In case you haven't heard by now, we have been in the process of adopting a little Zambian girl named Rhoda for the past 3 months. Yesterday, we received what is called the "committal order" which names us as her official foster parents. With this piece of paper in our hands we were able to bring her home with us. Today was our first day with our newest daughter, Jennifer Rhoda Allen. (She has not been officially adopted yet, because Zambian law states that you must foster the child you wish to adopt for 3 months before you can even go to court and officially adopt. So, today marked the beginning of our 3 month fostering period.) We really weren't sure what to expect when we went to get her this morning. I (Stephanie) wasn't sure if she would be emotional saying goodbye to everyone there. Davern (her Zambian father for the past year and a half) led us in a time of prayer. I was very touched and quite emotional. Rhoda really doesn't like being the center of attention so she was quite subdued during that time. Most of the other kids happened to be at AWANA so the send-off was pretty small. After Davern prayed, Steve shared a few words thanking Davern, his wife, and the "aunties" for loving and raising our daughter during this time. We took a few pictures and then we left.
Rhoda was pretty stoic until we had been in the car for a few minutes and then a smile broke out. She smiled, and giggled a bit all the way home. When we got home, we gave her a bath. She played and played and played. I imagine she was never given the time to play when she lived at the orphanage. We had lunch, read some books and then went and got some ice cream to celebrate her fourth birthday. We decided to make her first day with us her new birthday. When Rhoda was brought to the orphanage no one knew what her actual birthday was, and so they assigned her a birthday in April saying that she was turning 3. But, it was pretty obvious to us and some others that she was not 3, but probably much closer to 4.
So, today was a day of fours. Her fourth birthday on July 4th into a family where she has four sisters and is the fourth of five daughters. She has four grandparents and four parents (two biological and two adopted).
After our yummy ice-cream we went to a 4th of July BBQ with some friends. There were five families, and 20 kids that were 10 years and younger:) Yep, it was a bit crazy. Rhoda took a little nap in my Ergo baby carrier on my back....yes, this is the BEST baby carrier out there. I'm convinced! She is 4 and I can hold her comfortably on both my front and my back. Rhoda loves it!! We enjoyed a nice dinner, some fireworks and then came home. We snuggled up little Rhoda in some cute jammies, read some books, and then got her under a comforter with a pillow. I laid down with her and sang her a song and she was asleep before I even finished. Steve and I both sat and prayed over her and watched her sleeping peacefully. It will be strange to have a new baby in the house and not have to get up and feed in the middle of the night. (at least I don't plan on it...) It seems so crazy that she is finally here. Steve and I both have been experiencing waves of anxiety over the last few days and even now, we wonder, how it will all work out. But, God has brought us this far and his grace will lead us on.
Tomorrow we plan on staying home from church to spend time as a family. Monday is a holiday here, so we are planning on going somewhere....maybe the zoo?? We will keep you updated on our new family. It is indeed crazy what a year can bring. We have, not just one new child, but two, in under a year. Our lives are wonderfully full and blessed.