22. ADOPTION IN UKRAINE FULFILLS COUPLE’S CHRISTMAS WISH

Their third adopted child from Ukraine, all three have cerebral palsy

By Todd G. Higdon, Neosho Daily News Staff Writer
Neosho, Missouri, Saturday, December 24, 2005

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – “We feel like we got what we wanted.” That phrase is
ringing in the home of the Jimmie and Amanda Clark family as they received a
Christmas gift a month early – a third child.

Amanda, who is originally from Neosho, and Jimmie, originally from Carl
Junction, have been married for seven years. Amanda’s parents are Jim and
Marcy Crawmer of Neosho and Jimmie’s parents are Jim and Virginia Clark
of Carl Junction.

The Clarks traveled to the Ukraine to adopt a little girl, Elena “Lena,” 5,
from the Antoshka Baby Orphanage in Kramatorsk, Ukraine. The couple
made the trek in late October and was there for 28 days during the adoption
process.

“We got permission to see her in the orphanage 10 days prior to going to
court to adopt her,” said Amanda, in a recent telephone interview with the
Neosho Daily News. “The first time that we saw her in person, Lena told the
staff ‘this is my mama and my papa, they have come for me.’ ” According to
Amanda, those first words that Lena spoke made the couple feel really good.

This was not the first time that the couple has adopted children: they have
two sons also from the Ukraine. “We have always wanted children,” Amanda
said in a previous interview with the Daily News. “But due to medical
problems, my doctor advised us not to have children.” Then looking on the
Internet one day, the couple found the Web site of Cathy Harris from Florida
who has “found homes for more than 1,000 children from the Ukraine.”

“We wanted to adopt,” added Jimmie. So with paperwork and donating
$5,000 for the process the couple trekked to the Ukraine back in 2002 to
adopt Dimitri “Dima” (now 6) and Aleksei (now 5). Lena, like her brothers,
has cerebral palsy. She currently does not walk, but with time, the couple
is eager that she will walk.

However, the couple decided this time to go on their own in the adoption
process. Fundraising attempts, private donations and three churches raised
$16,000 (including a large portion of donations coming from Neosho) was
raised for the adoption. Not only did they get donations from local people,
but from people all across the United States.

According Amanda, the article which appeared in the Daily News back in
August was picked up by a Ukrainian news source and in return, people in
the United States donated to the cause. They also contacted the
Life2Orphans Web site, where the orphanage is listed.

While in the Ukraine, their two sons stayed in the United States with family
and friends.

According to the couple, the boys are elated on having a sister. Then when
they got back to the United States and with Christmas coming about, they
made preparations for her first Christmas. The family has decorated their
Christmas Tree and the couple has taken their children to see Santa Claus.

“At first, she (Lena) called Santa Claus ‘grandpa’ in Russian,” Amanda said.
“Lena speaks Russian, but is learning English in her kindergarten class.”
While visiting Santa, the boys told Santa what they wanted for Christmas.
Dimitri wants a race track and a snow shovel.

“He wants a snow shovel to help his dad shovel all of the snow that we will
have,” Amanda said with a laugh. Aleksei would also like to get a race track
similar to his brother’s and a robot. “Aleksei loves robots,” added Amanda.
For Lena, she loves clothing, toys and according to her parents, “loves to
unwrap them.”

Taking in more of the American entertainment scene, recently the family
watched the hit movie “The Polar Express.” “That was the first film that we
as a family watched together,” Amanda said. “We loved it…it is an amazing
movie.”

Now as the Clarks’ wake up on Christmas morning, thoughts run through
their heads. “We feel extremely blessed, we are whole now,” said Amanda.


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