Thursday, August 29, 2013

This is as official as it gets until I am IN CHINA!!!

Arrived via FED EX this morning!!!It contained...

Our official "hard copy" of our Referral Approval letter from China!

This letter is also known as LOA to more experienced China adoption saavy folks, but I am told that R A ( Referral Approval ) is the same thing or is "the new LOA"
                                                                   IN ANY EVENT,
                                                                WE  HAVE IT!!!!!!!!
And in related news, the USCIS agent who is wonderfully expediting our file for us not only emailed me yesterday to tell me she had our file and was beginning to process it!! JUST NOW she called to ask for several documents that she needed to complete the process!!!
My visa application is at  the Chinese Consulate, the travel experts are working on an itinerary, China will assign our  Civil Affairs appointment for the week of September 9 and THAT, dear friends is THE DAY that Dang Meng Meng becomes LEVI MATTHEW SMITH, former orphan, and forever legally a member of a family, our family! He is already bound to us  by "heart strings" but on that critical  day the heart strings gain   legal strength! The US Embassy business will happen after that, but its the Chinese date which is so important ! Be it hours or days before his 14th birthday, the Chinese documents MUST be signed off on when he is still 13. Unlike Cambodia where the "referral" or match had to be made before the child's 8th birthday for that child to be eligible for adoption, and the process could continue after that as long as need be,  in China everything must be COMPLETED by the child's 14th birthday, with no exceptions
Our Reece's Rainbow Support account has been set up for a few weeks and we are SO grateful to anyone who has contributed to .Levi's adoption fund but we are in the home stretch now!! I will be traveling on about September 6 or 7. If you'd like to help us with the travel expense portion of this wonderful journey, you just need to click on "donate." 
 T  H  A  T
  would be of even more value and worth in the Big Picture!!  There will be lots of adjustments for our whole family as we prepare to and as we welcome Levi home. We have not adopted in quite a in-love sons and daughters have come into our family by marriage, and we have added several babies but adding an older child, especially one who speaks no English and has some physical limitations for now....................this is huge for every family member, not just Levi, , and his adjustments will be even more than enormous!!!!!!!!!!!  WE ALL covet your prayers for smooth transition and adjustment, for patience in communicating, quick understanding of English for Levi and  of Mandarin for us, that we would choose to love freely and to reach out with "abandon" to let Levi know he IS loved and IS  family. Please pray that in all we say and do we show Jesus' love and His Plan for Levi so that he will soon come to know Jesus as his personal Savior?
 An internet friend who has spent several summers working at Levi's orphanage told me that when the staff told Meng Meng that a family had started the paperwork to adopt him, he was overjoyed. He didn't think a family would adopt............him.............. Yet he wasn't nervous, just excited. He loves to sing and he told our friend that he was trying to decide what song to song for me when I came!!!  For me, what song to sing to HIM was already determined:  "THE Song," my other kids call it; it  is "Masterpiece" and its been my lullaby , my song of dedication graduation and wedding blessing, since I first learned it in the late 80's. I've sung it in the US, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand while completing Leah and Rachel's adoptions, in Liberia over Junior and Diamoh and over Daniel there and  here at home.
We have much to do to ready the room Levi will be sharing with Isaiah, shop and pack for him to leave China and come home, I have a LOT TO DO TO GET READY on every level!!! I am praying for peace and calm in my spirit to reign and prevail where frustration and short "tempered-ness" could so easily sneak in. For this too, I covet your prayers!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hannah's Graduation from OSU

 Isaiah, Esther, Isaac, Jael, LINDA,Daniel, Hannah, Kari, Rachel, PAPA CHARLIE,Leah,Malachi, Naomi, Noah and Gideon 

Now add spouses, significant others and Grand babies ( where Isiah disappeared to I  do not know) ADD Casey and Logan, add Trace, Add Mady and  Charlie,(Blake was already booked too)   (Camille was sleeping so she's missing, her older 3 sibs couldn 't come), add Sopheak and Enoch ! Getting all these people to smile and not talk , all at the same time was hard work!

From Hannah's graduation from  OSU this past May, the sibs, the sibs with spouses/significant other and grand babies, missing Caleb  and family and Joshua and family but they were in our hearts and minds as we celebrated!  There are no words to describe how precious this family is to me; I am so blessed! What a special occasion this was : our first to graduate from college ! Hannah had asked for a crawfish boil for ages as a graduation party so off to Texas the Daddy went to get crawfish for The Event. We never dreamed it would be so cold in May and that our party would be moved indoors and next to a blazing wood stove  but that was how the day went. AND YES YES YES A GRAND TIME WAS HAD BY ALL!

                                                  DIPLOMA TIME!!!!!
                                              Riley Kay, Future OSU Grad maybe Class of 33?

                                          Crawfsh make folks get a bit crazy!! Son in love Casey and  Malachi     here
                                            YES  we   talk to our food!!!
                                         And we play with our food too!! Here you see live, creepy crawly
                                           "mud  bugs" waiting  for the boiling pot and then you see the
                                           cooked ones ready to peel and eat!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

YES WE ARE .................. Past PA, past DTC and today we are LID! Waiting for RA!

LOL! Abbreviations! I thought the military had a lot but learning how to do a China adoption comes along with a whole set of unique abbreviations for the various stages in that process. I used to laugh at them in confusion when it was someone else's adoption. Today I am laughing in delight!
PA =Preapproval... ones application was sent electronically to China and the family tentatively pre-approved. There are numerous other paper-heavy steps before   sending a dossier and being  DTC , which = Dossier to China.  The next step is that dossier traveling by Fed Ex to China and being LID = Logged in  Dossier.  The next step, for which we are waiting is RA = Referral Approval. THAT step says YES we will be most certainly  traveling and then will come  scheduling   CA  =Consulate Appointment and  and TA which =Travel approval but   I am not sure in  which order those occur.

I saw this photo on another website last night and it thrilled my heart  to see our Levi Matthew, with a friend , being rejoiced over because he HAS A FAMILY ( smiles,  BIG smiles!) and continuing to pray for him and for us!  Won't you all pray along with us too, that all of the next steps fall into place  in the most expeditious time frame possible? Please pray that all of our expenses are covered and that when I travel, with whomever i am able to take, that we have traveling mercies and that the family at home have Staying Mercies?  We appreciate your prayers so very much!!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Now you will be all caught up!!

WHEW! Our dossier is in China, waiting to be logged in and the next steps taken with the Chinese authority to move our adoption forward, our I-800 (US authorization/permission to adopt document, second step)  has been filed and is being processed, our DS230( Immigrant visa application) is on its way to the US Consulate in China for our son's visa !! The next steps (after some fund raising )  are travel planning steps , I THINK!!!!!! All the copies of documents are in their appropriate file folders, the extra copes we do not need have been disposed of. There is room for more than just one human on the love seat again!
In other news, BOTH Noah and Isaac have after school  jobs, Isaac has been driving for a while now and both Noah and Leah have their learners permits and will be able to get their licenses in January.  Leah has had a job for quite a while kiddos are really growing up!! Naomi an Rachel had a short term baby sitting job for a couple of weeks too.  The  2013-14 year started at the  high school today for Noah and Isaac, but basketball team tryouts were last week and yes, both Smith Brothers are on the team again this year! We will be cheering for our Stillwater PIONEERS!!!
Today is a bittersweet memory kind of day for me. One year ago tonight my mom had a heart attack, one of many which would rock her body over the next 3 and a half days , several very very severe and difficult to watch. On Sunday August 24, at 9:42 in the morning as I cleaned her mouth she drew her last breath and went Home. I am so thankful that my brother Len and sister in law Cheryl were here with us, that my aunt ( my mom's only sibling and her dear precious best friend as well) and uncle were able to drop their vacation plans and rush to be here as well. My memories of the boys transferring to the high school from home school  last year are woven together with memories of being in the ICU with my mom. It is hard to believe that it has been a whole year....................
In that year, Esther and Casey announced their second baby to be due in March,  Malachi and Sopheak announced their second pregnancy too, after a heart breaking miscarriage earlier, this baby due in April.  THEN, Caleb and Tiffany announced that THEY TOO were expecting a baby May!!! Jael shared with us  at Christmas time that she too was pregnant and due in August. SO.... on . March 25, April 14, May 6 and August 9 , we welcomed grandbabies...Logan james to Esther and Casey, all 9# 4 oz of him, Enoch Leng at 6# 11 oz , Christian Titus at 9#oz and Macy Grace at 7# 3 oz...beautiful healthy babies .  Hannah had her own special event too: she earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and was graduated from OSU which we celebrated with a Louisiana crawfiish boil!
In between those babies, we went on our first family vacation since moving to Oklahoma. What a fun trip we had too!!! Three vehicle caravan we made of it: Gideon took vacation from work to come along, so he drove, Charlie took his truck and I drove my car. THAT was a really good plan!!!!!! (Bonus  hotel points from Charlie's many nights away from home during the year provided free hotel stays  AND made the trip possible!) First to   St Louis to see Charlie's brother Carl, on to Ohio to see a dear online prayer group friend, Polly Green and her family and her super sized family, as well as another  prayer group friend Mandy Litzke and her big bunch too. All together at  Polly's house I think we counted that 42 of our children were partying with us!!!!!! WHAT A BLESSING that so many of those are adopted children who are orphans NO MORE.  On to Michigan to see Charlie's mom and sisters and their families . Wonderful family times meeting married in family members, nieces and nephews who had grown up to adulthood since last time we saw each other, lots of babies ..............So much fun with family!
My cousin was getting married in West Palm Beach in later July and it worked out that I was able to take Isaac, Naomi, Rachel and Daniel with me to the wedding. SO special to spend time with more family that we had also  not seen in lots of years ! In light of my mom's sudden and unexpected heart attacks and her death, it became a lot more important to see family without an illness or funeral as the reason for the visits. I am so very thankful that we had the resources and the time and reliable vehicles to make the trips!   AND as an extra family treat, Caleb was graduating his last class of basic trainees at Ft Leonard Wood and was being honored as Drill Sergeant of the Quarter or his skills as a Drill Sergeant .Charlie and I went to spend a few days with Caleb and Tiffany, Bryden and Christian and be at the ceremony.  WHAT A THRILL!!!   I was at Caleb's graduation from Basic training, took him to the airport when he deployed two times, welcomed him home from those deployments , celebrated his graduation from Drill Sergeant school in south Carolina  2 years ago  and then, this.....watching him lead the ceremony, call cadence, open and close the ceremony.....
My mamma heart buttons were bursting!!!  ( But while we were celebrating Caleb, Jael went into labor and gave birth to Macy. Barely home from the ceremony she texted me to say "Call me" . Her words , "We have a baby!" brought more tears to my eyes!!!
And yes , in the middle of all of this fabulous family time, I was filling out adoption documents right and left!    This week is my pay bills and get the new school year curriculum organized  week. We don't start our home school year until after Labor Day and with the trip to China looming ,we ay re-organize that a bit too. God has blessed and sustained and blessed and maintained and grown us all in so many ways in this last year . I wish my mom could have met her newest great grand babies and her newest grand son as well, but I suspect she is having such a GLORIOUS TIME in Heaven that she won't mind waiting until we all get there to meet the family members who arrived after she left.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Catching up on more than a year of Smithsoup stirrings

LIFE. So precious, so full and so busy! I have missed blogging so badly but life has taken so much of my time that blogging my thoughts has simply gotten away from me in this last year .Last year  saw a failed attempt at a disrupted adoption - readoption,  and a lot of heart ache about it. A lot of things did not happen as they should have, the adoption community gossip had some things to say about it,I read enough to know I had to stop reading:lots to read and interpret depending upon who you knew for real and whose words you read because they were there to the end we spent over 6 months preparing for an adoption that fell apart on every level  and the girl who was to be our Zipporah is with a different family, still called Naomi, and as I stay in touch with her true forever mom, I know she is  is doing very well.She lived with us for 6 weeks and the good bye was more painful than I can describe. When you are 10, going on 11 and life has already dealt you a pretty crummy hand, you don't think the family who came across the country to visit you three times and who brought you out of a mental facility into their home, calling it YOUR HOME is going to send you back to the respite family who had no plans to keep you, much less that they are going to give you to and yet another family while the original adoptive family disappears from sight.....regardless of how it looks to anyone , we grieve and she is in our thoughts and prayers  often!!
LIFE . Generations go grand daughter Emily who had a miscarriage earlier got pregnant again and blessed the family and the world with a wonderful son Bradley. WHAT A PRECIOUS TREAT it was when my  son , home from Afghanistan for two weeks, flew me out to spend 5 days with them.  YES!!!!!  I am a GREAT GRAND MAMMA......... "Great GiGi"!
LIFE,  so precious mom had a massive heart attack in August and after 5 days in ICU , on day 6 which was a Sunday,August 24, early in the morning she went Home. I was with her, I'd been with her almost non stop from that Wednesday night when I got "the call" and rushed to the hospital until she went Home. Mom's only sibling, my aunt Joan was able to get to Stillwater pretty quickly. I'm so glad that my aunt and uncle had been here to visit in June and so so so so glad they were able  get here when  my mom was still alert and able to communicate. My bother Len and his wife Cheryl were able to get here and spend some time with mom before she left us as well. Everyone else was in different places when I ended my little coffee break in the waiting room. Dear friend and church elder and my  grafted in Big Brother, Vic had come to the hospital to check on us and to pray with mom and me. He left to get ready for church and I returned to mom's side  and found her needing her mouth cleaned,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,admittedly my least favorite nursing requirement/duty  ever, but I didn't give that a thought until mom needed her mouth cleaned. I moved the oxygen mask aside and  as I cleaned the frothy saliva from her mouth, she heaved a few shallow breaths then  breathed her last earthly breath and went Home.  She was 85 1/2 and knew she was ready for this next step. I miss her way more than I thought I possibly could. She very explicitly asked for me to scatter her ashes in my garden under some new trees so that's where her earthly body is: beneath crepe myrtle, lilac and fig trees.

SO.......................I was working on this post and it never got completed!!!  Those pregnancies have resulted in three wonderful beautiful baby boys, Esther has Logan  James, Malachi has Enoch Leng, Caleb has Christian Titus, and in about two weeks, Jael will give birth to a daughter Macy Grace !!!
This blog is terribly out dated, I know;  I need a major face lift and new photos...desperately!
Our Daniel has been home for more than 3 years and while we really thought that we were done thinking about adoption, God had some other plans. In June this year as we planned our first family vacation EVER that didn't involve adoption or a funeral , God stirred in my heart the photo of a 13 1/2 year old boy in China. God stirred Charlie's heart as well and a whole new adoption chapter of our lives began! His name is Meng Meng , but Americans and Irish folks who have gone to China and have spent time with him call him Mathew. He ages out and becomes ineligible for adoption on his 14h birthday..............September 12, 2013 but trustfully we will be able to complete  our adoption process by that date. We are "close" ...sort of....August 2, tomorrow, we will go to have our finger prints done at USCIS ( aka immigration) and we have been promised by our Congressman and 2 USCIS agents that our application will be expedited very quickly to facilitate getting Matthew home.
He knows about us. He is very excited. He told visitors last week that he didn't think anyone would adopt  HIM.  But the orphanage staff have had to temper his excitement with .......t i m e.............. He also knows that if we can not get all the paperwork done in time, no matter how much we want him and how much he wants to be adopted and be part of Smithsoup, it  can not happen if it does not happen before his birthday. Can you imagine thinking that the very course of your life has to change on your FOURTEENTH birthday?
 Please pray for us as we pursue the adoption process as diligently as we possibly can?  Please pray for Meng Meng as he faces a future which will go one of two very different directions? Please pray that the remainder of the needed funds are there to pay the necessary fees, travel expenses and final adoption costs?  Matthew has a fund at Reece's Rainbow, a special needs adoption advocacy group website, and they have a Family Support Program as well to help adopting families get the word out about fund raising efforts as well as a designated fund into which people can donate. That link is    
We will be doing some fund raising immediately, so watch for news. At this moment I am a tad distracted because my mother in law whom we visited in Michigan in June, began to show symptoms of illness above her current medical issues, and was hospitalized and her condition has expanded to include pneumonia as I understand it. She's going to be 88 in November.
SO...................Smithsoup continues to simmer, sometimes to boil a bit, but it never grows cold! God continues to "stir" , to bless, to lead, to guide and to teach;  we are eternally humbly grateful to be in His service!