Turns out the Whites had to sign the same form so we rode a taxi with them to the notary's office, none of us really knowing for sure what time court appointments were (Whites had court today too!).
So we get a call about 3:00 saying our court appointments were for 3:30 and 4:00, and that a taxi was on its way to pick us up. We got to the curb just in time to see our taxi driving away. I guess he had gotten impatient waiting for us, so we had to call another taxi.
It is a moment I am sure I will never forget: Sitting in the back seat of a slow taxi in bad traffic on our way to a very important 3:30 appointment that we had worked so hard towards and waited so long for........stuck in bad traffic over a bridge, realizing it is 3:32pm and not knowing how far away the court house was, and realizing this important meeting was happening without us. Sherry White was sitting next to me and I looked over to see her writing this note on her hand. ha ha. I am sure going to miss her.
We walked through the court doors at exactly 3:40pm only to see a very panicked Yulia who informed the Whites that they were missing a document which Nicolai had run to get. Meanwhile our prosecutor hadn't shown up so the Urbans couldn't go to court either. And by the way, when are your return flights in case we need to reschedule? Can we say stressed out?
Finally it was decided court could proceed for the Whites even though their document was still on its way. The Urbans sat in the waiting room with white knuckles waiting to hear the verdict. Whites came out about 30 minutes crying. Thankfully it was happy crying, and there were now three less orphans in the world.
It was our turn.
We did indeed get the 'good judge'. She was very lovely, amiable, smiling. She asked about our family, if we were 'strong enough' to take on more kids. She wondered if our other children would be jealous and whether we were financially prepared to raise so many children. She wanted to know were we aware the children have significant special needs and how are we prepared to handle them? And by the way, why do you want 'these' children and not 'healthy' children? I guess we answered to her satisfaction 'cause she smiled and nodded in response.
Present was a jury, a social worker, the orphanage director, our translator, the judge, and the prosecutor. Another moment that I will not forget: The orphanage director stood up to talk about the children and gave his reasons why he believed adoption was in their best interest. First Joseph: He told a brief history of his almost six years at the orphanage and said he was barely saved from the mental institution because of the timing of when we came for him. He was already due to be transferred but they held him when they knew a family was coming for him. Praise the Lord he will NEVER see the inside of one of that place! There were a lot of chuckles when he spoke about Joseph's energy level, and how much he understands for a boy with Down Syndrome, and how he has his 'own way of doing things'. :) I could tell this director knew Joseph very well.
Next Zoya: The director began by telling about the day Zoya came to the orphanage 5 1/2 years ago. She is clearly very special to him. He broke down crying as he spoke of how tiny she was, and how nobody thought she would survive after being born 12 weeks premature at less than two pounds, and how she fought to survive even without a mother or father at her side. He held his hands to show how tiny she was when she first arrived from the hospital at 5 months old, and how hard it was to find somebody to do surgery on a little orphaned baby with no means to pay for it. He spoke so fondly of her, and said how happy the staff at the orphanage was to learn that she was getting adopted. Even the prosecutor, who should have been trying to find reasons for her to not be adopted, said that when she told her colleagues at the office that Zoya was getting a family, the whole office cheered. :) It was sure a tearful time for many people in the room. I will certainly never forget it. He also said that "Zoya has changed" since we have been coming to see her, and that she is very excited to be coming to live with us and in fact is inviting some of her nannies to come along. ha ha.
I don't think I've mentioned this but Zoya does have a cleft palate that has not been repaired. Only certain people very familiar with her can understand her, so on top of the already complicated task of having to teach her a new language, we are going to have to learn to decipher what she is trying to say through her speech impediment. We do not know anything about cleft palate repair, or what this means for her future as far as speech goes, but we are committed to get her fixed up as best as we can. You may have noticed that like Joseph she is missing a top tooth. That is because there is nowhere for the tooth to grow. Google cleft palate to see what I'm talking about if you don't already know. As I told you before a missionary here arranged for her to have cosmetic surgery of her lip but the palate is yet to be repaired.
OK I'm way off the subject now. Back to court. So after we had all had our tears, the judge left the room and came back with her decision granting us approval to adopt Joseph and Zoya. The orphanage director hugged and kissed us both and thanked us for taking care of the children. It was a really, really special time.
We had just a little bit of time to visit the kids one last time, and then out to dinner to celebrate with the Whites who also passed court today, the Enbergs who also passed court today, and Michelle Zoromski and the Heims who are at various stages of the process here. What a blessing to be able to celebrate with other Reece's Rainbow families.
We had just a little bit of time to head over to the orphanage for our last visit and give the kids their own photo albums to remember us by while we go home and wait to see whether any relatives suddenly and miraculously decide to pay them a visit. :(
We also brought a couple of little things, sunglasses, rings, hair thingies, trinkets to leave with them. I also brought that silly scarf I had to buy for the catacombs with the intention of fixing up the swing with a child safety restraint:
I thought it was a brilliant idea but Zoya would have nothing of it! Scarves are made for wearing, not repairing swings with! So I left it with her to wear instead:
These two photos make me think of Zoya's future wedding day. I wonder if her daddy will cry like he cried at her court hearing today? :)
And Joseph: He was far more interested in John's tie than the toys we brought him. Note to self. Pack a backpack with loads of zippers full of ties and scarves and jewelry for the airplane ride home.
Our dear facilitator Yulia took the time to meet us at the orphanage to explain to Zoya that we would be leaving for awhile to take care of our other children in the photos, her new brothers and sisters, and that when the time comes we will return to pick her up and bring her home to leave with us. She asked if she understood and Zoya said, "Da, da". (yes, yes) :)
I asked to take one group photo of Zoya's groupa. Aren't they adorable? Please somebody come adopt some of these kids. SO many boys that need families!
We gave hugs and kisses and said Paka-paka (bye bye). When I walked away and turned around this is what I saw:
We are heading to bed and will wake up in just a few hours to board our flight home! 28 hours of travel which we will start out with the Enbergs of course. Why wouldn't we! It is very bittersweet leaving the kids here. But we will be glad to be home for a little bit and will wait out our 10 day wait -actually it is a twelve business day wait in this region- I'm not surprised! We are now just about halfway there and will be altogether in a month or so!
Thanks to everyone who followed along! It's not necessarily over yet but the hardest part is now behind us, and that is certainly worth celebrating! Thanks for celebrating with us!