I know everyone is waiting to hear this story so I tried to get it done as fast as I could!
We got up early on Sunday morning, got dressed, and headed out for the 2 1/2 hour drive down to Charleston. We got to Kapri's house to pick them up for church, and Ka'Praisha (Vivi's birth half sister) came running out to greet us. After hugging Eric and I, she jumped in the car next to Jenavieve and said proudly "this is my sister!". We all loaded into the car and went to church. The sermon had already started when we got there, but as we walked in everyone got quiet and watched us come in. Ka'Praisha announced "this is my sister!" to the congregation. Kapri's mom Marquetta was already there, and greeted us with more hugs. We passed Vivi to her and sat down. The pastor was loud and energetic, and Vivi watched him with big eyes for awhile, then fell asleep in Marquetta's arms. During the sermon, Ka'Praisha sat next to Marquetta, and I kept looking at how similar she looks to Jenavieve. Then Ka'Praisha fell asleep too, and they make the exact same face when they sleep!
During the church service, they had a time when people could share what was on their hearts, and while other people were sharing, Marquetta was crying. The pastor asked what was on her heart, and she shared that she had been so tormented with trying to keep the baby in the family, even though she knew it wasn't possible, and she was devastated that she would have to go away. She was afraid she would never see her again. But since we became her parents and have sent pictures and letters every month, she can see that she is in the best place, and she is very happy. She said she couldn't believe that these 2 strangers that had never met her before, had just walked in and placed her granddaughter in her arms, when she had thought it would never happen. It was a very emotional speech, and I was so glad to know her story and how happy she was. She asked the congregation to pray for us, that we would never want for anything. They said prayers over each of us individually and after the service, everyone came to hug us and tell us how happy they were the way that everything worked out.
After church, we went to Marquetta's house, where we had gifts for Kapri, Marquetta, and the kids. My mom also made matching quilts for all 3 kids, which they thought was very cool. We met Kapri's youngest sister, who still lives at home. We got to see a picture in the house of the family when Kapri was just 4 years old. She looked almost identical to Ka'Praisha, who is 4 right now. We also got to see some baby pictures of Ka'Praisha, which look just like Jenavieve does now. It is so cool that Vivi shares this resemblance! They called Kapri's sister in Texas and put us on speaker phone so they could hear Vivi and say hi to us. We sat and talked there for awhile, then went over to Kapri's grandmother's house. We also got to meet Kapri's aunt, brother, a few cousins, and 2 of her cousins had baby girls too. I watched one of them do her daughter's hair, I can't wait to try it on Jenavieve! Everyone that came to the house immediately noticed how much Vivi and Ka'Praisha look alike, which made Ka'Praisha very proud.
After we had visited with everyone, we went to Golden Corral. Kapri called it Golden Corral part 2, since we had dinner there on Mother's Day in Utah. After a nice dinner, we dropped everyone off at home. Kapri gave us a picture of her and the kids that they had just had taken, as well as the one from last year when Quez was 7 months old and Ka'Praisha was 3. I'll scan them in to share. Even though Quez and Vivi don't really look much alike now, in his baby picture, he is making a face that looks just like Vivi. We all hugged and said goodbye, and talked about the next time we would be together. Kapri is trying to save money to come up for Vivi's 1st birthday party, that would be fun. If not, we'll be back next October.
This arrangement is new and different to most of you reading this, and we have had a few people voice concerns over how it will all work, with Vivi being raised knowing her birthfamily. I tried to reassure everyone through articles and blog posts, but now that we have been to see the family, I can say that Vivi will absolutely not be confused at all with the arrangement. We all decided that Vivi will call her birthmom Auntie Kapri. I didn't want her to just call her Kapri, since she is more special than that. Ka'Praisha informed me that I would be her auntie too. (This is auntie like they say in the south, awntie) She will call her birthgrandparents Grandma Marquetta and Grandpa Oliver. (Grandpa Oliver was out of state with Kapri's sister who had just had a baby so we didn't get to meet him). When they introduced us to family and friends, they said "this is my daughter (or granddaughter) and her mom and dad".
It was very clear from the beginning that Kapri has said all the right things to the kids about the situation. Ka'Praisha probably doesn't fully understand it, but she definitely has a good grasp. When we were at Marquetta's house, Ka'Praisha sat next to me and said "you're my sister's mommy". I said "Yes, I am". Then she said "My mommy is her 'other' mommy". "Yes", I said, "your mommy is her birthmommy". She smiled and said "Yeah".
Another time, during dinner, Vivi's pacifier fell on the floor and Eric went to go wash it off in the bathroom. Ka'Praisha watched him walk away, then said "My sister's daddy goes in the boy's bathroom".
At 4 years old, she understands that her mommy was pregnant and had a sister, but that the baby lives with her mommy and daddy in another state. She understands that the relationship between her mommy and her sister isn't the same as the relationship with her mommy and herself. She has accepted all 3 of us as family members and enjoyed introducing us to everyone she saw.
If that isn't reassurance that Vivi won't have any problems, I don't know what is.
It was a great trip, we had a lot of fun and can't wait to go again next year!
Here is a slide show of the pictures, you can click on any picture to see it bigger in Picasaweb and browse them there as well. Be sure to read the captions.