Bridging Cultures Through Adoption

. December 1, 2017.
Cultural-Connections-findlay

Because they believe that “love has no boundaries,” the Sparks family has grown in size and heart. From a family of four to a family of seven, they’ve been on a journey of strength, grief, hope, healing and, above all, love.

The Sparks Family consists of parents John and Cindy, and their children, Ryan (15), Jenna (13), and three children adopted from China, Hudson (10), Wesley (7) and Elyana (5).

The decision to adopt

Cindy had always felt a pull on her heart to adopt. One day, out of the blue, John asked Cindy and the kids, “What do you think about adopting?”  This moment started their five-year journey. They connected with an international adoption agency and started the long and arduous process. Elyana, who has spina bifida, joined their family first in December 2013, followed by Hudson and Wesley, who were adopted at the same time in November 2015.

First encounters

The entire family traveled to China both times to meet and bring home their new family members. As a mom, Cindy felt overwhelmed by the emotion she experienced when seeing each child face-to-face for the first time. “There’s no other feeling like it,” she explained. “You have such an ache in your heart all those months waiting, and then it’s filled.”

Faith overcomes challenges

Cindy speaks powerfully about how adoption has expanded each family member’s heart and mind. Not an easy road for the family, it’s been fraught with challenges and adjustments. Through it all, Cindy has leaned on her strong faith. She believes that the human heart is resilient, joy follows sorrow and love triumphs all. She’s the special kind of soul who can peel away the layers and see straight to the heart. And what she sees there is always goodness and blessing.

Celebrating culture

To connect their children to Chinese culture, the Sparks family has incorporated new family traditions. Every year they host a Chinese New Year bash. They clean the house from top to bottom, make Chinese lanterns and decorations, prepare traditional foods like dumplings and noodles and give each child a red envelope with money. They also mark each child’s “Gotcha Day”— their day of adoption— with a special party and gifts purchased from China. One day, they plan to journey back to China as a family.

Findlay favorites

Camping, swimming and playing checkers are all simple activities that the Sparks family enjoys. The family loves flavorful food and their favorite Findlay restaurants are Mi Tequila, Cedar Valley Café and Circle of Friends.

Community of Support

Through their adoption journey, the Sparks family has made many new friends, including other families across the U.S. who have adopted from China and Findlay families who have adopted internationally. Cindy is grateful for the many individuals— teachers, language coaches, doctors— who have made a difference in their children’s lives. Today, all three adopted children are thriving. “I would not say that the healing is done, but a peace and calm has come over their hearts,” said Cindy. “They’ve come to give and receive love. They know that families stick together, that families are forever.”

Cultural-Connections-Recipe_150cmyk

Dumplings 

Ingredients:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped Chinese chives
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce (such as Sriracha®)
1 pound ground pork
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons finely chopped Chinese chives
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1tablespoon minced fresh ginger
50 dumpling wrappers
1 cup vegetable oil for frying

Directions:
Combine 1/2 cup soy sauce, rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon chives, sesame seeds, and chile sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
Mix pork, garlic, egg, 2 tablespoons chives, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger in a large bowl until thoroughly combined.
Place a dumpling wrapper on a lightly floured work surface and spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle.
Wet the edge with a little water and crimp together forming small pleats to seal the dumpling.
Repeat with remaining dumpling wrappers and filling.

Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Place 8 to 10 dumplings in the pan and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side.
Pour in 1 cup of water, cover and cook until the dumplings are tender and the pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Repeat for remaining dumplings. Serve with soy sauce mixture for dipping.