When Adam and Robin Spitler decided to adopt a child from China, no one in the family anticipated the emotional roller coaster that they were about to board. From lengthy paperwork problems, to stalled travel dates, to precarious health conditions, the journey to adopt Noah, born Xia Ping He, required a great deal of time and patience, and much support and prayer.
Fortunately for the Spitlers, Adam and Robin, and daughters Madison, 13, and Olivia, 10, their entire neighborhood in Cambridge Subdivision, between Statesboro and Brooklet, along with church friends and school friends from Trinity Christian School stood ready to meet their needs.
“We’ve been praying for Noah and the Spitlers since they began their adoption journey,” says neighbor and friend, Kim Riner. “As they struggled through the difficult waiting period, we all lent a sympathetic ear. When they were in China for three weeks to get 6-year-old Noah in the summer of 2010, friends and neighbors looked after their house, watched their dog, Annie, stocked the fridge and freezer with casseroles, and decorated the house with balloons and signs for their homecoming.”
But the journey to add Noah to their family was just part of the roller coaster ride. Though the Spitlers knew that young Noah had a congenital heart defect that would need immediate attention once he arrived in the states, no one knew the extent of his condition. Unbeknownst to all, Noah was born with a hole in the middle of his heart and no pulmonary artery.
Treatment for Noah took him and mom, Robin, to San Francisco for delicate surgery that would be performed by the only doctor willing to accept Noah at that time, Dr. Frank Hanley, the creator of the surgery Noah needed. Though the family expected them to return three weeks later, Noah’s frail condition, a collapsed lung, an infection, and complications from the surgery kept them in California for 84 long and difficult days.
Again, neighbors and friends rallied, meeting the needs of Adam and the two girls, offering encouragement, assistance, entertainment, rides, friendship, much-needed prayers, housecleaning, and lots of hugs.
Neighbors lend a hand
Neighbors like Diana Liggett, Suzanne Shropshire, and others took the girls to school and picked them up.
When 74-year-old Suzanne Shropshire retrieved the girls one of the first days of the new school year, the attendant asked, “Which grandmother are you?” and Mrs. Shropshire replied, “Neither – I’m the next-door grandmother!”
Shropshsire enjoyed being able to help, and said, “When God placed a need next door, I felt it was my opportunity and privilege to be able to serve Him in this way. That’s what Jesus asked us to do, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”
Neighbor Julie McCracken said, “The MOST fun thing we did was mail an ENORMOUS care package to Noah and Robin in California. So many families contributed something...granola bars, candy, toys, tee shirts, socks, games…more candy…treats. It was a huge box by the time we were done!”
Cambridge neighbors continue to help, organizing a multi-family garage and bake sale for this Saturday morning, with most of the proceeds going to help defray some of the cost of Noah’s surgery.
Riner said, “I am just amazed at the sacrifices that so many families in the neighborhood made to help the Spitlers. This is Christ’s love in action. But, we all know the Spitlers would do anything for us, too.”
Neighbor and friend, Elizabeth Forbes agrees with Riner. “My life has been impacted through the Spitlers’ example of strong values and sacrificial living. I have also been amazed at the Lord’s constant faithfulness through every step they have taken.”
Noah back home
With a newly-repaired heart, Noah joins the more than a dozen neighborhood children and friends with more exuberance than ever before. The kids are so proud of Noah. Thirteen-year-old Lainey Forbes said, “For such a young boy, he has been through more than I have in my entire life. When there was almost no hope, he pulled through and came back stronger than ever.”
Friend, Sara McCracken exclaimed, upon seeing Noah for the first time after the surgery, “Look! It’s Noah….and he’s RUNNING!”
And Robin, Adam, Madison, and Olivia run, too, to keep up with Noah as he recovers and acclimates to his new life, each maintaining Robin’s motto throughout their journey: “We just continue to maintain our faith in God and keep going forward.”