In Part I of this post, I shared my worries and hopes about what the first reunion with our birth family would be like. Now two weeks past, I can say, in short, it was a weekend of worries allayed, hopes fulfilled and lots of surprises.

I’d imagined our initial meeting many times. I’d imagined how much our daughter’s birth mom and sisters would want to scoop her up for hugs and kisses and how uncomfortable it might be for all of us when she was likely to start crying and reaching for me. That turned out to be exactly what happened. But after some warming up, everyone was able to reconnect with our little lady, and it felt like what I’d hoped for: that we were all her family, and it was clear I was her mommy now.


After a first day of reintroductions, it was time for the start of our daughter’s kemem festivities. The kemem, as I shared in a previous post, is the traditional grand celebration of a child’s first birthday. And what a celebration it was! Dressed in traditional clothing, which had been made specially for us for the occasion, we were treated to this beautiful ritual. Over the course of two evenings, which went late into the night, small groups from each side of the family, from work and from church came through the home to sing songs of happy birthday blessings and to make offerings of small gifts of money- a few cents or a dollar- to help with the baby’s needs for the coming year.

traditional outfit

And for hours, people came streaming through! Over the course of two nights, we received birthday wishes and blessings from roughly 250 people!

It’s hard to describe exactly what it feels like to be embraced so completely by an entire family and community. Especially through a Western world view in which most of us barely even know our neighbors. And as we were honored to be part of this amazing family, we were also honored by the recognition we were given that our daughter is our daughter.

Her birthday banner read, “Happy Birthday Sophie Jenkins.” It was everything I’d hoped for- a beautiful expression of the wonderful world my daughter comes from and the wonderful world she’s become a part of with us.



Melissa Jenkins is new to the blogosphere and thrilled to share her experience as an adoptive mom. She and her husband are the obnoxiously happy parents of one daughter, born and adopted in August 2013. In addition to being an all-the-time new mommy she also works full-time in spinal care focused clinical research. Though research does help satisfy her curious streak, her first and greatest passion is dance. She has the great pleasure of dancing with a local Modern dance company as well as teaching a weekly ballroom dance class with her husband, who is a full-time ballroom dance instructor. (Yes you read that last part right!) Melissa is constantly amazed by her tiny human and still has to pinch herself to be convinced that she really gets to be the mother of such an incredible little lady.

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