One of the many blessings I thank God for is that Kira has enjoyed excellent health in her short life. She did not suffer sickness while in the care of her baby home and she has not demonstrated any reason to be concerned for her health. A more likely scenario would be that I could list things like malaria, flu, RSV, giardia or worse, AIDS. The sanitation practices of her baby home are supremely better than what the average Ugandan household can provide. That by itself is a gift from God. I took Kira to her pediatrician here this past week for her first look over. Kira was so entertaining we hardly had time to discuss medical items. She was babbling at full volume, and trying to reach every new thing she saw in the room. Doctor Gordon rolled her stool close to us to listen to her heart with the stethoscope. Kira was not afraid, she reached out her hands for the doctor to hold her. This surprised the doctor who took her into her lap and continued to examine her lungs and heart. She is a secure little baby and comfortable with “pretty” strangers. She is not so eager to go to the arms of a man she doesn’t know. Later during the exam when the doctor poked things into her nose and mouth she was much less happy with her and made a good show of letting us all know her fury. The doctor told me as she left that she has a delightful personality. (of course I agree)
My little girl is no longer delayed developmentally. Even so, perhaps because I will simply find it interesting, I’m going to take her for a second opinion to a specialist who works only with internationally adopted children. I am curious to compare their reports. In two short months Kira has caught up to all babies with physical, social and emotional development. This is excellent progress. She doesn’t have any major medical concerns for us to explore with specialists or problems to track. Her growth is spot on the fifty percentile for both weight and height. She’s twenty pounds three ounces and 28 inches long. She has thinned out significantly since we first began feeding her and giving her room to use her muscles. Lately, she has begun to pull herself up to standing and likes to test her balance by letting go. Of course she plops down on that big butt of hers and this makes her cranky. She does not know how to manage her frustration other than to have herself a little fit. We will add this to a long list of behavior modifications we must gently nudge and guide.
Yesterday she clearly said “ooo-see”, and she was face to face with our dog, Lucy. She has said it many times and when I repeat it after she has said it her eyes flick to mine and lock in with relief because she recognizes that I understand she is trying to use our words. She also says “oh-oh” while she is following our cat, Coco. For a couple weeks already she’s been saying dada, mamma, and baba for both her bottle and her brothers. Her new favorite word that she uses with confidence and gusto is “eh-eh”. This is the sound I use instead of telling her no. She likes to tell me “eh-eh”. I suppose it is good to know every child from every culture on earth likes to tell their parents no as soon as they can express it. She also loves to drop everything and say “uh-oh”. It is naughty entertainment for me to see visitors happily retrieve the dropped item the first four or five rounds until they get tired of a game she will never quit playing. I don’t play. When she drops something that’s it, I act as though I didn’t see it happen and it stays there. She’s smart. She already knows who she can manipulate.
If we have recognized any specific trait about her personality we all agree on one thing: she wants to be the one in control. And she is BOSSY! This must be a girl thing. My boys were so easily distracted away from what they wanted by whatever else I could show them. Not Kira. She doesn’t forget about the forbidden item and has many baby words and sounds to express her rejection of the new item. If she really wanted “it” she will continue to work at it for as long as an hour. This is new for me. Craig likes to say she’s just like her mama, she may not have my genes, but my goodness she already has a lot of my personality and this just tickles Craig to see. I have set some firm goals to teach her in a loving way that I in fact am the one who is in control. With consistency and love she will learn that it’s safe to trust me with that job.
We were talking last night about how little babies rebel against parents in the same way that we Christians throw our tantrums against God when we don’t get what we want. We “know” God has a broader more informed view of what is good and safe for us, but we just won’t give up what we have set our mind on having in our little gluttonous hands. God surely looks down at us in the same way I look at Kira and shakes his head patiently knowing someday we will understand why we got a firm NO to our request. He sincerely has something better in mind for us but we have to grow into it first. It’s really an astounding parallel to be the parent of a baby and experience these raw unfiltered outbursts, knowing that is what I look like to God, my ultimate authority and loving parent. After a long day of battle with a baby I am ashamed when I realize God has to put up with me in the same way. It makes me appreciate the patience He practices with my demands and outbursts every time I cannot manipulate my circumstances to match my will. I’ve lived long enough and endured many journeys through hardship that I can look back and say, “Whoa, it’s a good thing I didn’t get what I thought I wanted because what God had planned for me was so much better.” After enough of those lessons I have really given up making my own plan. It’s far wiser and simpler for me to make my prayers like this, “Please God show me what you want for me and make me want it as much as you want it for me.” In this way everything is a perfect surprise gift.
The best and most recent example of this is our involvement with the Kyengera orphanage. For months before we went to Uganda to adopt Kira we asked God to show us how we could serve the people there. Our prayers were simple, “Please God show us what you want us to do and we will do it.” When we all experienced the needs at this orphanage we knew we had our assignment from God. Our hearts resonated with the needs of the people and we were satisfied knowing God had brought us there to serve in connecting others to be able to love and help them as well. We just had to be willing to accept the responsibility without fear but with a faith that makes no logical sense. There was one visit when I was so overwhelmed with the responsibility placed in our hands that I was paralyzed emotionally and mentally- but thankfully, not spiritually. My faith went into override and reminded me God is in control of what happens here. I don’t have to do more than believe and respond to one need at a time and just watch how God provides the help and resources. My mind explodes to list all the ways God has used us to meet needs for these children.
I would never have thought to ask God for a whole orphanage to take care of because that is crazy, yet that is the gift he gave to me. So, here I am, loving these kids, scribbling notes and ideas about their care, having meetings about their future, telling their stories, and caring about them as my own children. Only God can make that happen in my heart because all by myself I am not capable of that much love.
Drat. I have reached my word limit for one blog (a personal boundary I give myself lest I overwhelm you with the number of words I have each day) so I will have to share tomorrow about the gift God is sending to these orphans: a medical doctor, Dr. Cindy Anthis. She has been overcome with the needs of these children in Kyengera, and she is coming with us to serve their medical needs this June. We are organizing a mission trip and I ask you to please pray about it and see what God puts on your heart. More, more, more is coming I promise.