.  I did not realize how difficult it would be each day to give him back to the orphanage workers when we leave.  I want to just take him with us and that feeling only gets stronger each day.  He is receiving amazing care in general at the orphanage and especially compared to some other orphanage situations we know about over here, but it is still not a family.  He is still not getting the experience of one mommy and one daddy and one forever family meeting his needs.  I am so thankful he has not gone hungry and seems to get some loving care, but he still gets workers rotating on different shifts and an overcrowded setting.  My motherly instinct is in overdrive and it is a struggle each day as I pray for God to meet his needs while we are apart from him.

Please join us in specific prayer that in court on Tuesday they will waive the 10 day bonding period and will legally decide we can be his parents.  We are so anxious to have him in our care and are praying that God allow the court to decide in our favor and that we can take him out of the orphanage on Tuesday and begin the process of going to Kiev for official requirements and then coming home!   We are earnestly clinging to God and like Jacob when he wresteld with God in Genesis 32:22-31 ( v.26) we are not willing to let go of God until he blesses our court on Tuesday.  We are trusting His provision and His will completely as we continue to stay where He has brought us!

I cannot even put into words in such a brief note all of the lessons God has taught me in the last week and a half.  It is uncanny how much He has opened my eyes and changed my perspective.  My prayer now, is that I will continue to be as changed once I return home and return to some of my comforts and routine.

It has been a fantastic birthday full of adventure, love, mommy moments, and more sweet time with my incredible husband.  I am so blessed!

December 1, 2010

Court News and Other Odds and Ends

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts,Our Journey,Ukraine — Jon @ 2:59 pm

Hello, friends!  Well, we found out today we will have our court date on Tuesday rather than this Friday.Although we are a bit disappointed, we are sure God’s hand has guided this decision.  We are trusting that God knows which judge needs to be presiding, etc… and so Tuesday is for our benefit.  We are now going to take a few excursions on Friday for about 2 hours to tour and see this region a bit.  We hope that will be a great experience we can one day share with our son and tell him how much we enjoyed seeing his hometown.

As for our little guy, he is definitely comfortable with us now.  He loves playing games with us like crawling fast and laughing just waiting for us to stop him from reaching the door. He just giggles and giggles!  We are going to have to be VERY creative in order to keep him entertained and out of trouble the next 5 days while playing with us for 3 hours in the little hallway!

On an adventurous note, we asked our driver to drop us off at a local pizzaria tonight for dinner.  We have been eating in the hotel restaurant and in the local cafeteria where you just point to what you want, so this was going to be a whole new experience.  Of course the entire menu was in russian.  We were told we could call our facilitator and ask her to place our order by phone with our waitress, but she did not answer this time when we called, so we were out of luck with that idea!  We used the roughguide russian phrasebook and were able to order cheese and meat pizza.  We got a delicious chicken and mozzarella pizza that was great!  We were even able to ask for a chocolate dessert!  It was a whole new adventure for us.  We may go back again since we will be here for several more nights.

One other discovery for me–I finally realized why I was waking up in the middle of the night because my hands were asleep.  The mattresses here are much, much,  much firmer than the ones I am used to sleeping on:)  I realized that if I slept at all with my arm under my head, etc… my arm was getting trapped between me and the mattress and the mattress had no “give” in it so my circulation was getting cut off!  At least that solves the mystery and teaches me to sleep completely flat on my back while I am here.  I just thought I would pass along that fact in case anyone encounters something similar in their own future travels.

Have a great night and watch out for sleeping hands,

Melinda

November 30, 2010

Update from Tuesday

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts,Our Journey,Ukraine — Jon @ 12:54 pm

We wanted to send out another quick update!  Our visit today was the best yet.  He smiled when he saw us and engaged in playing with us very quickly.  He also “babbled” much more than any other day–he just says his sounds and looks at us and then smiles.  He and Jon got a little snuggle time today as well.  He is quickly learning how fun and adventurous daddy is as he got flown around the tiny room like an airplane and got several rides on Daddy’s shoulders!  The more comfortable he gets, the more adventurous he gets as well.  We spent much of our visit today chasing him as he crawled toward the door just laughing and looking for Jon to come and grab him and move him away.  He is still not at all sure about being outside.  He acts very differently when we take him outside.  We took him out again today for about 10 minutes and he just looked scared the entire time.  He did not smile and did not seem to enjoy it.  Once we got to the little hallway where we usually play, though, he was all smiles.  He has also “learned” about the few toys we brought.  He can do the stacking with the pots and seems to grow tired of them more quickly…so we introduced an empty water bottle–every child’s dream toy.  Like every other child we know, he loves it!

We signed a few more papers for the lawyer today.  We still do not know anything yet about our court date, but are praying each day that the details fall into place for a Friday court date.  We would love for you to join us in that prayer.

We watched a great teaching today on financial stewardship and it was a good reminder for us.  How blessed we are to be able to be in God’s word and hear sound teaching so far away!  We hope to listen to the sermon from WCRBC sometime tomorrow as well.

Well, we are about to watch our nightly movie here and do some laundry in the sink!  We will update again tomorrow.

November 29, 2010

Latest From the Ukraine!

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts,Our Journey,Ukraine — Jon @ 12:51 pm

We thought we should give the latest from our neck of the woods!  We had another great visit with our little Parks today.  He smiled today when his caregivers brought him out to play with us.  At one point, he also just easily crawled up into my lap!  I was so excited.  He is laughing more and even babblling a bit while he plays with us.  His brain is working so hard each visit, though.  I cannot imagine all the new things he is processing for each 3 hour visit.  Today, 30 minutes before our time with him was up, he just crawled into my lap, sucked his thumb for about 30 seconds, and then fell asleep.  Jon and I looked at each other and thought “Oh, no.  They will not be happy if he sleeps now!”  My heart, however, just wanted to watch him sleeping so peacefully right there in my lap.  The end result, however, was that one of the one of the ladies came out and saw him sleeping and took him to lay him down, which ended our visit about 30 minutes early.  Even though I know for now that was best, I almost cried that we lost the 30 minutes with him today.  I am looking forward to letting him catch a nap on me sometime in the near future when he “officially” becomes our son.

As for other news and notes, I have somewhat successfully done laundry in our bathroom sink, eaten twice now at the local Ukrainian cafeteria, and can very successfully purchase water -no gas- at the supermarket on the first try!  Believe me, after a few unsuccessful purchases of seltzer water, this is quite amazing.

One other unexpected thing is all of the stray dogs here.  They are dogs just wandering around everywhere.  We hear them barking all night and see them wandering around along the streets.  For the first time in my life, I can actually better understand the Lady and the Tramp movie.  I realize that was not set in the Ukraine, but the dog issue must be very similar.

Finally, thanks to all who loaned us some dvd’s.  We have watched one each night so far.  It feels alittle like the movie Groundhog day for us after a few days with the same schedule, scenery, etc… but we are enjoying our nightly date night with a movie each night!

Once we have our court date completed, we will be free to share our exact region, our little guy’s official new name, and even some photos and videos.  Until the court declares him a part of our family, however, we are not able to share those things.  I will at least share that he has bright blue eyes like his big sister.  The two of them will be quite a pair in our family with those crystal clear blue eyes!

November 28, 2010

The Lord is My Shepherd

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts,Our Journey,Ukraine — Jon @ 4:16 am

Psalm 23 is well known.  I can remember memorizing in VBS as a child when I was in second grade.  I remember the craft we did with Psalm 23.  I have heard that Psalm and have “known” most of my life.  Until this week, however, I have never really understood it.  I have not been around sheep and do not have much experience at all with sheep.  From what i have been told, sheep are very dumb.  Lovable, but dumb.  Sheep have no spcial talents ( guarding, herding, tricks, speed, etc) and are dumb and lovable.  I would not have described myself as dumb but lovable until this week.  Throughout the week I have been able to understand much better how much the Lord is my shepherd.  I am in a country where I do not understand the language, am unable to tell anyone where I am staying or how to get back there, am unable to read signs or listen to the PA to understnad which train is my train and where I am to go.  Literally, I am dumb, but lovable, sheep over here.  I have to be led to water, led to food, led to my hotel for rest, led to the orphanage, etc…I am simply following directions and wandering as various wonderful people are leading me everywhere I need to go.  If they leave me, though, I am completely helpless.  How true this is of me in relation to God.  I am completely helpless and need to rely solely on the Lord to lead me on his path.  I am so thankful for realizing how much of a dumb sheep I am.  I just hate that it took another country before I realized it!

November 26, 2010

Latest Update!

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts,Our Journey,Ukraine — Jon @ 1:20 am

We just have a minute for a quick update!  Our appointment went so well yesterday.  We felt God’s complete peace about it all–although quite an experience!  We got last minute permission yesterday to travel instead of having to wait until Monday, so we hopped an overnight train ( 10 hours) to our new city and arrived this morning.  We have a full day of visiting the orphanage, socail worker, notary, etc… but we do at least have internet in our room in our new city.  We are thrilled to meet our little guy (18 months) later today.  We are fine with God making our family a family of five instead of six…for now.

November 24, 2010

Prayer Guide for Our First Week Away

Filed under: Our Journey — Jon @ 12:33 pm

Hello, friends!

Here are some specific daily things we would love for you to pray for us this coming week.  We cannot wait to keep you updated on our adventure.  Only God could send us on this much of an adventure!

November 22—Pray for Anna and Ryan as they transition to staying with the Councilmans while we are gone.  Pray for Ryan to understand what is happening.  Pray for our flights that things will go smoothly as we depart and begin our journey.  Pray for us to be submissive to God’s will throughout this entire trip.

November 23– Pray for our flights as we arrive in Kiev late afternoon Ukraine time.  Pray for our customs in the airport as well as other details to be smooth and safe.  Pray that we would be so full of the Holy Spirit that all those we encounter would sense the spirit in us and seek to know God more.

November 24– Pray for us as we recover from jet lag and prepare for our early morning appointment on Thursday.  Pray for us to have appropriate opportunities to demonstrate or share God’s love in this country.

November 25—Pray for our 9am SDA appointment.  Pray that they will have two children available for us to adopt.  Pray for our first referral to be our children so we do not have to wait and do a second or third referral.  Pray that Serge Zevlever will be our translator for our SDA appointment. Pray that God’s will be done during this phase of our journey.  Pray for the Councilmans and for Anna and Ryan as we celebrate apart from them.

November 26-Pray for us as we travel by car, train, or plane (depending on the region of our orphanage) to meet our children for the first time.  Pray that their hearts will be prepared for a family and they will know we are their parents.  Pray that the children are indeed adoptable without any relatives coming at the last minute to hinder the adoption.  Pray for God to be glorified in all of the little details that unfold each day.  Pray for our unity and protection as well as for our spiritual habits while we are far away.

November 27—Pray that we have good relations with the orphanage workers.  Pray that we are able to shine the love of God in every encounter we have with our children and the other children as well as with the workers, our driver, etc…

November 28- Pray for Jon and I to have unity this entire trip.  Pray for our protection from any wedge Satan might try to drive between us throughout this journey.  Pray for God to be glorified in every human encounter we have each day.

November 29—Pray for Anna and Ryan as they have never been apart from us for longer than a week until this trip.  Pray that they are sure of our return and are a blessing to the Councilmans (especially Mary) during the day instead of a burden!

In Christ,

Melinda

November 15, 2010

We Need Your Prayers

Filed under: Our Journey,Ukraine — Tags: , , , , , , , — Jon @ 4:25 pm

As we shared last Monday, we are very excited that we finally received confirmation of our travel date to the Ukraine to meet with the State Department of Adoption officials. Since then, we’ve been busily making travel arrangements and doing all of the things that have to be done to pick up and fly half-way around the world.  We are excited to let you know that we’re traveling to Ukraine next Monday, Nov. 22.  It will be a long trip to get there, but one we believe well worth it.

With that said, we’ve also learned of some troubling news since that time. It appears that the Ukrainian parliament is considering legislation that would put a moratorium on all adoptions in the Ukraine by countries that do not have a bilateral agreement in place on adoptions. We don’t know the reasoning behind this legislation, but we do know that it has passed its first reading.  It must be read and voted on a second time and ultimately signed into law by their president. You can read the U.S. State Department notice here.

Here’s where we need your help: we need you to pray specifically that God will stop this legislation dead in its tracks or will delay it long enough for us to get to the Ukraine, process our adoption and bring home the children. We know that we serve a mighty and powerful God that is bigger than any scheme of man. If He wants these children to be adopted, we know that it can be worked out. However, we need — we beg you– to please join us in praying for this situation to be resolved. The Ukrainian parliament is meeting this week, so the need for prayer is urgent and pressing right now.

This does not diminish our excitement or deter us in any way. We still believe in God’s call for our family to adopt and we will continue to follow him in obedience. Thank you for standing with us and please– pray right now and every day this week that this legislation is stopped.

Updated: this post was updated at 6:47 p.m. to include the link to the State Department notice

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