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Adopted son beats odds in life
By Charlotte Lankard
Alan Parker — 48 years old, intelligent, handsome, loyal friend, thoughtful son, brother, uncle.
Growing up, the odds were not stacked in his favor. Alan was sexually molested as a young boy and raised by two alcoholic parents; both were dead by the time he was 15 years old. There was no extended family to take him in.
He was invited to live with the family of his wrestling coach and finish high school. He went to college wherever he could get scholarships and spent short stints with different families. Alan always lived with the uncertainty of whether or not people really liked and wanted him or they just felt sorry for him.
I met him when he was a 20-year-old student at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee. When I realized he had no place to go on holidays, I took him home with me. He has had a place to come for every holiday and summer vacation since.
When I was 52 and a single woman, I legally adopted Alan, then age 31, and made him officially a part of my family. My daughters, who were both out of the country at that time, sent letters saying, "Welcome to the family,” and close friends sent flowers saying, "Congratulations, it's a boy!”
With the stroke of the judge's pen, Alan went from being alone to having a mother, a grandmother, two sisters, a brother, nieces, nephews and a stepfather, who became one of his staunchest supporters.
When Alan completed his graduate degree in 1998 at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., my daughter Jayna and I went for the ceremonies and hosted a luncheon in his honor. Anytime I visited him at his home, there was always a party where he invited his many friends to meet his mom.
People on the outside would say he had everything going for him, and perhaps he did, but his closest friends and our family knew of the dark places inside him that he hid so well with his good looks, great smile, designer clothes, drugs and alcohol.
Two weeks ago, my sweet son Alan was found dead. We do not yet have the autopsy report, but we do know his addictions surely played a hand in his death. People in the 12-step programs believe that once you are an addict, you stay one the rest of your life.
A fellow AA member of my son, wrote, "People should not take his passing as any sign of personal weakness. No, the fact that Alan squeezed 48 years out of a set of circumstances more difficult than most of us can imagine is in fact a sign of a kind of valor, heroism and love of life.”
In this time of incredible sadness, we grieve, but we also celebrate the years we shared with him and the pride we feel in being his family.
2:00 PM Saturday, October 11, 2008
St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church
7501 Hollywood Boulevard at Gardner
Alan W. Parker, died September 1, 2008 in Santa Monica, California.
Alan was born on August 13, 1960 in Saratoga Springs, New York to Katherine Helen Girard and Ashley William Parker. Both of his parents died when he was a teenager.
He became the legal son of Charlotte Lankard, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on May 1, 1992 at the age of 31. With the adoption decree, he gained not only a mother, but also a grandmother, a stepfather, two sisters, a brother, 4 nieces and 4 nephews.
His birth parents, his stepfather, Fred Lankard, and his adopted grandmother, Mary Perkins, preceded him in death.
Surviving him are his mother, Charlotte Lankard of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; one brother, Bart Weedman and wife Leigh and their children, Jacob and Zachary, of Fort Worth, Texas; two sisters, Jayna Haney and husband Mike and their children, Jessica, Sarah, Erin and Ryan, of Houston, Texas; and Krista Tippett and her children, Aly and Sebastian, of St. Paul, Minnesota.
His “chosen family” also survives Alan. Though not related by blood or by law, he was also cherished by those with whom he shared his life in so many ways. Alan lives on in our hearts and memories.
At the time of his death, Alan was Business Development Director of Op3 – a full service management consulting firm specializing in fundraising and cause-related marketing efforts for non-profit organizations and corporations with a philanthropic interest.
He had also completed a graduate degree at Pepperdine University, Malibu and was a practicing marriage and family therapist.