October 30, 2012

Jehovah Jireh

I could write a very long post (or a SERIES of several posts!) about God's provision throughout our adoption process. And I probably will soon, because it's all just too great not to share.

But at the moment, I just have tell a quick little story.

One year ago tomorrow is the day we started this journey. In that year, we've been able to pay cash for every part of the process, without dipping into our emergency fund. We've probably paid slightly over HALF. Nearly everything we've paid for up to this point has been stateside - we've paid almost nothing to China. The remainder of our expenses will be travel costs, food, mandatory $5000 orphanage donation, etc. Basically everything in China.

Since they're telling us we will likely travel in January, that leaves THREE MONTHS to raise about 45% of our expenses. It took 1 year to raise 55%.

We were freaking out about this just a little.

Then the mail came. And our gracious God had sent us a little "note."


If you know of Steven Curtis Chapman, you've probably heard of his adoption ministry, ShowHope.
ShowHope decided to give us a grant for $3000!!

A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!!

To be honest, I haven't even read through all of it yet. I don't know if I need to. The grant and the letter is from ShowHope. But God's message is clear...I know he was saying to us:

"Why do you doubt me? I've brought you this far, and I'll help you finish." 

Thank you, Jehovah-Jireh.

Translated, Jehovah-Jireah it means "the Lord will provide."

I absolutely LOVE the different names of God and how they each show us a different aspect of who He is. He knows exactly what need. Our early travel dates are not a surprise to him! What God calls his people to do, he equips them to accomplish. Over and over through this process we've been continually reminded that our Lord has given us everything we need to complete this work.

Not for our glory, but for HIS.




October 27, 2012

Introducing....

This is the post we weren't sure we'd ever get to write.

And now that we actually CAN, I have to admit, I'm a little nervous about it. Even though a lot of you have seen her picture already because we've chatted face-to-face, it's still a little intimidating to put her out there and officially say, "she's ours."

So, here it goes....

We're very happy to introduce the newest member of our family, Meili Grace!


Isn't she just a little sweetheart?!? We already can't get enough of her :)
(Even with the half buzz-cut, she's totally adorable! Apparently, she had a couple ouchies on her head and I guess it's easier to treat that type of thing if you just shave the hair off! I think some cute hats are in order :) )

Meili Grace is the name that we are choosing to give her. Many parents keep their child's given Chinese name as their middle name. We chose to give her an American name, but came up with one that has some Chinese "flair." Meili is the combination of two Chinese words; Mei (meaning beautiful) and Li (meaning dawn).
It should be pronounced MAY-LEE - to rhyme with Hailey or Kaylee.

This picture above is an updated one that we just received on Thursday. And even though it came in an "update" there was no date with it, so we can't even be sure how recent it is. It's all we've got though, so we're just going to assume it's accurate.

This is the picture we received with our referral paperwork:


Can you see how easy it was for us to fall in love with her?
We *think* she is about 22 months old in this picture.
And if the updated picture is accurate, she'd be about 29 months in that one.

So yes, she's very tiny. Barely on the growth charts for height and not on them at all for weight. But  growth charts are made for kids living in loving family situations, not kids in understaffed orphanages.

As thankful as we were to get our updates and our LOA, both of those things have really caused a lot of emotion. Her update tells us that she's pretty behind developmentally; particularly in speech and gross motor skills. Parent after parent after parent who has "been there, done that" has told me that these kids almost always grow and thrive like crazy once they're home and being given what they need. But it's still very scary. There's absolutely no way for us to tell if that will be the case for her.


So please continue to pray for us, and for Meili. Especially for her health, growth and development. And for us, that the Lord will equip us to handle whatever needs she has, and give us grace and patience to do it in a way that is honoring to Him.

October 26, 2012

BIG news!

Today came as a HUGE surprise.

I received a call at about 11:15 from our China coordinator asking if I had a minute to talk. She seemed very sober so I was a little worried. Considering the issue with our home study addendum, I was expecting the worst.

But, she wasted no time informing me that we received LOA today! This is the piece of paperwork we've been waiting for! It not only means our paperwork was accepted, it means they've reviewed our case, looked at our referral and given us permission to adopt the child we were referred. Prayers answered! Praise God!

Our LOA came in 28 days. That's over a MONTH earlier than we were expecting. Because of this, we were told today we may travel as early as JANUARY!

I'm expecting February. But either way, it's much earlier than we'd planned. That means we have about 3-4 months LESS to raise our travel funds. It's a little stressful, but we're counting on God to provide just as he has done thus far.

AND, that wasn't the only exciting thing that happened in the last 24 hours...

Yesterday, we received an update on Little One, including new pictures :)

Since we got LOA today, that means we can share her publicly VERY soon. And just to keep your curiosity piqued, she's pretty darn cute :)


More soon....

October 19, 2012

A Lamb for Little One

Jon and I have a deal when it comes to adoption process...
He makes the money.
I do the paperwork and research.

Well, he does SOME paperwork and research too. And I make SOME money. But in general, it's definitely my job to filter through the loads of information out there in an attempt to become as prepared as possible for bringing Little One home. And filter I do!!! Loads and loads, hours and hours of researching and filtering. Then filling Jon in on the most important and helpful tidbits of information. Then doing it again and again, over and over. Not that I mind...I love learning everything I possibly can. So I was pretty darn surprised when Jon came up with an idea that not only had I not thought of, but one that I had not even heard of!!.

We often ask God to somehow prepare Little One's heart for becoming part of our family, while wondering what we can do half a world away to help her get to know us.

This is where Lambie comes in.


Jon suggested that we actually sleep with a stuffed animal, so that in a few months when we send Little One a care package, she can have something that smells like us.

Kids who've lived their whole lives in orphanages often have attachment issues. And understandably so. There are just too many kids for the caretakers to meet ALL of their needs, and so they learn not to rely on anyone. Then they get handed off to some complete stranger who looks and smells differently, speaks a foreign language, eats strange food and takes them to a strange place. If something with our scent could help her even the tiniest bit, it would be worth the effort.

We were going to buy something new. Then when I was getting a bag of stuffed animals ready to take to church to donate to kids in Guatemala, I discovered little Lambie.

Our oldest son received him for a baby gift, 8+ years ago.


He was well loved.


Very well loved...


I just couldn't give him away. He's had over eight years to pick up the scent of the Sprang household, and his paws (hooves?!?) stick together because he's a praying lamb. He used to say his own prayer, but unfortunately that part of him doesn't work anymore.

But, Lambie's little praying feet will remind us to pray for Little One every night.


And maybe he can take those prayers to China with him!

October 16, 2012

And we wait...

I should be sweeping my floor right now.

Or organizing. Or cleaning the toilet that needs it OH SO BADLY. Or catching up on emails. Or working on church projects. Or a million other things.

But instead I find myself "accidentally" at my computer to check some one-little-thing and it turns into reading adoption blogs or checking in with my yahoo adoption groups. Or sometimes, occasionally, looking at cute outfits that I might consider taking to China for our new little one. Or trying to figure out what the current average time between LOI (letter of intent) and LOA (letter of acceptance) is.

I think it's safe to say I'm fairly distracted.

We're in wait mode right now. We've sent our LOI for our little sweetheart and are now waiting for our LOA. This step takes anywhere from about 30-150 days, with an average of about 60-70 days. Any way you look at it, it's a good, long while. As much as we'd like to believe that the beautiful little girl in the picture is ours, anything can happen - until we get our LOA. Once we receive that, the chances that we'll be able to bring her home become very, very good.

So many people ask us about the process, where we are, what's next, etc. I happened to run across this little image today and I thought it might help some of you visualize it a bit.


(For us, Homestudy agency and Adoption agency are the same, so those could just be combined.)

Underneath step 7, you could add - 7a. Receive Referral, 7b. Send LOI. Therefore we are currently waiting on STEP 8, if that helps. This particular step is the one that we're expecting to take about 60-70 days to complete, starting last week. So that puts us at about another 53-63 days. Roughly.

So far, this wait has been the hardest. Because if we do not receive LOA, not only will we not be able to adopt our little one, we will not be able to adopt from China at all

I wonder if God is getting tired of me asking for "guidance and patience" yet....

When we DO receive LOA, then the fun begins! We can share all our information about our little one (maybe I'll just call her "Little One" until then), including pictures, and hopefully we'll have some updates on her by then as well.

You can see that there are SEVERAL steps after the one we're waiting for. The time between each of these steps can be weeks. In addition to going through all the paperwork, the mailing time alone really adds up. This is one reason why (if everything goes as planned) we won't be able to bring her home for another 6-8 months. 

We're trying, Little One...we're trying!