This Girl I Know Named Samantha

So I realized the other day (sadly) that I hadn’t blogged about one of the most special events in our lives: Samantha’s baptism. On this learning curve of parenthood, I’m sorry to say that I have allowed the cloudy days to overshadow some highlights. I’m repenting. I’ve known I needed to get this all down since no amount of bribery will get Samantha to write in a journal.

Here’s her story:

Samantha (age 9)

Dec. 19, 2008:  Alan and I drove to California to bring Samantha to Utah.

Dec. 20, 2008:  Samantha arrives in Utah. Sees snow for the first time in her life on the way up. Meets my parents, siblings & their spouses, and my 12 nieces and nephews.

Feb. 2009: After reluctantly becoming accustomed to our new rules of going to church on Sunday and enjoying Primary, Samantha asks me, “So when do I get to be baptized?” I told her that Alan and I would like for her to be baptized because we love being members of the church ourselves, but because we had not adopted her yet she would need to ask her grandma (her legal guardian) for permission to be baptized. I told her that she would need to be able to explain to her grandma what that meant. When I asked her if she was ready to do that, she said no.

Spring – Summer 2009:  Samantha asked me again when she could be baptized. I asked her some questions about the church, the gospel, and if she was ready. She said she didn’t know. Alan and I had discussions with her and thought time would allow her to learn more. We were also hopeful that we could get her adoption proceedings further along in that time and be able to correlate the two events.

Late September 2009: Samantha asked to call Me-Ma (her grandma) as she did every week and to my surprise asked her if she could be baptized. Me-Ma said yes.

Late October 2009: The full-time missionaries started to teach Samantha. She answered every question they posed with a little trepidation, but accurately and without any promptings from me or Alan. We were so proud of her.

November 2009: Samantha agrees to be baptized. As we looked at the calendar we realized that the anniversary of our picking her up was coming and thought it would be providential to match the dates up.

December 19, 2009: Samantha (now age 10) is baptized and confirmed. She is only the second in line after Alan to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their family. He was so thrilled to see this happen!

Because of the holidays the crowd was much smaller than we had hoped, but it was a very special day and she handled it very well. Alan gave her a beautiful confirmation blessing that (among other things) spoke of her being a leader in life.

Since I’m repenting…, And since I have previously written much about the difficulties of raising Samantha, I should document some positive things about her.

Intelligent – She excels in school and is above average in many things. Her memory and attention to detail amazes me. She has a better sense of direction than I do (I know that’s not saying much).

Happy – Her nature (when her past life-imposed behavior doesn’t take over) is to be happy and funny.

Talented – She does accents very well. She’s very coordinated and picks up physical activity like sports and dancing quickly. She can hear a song once and know what movie or TV show it came from when she hears it again. In general, she learns extremely fast.

Fearless – Although her past has taught her to fear many things she shouldn’t, she really is fearless in things that I wish I wasn’t afraid of when I was her age. When she first came to live with us she said she was shy, but we learned that was one of her many excuses to not try something or go somewhere unfamiliar. She is not shy. She’s not afraid to speak up and voice her opinion about anything. She’ll hand out flyers in a crowd to promote our business. She’ll ask the store clerks to help her find something like she was an adult.

Creative – She wears “colorful” outfits. For the first several months, I attempted to teach her some fashion techniques, much to do with modesty and cleanliness, but also to try and tone down her “flare” for attention. As time went on I realized that fashion was her way of showing her personality. We had already imposed so many other new rules on her, it became apparent that the conservative or main stream fashion sense seemed unimportant and confining for her. If she’s okay with looking weird (her word for when I wear something she doesn’t think looks good), I’ve got to be okay with it–to a certain extent.

Helpful – We have given her one main chore to do per day besides the every day stuff of making her bed, brushing her teeth, etc. She has put up many fits sporadically over the past year in an attempt to control the situation (a pattern that is common in children with her similar background), but really and truly, she has admitted that she likes having chores and mostly does a great job. She helps when she sees someone in need and makes sure that person feels good about themselves.

Tonight, as Samantha gave the Family Home Evening lesson on the Friend story, “Vitamin L” about learning to love one another, I almost cried with pride. She was confident and thorough and thoughtful about how it applied to our little family. I wish she could feel and see herself the way I felt and saw her in that moment. It gave me a glimpse of the wonderful influence she will have.

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