Wyo. family adopting kids from within, outside US

By Daniel Mediate

The Sheridan Press

Published: Wednesday, June 29 2011 3:30 p.m. MDT

Paul and Amber Van Dyke take a walk before dinner to see their horses with their children, Grace, 3, and Seth, 4, Wednesday, June 22 in Sheridan, Wyo. The Van Dykes adopted both children at birth and are adopting two more children from Russia through the Wyoming Children’s Society.

The Sheridan Press, Blaine McCartney, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

SHERIDAN, Wyo. — Seth and his little sister, Grace, cruise up and down the dirt road on their blue and pink battery-powered four-wheelers.

Parents Paul and Amber Van Dyke watch them play in the distance, the evening sun beaming across the wooden porch in front of their house, on a ranch nestled at the base of the Bighorn Mountains, near Banner.

Grace pauses, smiling back at her parents with a grin bigger than her body.

The Van Dykes adopted Seth, 4, and Grace, 3, from different regions of the state. They are now preparing to adopt two more, a boy and girl from Russia, through the Wyoming Children's Society. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Wyoming Children's Society, a private, nonprofit, statewide adoption agency, which has found homes for more than 6,000 children.

Seth and Grace play amid the mountain vistas, elegant homestead — rooted in its Western heritage — and the orderly atmosphere, all of which make the ranch home to the Van Dykes. Paul Van Dyke, 33, and Amber Van Dyke, 32, have long marveled at the idea of two new and foreign additions to the family.

"Adoption, it's not cheap," Mrs. Van Dyke says. "It's a step of faith for us."

While foreign adoption fees are significantly higher than the domestic equivalent, many people are finding that adoption outside the United States is the right choice for their family. For the Van Dykes, they chose to do both.

"As Christians, we want to take care of children," Van Dyke says. With two completely foreign counterparts — a boy and a girl from Krasnoyarsk, Russia, soon joining the Van Dyke family — the eagerness is palpable.

"Are you excited to have a little sister?" Mrs. Van Dyke asks Grace.

"Yes," Grace replies, with another huge smile. "I'm going to share my clothes with her," she adds.

These moments serve as moments of grace for a family rooted in faith. In addition to the adoption fees, traveling halfway around the world to bring the children home adds significantly to the overall cost.

"We're excited to have an opportunity to rescue a couple of orphans," Van Dyke says. "To give a couple kids a chance at a life with normalcy and stability in it."

Van Dyke moved to Wyoming from Michigan in the late '90s and owns Van Dyke Saddlery & Stock Horses LLC. His wife hails from the Sheridan area and is a caseworker for the Wyoming Children's Society in Sheridan, Buffalo and Story.

Seth and Grace keep the Van Dyke house full of energy. The two more additions to the family?

"It'll get a little cozier here," Mrs. Van Dyke says with a smile.

The Van Dyke's Russian adoption process started in February, and their first trip, with fingers crossed, will be in August, following their referral from the adoption agency. The couple will spend about two weeks in Russia on their first trip, meeting their new children, but they will have to return stateside without them.

About two months and stacks of paperwork later, the Van Dykes will make a second trip, spending three weeks in Russia and, finally, getting to bring their new son and daughter home to Wyoming.

The Van Dykes requested one child to be under 24 months and the other to be under 12 months, but they're not sure which one will be older.

The couple already has names picked out: The boy will be Asher and the girl will be Faith.

"God is the builder of families," Mrs. Van Dyke says. "He knows these two orphans in Russia are meant to be in our family."

"It's a good feeling that God has led us to do this," her husband adds.

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