We are now a family of six! We are so joyful and so thankful! We are also so exhausted!
Thank you all for all your prayers! It was a very long day! We left the apartment just before 11 a.m. and we returned just before 11 p.m.
The court itself was quite a distance from the apartment and there were stops to make on the way. It took some planning to get all of us there. Most of the cars here are the size of a Civic or smaller. There were the four of us to be driven, our facilitator, each of the boys, and each of the boys' inspectors. All of those coming were doing so from five separate locations, the farthest being about and hour and forty-five minutes from the court house.
On the way to court we stopped for lunch and had a very pleasant surprise! As we were eating, Slava's driver called to say Slava was hungry, he had been taken out of school before lunch. So, the driver dropped him off with us to eat! He was dressed in a suit with a button up shirt. He looked absolutely adorable! He couldn't understand why we were all so taken by him in his suit. It turns out he wears this suit to school everyday! We had a good time at lunch and he rode to court with us.
Once we arrived we waited in the halls for a bit. Jen arrived with his inspector and the director of his orphanage. Jen had a huge smile on his face when he came through the door and he was so happy to see Slava. This was the first time they had seen or talked with each other since the hosting trip last summer.
The court proceeding was set to begin at 3:00 but didn't actually get going until 3:40. There were three parts to the proceeding: a pre-court hearing in which our petition was read aloud and all the parties present were identified; next was the court session itself in which the jury joined, everyone was re-identified, we were told our rights, our petitions were re-read, all the articles of law pertaining to our petitions were read, we were asked a few simple questions like what we were asking the court to do, why we wanted to adopt these children, how many times they had been in our home, why we were asking for the waiting period to be waived, etc. Then the boys, individually, were invited into the courtroom and asked to state his name, birth date, was asked if they knew us, and they asked who we were. Jen's reply to "Do you know those people?" was, "Yes." His reply to, "Who are they?" was a nervous but hopeful "They are my mom and dad, I think." It was very sweet. Then Slava hurried in and just about knocked the podium over because he tried to step up on the layered, pedestal base. Everyone laughed. He spoke loudly with a huge smile and stated that he knew us "Very well" and that were "Tony ... and Susan ..., my parents." The judge then asked if anyone was against our petition to adoption or had anything they wanted to say. Then the judge, her secretary, and the jury left to make their decision. The wait was at least an hour.
When the judge returned she re-read everything, then stated that our petition to adopt was approved and that our petition to waive the waiting period as it pertained to paperwork was also approved, then she read the decree stating such. Everyone then left the court room and the boys and the others left the courthouse. We waited down stairs as our facilitator and the judge finalized the decree. We didn't leave the courthouse just before 8:00 p.m. The drive back was very slow because we were on a rural road with no street lights, it was wet and foggy, and visibility was probably less than a quarter mile at best.
So, all that and you never got the answers you wanted, right? Like are the boys with you now? When are you coming home? How come there is not a picture of the six of you posted? Here are your answers ... We will be allowed to take custody of the boys on the 24th after we stop by the court house and pick up a document that says the 10 waiting period has been satisfied. We don't know yet when we are coming home. We are still doing documents, making decisions, and then we will make our travel arrangements. We did take a picture of the six of us after court, but Tony left with the facilitator at 6:30 this morning to begin collecting all the necessary documents to proceed (the official court decree, birth certificates, social security papers, passports, etc.) and he took the camera.
We will keep you posted!