We woke up bright and early, about 0330, since we went to bed at 8pm. Plenty of time to get ready for our 0800 pick up time for court. We spent a few hours going over all of the information Elena (our interpreter) gave us yesterday about court. She reviewed all of the questions they may ask us.
Why do we want to adopt?
Why a baby so young at our age?
How do our other children feel about it?
How will we discipline our child? Big focus here in light of recent events with adoptive kids in the past year.
What will we do if she develops problems in the future? No, we will not put her on a plane and send her back!
Who will take care of her when we work?
Do we have pets?
What do you know about the new treaty signed by the two countries?
Etc., etc, etc.
This was the first time we have seen Ivan on this trip. Before this, he was in Moscow doing paperwork for another family. He drove us to court; we picked up the Baby home social worker and met the DOE social worker and Elena there. We knew this was just a formality. They would not give us a court date if there were any issues, they would ask for more documentation. All the same, it was very nerve racking. What if we did say something so wrong that they decide not to give us Sweet pea?
Once in the courtroom, the judge wanted to start with Joe. She grilled him for over an hour. We knew he would get the worst of it. They always ask the husband the most questions. He only flubbed up twice. The judge (through the interpreter) was asking what we would do if the baby was crying and crying and could not be consoled. He said he would call someone to come over. (? I don’t know what he meant). She pushed it though and said, “what if it was in the middle of the night?” He still stayed with his original answer and said there are people you can call (really? I’d like to meet these people). She apparently accepted his answer about these people you can call in the middle of the night to come console your crying babies.
Then a second thing- they asked, “Can we exclude the possibility of abusing our child?” He answered “No”. This got the judges attention!! Answering “no” meant we kept that possibility open…luckily Elena realized he misunderstood the question and stated this to the judge and then clarified it to Joe who emphatically stated we would never harm our child. I think the judge realized he did not understand the question the first time as she chuckled a bit herself when he was retracting his statement.
Then it was my turn. I only got about half an hour of questions, but somehow managed a flub of my own. The judge asked what we eat for breakfast. I told her we did not eat breakfast, so I did not cook breakfast for the family. This seemed to surprise her. During the week, we all leave very early and we are not hungry at that time. Well, apparently Joe had said we do cook breakfast. He was referring to the weekends when I actually do cook a large breakfast Saturday and Sunday. But all I thought of was during the week when we don’t even really see each other in the morning. Clarisse and I leave at 0700 and I drop her off at school and then head for work. Joe is either not there (on an overnight), already gone or not up yet. I tried to fix my flub, but too late. Luckily the judge didn’t dwell on it too much. I’m sure as a judge; she does not get to spend that “Leave it to Beaver” time making a nutritious leisurely breakfast for her family either. Everyone was laughing by time I was done, which I suppose is better than how it could have gone.
After we spoke, they questioned the two social workers. They stated they tried to find her a Russian family by advertising her in the local papers (they do that here with the orphans up for adoption) and put her on the database. No Russians even wanted to come see her because of her medical history (which in my opinion looks just fine!) and also because of the family circumstances (whatever!) They questioned why she was not adopted with her 3-year-old sister. The sister’s adoption was almost complete at the time the mother signed off on Sweet pea. They seemed to grill the social workers much harder than us.
After they were done, the prosecutor gave her speech, which was a summary of the situation and her recommendation, which was that we should be allowed to adopt Sweet pea. YIPPEE! Then we all left the room for about 5 minutes while the judge made her decision: She granted our petition to adopt Sweet pea and her name would be changed to the name we have chosen for her. Sweet pea’s birth certificate would have her birthplace changed to Vladivostok (she was actually born in Spassk and spent her first 3 months in the Spassk baby hospital) and we were to be listed as her parents. Joe and I were sobbing by this time. The baby home social worker hugged us. They seemed surprised we were crying, but doesn’t everyone cry??! It is so stressful and emotional and happy, almost a two year journey. It was hard not to cry all during court. We just have a 10-day wait period as they process the paperwork until it is completely official.
These two pictures are of the Vladivostok Court House. Note the gargoyles over the side entrance, they are quite well-endowed. Not sure why, they looked like they were males. If they were obviously female...well, still not sure why...
It was too late in the day to go get her from the baby home- only because it is about a 3-hour drive from downtown Vlad and if there is traffic, forget it. We left with Vladimir (our driver this past week) and he drove us to a baby store. We bought diapers, juice, and some baby food - Gerber! We got the turkey; vegetables type stuff with more texture. I’m not sure exactly what she is used to, the baby home told us they serve a lot of stews and pureed meats, fruits and vegetables. We’ll feed her what we eat in the restaurant, but may need this to supplement and will certainly need it on the plane. I also picked her out one of those books that have the sound buttons; this one is in Russian, a Russian alligator toy and an expensive baby doll that she probably will not get to handle until she is a little older. We also picked up toys to donate to the baby home. I wanted a Russian CD of lullabies and/or Russian Cartoons, but didn’t see any.
Back to the hotel and tomorrow we pick up Sweet pea. We cannot show pictures of her face yet until the 10-day wait is over.