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May 5, 2003





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ROMANIAN orphan Jonathan Valentin plays with his adptive mother Kim Raunikar. (Russ Dilday/Buckner Photos)

BUCKNER ADOPTION
Three of hearts
___By Russ Dilday
___Buckner News Service
___HOUSTON--Three years ago, Kim Rauniker and her husband, Don, struggled with their desire to have children and their experience with infertility.
___"We decided that at age 40, we didn't have a lot of time to waste," she explained.
___Mrs. Raunikar wrote a poem to express her burning passion to be a mother and the pain she felt during that long struggle: "I have nurtured a few pets, A dog and 3 cats, But it does not com
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KIM and Don Raunikar of Houston believe God has answered their prayers for a child through the life of Jonathan Valentin, whom they adopted from Romania through Buckner International Adoption. (Russ Dilday/Buckner Photos)
pare To the nurturing love I dream, Of a mother with her babe."
___She continued: "Oh God, hear my plea, And take this pain of grief from me. I have so much to give From deep inside of me. Now I ask of you, Where do I spend my talents?"
___God's answer, she believes, came to the couple two years ago in the form of the child they adopted from Romania through Buckner International Adoptions. Vale (pronounced VAH-lee), now 3, was the first Romanian adoption facilitated by Buckner and remains the only Romanian child to be adopted through Buckner to date. More than a year ago, the Romanian government shut down their international adoption system to reorganize it.
___The Raunikars are members of First Baptist Church of Houston. Many know him as a Christian counselor and psychotherapist, director of Wellspring Christian Counseling of Houston and author of "Choosing God's Best," a courting and marriage guide for singles. After 13 years in the computer software industry, Mrs. Raunikar now is a full-time mom.
___Their journey into parenting began as the couple prayed to seek God's will for a child in their lives. God's answer, they believe, was adoption.
___"As Christians, we really believe that God wanted us to raise children for his purpose," she said. "We just always felt like we were destined to have children. We were kind of clueless as to why we couldn't--but we couldn't.
___"When we thought about adoption, we came to the point where we wanted to give a child who doesn't have hope, hope in this world," she said. "We wanted to give a child who doesn't have parents, parents and the life of a Christian so that they can know God."
___But where to start in the adoption process? Like many, they went to a familiar information source.
___"I opened up the Yellow Pages and picked Buckner," she said. "Actually I picked three, but the only (one) who answered the phone was Buckner."
___After a telephone conversation with international adoption receptionist Jean Barnes, "I was hooked," she recalled. "I had to convince my husband after that."
___He was not gung-ho initially, he admitted. "I had always believed that God would give me biological children and being a Christian counselor relied on my ability to hear God's voice. If I can't hear God's voice, I'm out of business, so I went through some intense spiritual struggles through that and asking, 'Did I miss God's voice?' That was the first step."
___But God's voice assured them adoption was the way as they stepped through the orientations and background processes to bring them closer to adopting a child.
___The orientation provided a clarity of purpose, he reported. "It helped me see that adoption is not a self-serving way of meeting your own needs of a baby but to provide a hope and a future for a child who has none."
___The couple moved from the unknown to the known Feb. 14, 2000.
___"Right after we submitted our application, I just felt like the Lord was telling me that I needed to start a journal," she said. "And so I started this journal, and I wrote down this verse from
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Isaiah 49:16 that says (God) writes our names on the palm of his hand. And so I just knew that Feb. 14 was significant in his life."
___The significance of that Valentine's Day date became clear to the Raunikars by August. "When Jean called me and said, 'We have a little boy in Romania for you,' I asked her to look at the records and see if there was anything significant about Feb. 14. I felt like the Lord just placed that on my heart. She said, 'No, there's nothing in the records.' So I asked, 'What is his name?'"
___Barnes paused on the other end of the line. "'Kim, his name is Valentin.'"
___Although the couple experienced nine months of delays as the process was completed and the Romanian authorities did not recognize a power of attorney for Don, who has muscular dystrophy and could not travel to appear at the adoption, "I knew in my heart that this was our child and I wasn't concerned about the wait," she said.
___March 26 marked the Raunikars' second year as a family of three. Valentin is a bright 3-year-old whose vocabulary may be a year ahead of others his age. He can recite the Lord's Prayer and other Scripture. He's musically talented, said his dad, who holds a degree in voice, as well as "rough and tough."
___But that's not all that makes him special, Mrs. Raunikar said. "The daughter of his Romanian foster mother told us Vale is marked by God.
___"When I met him for the first time in their apartment, I could see that he wasn't a child that was developmentally slowed or delayed. He was very bright. We had been prepared to have a child out of an institution that was developmentally delayed. And so I asked why this child is so gregarious and smart. And that's when Viktoria said, 'I've always believed this child was marked by God.'"
___He's also a fulfillment of a dream for his parents. "I feel like God has given us a gift. Jonathan is his American name that we gave him, which means 'God's gift,' and we kept Valentin. He's Jonathan Valentin."
___The Raunikars are "praying Vale's going to be a kingdom changer, the child's father said.
___"I believe successful parenthood is allowing your child to grow past what you've become. I've been on the board of Lifehouse (a Christian home in Houston for young women in crisis pregnancy), written a book, taught Youth With a Mission seminars and done mission work. I think he'll exceed those things. I think he will outgrow us emotionally and spiritually and physically, be a better parent, be a better a father and be a better servant of God."
___Raunikar also looks forward to the day Vale will "go back to his biological mother in Romania, show her what kind of man he's become and know the joy she's going to have that she made the right choice."
___

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