Journey Through The Parks One Family's Adoption Journey

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.

August 17, 2010

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

Filed under: Melinda's Thoughts — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Melinda @ 7:30 am

I have realized the more I follow some truly well-written blogs, the more I want to just direct my friends and family to them!  It isn’t that I do not feel like God has given me a voice of my own, I just sometimes feel like redirecting my own friends and family is the best option.  Let me now redirect you…Jon had an influential mentor with Young Life in high school named Mr. Finley.  Through a series of God orchestrated events, he has caught back up with Mr. Finley and his entire family online recently.  Interestingly enough, the Finleys adopted a daughter from the Ukraine last year.  Mr. Finley’s wife is a wonderful blogger, speaker, and writer who keeps a fantastic blog.  I encourage you to check it out at http://www.finleylifetothefull.com/ 

Back in May, Cindy Finley wrote a post about supporting adoptive families during the adoption process.  I encourage you to click here and read the entire post.  The meat of her advice was to pray, encourage, and serve them because adoption is hard.  I could not agree any more with her advice and her post!  Please read it and take an active role in caring for the orphans.  If you are interested, in addition to our own adoption process, I can tell you about several families who are currently oversees adopting or who are, like us, knee deep in paperwork and waiting. 

We are realizing first hand the paperwork hoops required.  Each time we think we have correctly completed a document, we find out there is a glitch.  Although this can be discouraging to us, we realize that the paperwork is just a minor, albeit important, hurdle to be taken conquered in order to bring home our children from the Ukraine…and we are willing to face any necessary hurdle for our children.

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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