Adopted at 14: Levi Matthew Smith
As we approach the end of 2014, we would like to share a few stories of how God has worked through America World Adoption to impact the lives of children around the world.
To learn more about how you can join America World in providing for the basic needs of children worldwide, visit us here.
Levi Matthew Smith
Once known as Dang Meng Meng
From An AWAA Adoptive Family
We thought our 15-child family was complete. Following recent failed adoptions of siblings in Liberia, we thought that we, the Smith Family, were complete. Any new additions God had in store for our family would be of the grandchild variety; after all, our 14th grandchild just joined the family and there were two more on the way before the end of the year! We would continue to advocate for adoption and support the efforts of other families, but it appeared that God was bringing our adoption journey to an end.
With this change in mind, we eagerly set out to plan our first true family vacation for the summer of 2013. Prior to this point, the only trips we’d taken were for adoptions or funerals. In this middle of this planning, I came across the photo of a teenage boy on a Waiting Child website. The description read that this young man in China would be aging out of the adoption system on his fourteenth birthday, September 12, 2013. I donated toward his advocacy fund, but I kept feeling drawn back to his face. God was stirring my heart as I continued to pray for him. Eventually, I sent an email to my husband, Charlie, at work with the photo and story. I asked him to pray about considering our family adopting this boy. When my husband came home that evening, I didn’t ask about the email at all. I just stewed in my curious juices hoping that we’d have The Talk. Finally, Charlie smiled and said, “I bet you’re wondering if I got your email, right?” He told me that he spent the day looking at the photo and praying. In spite of “being done” with our adoption journey, he felt total peace about adopting this boy, Deng Meng Meng (who we named Levi). We then prayed together and felt total peace about the decision.
Earlier in the day we made the decision to move forward with the adoption, my husband prayed acknowledging that we were going to need God to provide in a huge way. Would it even be possible to start and complete an adoption in China in less than 90 days? I started contacting agencies, and the first three big name adoption agencies I spoke with told me that it was NOT POSSIBLE. Period. Still searching, I contacted our friend, Amber, the Director of America World’s Oklahoma office. Amber believed that it would be possible, although challenging, to complete the adoption, so we began moving forward with America World.
Having previously, adopted we were familiar with the required documentation and had quite a bit of it already on hand. Walking by faith, we rushed to gather the additional documents we needed to comply with China’s policies and began the home study process. At this point, we learned from the agency who originally listed Levi’s profile that there was a grant already in place that would cover almost all of our expenses! This news made it all real – the Smith Family was adopting again, Praise God!
With the help of AWAA, a Congressman, and a wonderful USCIS agent, we successfully completed our home study and had our I-800A approved on August 5, 2013. Our dossier arrived in China on August 16, and we received our Letter of Acceptance on August 28!
Although God was clearly working to bring Levi into our family, there were some speed bumps along the way. More than once, we ran into problems that delayed our process (a broken stamp machine at the Chinese Consulate in Washington, D.C.) or even threatened to derail it completely (a misunderstanding about Charlie not being able to travel). God continued to show his faithfulness throughout these difficulties as our final approval documents were finalized while I was in the air on my way to China!
Even with the grant we received, the short timeline for our travel resulted in additional expenses that we were not sure if we would be able to cover. At the last minute, while we were praying over the last of the finances, we received a call from America World informing us that an anonymous donor completely unconnected with our family just gave a sizeable donation to their Eternal Family Program, a portion of which America World was directing to cover our final travel fees. Thanks to God grace and the generosity of this mystery donor, we were FUNDED!!!
I arrived in Beijing on September 11, one day before Levi’s 14th birthday, and traveled with a guide to meet our son. He was a bit shy at first, but that smile I had seen in all his photos was still there. When I reached out to hug him, he responded so quickly and easily. He was so happy that I was really there. Over and over, he kept saying, “I so lucky! Family!”
We completed all of the required paperwork and traveled back to our hotel for the evening. Levi and I decided to take a walk around the area near our hotel to find something to eat. He was so excited to see a McDonald’s, so we had our first family meal there. While in the restaurant, he proudly pointed at me saying, “Mama!” to anyone who would look our way. He spoke with these strangers in Chinese, and although I could not understand their conversations, their smiles seemed to show approval.
Prior to leaving, we traveled back to Sanmenxia to pay a final visit to the Social Welfare Institute (SWI) where Levi spent the past several years. All of Levi’s friends at the SWI – including an old blind man with an engaging smile who everyone called “grandfather” – gathered to throw Levi a birthday party that doubled as a farewell party.
While in China, we Skyped regularly with Levi’s new family back in the U.S. to help with the transition. He was so excited to meet his new siblings and many nieces and nephews. Since coming home, Levi has bonded well with everyone and he loves having such a big family. He is catching up on lost time by learning to fish, drive a tractor, and ride a horse. Levi also loves going bowling and helping in the garden. Levi’s cerebral palsy symptoms and brain development issues do slow things, but he is excited about every single opportunity.
We recently talked about surgery to correct an issue with his left foot, and discussed having pain for a while. In his typical, positive manner, Levi responded “that is NOTHING! You help fix my foot. Ow is nothing!”
How could one not be blessed by being with such an incredible young man? He tells me often, “Thank you, Mama! Thank you for my life!” We love him and can’t imagine what life would be like without him as a member of what we lovingly call “Smith Soup.” We will always be grateful to America World for taking up our case and working tirelessly with us through so many difficult deadlines, our unfamiliarity with the Chinese process, and probably trying to be too independent in our own efforts along the way. God has blessed us so richly with Levi, and we all say THANK YOU!!!
Be A Part of The Story
We invite you to consider becoming a part of the story. Whether it is through sponsoring a child in Honduras, adopting a little one from China, welcoming an orphaned youth from Ukraine into your home for the holiday's, or joining us on a missions trip overseas to visit these precious kiddos, we believe that you can make a difference. For more on how you can be a part of the story, stop by our little corner of the web world.
Or maybe just be a part of the story and end 2014 with a whole lot of hope, by giving to our Isaiah 1:17 Fund.