It’s been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For one local couple, that single step of faith will take them on journey across the ocean to build the family they have been longing for. Patrick and Suzanne Lambert of Pettisville are many steps into the process to adopt a brother and sister from the country of Ukraine.
This isn’t the first time they embarked upon the journey of parenthood. In 2008, their dreams of becoming parents to triplets ended in a 24 hour time period when Suzanne lost the babies. Then, in 2009, they found themselves anticipating twins. Early on in the pregnancy, they lost the first baby followed by their son dying at 8 months gestation.
“Losing five kids in fifteen month, I couldn’t do this anymore,” Patrick confessed. Out of heartbreak and their desperate need for answers, they channeled their sorrow into helping others and developed a 501C3 stand-alone ministry called Whispers from Heaven. This ministry provides compassion boxes to parents who have lost children through situations like theirs. To date, they have comforted 34 families with these boxes of compassion and hope.
The couple focused their energy on healing and helping others in similar situations. Suzanne shared, “Thoughts of adoption came and went, but we never felt God was on board.” Until one Sunday, they arrived for worship at Pettisville Missionary Church for services. Instead of a message from the pastor, missionary Michelle Maley from Ukraine was the guest speaker. Maley had not originally planned to come to Pettisville but having no other destination for that Sunday, she decided to share her message about her ministry in the Ukrainian orphanages with Pettisville. After the presentation, Patrick made the first move. Suzanne admitted, “I didn’t want to talk to her at first.” After sharing their story with Maley, Patrick also told how he desired to adopt an older boy while Suzanne longed to be the mother of a little girl. The missionary shared of a sibling group considered hard to adopt because of a wide age span-a 15 year old brother and his 5 year old little sister. The similarities were amazing-the boy’s red hair matched Patrick’s, the boy’s love of motorcycles aligned with the couple’s love of motorcycles.
After much thought and prayer, the couple began what is known by adoptive parents as the “paper pregnancy.” Although theirs is considered a private adoption, the couple contacted America World Adoption Agency, a Christian adoption agency, to complete their home study, a required part of every adoption consisting of social work visits and interviews in one’s home. They also began compiling the dossier-a collection of legal documents consisting of marriage and birth certificates, passports, physicals, and fingerprints. They attended cultural training in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hours of paperwork and social worker visits have paid off. The couple is now close to two weeks from having their home study finished and the final meeting to complete paperwork.
Once the paperwork is finished, the adoption process is far from over. Unlike other international countries, Ukraine is the only country where prospective adoptive parents can travel without an identified child and then select a child once in the country by looking through photos of available children. Although the Lamberts do have their prospective children selected, the two kids know nothing about their prospective parents. Ukraine does not allow children to know about their parents until the parents have arrived in the country. The Lamberts hope to travel in early 2014 and will need to stay in the country for a 5-8 week stay. During this time, the Lamberts will meet their children, get to know them, go to court, gather documents, wait, and wait some more before being able to travel to the capital city Kiev for a visit to the US Embassy and court. The couple will spend approximately forty days in the country before the children officially can join them.
Adoption has been described as a journey-one with much waiting. Suzanne describes it as “a scary game that takes you out of your comfort zone.” As the Lamberts wait, they fill their time learning Russian. Taped white notes hang all around their home with Russian words for common items such as TV. They are working with a couple from Wauseon fluent in Russian so that when the children arrive home, the labels will contain both English and Russian words all over their home.
Another way the Lamberts fill their waiting hours is through their love of motorcycles. Belonging to a Christian bikers group-the Black Swamp Sultans, the Lamberts, known as MAD DOG and Baker Chick, have found a source of support and family. Adoption is no small financial undertaking, and the biking community is coming together for their cause. On Saturday, September 21, a Motorcycle Poker Run will begin and end at Sara’s Garden in Wauseon. Despite the name, Suzanne is quick to reassure people that it has nothing to do with gambling. Participants pay $20 for a “hand.” The 83 mile ride, symbolic of the 83 hundred kilometers from Pettisville to Odessa, Ukraine where the orphanage is located, includes checkpoints where poker chips are received. At the end of the ride, those chips are exchanged for cards-your “hand.” Prizes are rewarded for the best hands and even the last place hand.
The couple wants everyone to know that this event isn’t just for bikers. There will be raffle with many items donated by local businesses, a 50/50 drawing, vendors, and a hot meal. Non-bikers may also purchase a “hand.” A kids menu will be provided for a free-will donation. The Lamberts have high hopes of 250 players. The goal is to collect $5,157.65 which symbolizes the 5,157.65 miles to Odessa, Ukraine from Pettisville. All proceeds directly assist adoption expenses.
It takes a community to raise a child and a community to bring these children home. Patrick is appreciative and states, “Within our community we live in and the community we play in-the biking community-people are coming together.”
To be a part of this community through donation or participation, call 419-330-4022 for more information. Anonymous donations can also be given to Dave Burkholder at Sara’s Garden. Every contribution brings them one mile closer to these precious children.
Tammy Allison may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org