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

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!