Long Road to China - Our Adoption Story

Trustmark National Bank account set up:

Donations can be made nation wide at any Trustmark National Bank through the account:
Phillip Smith or Niki J. Smith's Adoption Account

If you would like to mail a donation, please mail it to
Phil or Niki Smith
P.O. Box 332
Rienzi, MS 38865

Monday, May 12, 2014


This is such a great video!  
I can relate to Deb so much.  As we were going through the process of adopting GiGi, I remember seeing older children needing homes & sometimes I would see a family on my Facebook friend's list, adopt an older orphan.  I remember thinking "WOW!  That's great others can adopt these kids.  I don't understand how but I'm glad others can give them the love and family they really need.”   I verbalized to Phil & others many times that I could never adopt an older child but I was glad God called others to do so. 
Why not? For me, I saw the older children as
 - having too much hurt
 - having too much trauma/baggage
 - high probability of having attachment/bonding issues
 - too high risk

Do you know what I've learned since then? 
It's NOT about ME! 

Deb (in the above video) also said "God told me she is supposed to be my daughter.  What the heck am I supposed to do about that?"
I completely understand what Deb meant by that statement because when we were called to adopt Guan Ya, it was a very strong calling.  Until we started the road to adoption, I didn't know if I even believed these strong callings others claimed to have about things.  We had never before experienced such a strong calling and this (adopting an older child) was something I didn't think I was capable of doing.  Our family had always been very close and how could I.........well, I'm still learning.  I'm not perfect but I love all our children no matter what.  Each day my goal is to show them that I love them selflessly & unconditionally and that Christ loves them even more than I do (even though my small mind cannot wrap around the thought of more love than my heart holds for them).

Phil & I were talking on the way home from Biloxi yesterday.  He asked me if I had ever thought about the people God calls for certain tasks.  God has been calling unskilled & ordinary people for jobs since the beginning of time. 
We spoke about Mary.  Why was Mary chosen to be Jesus’ mother?  

(Picture provided by GiGi's Light Photography)
What an incredible role Mary played in the Word.  She wasn’t some awesome & great mother that was chosen to be the mother of Jesus; nope, she didn't have children & wasn't even married.  How likely was it that she was the most skilled?
Phil & I spoke of Paul & how he never thought he was a great speaker. 
We also discussed David.  Do we really think he was prepared & “the best man for the job” to battle the 9+ft tall Philistine giant, Goliath?  David was the youngest of his brothers & even had to persuade King Saul to let him battle Goliath. 
We discussed many other examples in the Bible and we in no way compare to them but our role is important – just as yours!

In the wise words of my husband on why we were chosen: “Niki, you know we have way more heart than money and skills and that is why we were called to adopt.  He takes care of the rest.”   
No  doubt!  We don’t always have all the answers laid before us but our Father knows best so we follow His lead on our next steps! Yes, we are very blessed and He is always by our side.  

If He is calling you for a job & you feel unprepared, remember He knows best.  Follow by Faith & He will provide the rest.

If you are interested in knowing more about Project HOPEFUL, you can visit their Faceboook page here & their website here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

One Year – Where are we now?

It’s been 1 year since we met our eldest daughter.  I know many of you followed us on that journey and probably remember the stress we had just up to a few days before we left for China.  Our daughter, Guan Ya, was aging out (meaning she would be ineligible for adoption on her 14th birthday 3/9/13).  I don’t think we ever went into great details about how unsure we were about if the paperwork would go through until we got on the plane to China – even then, we didn’t have all appointments set up.  We just trusted God to get us there in time (with NO delays in travel; we were REALLY pushing that close to getting her in time) because that is all we had to rely on since the time we started the process to adopt her.  We knew we were called to adopt her but nothing made sense.  We followed on blind faith and unsurprisingly He provided. 

Where are we now?  I think that is a question I ponder often because I wonder myself from time to time.  There are times like this morning where things seem perfect.  Perfect in the sense of, I get a big smile & “I Love you” as I drop ALL the kids off at school.  However, also perfect in the sense of, I hear sibling fussing & typical teen behaviors & attitude.  Then there are days that often turn into weeks that I think “I’m just not cut out for this! And I pled for God to remind me why He would pick ME for this task.”  Those are the days that many may think I should not expose but I wouldn’t be painting a true picture if I said everything was great!  I know teens can be trying & difficult & unappreciative but it goes so much deeper than that during these trying times.  We may go through longer periods of “Perfect Times” & then I am almost robbed like a thief in the night when the “Hard Times” show up. 

I feel people will think “What a terrible parent” about me for telling it like it is here but maybe others that are walking this walk can have comfort they are not alone.  However, I think until you have reared a hard child that has come from a tough past it is hard to fully understand.  I still absolutely love Guan Ya as I do all our kids but if you want to face the facts, she doesn’t come from the same background as our other children – even GiGi.  GiGi was only 2y/o when we adopted her so she had not formed her own being & all GiGi remembers is us as family.  GiGi is happy and loving and doesn’t carry all the baggage that a teen (that remembers being left on the streets alone) carries with her.  Guan Ya also is bitter. 

I think she is not only bitter about being left by her father but she has told me how mad she is that she is deaf.  I encourage her to embrace her deafness but GUAN YA wants to hear and SHE wants to speak.  I’ve been bombarded with negativity at times because GUAN YA wants to hear & speak and honestly I had too much other stress & other things to deal with.  This is one reason I stopped blogging about Guan Ya & about how she was progressing; I just didn’t have time for the judgment from others when I was going to do what was best for my daughter anyway.

We adopted Guan Ya knowing she was deaf and we knew she may never hear nor speak.  We adopted her with no expectations of her ever hearing or speaking.  However, I want to stress the point that GUAN YA wanted to hear before she ever met us!  1 year ago Guan Ya had the Chinese interrupter ask us a question that broke my heart.  The question from Guan Ya:  “Will I be able to hear when I get to America?”  I promised her that day that we would investigate every avenue that she wanted to search to help her hear to her maximum potential.  We put that search on the back-burner this summer after being told time after time by audiologists that Guan Ya would never hear spoken language.  At that time, other things were pressing (bonding, schooling, etc.) and we promised Guan Ya that when the time was right we would explore more if she wanted us to.  Honestly, this wait has only made Guan Ya angry at me.  I think she feels betrayed because I have promised to explore further but she doesn’t understand the concept of waiting.  It is not a matter of “lost in translation” (side note: communication is going really well for all of us right now) but she does not like to wait on anything.  At this time, we are still waiting on insurance before we can explore further her options for hearing.  It frustrates me to no end that we cannot continue until we have insurance straight but it angers Guan Ya.  I’ve explained over and over that we cannot afford the doctor visits & doctor’s recommendations without insurance coverage and that is why we wait.  She understands why we wait because I’ve been very detailed to educate her about insurance and the process.  It still angers her & she turns her anger on me.

I know that many of you reading may think I’m bitter but I’m honestly just telling you the “real” story today.  There are weeks that our family is torn inside out & it’s pure Hell but there are other times I’m so grateful to function as a “normal family” (whatever that is but it’s not the Hell we experience at other times).  I also realize that those of you that feel like you know Guan Ya personally would never believe she is like this or that she could act like this.  Our daughter is a smart girl and she knows how to & when to behave but home is where she is most comfortable so this is where she acts out. 

I know by now, you are thinking about me: “Where is your compassion for your daughter?  Don’t you realize she has had a hard time with adjustment & a hard time with her past life? Don’t you know this isn’t easy for her?  Don’t you realize teens are different?”  Yes, I realize every bit of this but until you see the rage that can fly (and I will not go into details) it’s hard for you to understand completely.   I think Guan Ya has been treated as the poor orphan girl with a hard past life so much that she doesn’t feel like the same rules apply to her.  I do realize this but she is also my daughter and she is no longer an orphan child. Guan Ya has been treated so differently (and not in a bad way) at times that she feels entitled to better; at home she is my child and she doesn’t like following the same rules or getting in any trouble when she is wrong/disobeys or being told “No, you can’t have xxxx” (just as we tell our other children).   We completely take her past into consideration but we’ve had to find tough love too.  I would be doing her a complete injustice if I did not treat her as her siblings.  I believe she has to learn to live in the world and she needs to learn rules & boundaries apply to her.

On the other hand, Guan Ya is a very sweet girl. Yes, I know that seems to completely contradict some of the previous but this is our true life picture.  My life often feels very bipolar and if you see me, I likely look exhausted…..for good reason! lol Guan Ya attended our state deaf school from August 8 to December 20.  During that time, I put 10,000 miles on my car driving back and forth to Jackson, MS.  That was such a stressful period of my life when I didn’t have all 4 kids under one roof.  We honestly thought this was the best option for Guan Ya and there were definitely some good things from the experience.  However, that is not the best place for her at this point.  In January, Guan Ya started to school at our little public school that I attended from kindergarten and graduated from.   She loves school at our local school which her 2 siblings also attend.  Guan Ya is trying hard and learning a lot.  Our daughter is very determined and stubborn and we try to keep that channeled into good scenarios.  She gives us no trouble at all with school.  We have also all learned a lot of ASL after school hours and are forever grateful to our private teacher. 

Most of you know this but for those of you that do not follow me on Facebook, we lost our home to fire on December 19 (just 11 weeks ago).  We lost everything and have been living in a motel.  I won’t lie, it’s been tough – REAL tough but I think better days are ahead.  I know the fire and hurt will always remain with us but we are finally seeing fewer tears and more smiles and laughter.  The screaming, crying, sweating nightmares from one of our children were more heartbreaking than I can explain in words.  Within the next couple weeks we will finally not be calling the motel home but we will be living in our storage building that was not destroyed by fire – THANK YOU to some WONDERFUL VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS!  The renovation will start soon to turn it into a living space & we will call it home for a while…….I never thought I’d be excited to call that 700sq ft space “home” but we are so ready to be out of this motel.  I will also start looking for a job again.  This is very scary for me because I have been a stay at home working mom for 11 years now.  I had an online jewelry supply business but I’ve been unable to work since the fire.  I have very mixed emotions about this but I honestly believe it will be a good thing.

One year ago, I thought “wow, what a journey! I’m ready to slow down and for some stability!”  However, that obviously wasn't in God’s plan.  In the last year, so much has happened and changed in our lives – my head has not stopped spinning!  I guess you can say we are a work in progress & He’s still working on me.  I don’t know where God will lead us or what doors He will open or what job He will call me to or ….honestly, I don’t seem to know much these days! Lol  This is what I know “He’s got this!” so I try to let the cards unfold in His timing but I’m definitely not a patient person! Prayers are still appreciated and if you want to hear about our life events & mostly happy times, feel free to follow me on Facebook.  We have been blessed and I would jump on a plan at the last minute again for Guan Ya.  No one has been promised an easy ride but we have learned to make the most of each situation and trust His lead.  Life has been stressful over the last year but we have been more blessed than I could ever imagine.  Thank you to each of you that have provided for us and blessed us in any way!  

Friday, July 5, 2013

Wow! Summer is 1/2 way over

I see my baby girl in all her joyfulness & adorableness and I can't help but hear Frank singing

"Ain't she sweet? See her walking down that street.
Yes I ask you very confidentially, ain't she sweet?
Ain't she nice? Look her over once or twice.
Yes I ask you very confidentially, ain't she nice?
Just cast an eye in her direction, 
oh me oh my, ain't that perfection?"

It's hard to believe that this time last year we were anxiously booking plane tickets to go get this baby!!! At that time, we had no idea how much our family needed her!!!! GiGi is spoiled rotten but loved more than she will ever know!!!

I can't bear to think this sweet baby with all her perfection could still be laying in an orphanage! 

Who couldn't love this baby???  
I honestly believe every life she has touched loves GiGi!  I believe she was loved by her biological mother & she was left for a better life - I wish she could see GiGi now!  I pray often for her mother that had to make the unthinkable decision to leave this blessing; I honestly cannot imagine the pain she has to endure! I believe she was loved by the orphanage, but they just didn't have the hands needed to care for all the children & all children deserve to live in a loving home....not an institution!  And I know that every person that has met GiGi since we have been blessed with her falls in love with her!  

I am grateful everyday for being chosen as the mother for all 4 of our precious children!  Each were placed in my arms & I am humbled each day to know of all the mothers in the world, God chose me to give these gifts!

How can anyone not see that we are the blessed ones???

We have been so busy since we got back from China with Guan Ya that I have not updated our blog as I did prior to leaving.  It is easy to type in a few phrases on Facebook or upload from my phone pictures to FB so if you follow us on FB, you have viewed many of our pictures.  

For those of you not on FB, I wanted to share some pictures of our blessings.  The ones labeled stamped "GiGi's Light" are pictures from our photography business that we are gearing up.  It has taken awhile to get back to a point we can start taking pictures again.  We hope to use this God given talent to help get us out of adoption debt and to support our family (that has grown 2xs over one year - what an unexpected blessing!).    

You can find us on FB 

to see more of our work, book an appointment, or ask questions.
Phil is working on a website and we will post a link when it is finished!  We hope to not only showcase our work, but to help others by discussing the technical side of photography for all of you that like that aspect!  We hope to share our knowledge & love of photography to help others!  This is from the words of Phil about the website:
"Stay tuned for the launch of our website. We will showcase our photography, but also look closely at the art of photography. We will discuss the duality of GiGi's Light. Niki covers the pretty and I cover the gritty. We will deconstruct some of our favorite photos and talk cameras, lenses, and the digital darkroom. So, we hope that you'll drop by when everything is up and running."

You may find more pictures of Macy in the GiGi's Light pictures because she loves the camera and to take pictures.  
The other kids - not as much!  Guan Ya hasn't agreed to a photoshoot yet but when she does, you will see the pictures! :)
We love photography but try not to irritate our children excessively by our love of photography when they don't love to get in front of the camera!  We've been asked before why we don't take more professional pictures of our other children & it is by their choice.  Do not fret, you will find many snap shot or phone camera pictures of all of them!  :0)

With out further rambling, our blessings!!!!!!!

 Cousin Love!

Guan Ya gettting her ears pierced! 

 They love their Daddy!

Such a Silly Girl!

Bella Kate learns the Chinese squat from Guan Ya! 

He maybe 4 legged, but he is the biggest baby of the house!
The most gentle dog I've ever known!  He returns the pet hamster (when it escapes) in his mouth without hurting it.......but kills moles outside!

I wonder why GiGi loves to go biking so well????

More cousin love!

The reason we don't make our kids take pictures when they don't want to take pictures! lol

Thank you each one for following our story!  We continue to share because our hope is that you will find an unexpected blessing or be touched in a special way though the blessings we have been given!  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Story on WTVA

This is story C.J. LeMaster did for WTVA on our journey
Mother gives adopted Chinese daughter new life

Each day we keep learning & plugging away!  All of our kids are doing great & get along amazingly well!  We couldn't have asked for it to be any better!  
This adoption drained us every way possible!  I'm not sure we will ever completely recover from the financial or emotional stress it took to get Guan Ya home!  The financial strain was a combo of the 2 adoptions in 1 year!  I would do it all again in a heartbeat!  She is worth every bit of it!  
If it was not for true angels on earth that aided us in Guan Ya's adoption, we would not have been able to bring her home. Guan Ya is the happy & beautiful girl that so many of you invested in her life!  I want everyone to know what a blessing you are to Guan Ya & all of us! We have been blessed & are forever grateful!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

1 month......

(This post was started on Friday so even though I'm easily confused I realize it's not still the 19th.  I am too lazy tonight to rewrite. lol)

Wow!  Where do I even start!  

I know we've made national news coverage and many of you have seen bits of our story though your local newspaper or through FaceBook. This was the date I had intended on typing an update for some time.  Why?  Well today is April 19 & we arrived back in the US from our last trip from China on March 19.  Yeap, one month ago!  It seems like so much longer to me that we have been a family of 6.

How are we doing?  How are we adjusting?  How is Guan Ya?  Honestly, we are all doing great!  Guan Ya is a 14 year old teenager and I could not expect her to be adjusting any better.  I do not just say that, but I honestly mean it!  The biggest problem we have in our home is that there are 3 girls and 1 boy.  Needless to say as most siblings, the girls tend to team up on their brother.  He is a little out numbers but loves to aggravate & the girls all love to tattle on him.  Sound like any other family you know?   Typical siblings! 

I've had many say - Isn't Guan Ya just so thankful that you got her out of the orphanage and gave her hope, love, & a future that she otherwise wouldn't have?  Listen, Guan Ya is a 14 year old teen! Were you grateful to your parents when you were that age or were you moody and thought your parents were crazy with no taste to fashion and just had no sense?  She is just like any other teen.  We do not treat her like a guest of the house with special privileged and she does not act like a guest of the house.  She rolls her eyes and gets mad and will not wear anything I think is cute just like any other teen.       

She is a sweet and wonderful daughter!  She has truly joined in the family & is showing love just as we love her.  Here is a card Guan Ya made for me that I shared on FaceBook and will share here if you missed

I am really sorry for not updating more often as I had intended on doing though out the entire process.  Truth is that I often feel I must guard my family.  Yes, it was our decision to bring out our adoption, the process, needs we had through adoption, & mountains and valleys.  However, since the very start of Guan Ya's adoption we have faced such scrutiny.  I do not regret for one second sharing and I knew this would not be an easy road.   If I made a list of all the people we have been reported to since September, all the nasty messages I've gotten or my friends/family have gotten many would think it was exaggerated.   We have had everything done properly and there has been no problems just extra hoops added.  There has NEVER been a question from a legal stand point or via any people that evaluates us.  Others that are not in these positions have felt it their need to report us for various things based on their own opinions of us adopting a deaf child and how we have felt it best to raise her thus far.   I do want you to know that I have gotten more protective about what information I give out about what/how/why we are doing things we do for Guan Ya.  I'm sorry for the majority of you that honestly care about us and Guan Ya and truly have a heart for knowing more about her.  I will continue to update but more information will come after time instead of while we are in the process.  However,  that is not what my post  is about; I really wanted you to know we are doing great!  I have been extremely busy the last month between many doctor appointments, building a stronger bond with Guan Ya, adjusting to life, speaking to classes, Easter, birthdays, taxes (not ever fun to me! ha) & much much more!

Speaking of taxes makes me think of Monday - when yes, I waited until the last day to do my taxes and I spent most of the day in the tax office.  As I was sitting in the office, I heard of the Boston marathon bombing immediately after it happened.  My heart just immediately dropped when I heard of causalities, fear and injuries!  I couldn't help but think of loved ones and how many fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, friends had been effected by this senseless tragedy!  I was honestly sick to my stomach as I read the report and reports that continued to come in about the bombing.     

Today's post was always intended to update you on how things are going here but I cannot write without reflecting on all the tragedies (bombings,  ricin letters, explosion, & loss of lives) of the week.  I will end with a reminder that none of us are promised tomorrow or even another breath!  Remember we never know our time left on earth so give hugs to those that need them, love one another, don't let hate dwell in your heart with all the evil that has happened last week.  Live your life as if it was the last day & tell the ones you love how much you love them so there are no regrets!  If this was your last day, are you ready to leave this earth as everything is right now?

This is a picture I took over a year ago but I saw it as I was uploading the other pictures.
It reminds me of the many teardrops that have fallen last week due to the many that are heartbroken over things they have no control over! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lots of information so read to the end please.....

Alright, I have a lot to get into this post so let me just get to the basics.  :0)

As I said in my previous post we have had adjustments, but we expected that from the beginning.  Guan Ya is a beautiful, sweet, precious daughter but she is a tough cookie to break!  She is at an odd age of 14 years old; she has not been a part of a family - hence, does not know how to be a daughter or sister; she is in a very new & odd foreign land with new food, new sights, new smells, & NEW, NEW, NEWs everywhere!  

On Monday I broke the golden rule that I have read over and over not to do.  I know this is so very hard on her & she has not been home very long, but I had seen so many shimmers of light.  We almost felt she was scared to be part of the family & that she really just did not understand. To give a few examples, she would often cry if we made her join in on family time, not want to eat with us, push (not physically) her siblings away with no tolerance for their love & attention for her.  It was hard because we tried to talk to her and do several things with no real success. After much prayer and discussions with Phil about what we should do about her distance, we just decided to lay it all out.  

On Sunday, thanks to Google translate we had a huge in depth discussion that  included Phil, Guan Ya & me.  It started with the normal "What is going on?"
Guan Ya replied that she did not want to go out and grill hot dogs or play with her siblings or draw on the sidewalk that day. (Please understand she never wanted to try anything new and never wanted to do family time with  us.)  We explained that we are a family and that in our family we spend time together.  We also explained that in life we will sometimes have to do things we did not like but should make the best of it.

She said "O.k." but it was that normal just o.k. so we would leave her alone.  Well,  those of you that know me know that I have to lay it all out.  After some prodding (this was not the first conversation of this nature), I broke the rule (No hate mail please!  If this is not right for you/your family wonderful but this is how our family felt we should handle it. I tell it here so others will know what worked for us {thus far})  Our next question was "Do you know what would have happened to you if you remained an orphan in China after your 14th birthday?" Guan Ya's response was "No"  We explained that it was unknown but from all research, it was not a promising future.  
We explained to her how she was our daughter from the moment we saw her picture.  It was explained that from that moment on we had the love for her as a parent has for a child.  We told her that when we came home from China with GiGi that we were tired & broke but that she was our daughter so we could not leave her in China.  We did not want her to be an orphan in China because she was a daughter- our daughter!  For 6 months we did everything possible with our focus on bringing our daughter (her) home.  We explained how we loved her more than our lives and would do anything for her.  We told her that all of us in the family wanted her to be part of our family as our daughter & sister and all of us agreed she was our  family when we started the paper work. 

Our conversation was not extremely deep with YaYa but we let her know that love is what brought her to us!  We let her know it was not an easy task to get her home but that we would not think twice about doing it again!  We've never regretted calling her daughter or the hard work to get her home!  We also told her that she owed us nothing but that we wanted her to know how much we loved her and that we wanted her to be part of our family!  I told her like us, love us or hate us, she was stuck with us as her family FOREVER!

She had tears in her eyes, but she reached for me with the biggest hug I've ever gotten!  Then she reached for Daddy!  I think it took that for her to realize that we did not just sign papers and bring her home as if no big deal.  It was a break through moment when she realized she was a big deal and that we fought for her to be home!   Later we played a game and she sat down before we were ready to play.  She laughed so hard that night!  At bedtime Guan Ya came into my room and laid down besides me and snuggled up for a while!  I'm not sure a snuggle ever felt so good!  

YaYa had pushed away her siblings so much that Macy had been coming in our bed or her brother's bottom bunk to sleep.   Guan Ya turned on the light before she left my room that night and handed me a message on Google translate.  She asked if Macy would come and sleep in her room that night!  Boy, oh boy, talk about a happy moment!  YaYa had never reached out for her siblings like that!  Of course, Macy was ecstatic for Guan Ya to ask her to come in there (it is both of their room with bunk beds)!  Those 2 have been inseparable since!

The next morning Guan Ya reached out and gave me another huge hug told me that she had the best night ever the previous night!   I asked her if she knew why I got on to her and she responded "No"  Me: Because I'm your Mommy and that is what parents do with their kids!  Her faced beamed with a smile!  

Since Sunday night YaYa has been a different child.  I know I have pushed her but I know she is capable of so so much in this life!  I know God is the only reason this beautiful child is now our daughter!  I know He has great things in store for her and I feel it is my place to push her, support her and help her to have the tools to achieve those things!   I don't feel the force from her to push away from us.  It was a major break through a layer!  She has joined in on all family time with a real smile!  We have cooked together and she has joined in without being asked with chores.  I know this is the first of many talks we will have but it felt wonderful to feel real love from her!  She is joining in our family because she wants to!

I could write on about the many adventures but I need to write about a few more things before I finish.   Last Wednesday, I got an email from Martha Mendoza of the AP (Associated Press).  I have spent very little time on the internet since we got home from China and the fact that I saw the email and opened it is surprising!  When I read it, I honestly thought it was a hoax email.  Mrs. Mendoza is writing a story on Google Translate and had come across our journey (I have no idea how!).  She wanted to call us and do an interview over the phone to include in her story on how we had utilized Google Translate.   Wow, I could not believe she would be interested in us country bumpkins!  After reading the email a couple times, I decided we would do the interview.  We felt the interview went great and Martha really seemed interested in us!  It's our lives so I just think of it as living God's journey for us; it doesn't seem so special to me.  We are just doing what we are called to do - no different than anyone else could do.  We had been running to doctor appointments and been completely busy so I really haven't had much time to reflect on the magnitude of the AP contacting us.  Then, on Monday Phil came in the room and looked like a deer caught in headlights!  He said "Well, that was someone from Jackson, MS that works for the AP and he is coming  here on Thursday to spend some time with us, take pictures, and get a feel for our family."  Me: Huh?  What?  Really?  Wow!   (I think it was probably more like Huhwhatreallywow! because I was so blown away!)    Phil continued to explain how the researcher/reporter/photographer (sorry I don't know his official title but he is gathering information for Mrs. Mendoza's story) stated he had not been this way for a story in over 10 years.  Phil said that "No" was not an answer for him coming because they want to know more about us and find our story intriguing!  Sooooooo, tomorrow we have a reporter out of Jackson, MS from the Associated Press coming to spend some time with us.  Please pray that God's words and knowledge will flow from us!  We have always been behind the scenes kind of people but if this helps to get God's word out,  let the world know about the orphan crisis, or cause any good then we will always speak out!

Google Translate guys sent a message to tell us "Hi" and said they were glad to hear how it had really helped us!  We have really utilized Google Translate and it has aided us to have a relationship with our daughter before she came home.  Since she has been home, it has aided to have deep conversations we could not have otherwise had!  We are really grateful for this Free program!  We still use sign language and will continue to learn sign language, but it takes time!  During the next few years, Google Translate will be an invaluable tool until we are all fluent with ASL!

O.k. for the last bit of news, we will have a dual birthday party for Colt and Guan Ya on Sunday 2pm at Biggersville First Baptist Church.  Everyone is welcome to come and celebrate with us and meet our crazy but loving family of 6!  If  you would like to communicate with Guan Ya, you can download Google Translate for free.  Some people have asked what gift to give them.  Honestly they need nothing and please do not feel you have to bring a gift to celebrate with us!  Some have asked about Guan Ya's size.  She has been given some clothes and ummmm....let's just say she has not been Americanized in clothing! lol  She is very picky with what she likes in clothes so unless you just really have a deep urge to get her clothing, she would probably enjoy something else.  However, we are appreciative of anything!   The kids would just enjoy having your company!

As you pray please remember us tomorrow but also please remember my cousin Katie who is YaYa's age and has been in terrible pain!  Also, please remember my friend Barbara and her family as they have a family member that has received some crushing news.  

Thank you for continuing to follow us through all our journey to follow God's will!  Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do for us!  We are more grateful than you can ever know for being a part of our mission!

Sunday, March 31, 2013



The Smith's - Est. 1998

I am sorry I have not posted in a long time.  I know many of you have been waiting to hear from us!  There has been a lot of jet-leg, adjustments, & doctor appointments in the last 10 days when we stepped back on US soil.  We are so appreciative of each of you that words cannot describe!

This Easter was different from any of the others because we have a teenage daughter in our home!  We are beyond grateful for each of you that made this Easter special by allowing our family to unite!  As I think about Easter and the meaning of it, I can not help but think about how much our Lord loves us!  He loves us so much that He allowed His only begotten son to die so that we can live.  I continue to think about how grateful I am that in time our YaYa will be able to know about His love for her!  This was unlikely to happen in China.  Because of YOU, YaYa will know how Jesus loves & died for her, you, & me!

Eventhough, this journey has not been easy, I without a doubt, would NOT change it! We never followed this road because it was the easy route!  We followed this road because it was the path chosen for us!  We will go back after another precious child if God calls us again.  We feel we must pay off all our adoption debt from the last 2 before we can start on another one.  However, if it's God's will, I have no doubt He will drop that money off in the least expected way so we can provide the love & forever family for another child.  We are humbed that God has chosen us out of ALL the other people in the world to parent the 4 children we have now!

 Do you think it was easy when our Lord made the decision to allow Jesus to die on the cross? (Luke 23)  Do you think it was easy when Moses was chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt? (Exodus)  Do you think it was easy for Noah to be criticed for building an arc or for Noah to preach for over 100 years without converting a single person? (Genesis 5)  And the list could continue.......
 The examples of hard roads for other Christians often dwarf anything I've done!  

I have to admit that I've learned that even though I "thought" I knew how to LOVE like our Savior, I've realized I have a lot of work in that departmet!  Loving others is not only verbalizing it, but it is a verb, an action, something you must do! Love is the greatest commandment thus I believe it is hard to give 100% true LOVE as Christ LOVES us!  Think about it!  Would you do ANYTHING for another that you would do for yourself, your child?  You may quickly say "Yes, I'd give the shirt off my back" However, we often have another one in our closet.  Love is the greatest gift & the hardest commandment to follow if you really think about it!    

We appreciate all of your prayers & everything else you have done for us more than you know! 

My prayer for each of you is that if you do not know our Savior, then you will come to know Him!  He LOVES YOU!!!  He wants YOU to come to Him!  If you do not know how to become a Christian, please feel free to contact Phil or I at anytime!  There is NO greater LOVE than the LOVE Christ has for us!  If you are saved, I pray you find your path that God is calling you to!  I pray you will love as Christ loves us!  
God Bless each of you my special friends!