Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday August 13 - Court Day

First of all, thanks to everyone for all their prayers and concerns for Samuel. It appears that he must have caught a virus of some sort, thus causing a fever, and thus the seizure. He was a bit feverish on Monday, but happy to report nothing but smiles and normal temperatures since then. It's very scary to watch your son have a seizure, and then to not fully know his medical history only compounds the fear, but we were lucky, and God was watching over us, and we survived. And next time I will know that the ER at CCHMC is kept very cold, so bring a few extra layers.

And now, back to the story.

So our court session was scheduled for 10:00am on Thursday the 13th, which was 10:00pm on Wednesday the 12th in Cincinnati. We were told to be ready by 6:45am. The court session would take place in Kemerovo City, an almost 3 and 1/2 hour car ride away. As our driver was usually prompt, we, and the other couple, were ready at 6:30. Well, both times came and went, and no driver yet. About 7:00, they finally arrived and we were off.

While it was the same car, the driver was different, which was ok with us. We lovingly called him speed racer, as was made evident by the speeding ticket he received on the drive, as well as us arriving prior to 10:00am despite the late start and stop for gas.

I must admit, I slept most of the drive, but Steve tells me we were almost killed via head on collision 3 times. Good thing I was asleep.

We weren't told much about what to expect. The only thing we got from our translator was that we should not smile as this was a very serious thing. Note to self, don't smile. Fortunately, I had spoken with a friend of a friend who just adopted from the same region in Russia and got the scoop on the court session.

We arrived at the courthouse, which looked nothing like a courthouse. We went through security, and were told to site and wait. I, needing to use the restroom was escorted to the facilities. Restrooms in Russia are for the most part unisex. It's very common to walk in and see a man walking out of the stall, or visa versa. The bathroom itself was shocking. No seat, no toilet paper, no paper towels, and very dimly lit. So here I am, in the dark, trying to hold up my dress, while hovering over a hole, with no toilet paper!

About 10:15 or so, 15 individuals dressed in black robes came down the hall and filed off through doors. We were then escorted downstairs and through another maze of halls to reach our courtroom. John and Amanda went first. For 45 minutes, Steve and I sat by ourselves in the hallway praying. We prayed for the judge to show us mercy, for God to show his love and mercy on the judge, for Steve to speak fully and confidently, and for the 10 day waiting period to be waived. Bottom line, we knew the boys would be ours, there was never a question that the judge would say no. We didn't know if the 10 days would be waived.

About 11:00, John and Amanda came out, and we were escorted into the room. It was us, our translator, the social worker we met during the first visit, the prosecutor, the court reporter, and the judge. We were asked to state our names, address, and DOB. Then the judge read through some information about the boys, and us. All of the questions were addressed to Steve. Only at the end was I given the opportunity to add any comments. Steve was asked several questions - why we wanted to adopt, why Russia, if we had health insurance, what we knew about raising children since we didn't have any of our own. Then came the part about the 10 day waiting period. Steve respectfully asked for it to be waived based on the medical conditions. The judge stated it would only be waived in the event of serious medical conditions that required immediate surgery, and since that did not apply to our boys, the 10 days would not be waived. The judge reviewed additional information on the boys, including that they have a brother who is living with their birth mom. We were a bit shocked, but knew there was nothing we could do since mom still maintained the parental right to that child.

The proceedings only lasted about 45 minutes. In the end, the judge didn't even swing the gavel we are used to seeing. She said congrats, gathered her things and walked out. The translator looked at us, said congrats mom and dad, and out we went. It was a relief to finally have that over and done. I looked as Steve as we walked down the hall with tears in my eyes and said the boys are officially ours, and no one can take them away from us.

John and Amanda ended up having their 10 day waiting period waived as their little boy needed immediate surgery, and was scheduled to have a procedure done 2 days before the court date, but a head cold held off the surgery. They needed to stay for the remainder of the day to complete some paperwork. Steve and I left about 12:30 with the social worker who lived in Novokuznetsk. That's right, we got in a car with people who don't speak English, and we made it back alive.

Now, that's not to say that we didn't almost get into 2-3 more head on collisions on the way home. Steve and I didn't say much on the way home, in fact Steve slept for most of it. I think the driver and social worker forgot we were in the car until Steve sneezed really loud.

We arrived back at the hotel sometime around 4:00. This driver was not as speedy, and we again had to stop for gas. We pretty much slept the rest of the day. A huge weight had been lifted off our shoulders, but a new weight was about the be added.


chantarelle1984 said...

Your lovely family are such a wonderful example of what good people can do with the power of a loving God behind them.
I wish you all the very best of luck and love and family times as you grow together to give these boys the love and home that they (and you) need.
Congrats new momma and poppa! (I came across your blog by way of This Is Reverb) - K