Tuesday, June 25, 2013, was truly a day that changed the lives forever of Stephen, Angela and 5-year-old Max Kull of Charleston.

After an 18-month process of filling out papers and undergoing home studies with both local and international agencies, the Kulls met and welcomed into their family a most precious gift — a daughter and sister — named Ellie.

Ellie, who is 28 months old, is from Pattaya, Thailand.

The Kulls’ journey to pick up their little girl began when they left by Amtrak on June 20 to Chicago to catch a plane on June 21 headed for Thailand. After a 19-day trip, the four-member family will return home on July 13.

Stephen and Angela said it had always been their intention to adopt their children. “The question was never ‘if’ but ‘when,’” said Angela.

After struggling with fertility issues early in their marriage, rather than undergoing medical procedures, Angela said they decided they wanted to adopt.

This little journey was not the first experience with adoption for the Charleston couple, as they adopted their son, Max, from Bangkok, Thailand, in October of 2010.

The Kulls have utilized the services of a state adoption agency, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS), and an international adoption agency, New Beginnings (based in New York), for Ellie. They used a different international agency for Max.

Angela said using the state social services agency, which serves children and families of all faiths, races and ethnic backgrounds, has been a huge help as a local resource.

The agency is always available to answer any questions and to get them any documents they need, she said.

When asked why they chose to adopt internationally as opposed to domestically, the couple shared their personal desires.

“For us, we love the country of Thailand. We wanted a child from Thailand. We have friends that are missionaries there,” said Angela.

Stephen said just knowing that they were taking children out of very poor conditions and would be able to provide for them was inspirational.

“It is very much a second-, third- world country,” he said. Most families make $250 per month, and only about 10 percent of the country is considered wealthy, he said.

Stephen added adopting domestically is a good option as well, but there are some state challenges.

By adopting internationally, there is a timeline and at the end of that, it is guaranteed that the adoption will take place and a child will be brought home, he said. With domestic adoptions, that is not always guaranteed, he said.

When the Kulls adopted Max, the entire process took two years from the day they began paperwork until the time he came home.

Both Stephen and Angela agreed that waiting was the hardest part, but it was also easy to forget. “I forgot all about the waiting as soon as I met him in Bangkok,” Angela said.

The couple wants to encourage anyone interested in adoption that while it does take a lot of time, paperwork and expense, the reward at the end is amazing — a child.

There may be a misconception among parents seeking adoption about how difficult it is to adopt. “It really is not that difficult,” she said. “The blessing at the end is remarkable.”

Stephen added that while the waiting is hard, not knowing who the child is can also be difficult. The paperwork is time consuming and can seem overwhelming too.

“It’s not like you are buying a house. You are bringing home a child. It makes it worth it,” he said.

Angela said there is so much support out there with using the agencies as resources for the entire process. She said there’s even financial help as well.

Stephen is the director of planned giving at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. Angela is a part-time nurse at Carle Foundation Hospital. Max, who is a Cardinals fan, said his sister may not learn to play baseball with him, but she just might learn to play softball.

For more information and recent updates on the Kulls’ journey, visit kulladoptionjourney.blogspot.com.

Additional information about domestic adoptions can be found by visiting info@lcfs.org or for international adoptions, visit http://www.new-beginnings.org or call New Beginnings at 516-747-2204.

Contact James at djames@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6866.


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