Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our Day In Court

Last time I was in Ukraine, it was winter.
Dark clouds, cold winds, and sudden flurries are no longer present here.

In two short weeks, the animated buildings now have a gorgeous spring back drop. Tulips popping out of the ground, red buds begin to bloom on almost bare trees, bringing a sense of new beginnings to an old, small town where nothing but the same thing happens.
But today, something did happen here,  something bigger than me, bigger than my family and bigger than the amazing community of people supporting and praying for us.

Before court

I woke up today in the mushroom hotel. Each room has theme, and this trip, my mom and I are staying in the raven room. I don't have words to describe the room, so here's a picture instead. I believe it speaks for itself.

I take my notebook, and red trapper keeper and walk down to breakfast in a pencil skirt, black tights and heels to the restaurant across the parking lot.
Continuing to review my notes: when I should I say "da" and when should I say "net" ? Oh the stress. 
I have been told by other adopted parents that usually court will take forty five minutes to an hour and really it is only a formality but, yesterday Roma sat me down at dinner and we had a little discussion.
"This is the judges first adoption."  "He had a preliminary on the17th" (which most judges opt not to have) "He wants Adam here."
Yuri, the driver,  picks Roma, my mom and I up after breakfast and we drive the 1 mile down the road to the orphanage.
With me was a large bag of clothing, food, shoes, and pictures from American host mama's giving their child a token to cling to, until they see them during summer.  
Most of the children are at school, except for the older ones. I guess school is optional for them, including Alex? I ask "why are you not in school?" He shrugs, and smiles. Yana is pulled out of school and comes within the first few minutes we are there.
They are excited to see Grandma Noreen, and she is excited to see them.

I give them the outfits to put on for court, and to my surprise, they both really really really hate them.

She would only let me take a picture in her room with the door closed. She wore a jacket the entire day.

 Adoption Court Hearing

The court room is small and free from all color, ironic since in Ukraine, most buildings architectural design are pretty ornate and indoor décor jumps out with the wildest of patterns from ceiling to floor. However, the only two additions to the room, besides the clutter-less tables and white walls are the Ukrainian flag and The Coat of Arms of Ukraine.
We all stand, as the judge enters the room. Court has began.
Well, actually it hasn't. We are having a second preliminary because Adam is not here. He goes through each form of our petition and speaks to the SDA representative, Nina, while Roma's, translates in my ear. After a 20 minute discussion about Ukrainian law and Nina explaining that I am allowed to adopt as single parent with Adam's consent, he and the jurors take a recess. Nina tries to follow, however is not welcome at the private meeting.
I am assured that he has no grounds to deny our petition but I feel stress coming out of my body in the form of sweat. My moisture filled hands, take off my jacket so I can breathe. "The worst he can do is postpone, and have Adam come." Roma explains.
I am missing my best friend so bad right now and I look to my mommy in the back row. She has no idea what is going on, since she can't hear Roma's translations but sees the worry written on my face and the body language of the room.
When they came back in, after taking what seemed like forever, the court hearing began.
We introduced ourselves, the judge reads every page.
I heard him say, and of course so did Yana and Alex, that no one from Ukraine wanted them for the past 10 years. I shutter.
They heard that no one has come to visit them for the 10 years they have lived in the orphanage, I think of every holiday, summer, school break. Forgotten. Abandoned.
They heard and felt the pain, I heard and felt their pain.
It was relentless, report after report of their life. He kept reading all the details, too personal to share publicly, the bone chilling truth. My kids are behind me and too far to comfort. I ache for them.  
Finally, it was time for the interviews.
My turn. I stand up.
He read the home study, he asks  "What does two and half bathrooms mean?" I explain, it was kind of a blessing of a question, a easy one to warm up to.
But then he starts throwing the curve balls...
"Do you make financial?"
"I don't understand can you repeat the question"
"What is more important, love or finance?"
"Love, ...." not really sure what I said, I think I rambled.
"Love? Not finance?" This time, he asks in a harsher tone.
"Yes, love..." Then I said something else, again I rambled.
I don't think I gave the answer he was looking for, so I shrink a little in my skin.
"You want to adopt in general?"
"No, I want to adopt these kids."
"You are called to adopt kids, in GENERAL?" 
"No, I want to adopt these kids. These are my kids, I love them." I raised my hands and began waving my thumbs backwards toward the two children sitting on the wooden lacquered bench behind me,  keeping my eyes solely on the judge in front of me, almost as though I was helping direct an airplane to it's gate from the jet way (I've been traveling a lot). I feel a few giggles in the room, because I probably looked ridiculous but I start to relax.
Nina's turn, she stand's up:
She explains our "first meeting" on the 2nd of April. Tears run down my face, as I re-live the moment, I see them for the first time in 8 months. The moment they truly knew, they were no longer going to be orphans.  I look up at the blonde curly haired juror in the orange sweater, she is crying too.
The director of the orphanages turn, she stands up:
The judge asks, "Why do you approve, aren't you sad? These are your kids?"
"Yes, but they are only my kids until the 11th grade. They will be her kids forever."
Well now, I am just trying to keep it together, but the tears are flowing faster and I know a deep breath is coming hoping it won't be a gasp. I am trying really hard not to make a scene.  I mean, I am front and center in this court hearing.
Alex's turn, he stands up:
He had it the worst. The judge hammered him with questions.
"Do you know what is going on here?"
"Do you know these people?"
"What are their daughters names?"
"Do you love them?"
"Did anything bad happen this summer?"
"There were no issue at all?"
Question after question, I sit there boiling with anger, and praying for the interrogation to end. It finally does, thank you God!

Yana's turn, she stands up, but slowly:
Oh Yana! She was some comic relief after the most uncomfortable 10 minutes.
"Do you know what is going on here?"  The judge asks. Yana nods, and Roma, tells her to speak.
She says "Da." We all wait for more... but she holds her ground and not a single word is spoken by her until the next question. The audience begins to smile at her antics. Next question.
"Do you want to be adopted?"
She says "Da." With a straight face, eyes glued to the judge. We are full-on grinning at this point, waiting for the judge's next move.
"Sit down." He says in English. She does.
My turn again:
I stand back up and state my order to social services...8 things I had to remember to say. Then it's over, well almost.

Court started at 2:00, and it is now 5:05... we've been sitting here for over 3 hours.
But, it is worth it, love always is.

Again, another forever goes by while the judge, two jurors and the secretary leave the room to make a decision.

They are mine! We get the approval.
Now for one with Grandma Noreen.

The hero's of the day, Nina and Roma. Words can not express how amazing these two individuals are, as they fight for orphan children to have the families they deserve.
We celebrate by going to Eco Market to purchase items for all 25 kids (yes, one more girl was added last week). Then, we go to dinner. A steak dinner.

A picture of Alex bringing one of the bags of goods home from the market, we are met with a posse of little friends waiting by the gate.
All of them excited to inhale the bananas, apples, soup, and much more.
 Love it, love them.
Kinetic sand, Wahoo!
After his shower with soap and shampoo :)

"Thank you for the dress!"

S  is a doll! 

"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Psalm 16:11

If you feel called to help for our final trip in less than 10 days, when we get to bring our kids home please do here.



  1. I am SO happy for you guys! What an emotional journey. Thank you for sharing and allowing us to join in. See you next week. XO

    1. Thank you Holly. It really has been but we have been so blessed by it, like how God has give me you as a friend through this. yay!

  2. Wishing you all joy!

    I just found your blog. I'm a single mom who adopted an amazing little girl (then 6 1/2) from Russia.

    1. Thank you Katie, how old is your little girls now? Lots of love to you and her!

  3. (I love the stand-off between Yana and the judge. She has a lot of spunk to play that game--and win.)