As mentioned in my last post, you cannot truly understand how I came to the idea for The Adoption Project, until you’ve met my family – the Smiths. 

These humans have played a big part in shaping who I am and what I know to be worthwhile in life. Let me introduce you to my parents.

Photo Credit: Whitney Majors Photo Credit: Whitney Majors

This is Dell and Carla Smith – my parents. They were both born and {for the majority} raised in this gem state of Idaho. They met in High School, fell in love and maintained their love for each other throughout my dad’s full-time LDS mission in Melbourne, Australia. After returning, their love was rekindled further and they married on April 17th, 1975. 

Soon after, they had my oldest brother, Brendan. Two years later they had my brother Trevor. Two and a half years passed and my oldest sister, Jessica, was born and then three and a half beyond that my sister, Courtney, was born.

Eight years passed after Courtney was born and my parents felt that one more child was waiting to enter the family. {Or at least one at that point.} 

I was born on August 30, 1992- a healthy, curly-headed, and oh-so-tubby child {so tubby that I was thus nicknamed “Toad” by Brendan.} My parents and siblings were in love with me- or so I am told! I was a star – always gleaming in the spotlight, begging for people to watch me dance and hear me sing. My childhood was amazing and I played the part of ‘the youngest child’ to extreme perfection.

Photo Credit: Whitney Majors Photo Credit: Whitney Majors

After my father completed his 16-year journey of Higher Education, Medical School and Residency, my mother was left wondering what she would do with her time, talents and goals. My father opened his practice in Twin Falls, Idaho, where we moved from Springville, Utah. 

Photo Credit: Whitney Majors Photo Credit: Whitney Majors

It was 2-3 years that we lived in Twin Falls before my parents felt the nudgings; the nudgings that their immediate family was not complete. Not yet. My parents will tell you that there were many reasons they felt these nudgings. One of these being that they did not want me to be raised alone, as my older sister was 8 years older than me and would be moving out of the house in a few short years.

The ultimate reason my parents decided to adopt was because they had received personal revelation from the Lord that they should give all their efforts and time into raising two more children. {Or at least two at that point.}

After a long, complicated pre-adoption process, my mother, oldest sister, Jessica, and our dear next-door neighbor {who had prepared to adopted two wonderful Vietnamese children, herself}, traveled to Vietnam where they met and adopted my youngest sister Nicole, and younger brother, Tyler. Nicole was 3 years old and Tyler was just an infant.

Photo Credit: Whitney Majors Photo Credit: Whitney Majors

The adjustment to having two new siblings was awesome and hard. I was very excited to have two cute kids to play with, but it was difficult communicating. Nicole was fluent in Vietnamese and extremely smart. Even in her foreign language, I knew when she was mocking something we would say. It was heartbreaking that we couldn’t understand her every word. Being an infant, Tyler didn’t speak any languages, except that of crying. And in that, he was very fluent.

Photo Credit: Whitney Majors Photo Credit: Whitney Majors

After so much crying {and sometimes screaming} I remember asking my mom “if we could just take them back?” I did not understand. I didn’t know what Nicole and Tyler were experiencing. Adjustment was hard for all of us. 

But through what I know to only be Divine help, we made it through. Nicole and I became really close, though we fought a lot like sisters do. She picked up English easily as she was extremely smart. And Tyler grew healthy, happy and obliged to letting us dress him up as a princess. That is until he turned about 6 years old. 

Photo Credit: Whitney Majors Photo Credit: Whitney Majors

Nicole and Tyler were sealed to our family in the Provo, Utah temple soon after their adoption. I was still quite young so I don’t remember too much of what was happening, but I remember the sacred feeling inside the temple and how much love we all had for my parents, Nicole and Tyler. 

Photo Credit: Whitney Majors Photo Credit: Whitney Majors

Nicole had told us stories about her sister in Vietnam who walked funny. She sang us the songs they would sing together. She taught me some of the games they would play. Being young, I didn’t take a huge interest in this other sister, especially since Nicole often created stories as little 3-year-olds do. 

Photo Credit: Whitney Majors Photo Credit: Whitney Majors

I remember when my parents sat me down one evening and told me that Nicole had a sister – a biological sister – who was still in Vietnam at the orphanage. This was a sister that the American facilitators did not tell my parents about because at the time of adopting Nicole, Angela had a different last name. 

My parents asked if it was okay if they adopted another sister for me. I told them, “Okay, but this is the last one!” I couldn’t believe it. I looked at two pictures of Angela and wondered who she was. I still remember a complete peace coming over me as I peered at her innocent face and her bowl-cut hairdo. This was my sister. I smiled and told my parents that I was okay with adopting her. Even as an 8 year old, I felt faith that the Lord knew what He was doing, that my parents knew what they were doing and that I and my siblings would get along just fine with this new sister.

Photo Credit: Whitney Majors Photo Credit: Whitney Majors

And so my mom made a second trip to Vietnam. But this time, alone. It’s amazing now to hear her stories about the many obstacles that my parents had to hurdle in adopting my siblings, but especially this portion of Angela’s adoption when my mother was in this beautiful, foreign country, completely out of her element, where hardly anyone spoke English. Nearly every step in this second trip to Vietnam felt like all the forces of Hell were trying to keep her from finding and adopting Angela.

Photo Credit: Whitney Majors Photo Credit: Whitney Majors

But yet again, by Divine help, my mother was able to find Angela and adopt her. She finally got her! To this day, we celebrate what we like to call Gotcha Day. Nicole and Tyler’s is one day, and Angela’s is on another. We celebrate by eating apple pie {symbolic for their American citizenship} and letting them know how glad we are that we got them.

Angela’s adjustment was a pure miracle, much like Nicole and Tyler’s, but in a few different ways. You see, Angela was 7 when she was adopted and extremely fluent in Vietnamese. We knew it would be challenging to teach her English and get her into school quickly. But through lots of prayer, fasting, studying of the Book of Mormon and with Divine help, Angela picked up the English language so fast. I remember how she would copy what we were saying in English and giggle, much like you would if you thought a foreign word sounded funny. She would mock what people said and make us all laugh. Soon after Angie turned 8, she had ward-missionary discussions and was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

One of my favorite memories of Angela joining our family was when she got off the plane from Vietnam with my mother. She smiled and laughed, held hands with us and sang songs as we skipped down the halls of the airport. She was so happy to be with her family.  

Angela’s sealing to my parents occurred at the Logan, Utah Temple. Much like the previous sealing of Nicole and Tyler’s, Angela’s sealing was beautiful. Though I did not understand everything that occured or was said at the time, I remember the peace of the Spirit that was there. I remember Tyler, still a baby, looking up at the ceiling. My parents still like to tell us how he was ‘looking at all the angels there.’ I believe that he truly was.

Photo Credit: Whitney Majors Photo Credit: Whitney Majors

Fast forward 15 years and I care even more for my siblings now than I did when we were children. Having grown up with my siblings, I know I am a different person than I could have been growing up at home for 10 years without other siblings. Because I am Nicole, Angela and Tyler’s older sister, I have learned {among many things} measures of patience, humility, adaptability, maturity, faith, love and an ultimate strengthening of testimony of families and God’s Plan of Happiness.

Had I stayed in my youngest-child frame of mind, I am not sure I would have started to learn these things so young. I thank my parents, all of my older and younger siblings for shaping me into the person I am today. Certainly, I am not testifying of my greatness, my holiness, or my intellect. I have leaps and bounds and eternities to fully gain all the things I have started to as a byproduct of having adopted siblings. 

What I can truly testify of, however, is the fact that miracles happen every day. Divine help is real. And families, no matter their make-up of biological- or step- or adopted- children, really are forever when sealed by proper authority to their earthly parents in the temple. 

The Smith Family Sept. 2015 {Not pictured: Sister, Angela, sister-in-law, Tamara, and a few grandkids.} Photo Credit: Whitney Majors The Smith Family Sept. 2015 {Not pictured: Sister, Angela, sister-in-law, Tamara, and a few grandkids.} Photo Credit: Whitney Majors

Thank you for reading mine and my family’s story. I hope that having read this you can understand my point of view as I tell the stories of other families who have adopted, placed for adoption, and are seeking to adopt.

To read my initial blog post on The Adoption Project, please click here. Thank you, again.

#shoutyouradoption #theadoptionproject