** This photo is of me outside of the courthouse in Astrakhan, Russia. Please note, the photo was not taken on the court date (we didn't think to bring a camera to court) but instead during our 10 day waiting period. (No, I did not wear flip flops to court!)
As we are composing this update after an already full day, it is odd to think that most of you aren’t even awake yet.
Anyway, we got to court at about 11:30 am and we became parents at approximately 12:30pm. Court was pretty straight-forward. Besides David and myself, present was our coordinator who acted as our interpreter, the judge, a representative from the office of guardianship (We assume she represented the rights of the birth parents), an attorney from the office of the Ministry of Education, a representative of the state and a stenographer. They asked us questions about our motivation to adopt, why we didn’t adopt in the U.S., our ideas on parenting, our prior visits with Madeline, our financial situation and any other things that you would expect would be discussed in an adoption hearing. After being question all present made a recommendation to the judge on our behalf. All-in-all, it ran smoothly. After the court session was over the judge left to make her decision. In approximately 10 minutes we were called back in to say that the adoption was granted.
One thing did come out of the court case……AGAIN, we have a new birth date for Madeline. Prior to our first visit the adoption agency said her birth date was 11-11. On our first trip, our coordinator told us that her birth date was 11-4. Now, in court, all the records say it was 11-5. I was disappointed with that because for those of you who do not know, 11-4 was my Mom’s birth date and it was comforting to think that although my mom never got a chance to meet her, they would share the same birthday. Now it appears that won’t be the case – although it is only a day off.
We just switched rooms in the hotel. We are now in the exact same room we had on our first visit (some of you saw pictures of this). This room has a window air conditioner which is already cooling down the 3 rooms nicely. It is very hot and humid here so the AC will help make our stay more comfortable. By the way, PEOPLE DON’T WEAR SHORTS HERE!!!!.....Are they nuts? It’s HOT! I did have a casual skirt and a skort with me….but poor David! I guess I could get away with some shorts like some of the Russian women I saw. But I would have to lop off about six inches and add that measurement to the height of my heels……NOT!
Well, turns out the hotel has free wireless in the lobby….Who knew! This will help us get out emails more often as we won’t be paying. We are going to visit Madeline in about an hour so I better run. Update again soon........
Just a note....for those of you that do not know, although our court date was 6/14, the law was that we had to wait 10 days until we could take custody of Madeline. So, although our adoption was granted, she wasn't with us yet. However, we were able to visit her twice a day.
Below is a second email we sent home that day title "Another Update 6/14/07"
We had another visit with Madeline this afternoon. It seemed as though it took a shorter period of time for her to warm up to us. We got her giggling this afternoon. Her laugh is so silly sounding. She almost sounds like Chewbacca from Star Wars. But we wonder how often she’s laughed or even heard laughter before in the infant’s home.And, finally, an email in response to all the loving notes from friends and family back home...
Our visit this afternoon felt like a weight lifted off our shoulders. We feel so blessed that all went well at today’s court hearing. We met 3 other couples at the hotel that were in the process of adoption. One couple, from Ireland, also had a positive outcome from the court hearing. They were going back home for their 10 day waiting period.
Another couple, from Lancaster, PA has been put through the run-around. They got to court and got the third degree about the wife’s medical history. I guess she was cleared of some meningitis-type disease 7 years ago but they still feel she is a risk to the children. Keep in mind, the twin boys they are looking to adopt have Asian feature which come to find out are not very favorable in Russia. Also, one of the boys has a very bad hernia and needs surgery. Why they aren’t letting this couple adopt is beyond us. They had two court appearances while here and have to go home and come back for another court appearance with no guarantee that the judge will grant their adoption.
A third couple was in the process of adopting an older child. Because the child was older he/she was able to speak and say that they didn’t want to be adopted. Therefore, this couple was also out of luck. I can’t imagine going through all that we have gone through and have to turn around and go home empty handed. I felt so guilty talking to these couples- like I just wanted to crawl under a rock. The only thing we can do for them is offer our prayers. I don’t know how much of this is the “luck of the draw” as to the judge they dealt with or if it’s the agency they are using or a combination of the two but all we can do is saying many prayers of thanksgiving that all went in our favor today.
Like I said, the afternoon visit was much more relaxing. It was odd to think that this little girl is “stuck with us” everyday from now on. Although we are certain that the infant’s home is doing everything in their power to give her good care, we can’t wait to get her out of there……especially since they are the ones giving her haircuts!! She has a Russian “mullet”!!!! How the hell are we going to get rid of that!! A bowl cut will look better!
Tonight we went out to dinner and shared a bottle of wine to toast Madeline. It was a nice relaxing meal. Afterwards we went back to the room and grabbed my backpack-type diaper bag and took a walk to the local market to stock up. There we almost had an international incident because as I was packing our back pack I grabbed the next guy in line’s bottle of vodka. (It was the same kind as the one we just bought)…..opppps! Don’t get in between a Russian and his vodka . The market is a decent size – maybe double the size of a 7-11. They have a small deli case and a very limited amount of prepared foods but I can’t imagine that this is where everyone does ALL there shopping. Where is their local Wegman’s?? At the rate we are going, we will probably have to walk to the market everyday. Hmmmmm…..that sounds like exercise to me!
Tomorrow we are going to visit Madeline twice. Once at 10am and again at 4pm. We haven’t taken any pictures on this visit yet as our visiting time is relatively short and we have been focusing on reconnecting with her. We will begin taking pictures again and will forward them out so you can see her Russian mullet as soon as possible.
We are settling in for the evening as it is now 10:30pm here. Our room is much more comfortable with the window air-conditioning unit. It is now 77 degrees as opposed to 87 degrees in the last room.
Let us know if you have any specific questions about our Madeline/Russian experiences as we are happy to share. Have a good night.
It's amazing how many people responded to us to say that they were awake during the middle of the night as we were heading to court. Each one of you said a special prayer for us at that time. I am certain that along with all of your thoughts, my mom and dad and God were with us.
We can't tell you how much everyone's love prayers and encouraging words have meant to us both emotionally and spiritually. We couldn't have asked for a better support group!
We love y'all