We got up at 6:00am, and I was feeling very tired and anxious. We got dressed, both in black suits, said a prayer before we left, and then met Katia and Anton at 9:00am. Traffic was very heavy today. It took us 1 hour 10 minutes to get to the courthouse. The diesel fumes were very heavy. My eyes were burning, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Some of that was anxiety though, I’m sure.
We arrived at the courthouse, and then waited an hour. We entered the courtroom, and there were 2 tables, one on each side with 3 chairs each. On one side sat Katia, R., and me. At the table facing us were the secretary, the prosecutor, and Galina, the social worker from Kolomna. There was a lecturn in the middle of the room, directly in front of the judge.
The judge asked us our dates of birth, occupations, and education. She asked R’s salary. Then Galina spoke about Eli and his medical history. Then we were asked to state our petition to the court. R went first. He stood up and went to the lectern. He said we decided to adopt from Russia after meeting other families who had adopted from Russia, and seeing how beautiful and healthy their children were. He said that Eli was born on our wedding anniversary and that Eli entered the baby home in Kolomna on his birthday. He said the first day that we met him, and he saw me holding Eli, he knew that more than anything, he wanted to be Eli’s father. (You could hear the emotion in his voice when he said it, and I had to choke back tears.) Then he said we were respectfully asking for the honor of being his parents.
He had to remain standing there while the judge asked him how large our house was, and if it was a private residence. Then he was allowed to return to his seat at the table. Then it was my turn. I was a little surprised, because I had thought only one of us would have to give a brief speech. So I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to say, but I spoke from my heart, and God gave me the words. I said “ Your honor, we already love him very much, and we very much want to be his parents, to be a family.” Then the judge asked me if I had any doubts, and I said “No, none at all.” Then she asked me if he recognized us, and I told her that he smiled at me when he saw me. Then finally I was allowed to go back to the table and sit down.
(**For all of you who are waiting on court dates or waiting to travel, one thing you could do to pass the time is to work on your brief speech! It's not something you want to do unprepared! R and I had discussed it ahead of time, so we had an idea of what we wanted to say. It needs to be about your feelings for your child, that you think he is special, that you have already bonded to him, that you want to be his parents, things like that.)
After I sat down, Galina spoke, and then the prosecutor was asked if she had any questions, and she said no. She gave a brief statement recommending that the adoption be approved.
The judge went out for just a few minutes, then she returned and granted our request to become Eli’s parents. We were so relieved and thankful to God that our prayers had been answered. She did not look at us or smile as she read her decision or when she said congratulations.
We are happy that court is over, but we will not feel total happiness though until Eli is with us. As long as we are apart, our family is not complete, and we miss him very much. After being with us for the last 2 afternoons, we wondered how he was feeling today after lunch when we didn’t come. Only 11 more days, and then we won’t have to be apart anymore.
After we left the courthouse, we had to go to the notary to sign a power of attorney. This will allow Katia to handle some paperwork for us during the 10 day waiting period while we are in the US. After driving for a little over an hour, we arrived at the notary, and it only took about 30 minutes.
After we left the notary, it was early afternoon, so Katia suggested some sightseeing. First, we went to the highest point of Moscow. There was an overlook, with a fabulous view of the entire city. It was amazing, and I’m glad we had the chance to see it. There is a ski jump there, which was unbelievably high.
Then we drove to the New Virgin Monastery. It was built in the 15th century, so it is very old. Peter the Great’s sister, Sofia, was imprisoned there. It is still a functional monastery, and nuns still live there. There is a large park there with a playground. It is not far at all from the Smolenskaya district where we will be staying on the next trip too. Katia said we can bring Eli to the playground if the weather is nice, and that could be fun. There was a large pond beside it, which is what was left of the original moat. Even though it was warm enough to walk around without a jacket, the pond was still frozen over except for the edges. We watched the mallard ducks walk around on it! We walked all the way around the pond, and it was nice to get some fresh air.
We returned to the apartment. I posted a quick blog entry, and received some wonderful supportive comments. (Thanks, everyone!!!) Around 5:00pm, we got an email from Lisa, and she and Joseph were up from a nap and ready for some company. We knew her building was close to ours, and we had a map, but the streets and alleyways in Moscow are so confusing. We got a little lost, and ended up going the long way around, but we found them! I was glad they were waiting for us outside, so we knew for sure we had the right building.
We had not seen Joseph since he left the orphanage in Kolomna, and after only 3 days with Lisa, the change was obvious. He smiled and laughed. He crawled. And even his loud crying was a good sign, because he had been so quiet, too quiet, when we last saw him in the music room in Kolomna. He looked like he is adjusting well, and we were happy to see that. I wish I had remembered to take my camera, so I could have gotten some pictures. He is so cute!
Soon I will pack everything, and we leave for the airport tomorrow morning at 8:30am. I’m very ready to go home so the time can pass and we can return! I miss holding Eli so much. Only 11 more days.
God has blessed us so much, and we are so grateful.