14 August, 2012
We left our adapter at our friends’ house so I was unable to post anything yesterday. One of our drivers met us at the train station when we arrived on Monday morning and took us back to the apartment for a quick clean-up and then on to the orphanage. Once again it had been several days since we had seen the kids so we were curious as to how they would react. As soon as Jessa saw Erika she started running down the hall to meet her and gave her a big hug. Erika says it’s because she is so irresistible, I say it’s because she’s the “Banana Lady”! Either way it was really great that Jessa was that excited to see us. Caleb was his usual self; he noticed that we were there and wanted to be picked up but remained very sedate. We went outside since there was another family who was meeting their new member for the first time. Jessa happily played with us on the playground equipment while Caleb just sat contentedly with one of us on the bench. When we returned to the psychologist’s office we found the other family, who happen to be friends of ours from Virginia, had made “the successful first meeting” as they say here. As we were all interacting with our kids, a few members of the “Wheelchair Posse” rolled in. It seems that they like bubbles and playing patty-cake (of course I know how to play, I have daughters after all) as much as they like laughing at the old American guy. After spending some time playing with them, Jessa and Caleb were taken back to their groupas and we left for the day. We confirmed our schedule with Luda since we were due in court the next day. Bright and early this morning (Tuesday) we got ready for court. I must say the cleaners here did a great job on my suit. We were picked up from the apartment at 08:30 and taken to our orphanage to pick-up Luda. We arrived at the court building at 09:15 for our 09:30 court appearance. Court was running a little behind which was good since the representative from the Child Services Office was a little late. When all was ready we were called into the court room. The Ukrainian court consisted of the judge, the court recorder, two “people’s assessors” one male and one female, the prosecutor, the lawyer from the orphanage, and the representative from the CSO. The session started with us identifying ourselves to the court and acknowledging our petition to adopt Jessica and Caleb. After that the questions started. I got to speak first and gave an overview of our current family, resources, and housing. I was then asked to explain why, with such a large family already, we wanted to adopt more children; it seems that the size of our family and the size of our house, they thought that 3,300 square feet of living area was too small, was of concern to the court. I told the court that we felt that God had called us to add these children to our family and that the reason he had blessed our family with the resources that he had was to enable us to bring these children into our family. Erika was then asked if she agreed with what I had said and then was asked if there was anything she would like to add. As usual she spoke very eloquently and I could tell that the members of the court could sense the sincerity in what she said. There was only one question asked to her by the male assessor. He asked what we would do if the court denied our petition for adoption; would we accept the decision and go home, or would we stay and appeal? Erika told him most emphatically that we believed that Jessica and Caleb were already members of our family and that we would do whatever was necessary to bring them home. He seemed satisfied with that answer and that was the end of the questions for us. The judge then asked the prosecutor is she had any objections. She answered “no” so he moved on to the orphanage lawyer who was asked if he had personally witnessed us “bonding” with the children and whether or not he felt it was successful. He replied that he had seen us and felt that the bonding was successful. The judge then asked the representative from the CSO if she had any objections to which she also replied “no”. The judge then read the entire petition into the court record and dismissed us while the members of the court came to a determination. Less than ten minutes later we were called back in and the judge informed us that our petition for adoption would be granted. After the official proceedings were complete the judge thanked us for adopting these children and said that he wished that there were more families like us who would care for these children. He also apologized that he was not able to waive the ten day waiting period. He said that while he was in favor of it, he did not want there to be an appeal by the prosecutor’s office which could delay our bringing the children home by months. After court we went to visit Jessica and Caleb (those really are their names now!!). Since it was so late in the day we only had about an hour’s visit before they returned to their groupa. After lunch we went to the notary to get all the information for their new birth certificates recorded and bought our train tickets to return to Kiev. We leave for Kiev tomorrow night, have an appointment with the U.S. Embassy on Thursday, and we fly home on Friday. We can’t wait to see the kids!!