Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Things are happening y'all!

Yes, this stickler for grammar, finally gave in to South Carolina ways and said “y’all.” Things are definitely happening, and happening quickly with our adoption! It is getting real, and we are having trouble containing our excitement!

Our dossier was sent to China  (DTC) on 5/23!
Our dossier was received and “logged in” (LID) a week later on 5/30!
We were told it could be 2 weeks to 3 months to have our dossier translated but…
Our dossier is out of translation (OOT) TODAY!

Ashley, our poor case manager at WACAP, must be done trying to predict time frames for us, because things are consistently processing faster than her shortest projections:)

I’m pretty sure what your next question is. When do we travel to China to get Micah?
That is the million dollar question. Ashley’s CONSERVATIVE estimate is 4 months!!! You can guess what that could mean. Our hope is that, Lord willing, we will travel in late September or early October!!! Is that not just crazy?! We started the adoption process this January! I can’t tell you how ridiculously excited we are!

With all this excitement however, there is also some trepidation. As you might expect, this pertains to fundraising.

Let me stress that thus far God has completely provided for us financially each step of the way as we need it. We have seen Him move and been astounded by His faithfulness! We know in our hearts that God will continue to provide! But for this to happen, He will be moving in the lives of those around us! We need help from His body and our village to make this happen!

We need an additional estimated $14,000 to bring our son home! Because things have been happening SO FAST we hope to have that “in the bank” in 3 months! So this is crunch time guys!!

I’m not going to lie, but our initial reaction to this information was a bit of panic. After it set in a little, we know that of course this can and will happen. I mean, for crying out loud, Pet Helpers in Mt. Pleasant recently raised like $150,000 in A WEEK for PET ADOPTIONS!

If 14 people make donations of $1,000, we are fully funded! Just fourteen!
If 140 people gift or donate just $100  for Micah, we are fully funded!

We don’t expect that all of this will have to come from individual donations. We have been blessed by Phil’s new job, and the sales skills he has been gifted with, that make him a rock star leasing specialist! One of our good friends, the amazing and generous Anna Johnson, is donating a portion of her photography sales from a series of mini-sessions to bring Micah home! Also, one of Phil’s co-workers is working on throwing us a fancy art auction. More on that to come:)

Believe me when I say, we IN NO WAY think we are entitled to ask others for financial support. At the same time very respectfully, we do need help! And the time to help is upon us!

The best place we can direct people to make donations is via our Reece’s Rainbow family sponsorship page: http://reecesrainbow.org/76440/sponsorbrangers
These funds will be made available to us at the time of travel.

I cannot express how thankful I am for our friends and family who have already helped support us with your time and finances! It brings tears when I think about what a blessing your sacrifice has been to us! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!

In the mean time, if anyone has some 2T to 4T size hand-me downs, talk to me. :)
Cause this is getting real y’all (insert little girl squeal here)!

P.S. I apologize for the excessive use of exclamation points. :)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Moving Along

Our adoption process seems to be progressing well with only a few minor hiccups. Our agency currently has all of the documents necessary for our dossier authenticated, and our immigration application is processing. We have several new fundraising opportunities under way and in planning (more on that below).

Phil is starting his new full time job as a leasing specialist next Monday! While this is a blessing because it will be beneficial financially, and allow Phil a regular schedule and more time with Micah when he arrives, it will require us to update some our home study/dossier paperwork. This should just require a couple of simple documents, but please pray that the authentication process goes quickly so that we will have them ready when our immigration application is accepted. This would prevent delays and allow us to send our dossier when we anticipated.

A very generous co-worker of mine recently gave us a big box of clothes, puzzles and toys for Micah. It may sound strange, but this was really exciting for me! Though we feel emotionally prepared for Micah’s arrival and all it entails, holding those little shirts in my hands just made things very real and tangible. With adoption there is no baby bump; no kicks from the inside to feel. Though I’m sure I have many of the emotions of an expectant mother, my boy is on the other side of the globe. All of this to say that I sometimes feel very disconnected from it all, and question, “Is this really happening?” So I really cherish the moments when I feel that connection with him.

Our current fundraiser is being sponsored by Owls for Orphans and the amazing Amy Moss! Thanks to her generosity, we will be receiving 25% of every sale of her adorable handmade gifts and collectibles through MAY 10th! She has some absolutely adorable handmade stuffed animals for kiddos! She has ready to ship items or can custom make them. But, if you don’t have small children, or are just trying to have less stuff, you can purchase a stuffed animal owl to send with us to when we travel to bless another orphaned child! 
See Amy’s blog and the Owls for Orphans Boutique, and please TELL YOUR FRIENDS! :)

More exciting news! Today we officially became a part of the Reece’s Rainbow family, and our family sponsorship page is live! As a bonus it includes a baby pic of Micah! Just in case anyone is confused, Micah's name was listed as "Hugh" on Reece's Rainbow when we found him. But as you know from a previous post, Hugh is not his Chinese name.

We have had several friends tell us that they would like to contribute to our adoption but don’t want to purchase anything. Well, Reece’s Rainbow is the perfect way to do that! This organization is amazing and serve to advocate for orphans with special needs, and raise funds for adoption grants.
Link: http://reecesrainbow.org/76440/sponsorbrangers
*Please note that paypal contributions are charged a 0.3% processing fee. However, if you send a check to RR, 100% of that donation will go to Micah.

Up next will be our joint yard sale with the Sharp family who are also fundraising for their adoption. Please pencil it in for SaturdayMay 31st! We will need donations of clothes, furniture, housewares, toys, etc., etc., and of course SHOPPERS! Please be in prayer for this and consider donating or purchasing items to bring Micah and Everly home from China. Please contact me at jennifer.brangers@gmail.com with any questions. And again, SPREAD THE WORD!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hurry up and...

So when it comes to the adoption process, it is definitely a game of hurry up and wait. There are many short periods of filling out and gathering paperwork, separated by longer lulls in activity; waiting for processing time, agencies, and governments. These “breaks” do allow some time for fundraising, but sometimes I can’t push away thoughts of missing time with Micah. Every day he is in that orphanage is a day that I will never get back. These are days when milestones could be happening. They are days that he goes without the love and nurturing only parents can provide. Sometimes the feeling of loss is so extremely overwhelming. Other times there is guilt and thinking “why did we wait so long?” 

Prayer, scripture and friends are what help me wade through all of this. It is such a blessing to have others who have been, or are going through this process to support us! Their perspective helps me remember that, yes, families really do make it through this process, which is truly only the beginning of some beautiful stories.  

Now that our home study was just finalized, we are entering the next phase of scrambling to gather all of the paperwork for our dossier to China. (Oh, how very sick I am of having documents notarized!) A completed home study also means we can begin applying for grants!

So with all this paperwork, more upcoming fundraisers, and a crazy busy schedule at work, at least I may be distracted too much to dwell on negative things. And as a bonus I’ll probably drop a couple pounds of winter weight, because I tend to forget to eat when I’m really busy. Hey thats better for the budget anyway right?! ;)  (But really, no worries everyone, the Brangers intend to remain well nourished. We have more than just ourselves to think about now you know!)

Upcoming fundraisers to participate in/ be in prayer for:

-Noonday Party (Thank you Erin Brangers and Kat Deal!)

-Joint Spring Yard Sale with the Sharps (teaming together for Micah and Everly)

I am still selling items at my Etsy Shop: PB&J Family Crafts
Please let me know if you have a particular request.  I can always fulfill orders in person as well!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

He's a fighter!

A couple of weeks ago we requested an update on Micah, and were able to ask some of our burning questions! Our case manager at WACAP called me on Monday with some news. Our update says Micah is growing well but only weighs 19 lbs. (I can’t tell you how bad that makes me want to get him home and feed him until his eyes pop out!) He has a good daily routine, and his favorite toys are balls and action figures. Boys will be boys. But the most exciting news is that Micah can stand! 

That’s right I said OUR BOY CAN STAND!!!!

Not only that, but he can stay standing for 5 minutes as long he is holding onto something stable! His medical record no longer lists “left leg paralysis,” but says his left leg is very weak while his right leg is strong!

As you can imagine Phil and I are super excited about this news! This has very positive implications for his mobility. Regardless of his mobility status when we bring him home, we will love the stuffing out of him, but I can’t tell you how proud I am of my boy for learning to stand! He is a little fighter and I know he is going to accomplish some great things!

In other news, our last home study visit is scheduled for Saturday. Now while this good news, it also means that payments for more fees are due very soon. I would be lying if I said that Phil and I aren’t stressed about this, because frankly those funds just aren’t there yet. While we know that God will provide a way I have mixed emotions.

Many times now I have had the thought, “From the outside, we must look like completely irresponsible, unprepared, idiots,” because we have started this process knowing we absolutely cannot pay all of these adoption fees on our own.

But, then I remind myself that God has set us on this path, at this particular time, for a specific reason, and that he is bigger than my reality. My God is so much bigger than the tiny box I so often put Him in. And in the moment when I was at the lowest point that I have been so far on this journey I was directed toward some amazing scripture and Godly encouragement:

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

And if that wasn't enough:

“I call you today to stop defining and limiting your future in terms of your past and start defining it in terms of your God.” -John Piper

I have no doubt that this process will be more challenging to my faith than anything I have ever experienced. But I also know God is going to use this opportunity to bring me in close and lay my burdens on Him.

Now don’t think for a second that this means we think we can sit back while God does all the work. We know we have to bust our butts to help make this happen. There hasn’t been a day in the last 2 weeks that I have not touched my sewing machine, and Phil is continuously working on new fundraisers. But we also can’t do it on our own and need so much help to bring our boy home.

Current Fundraisers:

My Etsy Shop: PB&J Family Crafts

Our New T-shirt Fundraiser at Booster.com

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Piece of His Story

“I promise that for every disability that you have, you are blessed with more than enough abilities to overcome your challenges.” -Nick Vujicic, Life Without Limits

When Phil and I made the decision to adopt we felt led to pursue a child with physical special needs. I, as physical therapist, want to use the skills and gifts I have been given to care for a child who might not otherwise be adopted. At the same time, God had also touched Phil’s heart, and he knew that orphans with special needs were just as deserving of parents as any child.

This led us to Reece’s Rainbow (RR), an organization that advocates and finds families for orphans with special needs from all over the world. The great people there helped Phil’s sister and brother-in-law adopt our amazing nephew Artem from Ukraine.

When we found Micah and decided to pursue him, Stacia at RR tracked down the adoption agency who had his file and facilitated our first contact with them. Soon RR will be setting up a sponsorship page for us, to allow us to accept donations toward Micah’s adoption fees (more on that later). We are so very grateful for what RR is doing for Micah, our family and for orphaned children around the world.

Considering how to approach publicly discussing Micah’s special needs has been so difficult. In all reality this has nothing to do with anyone else and everything to do with him. First and foremost I want him to know that he was created in the image of God! He has been beautifully and wonderfully made by his heavenly Father who loves him so very much. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our God has amazing things planned for him!

I also want Micah to know that I will love him, just the way he is, always, and no matter what! I want to tell everyone all about him, but at the same time I want to protect him. This is where I am hesitant, because it is his story after all, and he has the right to keep it his. So you can see how this kind of thing could be agonizing for his momma to be.

Still, our son’s differences will be very visible, they will be public, and affect the way he lives daily. But if we have anything to do with it, he will know that these differences do not have to be limitations. He will be able to achieve whatever purposes that God has planned for him.

According to the information we have received, Micah has spinal abnormalities and paralysis of his left leg. He is crawling, and getting around quite nicely in his unique way. We are unsure what his mobility will look like as he grows and develops, but we are prepared for the possibility that he may never walk. He may be able to take some steps and there may eventually be technologies that allow his left leg to move, but it is likely that he will need to use a wheelchair for mobility for some period of time.

Regardless of the challenges he may face, we love him the same, and are so very excited at the prospect of being his parents!

Fundraising: We are currently completing requirements to set up Micah’s RR sponsorship page, and waiting for the completion of our home study in order to apply for grants. In the mean time, I hope you will visit my Etsy shop and consider purchasing an item to help with Micah’s current adoption expenses. I will be adding more items as fast as I can make them! Also, stay tuned for other opportunities to help bring Micah home. We will be starting a new fundraiser later this week!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What's in a name?

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

When considering names for our boy, Phil and I wanted to be sure to honor his beautiful heritage. We feel his name is the first way we can celebrate who he is and where his life began.

He was given his Chinese name when he entered the orphanage. We don’t know who chose his name, or what led this person to choose it. But we do know that it is his. It is one of the few things he has been able to call his own. It is the name he finds his identity in, recognizes, and answers to. We felt we should honor this by keeping at least a part of his Chinese name.

While we want to celebrate our boy’s Chinese heritage, he is also part of another legacy; one of redemption! It began when God allowed the adoption of man through Christ. It has continued with our grandparents, our parents, and then us. Our deepest desire is that this legacy will continue with our son. I pray daily for his salvation; that he will love God and love people, and walk with Him daily.

Our son’s name, Micah Ting He Brangers, reflects his origin, and the continuation of a legacy that began with Christ.

Adoption Update: Home study visits 1-3 are in the bag! Now on to more paperwork that requires A LOT of notarizing:)

Fundraising: My Etsy shop OPENS TODAY!!! So pop on over and take a look at my handmade accessories. I will be adding items as they are made, so keep checking back in.

Link: PBJ Family Crafts

Up Next: In a recent Offbrand Media blog post Phil mentioned that most children adopted from China have special needs. In my next post I will discuss that part of Micah’s story.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Territory

Blogging. Wow, it’s been a long time. And by that I mean, back in college, when Xanga was the place to be. About a year ago I popped over to see if that old blog was still there, and of course it was. Because nothing on the internet ever truly disappears. I was really amazed at how entertaining it was. Some posts were funny, others thought provoking, and most were generally pretty interesting. I took an enjoyable glimpse at the past, including a chronicle of the beginning of my relationship with the amazing guy who is now my husband. Then life got busy and things seemed to speed up. I went to grad school, married that guy, got a job and moved from my childhood home of Kentucky to sunny Summerville, SC. We have been here just over 4 years now, in two different apartments and now in our first home. Until very recently our little family has included just the two of us and our two super cute pups. And this brings us to the reason for my return to blogging…

The Brangers (the SC Brangers that is) are adopting!! Last Friday we received pre-approval, and my husband Phil had the privilege of announcing that he is going to be a dad over at http://www.offbrandmedia.com/. So yes, this is happening! We are adopting our own adorable, perfect son, who just happens to have been born in China. To be a bit more specific, he currently lives in an orphanage in Southeastern China, and to our knowledge, has been there for the majority of his short life. Our boy just had his third birthday, half a world away. I pray that a caregiver told him, and maybe had a brief celebration, but we don’t know. I want to know that he is warm, well fed, and that someone will give him a bit of nurturing attention today. And that’s the thing. For the few bits of information we do know, there are so many more unknowns. Of course I have questions, SO many questions, many of which will never be answered. Still, I have to remember I will have a lifetime to get to know him; to love and nurture him. We will celebrate. There will be joy and tears. I look forward to all the new things we will experience together. There will be growth and milestones, as well as many tough days and challenges.

We are just thrilled! We are happy that the process seems to be moving along quickly so far. We begin our home study in 2 days (eek!), and the frenzy to gather paperwork will continue. Then we need to begin fundraising. This rare (a.k.a first ever) snow day from work has been a blessing as it has allowed me to get busy on my sewing machine and create some items for our Etsy shop (Coming soon!).

Keep us in your prayers. If this all seems overwhelming, well, that’s because it is a little. Stay tuned for my next post: “What’s in a Name?”