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Thursday, October 23, 2008

for jenna, with love

   Today is a very special day. What, you didn't realize?  Well, duh, it's my sister, Jenna's, BIRTHDAY!!!!!! (what kind of calendar do you guys have, anyway?)

   Isn't she so pretty?
   And she used to look like this...
   Back when my mom bathed her in sinks, that is.  My mom doesn't do that anymore though...Too bad.  

   Anyway, I sent her this picture, since I couldn't take part in the family lunch this afternoon or the ladies' dinner out tonight--all in honor of her birthday, of course...
            See, Jenna is a very special gift for my family.  In fact, she is to date the most amazing party favor anybody has ever received in the history of party favors.  

            And no, I am not really kidding.

             Twenty years ago (sounds like I am starting a speech, but I can assure you I am not) my brother got invited to a birthday party for a kid from church.  Jason did not necessarily want to go to this party, but well, being a pastor's kid, you don't always have a choice.

             So, my mom dropped him off at the party.  This party-kid's family just happened to have recently taken in a 17 year old pregnant girl who was also an illegal alien from El Salvador.  They took her in because she had already had a little girl 2 years before and her father had threatened to throw her out on the street if she got herself pregnant again.  This pregnant girl's name was Maria; she was beautiful.  And she was scared.

            As Someone who knows what He's doing would have it, Maria went into labor and gave birth to a little girl during this birthday party.  Maria had bound her belly during most of her pregnancy, successfully hiding it from her father, and also successfully causing this brand new baby to be pretty small.  But her hair! Wow, she had a ton of black hair; her bangs went all the way down to her eyes, making it look like she was born with a little skull cap on.  

          So right, when my mom went to pick Jason up from this birthday party, the birthday kid's mom asked all the people there,  Will anybody take this baby home? 

           And what'd my mom say? I will.

           Just like that. No phone call to her husband, no checking in with her 4 kids, just a quick assent to a monumental shift in our family.  

           So Jason and mom drove home with a tiny brown baby.  And well, we were surprised, to say the least.  I mean, she was adorable, so she had that going for her...

         But anyway, it didn't take long for us to fall completely head over heels in love with her.  My parents got the adoption process started almost immediately, and a year later, it was official: she was (and is) Jenna Veronica Latshaw, a wholly intrinsic part of our family and valued beyond all words.    

         She is my sister, in every sense of the word.

        It's funny, I forget that technically, she is adopted.  So when I introduce her to people, I am always surprised to see a look of confusion on their faces as they are mentally trying to work out how it happened that we are sisters (was it the milkman?  a surprisingly diverse gene that finally showed up?)

         When I went for my first fitting for ACL in NYC (enough acronyms for you?) Jenna accompanied me.  And when I met our head of wardrobe, Rory, I simply said, This is my sister, Jenna.

        Rory stood there for a second, looking back and forth between the two of us, before I finally said, I know, we don't look that much alike...

        He jumped in, No, I can see the resemblance in the nose!

         Jenna and I burst out laughing and I finally explained to him that Jenna is adopted. Though I will always appreciate what he said about our noses; I have long been a fan of Jenna's nose.  

       So, that is the story of how we got Jenna.  And if you've ever had a party favor half as good as her, well I won't believe it, I'll think you're lying.  

       Happy birthday, Jenna!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

11 comments:

kathiek said...

Very nice birthday tribute to Jenna!!

laura said...

And as it would be, she is usually the life of the party! WE LOVE JENNA!!!

Hank Baskett said...

Jenna,

C on the C.

-Drew

Jenna said...

haha good times hank!

thanks for the post jess! love you!

Jessica Latshaw said...

love you, too!

you better be winning in nertz tonight!

Oh, and btw, I KNOW what C on the C means...

Mom said...

Ah, but there's MORE to the story of how Jenna came to be my daughter and your sister:

28 years ago I had a dream, a very vivid dream about Jenna. Of course, I didn't know her at that time. She was in a parking lot, a beautiful little girl with tan skin, big brown eyes, and dark, long, curling hair. And I go up to her in the dream and say, “Who are you?” And she says, “I’m your daughter.” End of dream. But moving, important, and I don't forget it.

Eight years pass by and I’m picking up Jason at a birthday party (Yes, he didn't want to go at all). Of course, I hadn’t thought of the dream in years. Not even in my mind. I had decided a long time ago that it didn't mean anything. Then, I see Jenna. She is so tiny and oh, so beautiful. And then the dream comes back in full color in my mind. I know nothing about this baby but I tell the hostess, “She’s my daughter.” I don’t know about the hostess, but I was in shock. Isn’t God amazing how He puts things together? I knew Jenna was my daughter the moment that I saw her. I brought her home the next morning. I did ask Pop first. It was a bad time to ask him--I got home that night to Josh having had a bad car accident--he wasn't hurt but had run a red light and totally wrecked another person's big car. So a lot was happening. But Jenna came home to stay the next day.......

kathiek said...

I LOVE that story...God is so cool!!

peaj said...

Very, very sweet tribute. Quite a wonderful God story. Happy birthday, Jenna!

jason said...

You know, Josh didn't totally wreck that other car. The reason I know this is because the person he crashed into was the next door neighbor of one of my best friends at the time, Greg Hullinger, who lived in newark. And I would always be so mad because we paid him all this money and he NEVER FIXED HIS CAR, he just kept driving it around with a big old indentation on the side.

Jessica Latshaw said...

Jase--lol--that's funny that you remember that and that it still obviously annoys you!

erin said...

I'm so glad that some party favors come in the form of "Jenna Latshaws" cause I love that girl ridiculous amounts!!!!! It's good to hear that story again- I had forgotten some of the details. I love you and your whole family. What stellar people.