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Hi! I hate introductions... Me: BekaHubby: NikThe Teenager: Our beauitful 17 year old girl. Passionate, kind, caring, and never a bit sarcastic ;)Bean: My almost 6 year old smarty girl. Never stops talking. Remembers everything. Loves to sing and make up songs. Sees beauty in everything. Bug: My 4 year old little bunch of spunk. She walks to the beat of her own drum and couldn't care less if you don't like the music she's playing. Bubba: My almost 3 year old little man. We call him "The Narrator." He loves buses and anything with an engine. Plays the drums like a boss. Has a STRONG sense of right and wrong and is not afriad to enforce it by any means at his disposal.Si-Boy: 1 1/2 year old little man. Stubborn and cute, and therefore dangerous. Has a wicked smile and a glint in his eye all the time. Tater-Tot: 6 month old sweet angel girl. The happiest, prettiest little thing you will ever see. She is truely a beacon--- people are attracted to her.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will direct your paths." --Proverbs 3:5-6 In Spring 2014 we relocated from Southern California and are on a never-ending adventure of seeing how the Lord will choose to grow us and challenge us at every turn. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

So... what's next?

Big news, everyone!

(does anyone NOT hear Professor Farmsworth when I say that? Because you can be excused now, if so...)

We officially have our signed, notarized copy of our completed adoption homestudy. 4 1/2 months after we received our packet full of forms to sign and huuugggggeeee biographies to fill out and clearances to receive and classes to take, we are done (with that part.) Just a note: They told us it would take 6-8 months, so... :)

Yay! Happy Dance!

We are so thankful to all of you who have supported us financially and spiritually with your prayers and encouragement so far. Keep those prayers coming--- as I told Jordan yesterday, we are doing something that is going to make the devil very angry, and we need as many warriors on our side as we can get!

Side note (wouldn't it be awesome if I could actually make this a "note" on the "side"? Alas...) It's a very odd experience reading about your life in a third person narrative that sums up everything about you. Our worker did such a good job capturing "us" in the study, but it was still very weird to read our own biographies!

So... what's next?

Well, it's kind of like applying for a job. There are a lot of listing sites where adoption workers post profiles of children in their caseload that are free (or almost free) for adoption. This means that their parents have no more legal rights to them and they have no family that is willing to take them (or, if they are not yet "legally free," that they are checking into the last few family members but they anticipate they will be ready to be adopted very soon).

We read the profiles, try to sift through the jargon to figure out who these kids really are, and then submit our homestudy to their worker if we feel they will be a good match. Our study approves us for one child ages 6-17. While we initially wanted siblings, our worker felt it was best for us to only take one child at this time. We are focusing on girls aged 10-17, but we will see where the Lord leads us.

THEN their worker reads our homestudy and decides if we are a potentially good match. Depending on the state and listing site, they either send us or our worker more detailed information, or we get put on a "maybe" pile which then gets sent to an adoption team of therapists, workers, foster families, community resource members, etc, who THEN decide who the "top picks" are, and THEN they send out more detailed information.

Are you exhausted yet?

THEN we read their file, try to get all the information we need, and decide if we still want to pursue that child based on all the information we have. If we decide they will be a good match,

THEN the worker and/or committee takes all the "finalists" (people who they like who also said yes to the child's more detailed file) and decides who they are going to choose to adopt them.

THEN we go through all the contract specifics--- costs that need to be covered, travel expenses, visits (if there will be any), etc,

THEN they come live with us, and there may or may not be a waiting period before they are "legally" our children where we have more visits.

Yeah, it's a little insane. It is complicated by the fact that the "profiles" on which we are making submissions vary from coded to EXTREMELY vague (think--- likes purple, dogs, and PB&J, dislikes sauerkraut and country music) so it is hard to decide who to even pursue.

By the way--- I hope we aren't scaring anyone thinking of adopting away with all this info. It sounds like a lot, but most of it (on our part) is waiting for things to be done. It has been actually really non-invasive and simple, just very **detailed** and **specific**

So that is "what's next." We have been told it could take 9-12 months to be chosen, finalized, and placed. But, as our mantra has been through this whole process, we are on God's time and we know He doesn't follow a bureaucratic model and timeline. We are excited to see, yet again, how he gets things moving and shaking and the testimony we will be able to have to our workers and the people we meet :)

If you missed my post about praying for orphans, I urge you to read it here and pick a prayer child--- prayer works! 3 of the children/sibling sets that were being prayed for were adopted VERY quickly (and those are only the ones I know about!).

Stay tuned for more exciting adoption news SOON! How's that for speaking (blogging?) in faith!

Love from the gorgeous Inland Northwest!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Let me answer your questions for you!

Let me answer your questions for you!

We are so happy to announce there is a tiny little (almost) 9 week old Smith baby growing AS WE SPEAK.

I want to save everyone some major brain energy, so I’m just gonna do this for ya’ll J

When this baby is born (sometime near March 11, 2015), we will have:
5 under 5 ½.
4 under 4.
3 under 3 AND
2 under 2

(and hopefully 2 more older ones to make it 7 total--- it is the number of perfection, you know)

Silas and Little Cinq (that’s 5 in French for you Anglophones out there) will be about 13 ½ months apart.

I will have been pregnant for 50 out of the last 72 months. Yep, that’s more than 2/3 of the last 6 years. That is including two first-trimester miscarriages, one between Zoe and Xander and one between Silas and Little Cinq.

We suspect it’s either caused by water or sex, and we’re not willing to give up either J

Yes, we own a TV, and have a Netflix subscription.

We will stop having them when they stop coming out so stinking cute J

All kidding aside, we are overjoyed to be welcoming a new life into the world and into our family. We have been told by our adoption worker that we can still continue with our adoption process and, just as before, it is in the hands of the social workers who receive our applications (so the workers for whatever children we apply for) to decide if we are a good fit for prospective placements, new baby and all. Our hope is that both the workers and whatever children are potentially placed in our homes will see this as a big positive--- they are not “Plan B” or something to be set on the backburner while our “real” children are being raised. They are our Plan A, just as our biological children are, and we hope they can see it as a rewarding experience to come and welcome a little brother or sister into the world. I personally hope we are matched before the baby is born so that ALL the new siblings (adopted and just born) will have a chance to be a part of each others’ lives from day one!

Jordan and Zoe are very excited. Zoe actually walked into the bathroom when I wasn’t paying attention, saw the test on the counter and said “Op, time for another baby!” and then went about her day. Xander has no idea what’s going on, although he did manage to get out a “Baby? Baby?” during the ultrasound. Silas is happy, because that’s just what Silas is.

And just to add to the “Wow, they’re insane” thoughts (hehehe)--- this baby will, God willing, be born at an Independent Christian Birth Center with a midwife named Inga who attends New Life with us. Crazy, I know, but I think it’s going to be a good experience for us and is a very happy alternative to the strict VBAC policies (like, not allowed) at the Idaho hospitals (thank you, little Bug, for your stubborn entrance into the world!)

Well, that is that! I can only imagine that God has some battles for us because he is definitely filling our quiver! 

God Bless and Love from the Smith Household!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Challenge to YOU (yes, YOU)

I have a challenge for you.

And let me tell you, it’s a challenge that, I promise, if you take it, will change your life.

You’re not going to want to. You are probably really tempted to stop reading right now. Push through.

Your flesh is going to fight against it. Your mind is going to give you all sorts of excuses. You’re going to find about 500 reasons to dismiss this.

But don’t.

Here is my challenge for you:

Visit one of the websites I’m going to list below. Pick out one child or sibling set. And commit to praying for them once a day every day until they find a family.

That’s it.

No money, no letter writing, no work. Just prayer.

Read about them, get to know their names and ages and personalities, and pray for them the way you would like someone to pray for your own children if they were ever a face (or faces) on this website. 

It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out process. Make it your prayer while you sip your coffee. Or your prayer while you’re stopped at a red light on the way to work.

Northwest Adoption Exchange (Idaho/Oregon/Washington/Alaska)
Adopt US Kids (National Listing)

Do you hear all the excuses flying through your brain about why you shouldn’t have to do this? They’re there. I know they are because they were there for me when God first put this challenge on my heart. You don't have time to look at those websites. You already sponsor a child through Compassion. Your church gives money to orphans. You don't feel "led" to pray for an orphan. Or, you might not even have words to put to your thoughts other than an overwhelming desire to hit that little “X” button in the upper right corner and just pretend you never read this because it's just "not for you." 

You have 60 seconds every day to offer up a prayer for a child that may not have anyone else praying for them.
When God first put the idea of adoption on my heart, Nik was dead set against it. So I did just this. I made a commitment to pray every day for a sibling set. I didn’t really *want* to pray, but I felt God leading me to do it, so I did. There were two that were really on my heart, but I wanted to make a committed, personal effort so I chose one set of sisters. 4 days after I started praying, they were adopted. It was such an amazing feeling that instead of reluctance to do it, as I felt the first time, I was eager to start praying for the other sisters that were on my heart. I saw the desires of my heart turn from really not wanting to (for reasons I couldn’t even articulate) into being excited to pray for them and see lives changed. My kids pray for them every night, by name. They lay on their beds and, with their childlike faith, ask God to provide them a home and a family and love. Children have a love for the "unloveable" in an instinctual way that has been bred out of most adults. 

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” –Psalm 37:4

When you delight in what the Lord delights in, your life will be changed. You may not ever meet these children this side of heaven, but what an awesome gift you are giving them and yourself by opening up your heart and praying for them when they need it most.

Will you take my challenge? Do you have an extra 60 seconds in your day every day to change a few lives?

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” –James 1:27

If you a willing to take this prayer challenge, I would love if you would post in the comments the name and location of the child/children you are praying for and share this post forward!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Money Money Money

Some of you may be wondering
 (or maybe you're not, so feel free to click away now)
"What are all these "costs of adoption" they're raising money for? Isn't foster care adoption cheap/free?"


And yes.

And no.

If you compare it to international adoption, it is SIGNIFICANTLY less expensive. Like, by a lot :)

And I guess "cheap" is all in the eye of the beholder. So here is a (sorta) breakdown of (some) of the costs:

Application fee: $100
Homestudy fee: $1200
Mandatory training: $150
Mandatory Background checks: $165
Basic physicals/checkups for whole family: $300
"Safety" supplies for home:
Gate for woodburning stove, firearms cabinet, outlet covers, cabinet locks: ~$200
New furniture: Beds, Mattresses, Desks, Dressers, Sheets, Comforters... ??? We are always scouring Craigslist looking for deals on these things :) Except for mattresses. Who wants a used mattress??? I am estimating it will be about $700 (for two of each!)\

We are also saving for travel costs (we have no idea if we will need them, but if we adopt out of state I anticipate having to travel!). Let's just guess around $1000.

So that's $3815... and I know there will be other incidental costs along the way that will make it more like a nice, round $4000. Its only about 10% of what people adopting internationally will pay, but still, it's a decent chunk of change, right?

We know that God will provide and we are SO thankful to all our wonderful friends who have already shown their support.

If you'd like to help out (every dollar helps) and get a prayer bracelet... click here!

As always, our love!!

Beka, Nik and Midgets!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

For I know the plans I have for you...

... declares the LORD. Plans for PEACE and not for evil, to give you a FUTURE and a HOPE.
--Jeremiah 29:11

This has always been one of my favorite bible verses. It is such a verse of inspiration and hope. For GOD knows the plans HE has for YOU. He is declaring this over your life--- that HIS plans for YOUR life are for PEACE... he has a future and a hope for you!

How amazing is that?

It has struck me time and again, as I (maybe slightly obsessively) look at pictures of all these kids that need a family, that could be *our* children, that they do not have this assurance. They are not growing up in an environment that assures them that yes, despite the bad things, despite problems, despite roadblocks, God has a plan FOR GOOD for you. They do not have a father or mother or family who can stand in as an earthly representation of our Father in Heaven to say "I will love you unconditionally. Nothing can separate you from my love."

I look at these kids and *know* God has an awesome plan for all of them, and I also *know* that His will on this earth cannot be done without us as His followers acting out our faith. If we sit by and do nothing, then the adversary wins.

The bible tells us this:
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
-James 1:27

I know it is not possible for many people to adopt. It was not possible in our lives for quite a long season. But we are ALL commanded to care for the widows and orphans. It is against my nature to reach out and say "we need help," but we do. And, more than that, God has put it on our hearts to make sure we open up an opportunity for all our brothers and sisters in Christ to help in the ways that they can during this process and, most importantly, sew into the lives of these children, whoever they are :)

ALL that being said, we are excited to announce that we will be selling "Prayer Bands" (a rubber bracelet---made in the USA!) to raise money to go toward the funds of our home study. This is a necessary step in our adoption process without which we cannot apply to be considered as adoptive parents.

Nik picked out the "Batman" theme. Pretty awesome, right? You know you want one...

We are asking for a $5 donation per band. If you are able to give more--- yay! If you are able to give some, every penny counts!

You can give your donation on our Go Fund Me Page.

If you cannot give financially but would like to partner with us in prayer during this process, please let us know and we will be happy to send you a prayer band. We would love for you to wear them as a daily reminder to pray for our family and for the children we will be pursuing. 

If you are part of a church group, youth group, women's group, or any other kind of group (or just have a lot of friends!), or have a storefront or business where you can set up a donation jar with the bands, and would like us to send you more bands to offer to those you know, we would love to do so!

As always, we covet and are thankful for your continued prayers and support. We look forward to the day when we can share pictures of our new family members and tell them about all the prayer and love they have had poured into them before we even knew them :)

Beka, Nik, and Kiddos

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Big News Around Here!

We have some big (Big BIG) news in the Smith household!

No, we're not having another baby (although adding another wonderful *little* arrow to add to our quiver is always a welcome and real possibility around here!)

However, we are *hopefully* adding some... larger... arrows (*hopefully* soon!!)

Yes, our family has started on the exciting journey of adoption!

We have been praying for quite some time about how God would have us participate in caring for children who need a family (be it financial, prayer, helping another family, etc), and, now that we are settled in our new northern home, we really feel that God is calling us to adopt through the foster system.

Pretty exciting, eh?

Right now we are pursing a direct adoption from foster care--meaning we are going to apply for a specific set of children that are close to or already legally free and ready to be adopted-- and we are wanting to be approved for an older (pre-teen/teen) sibling set. We are going this route instead of going through foster care first because we really feel it will be easier on our children not to have *possible* siblings coming in and out of the home and not knowing who will stay and who will go. We want them to be able to start forming sibling relationships and embrace them as their family right away! It will also be a little easier (God willing) to have children placed with us through direct adoption than foster care because of our family size. It is important to us to continue our conviction of leaving our family size totally in God's hands and this is a more realistic possibility doing direct adoption.

As of right now we really feel God is asking us to open our home to a set of pre-teen or teen siblings. As most of your know, we do have a weakness for teenagers (Call us crazy, we do love 'em!)  We do not know who specifically that will be yet--although I personally have a preference for a set of teen sisters that I have been praying for :)  I have been warned that they will probably be adopted by the time our background checks and homestudy have cleared--- which I will be fine with, but still... I'm a little partial to them :)

Right now we are in the very beginning stages--- we are currently doing a required training course called "Because They Waited" and gathering all the things we will need to complete our homestudy.

I know this is going to be a spiritually trying and challenging journey but I feel such peace and excitement about the whole thing. I cannot wait to see which souls God is going to entrust to our family and bless us with!

As always, we appreciate your prayers!  I, personally, am praying that we will be able to bless everyone we come in contact with during this process and really "shine our lights," and that this process goes smoothly and QUICKLY! I am also praying that any pre-conceived notions and prejudices people might have about larger families with small children will be dispelled once they get to know us, as we have been warned that sometimes workers are hesitant to place children with families that already have "a lot" (4 is a lot??) of kids. I know our God is bigger than "the system" and that with His help things will go exactly as they are meant to!!

I'm sure we will be doing some sort of fundraising as there are extra things we are going to need to bring older children into our home--- beds, furniture, and a larger vehicle, to name a few! Keep an eye on this blog and my FB page for updates on how you can help, if you feel so led!!

In any case, I know God is guiding this process and my overwhelming emotion is excitement to get moving and meet whoever it is that God will bring into our lives!

Thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Homeschool Debate. Or, "Teachers, We Love You."

There are countless -- I'm going to say upwards of 10,000, but hey, I'm guessing-- blog posts about Homeschool. The why, the how, the stats on how great it is and how great public school isn't.

This is not one of those posts. (Ok, maybe it kinda is. But not really)

This is a post that is, in a way, an ode to school teachers.

And a declaration of peace, from me, a homeschooling Mommy, to the teachers of the world.

I think that sometimes we homeschooling parents come off as very anti-teacher. Which, if I may speak for the majority of us, we are not (or we shouldn't be!!)

I commend, applaud, and wish I could award school teachers--- and especially public school teachers. I do not believe (and maybe this is idealistic of me, but I don't think it is) that ANYONE goes into the profession of teaching with anything other than a true servant's heart. Do some teachers turn "bad?" Sure. So do some Pastors. And some Police Officers. And some Firemen. But no one enters into the profession of teaching with dreams of lots of time off and plenty of expendable income that comes after a nice, slow season's work in a perfect little classroom. Maybe there is the idealistic dream that one or two of their students will turn out to be something truly great--- curing cancer or bringing about world peace--- and bring them a bit of celebrity and glory. But that's a pretty awesome goal, isn't it? I know there are teachers out there who are just plain no longer good at their jobs, or have stopped caring, or are now just trying to make it to retirement. I do not think that any of them started out with these expectations.

And I want to say, right here and right now, that I DO NOT think I can do a teacher's job better than they can. That seems to be a very common accusation when people find out a parent is homeschooling.

"What, do you think you can teach better than a person who was trained in college and has been doing it for 20 years can?" 

My answer is No... and Yes... and No.

All things being equal, I *know* I cannot teach better than a professional teacher. If I was given a classroom full of 30 (35... 40) kids, some of whom (who? whom?) don't speak English, some of whom have parents that could not care less what their kids do all day as long as they're in free childcare, some of whom are waaay below grade level... I would fail. Miserably and quickly. If I was given (what I think is) a ridiculous curriculum, with ridiculous standards to live up to, under a ridiculous bureaucracy, with a ridiculous time frame... I would fail.

And, reversely, if that same teacher was given a welcoming "classroom" (a home-like setting, maybe) with only one (or three, or eight) kids to teach, and got to spend lengthy, quality time getting to know those children and their personalities and their histories, and was able to choose curriculum based on those children's strengths and weaknesses and learning styles, and was able to work on a schedule that worked best for everyone... they would soar. And, to be traitorous to the "No one can teach my child better than I can," under *these* circumstances, they most certainly would do it better than I can. Their training and education in teaching methods and learning styles and... well, let's be honest, I don't really know what else they cover when getting a teacher's certification... would allow them to thrive and perform better than I could.

But, let's be honest.

All things are not equal.

Even Mrs. Michelle Duggar has a classroom size smaller than the average US Elementary School Classroom (20.3, in case you're wondering. And I'm going out on a limb and saying a few really low outliers are throwing that off. Just look at the numbers for most CA Public Schools--- closer to 30!). Teachers are using a generalized "common" curriculum. There is little to no wiggle room for teacher or student personality, learning styles, strengths and weaknesses, etc. Classrooms are cold, crowded places with few supplies and even fewer of the learning tools that all the education classes in college teach are really necessary to "foster" learning.

So I guess my answer is... Could I do a teacher's job better than they could? No. But can they teach my child, given the current educational circumstances, better than I can? No again. That doesn't mean I hate them or think they're doing a horrible job--- If I haven't made it clear enough, I honestly believe public school teachers are HEROS in today's society.  Let's all hold hands and sing Kombaya (?? "I can't believe you're going to teach your kids and you can't even SPELL") and realize that we (as homeschool parents) and teachers are working for the same goal.

We are not at war.

Give peace a chance! (Sorry, I really couldn't help it)

Beka Out.