“Bringing Lyla Home"
Janet Marie Galyen
Award of Outstanding Merit - $1,000
Janet Galyen served in public relations, customer service and political office for the first seven years of her marriage. She recently embraced the new full-time job of motherhood upon the birth of her and her husband Nick's new son. Janet has published devotional articles and writes a weekly newspaper column called Church, State, Life, and Love, for which she has received state awards.
© Reprinted with permission. The Manchester Times; Manchester, TN
The Muslim call to prayer breaks the silence of India’s dawn, and sounds of wailing prayer fill the air. Awakened to another day, a tiny set of eyes peers sleepily beyond the orphanage compound onto the dirt streets below. Little Ami ponders the activity of the busy people that come and go every day. In her four years of life, she’s never left the orphanage to travel those streets. She’s never known the routine of a “regular” life, the kiss of a father, or the soothing words of a mother. This is her normal. It does not occur to her to wish for anything different as the sun rises on another day.
Half-the-world away, Scott and Kelly Parkison are just finishing a typical day of work, phone calls, carpools, laundry, cooking, cleaning, ball games, homework, and dirty diapers. Newly added to this crazy-wonderful routine of their family of six are the final arrangements to fly to India to adopt the child whose face has graced their refrigerator for over two years. They’ve raised tens of thousands of dollars through hundreds of hours of hard work. They’ve prayed, cried, worried and dreamed of the day when God would bless them with a dark-skinned beauty from India. Now… suddenly…the deal is done. After what felt like an impossible wait, it is finally time for this momma and daddy to go get their child!
Scott and Kelly will rescue little Ami. Ami has no idea that her life is about to be changed forever; no idea that a man and a woman from the other side of the earth have been planning to adopt her into their family for a long time.
A 40-hour plane voyage and passage through some of India’s dirtiest and poorest bring the Parkisons surreally to Ami’s orphanage. They are led into a sparse office where the only light is that which streams through the window. They sit and wait for what seems like an eternity, with more joy and more anxiety than words can possibly convey. Then, out of the blue and with an absolute absence of fanfare, Ami toddles in. Kelly’s words capture the moment: “Her entrance shocked me. I guess I had planned this big production in my head. But, I just turned around and there she was…so tiny, so confused, and so very serious. I was in shock. You could tell on her face she was scared and confused. I walked over and knelt down trying to get eye level with her….it was impossible. She was tiny. Scott knelt down beside me and reached up to touch her face. He told her she would never be alone again. It was like when our children were born—a moment I will never forget.”
A solemn little girl, with a lifetime of promise ahead, walked out of the orphanage that day for the first and last time.
The hours that followed were just about as ideal as one could imagine. Little Ami allowed her new parents to shower and delouse her, give her gifts, paint her fingernails, and show her pictures of her new brothers and sister back in America. Kelly put a big, pink flower in her hair and called her by her new name: Lyla. She responded as if it had been her name forever. Though one could only speculate as to what little Lyla had experienced in her first four years of life, she was now completely safe under the watch-care of the man and woman who had chosen to become her mother and father.
The next day, however, painted a less rosy picture. Longing for the familiarity of the life she had always known, Lyla began to weep loud and hard. Scott and Kelly ached to comfort her, but she pushed them away and stared wantingly out the window. In the first words she had spoken since leaving the orphanage, Lyla called out for her orphanage caretaker. She began to remove the new bracelet, headband, and dress that mommy and daddy had given her. She wouldn’t take any of her new toys. Her message was clear: “I don’t want your stuff, I just want to be back to everything I know.”
Heartbroken parents got down on the floor as close as Lyla would allow. They wanted her to know that they were and always would be right there. After nearly 45 minutes of uncontrollable sobbing, Lyla finally leaned into her prayerful new father. The pair set out for a walk while Kelly stayed behind to have her own crying session. Before too long a sleepy little girl returned in the strong arms of her daddy. The worst had come—and gone.
Today the three are safely back in Manchester. Little Lyla Parkison has transitioned amazingly into her new home; joining three brothers and a sister, everyone under the age of seven. Scott calls Lyla a “pistol.” She eats heartily, loves shoes, and is very affectionate. She has even undergone heart surgery to repair a serious heart murmur that was the cause of her tininess.
The Psalmist declared, “Rejoice before him—his name is the LORD. A father to the fatherless….. God sets the lonely in families.” All over the world God is moving his people to adopt the lonely and the fatherless. It is a beautiful thing! Scott says, “I stand amazed at the love of God for a little girl in a land of darkness. His love for her was so great he designed circumstances in his elaborate plan to place her in a home where she will learn the gospel. Kind of reminds me of what God did for me. I was powerless, like a little child, lost in sin. But, he initiated his plan in my life to call me to salvation.”
The Parkison’s adoption of Lyla is a tremendous picture of the adoption that God extends to each one of us through his Son, Jesus. Long before we were ever aware of him, he paid a very high price to rescue us from our loneliness and hopelessness. He thereby adopts us, showers us with gifts, and makes us heirs of all that is his. He loves us even when we, like Lyla, cry for what we want rather than accepting what He knows is best. He gives us a new name and a new heart, and he changes our forever!
Published in the Manchester Times, November 27, 2013 (Manchester, TN)
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