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

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!  


  1. Wow!.. Thank you for your Honesty! I have said before that through our Weakness & Struggles is Where God is SEEN Strong & Mighty! I'm reminded that He doesn't call us to do Hard Things... He calls us to do IMPOSSIBLE things! Lifting you up in prayer!
    btw: We adopted our son (6yr old.. 2nd adoption.. first was a 21mth old.. a whole different experience) a year ago... it's been tough... very tough. It's also comforting when you come to a blog who "keeps it real" :)

  2. Honesty can seem brutal, raw, and direct but it is also enlightening, cathartic, and appreciated. I'm praying for you and your family. Thank you for putting it out there and sharing.

  3. Thank you for keeping it real! We brought our daughter home at six weeks old, but still deal with the fits of rage you're describing, mixed with wonderful moments that also make our lives feel very bipolar! Keep fighting the good fight. These stubborn, strong-willed girls do have a bright future (or at least, that's what I keep telling myself!). :D Blessings. Amy xox

  4. It sounds like Guan Ya has an attachment disorder. Of course, this may not be news to you, as you seem to be setting the strong boundaries she desperately needs. But i know full well how exhausting that is. I am glad you have your faith to sustain you!!!!

  5. Thank you for being so honest. I can home one year ago with my 7 year old son who is also deaf. He was my fourth adoption. We had a difficult start but we all doing much better. I am hoping to travel back to China this Sept to bring home my 13 year deaf son. So needless to say reading your post hit home. Thank you again for sharing.