Created, Chosen, Celebrated, Cherished: One Year Home

The following post is cross-posted from our main, PrairieFrog Blog.  Because Kiffanie has transitioned so beautifully, it’s becoming more and more difficult to separate “adoption” posts from family-life posts and know what things to post on this more adoption specific blog.  For that reason, I’m going to place this Harp & Hammers Blog in semi-retirement for the present.  We might resurrect it later for a new project, and I’ll keep the present posts up as a beautiful adoption journal of Kiffanie’s home coming and a few glimpses of her first year home with us.  To keep up with Kiffanie (and all of our) adventures, hop over to our PrairieFrog Blog.

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Kiffanie has been home one full year today!   On May 11th, 2012, I posted this hasty entry.  Details followed the next day  in this post.  It’s been an amazing year!

Often, transitions are difficult for children from tough situations, but Kiffanie’s vivacious and adaptive spirit, the healing and nurturing time in the care of a small, family style orphanage, and God’s mercy and grace in ways we may never comprehend worked together to make everything far easier than we imagined possible!  God has given us a wondrous gift in this precious girlie!

The photos below highlight today’s low-key celebration.  She ate from the “celebration dishes” that are distinctive from our regular dinnerware, and reserved for special honorees.  At her place she also found a little package with a necklace. Each facet of the necklace is inscribed with a word reflecting an aspect of adoption:

Created: She was created by our loving God who knew her before the foundations of the world.  She was created within the womb of a special lady–her birth mother–who gave Kiffanie (and ultimately us) a beautiful gift of life.

Chosen: God chose her for us and us for her.  We believe He directed us in placing her on our hearts from nearly the first moment we knew of her, we chose her.

Celebrated: Kiffanie lives life as a party, and her role in our family is celebrated by all of us!

Cherished: She is cherished–by her Heavenly Father, and by us–her earthly family.

Click To Enlarge

If you are reading through an external feed reader, click through to the blog to view the photo collage of Kiffanie’s Homecoming Anniversary Celebration.

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Citizenship

Yesterday was officially Kiffanie’s “readoption” date!   It was actually a “ghost hearing” which meant we didn’t do the big courthouse scene, opting instead for the more PrairieFrog style, at-home celebration!

Introducing, Kiffanie, United States Citizen!

Citizenship!

Citizenship Papers

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Visitors

This week brought a visit from friends, and then Kiffanie’s first glimpse of extended family.

Earlier this week, missionary friends from the Democratic Republic of Congo visited! We were all so blessed by their fellowship, a slideshow of their ministry in the DRC, and lots of fun visiting!   Kiffanie especially enjoyed visiting with their 12 year old son, and with Papa  Greene, and we discovered she speaks some Lingala!   How often do parents discover their four year old speaks a language they didn’t realize she knows!  We knew she’d spoken Swahili before going to the orphanage, but then she’d forgotten much of her Swahili and has spoken primarily French for the past year she’s been in Pastor Didier’s care at the orphanage.  When the Greenes first arrived, she ignored their greetings in Lingala, but responded to their conversations in French, yet the next morning she surprised us all by chattering away with their twelve year old son, Josiah, in Lingala and giggling at the two-way banter!  She even gestured to Kieran and told Josiah, “I hit that one a lot.”  She tried to style the boys’ hair, but met considerable resistance when she attempted to adorn her brothers and Josiah with colorful hair clips, so she resorted to wearing a hair clip on her lips.  (See the bottom right photo below.)  Kieran enjoyed Bethany, who played with him tirelessly.  (Bethany, you made a friend in this fellow!  He thinks you are terrific–and I agree.)

The Greenes are a fun, generous hearted family, and such a delight!  I’m praying that their travels bring them through our little corner of the world again! (And we’re praying for them as they spend a busy year in the states, and then head back home to the Congo where they work daily to minister in Biblical and lasting ways to a people dear to our hearts!) How wondrous that God arranged for our first visitors to the house since Kiffanie’s homecoming speak her languages, and bring slides of scenes familiar to her! As they showed the slide show she recognized “foo foo” (a Congolese food), and many other familiar sights! She giggled with excitement at the pictures projected on the wall.

Yesterday, One of Kiffanie’s Grandma’s came for a few hours, pushed the children on swings, played games, and joined us for cookies!  I entirely forgot to grab the camera, but it was a lovely visit. Kiffanie had been awaiting Grandma’s visit, greeted her at the door, and after saying hello and inviting her in, announced, “Moi Beautiful!”  (I’m beautiful!)  (She’s got confidence!  We’ll work on humility too.) (I also think her French grammar was wrong and that it should have be “je suis” not “moi”) Her next words are, “Daddy is silly.  Daddy is VERY silly.”   Yes, that’s my Kiffanie.  Greet someone for the first time, declare herself beautiful and her daddy silly.  She proceeded to tell Grandma her brothers and sisters are also silly, but “Mommy silly no.”

No pictures with Grandma, but here are a few from our visit with the Greenes!

Visit with Friends

Visit with Friends

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Worship As a Family of 8

Yesterday was beautiful.  It was our first Sunday at church as a family of eight!  Our church family has been a wonderful encouragement and support to us through the entire adoption process, and it was especially joyous to be able to introduce our sweet Kiffanie.  She was great through the service, and afterward enjoyed discovering a new friend near her own age.  It was a joy to see her feeling confident to run around a bit with the other children yet coming back to mommy and daddy every few moments.

She enjoyed dressing for church. All week she’s been asking for the frilliest dress in her closet, and wistfully touching the gold, sparkly shoes.  Each day I’d say, “Dimanche a église” (Which I hope means, “Sunday for church”–but if you are attempting to learn French Grammar from this blog, you are in the wrong place.)  Back to the shoes and dress: each day she’d touch them and ask if it was Sunday yet.

Once Sunday arrived and she was decked out in her coveted poofy-frills, she was rewarded by gasps of awe from two brothers–one of whom said, “Kiffanie looks like a princess!”

And, she is a princess.  Just as she is adopted into our family, we are adopted into God’s family as children of the King of Kings-with brothers and sisters to share the journey alongside us.   What beauty to worship with church family who has prayed for us through each challenge, cried with us, rejoices with us, and allows us to share their joys and sorrows too.

We are astounded at God’s grace–we are quite sure there are still adjustment issues on the horizon, but so far she’s shown no problems with attachment, grieving, or emotional issues, but merely “learning the ropes.”  Her boundary testing hasn’t seemed to have been out of a desire to test our love or commitment to her, (she seems miraculously confident in that) but just a simple adjustment to being under authority when she’s used to calling the shots herself in more areas.

She loves to have books read to her.  (I wasn’t sure she’d have the attention span for this, as it’s a new type of activity for her.)  She also enjoys pointing at pictures in books and naming things in English.  Her interest in books will be a great plus for gentle transition toward academics in coming months (stay tuned for more details).

Someone asked if she’s interested in the variety of music in our home–surprisingly, not really.  She will occasionally plunk around on a vacant instrument (especially the hammer dulcimer), but she’s discovered that while the older children practice, they won’t play with her, and therefore she ignores the person at the instrument and finds someone free to play.  I think she sorts our activities into “able to play with Kiffanie” and “Boring things that ignore Kiffanie.” Music practice falls into the latter.  Sometimes Kendra brings Kiffanie over to the dulcimer to sing children’s songs as she plays in an interactive, Kiffanie-focused–way that brings a smile, but most of the children’s music practice barely hits her radar.  I think she’ll be interested in learning music herself in a few months, but she’s a do-er, not a spectator.

Princess Kiffanie

Princess Kiffanie

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Halfrow; Progressive Styling

Now that Kiffanie is home, I keep forgetting to cross post from our main family blog to share the adoption/transition/bonding related posts here too. As Kiffanie’s life becomes even more seamlessly just part of our brand of normalcy (or abnormalcy), I’ll probably stop posting here entirely and post there exclusively unless there’s something specifically of adoption interest or pertaining to Kaira and Kendra’s music.

Before lunch I washed, detangled, and moisturized Kiffanie’s hair, then gave her a half-row (half-afro).  We thought we might be heading to fly kites this afternoon, but kite flying was canceled due to rain-showers.  It was still nice enough for recess in the back yard, so she played a bit before stage two of her styling session.

Here’s the “half-row” style.  I think it could work as a style on it’s own , and might be a nice option for doing her hair in stages–progressive styling.

Swinging a Halfrow

Swinging a Halfrow

Caught Ken With His Eyes Closed

Caught Ken With His Eyes Closed

And finally, I did finish the rest of the flat-rope-twists.  It’s a style that’s supposedly more gentle than corn-rows, and with her scalp still possibly needing a break after the tension bumps from her home-coming style, I want gentle.

Finished Flat Rope Twists

Finished Flat Rope Twists

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