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Family Story: A short trip for a lifetime of love

Elan, Erika, and Annalise Parks Erika and Annalise Parks  The Parks family poses for a photo

Last fall, Aaron and Erika Parks of Dothan received news that would change their lives: they were having a girl!

There was just one little difference:  the Parks had waited years to adopt and now they needed to get on a plane to go get their new addition!

So they left their older children in the care of loved ones and headed to snowy Michigan. They knew it wouldn’t be an easy journey because Annalise has several health issues but they were ready to love and hold Annalise.

The first hurdle was getting Annalise strong enough to come home to Alabama. She had been born early at 36 weeks and ultimately spent two months in the NICU in Michigan.

This brought the Parks to their first Ronald McDonald House, this time in Ann Arbor. Erika says that she experienced the same comfort and care there as she has in Birmingham.

“I didn’t really have a jacket that was warm enough for the weather up there but they loaned me one,” she shares as just one of the kindnesses shown to her.

Annalise Parks

Without a car, she says being so close to the hospital and Annalise was a blessing.

Annalise was officially able to come home in December but fell ill just before Christmas. She was so sick that doctors in Dothan sent her to Birmingham by ambulance.

Erika says knowing there was another Ronald McDonald House she could stay at was such a relief.

“When I’m here, I can rest and recharge so I can be at 100% when I’m at the hospital,” she said.

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Erika adds that having meals taken care of, a pantry full of snacks, and play areas for her sons has been a blessing as well.

And the Ronald McDonald House kept her family together through one of the most important times: Christmas.

“We had our family Christmas in one of the dens downstairs,” Erika says.

The Parks siblings smile togetherShe says her boys loved being able to stay at the House too because they love their baby sister so much.

“They’re sad when they’re not able to visit and they fight over giving her attention,” Erika said.

It’s so wonderful to see Annalise and her family can be together. Erika says that her family will be returning to Birmingham and the Ronald McDonald House numerous more times in the coming years because Annalise also has a hole in her heart, a cleft palate and scoliosis.

But thanks to the supporters of RMHCA, the Parks family will never have to worry about where to stay or what to eat. The Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham will be here for them and thousands of other families but we need your support to make that happen! Please consider making a financial donation today or sign up to be a volunteer!