5/28/10-5/31/10:Court day was Friday, 5/28. That was the part of the trip I dreaded most especially knowing that things were tense because of our friend from TN. We were dressed and ready to go by 6:30AM local time as the court session would take place in the region's capital city and it was about a 3 hour drive to get there. We arrived without incident and were shown to a long hallway full of benches of waiting people. The courts had been closed the previous day and I'm assuming half these people like us had had 5/27 court dates that got moved to the 28th.
It took about 4 hours to get to us, the translator told us the prosecutor was busy and I imagine she was with all the people we saw.
Finally it was our turn and we were shown to the judge's office where the judge, a prosecutor, a court recorder, and a social worker waited for us. We weren't sure what to expect but in our case it really wasn't as bad as we feared. We were asked the questions we expected- why were we adopting, what sort of family situation did we have, financial resources, did our families approve, were we aware of the risks, and so on. It was amazing to see the judge leafing through our file, all of our documents with the shiny gold seals that we'd been collecting for almost two years. It was probably four inches high, no wonder we'd always been working on some document. I hadn't realized how much paper we'd produced for this moment. After we answered questions to the judge's satisfaction the prosecutor and social worker spoke and then we all left the room for the judge to consider our case. When we were allowed back in we were told that we were approved and would be granted custody following the ten day waiting period. I think we both felt as though a huge weight had been lifted at that point, now all that was left to do was wait and we'd be a family of 3 soon.
Unfortunately, things did not go as well for the single mother we were traveling with. The judge had issue with some of her paperwork and did not deny her but wanted it fixed before approving her so that was very disappointing for all of us.
Saturday was a quiet day and Erich and I spent our 6th wedding anniversary relaxing in a hotel room halfway round the world from home. The biggest excitement we had was that we had to change hotel rooms (within the same hotel) without the aid of a translator. It went pretty well since they spoke a little English and I speak a little Russian. We had a nice dinner at the restaurant down the street. I wish I could cook as they did, they had the most wonderful soups and blintzes. If I could have bottled their mushroom soup to bring home, I would have. I don't think I really ever saw a bad dish there.
On Sunday we moved to a new hotel. There was a huge convention in town over the coming week and the rooms in the other hotel (and quite a few in the new one too) were booked for it. We were familiar with it, we had stayed there on our very first trip out to the region. Unfortunately the huge room we had been treated to last time was booked so we were given the next best available.
It was like being in college again, only in Russia but it was only temporary. We would go back to the first hotel when the convention was over. The first hotel was nicer and had more shops and things within walking distance but the second hotel was in walking distance to our orphanage so it wasn't all bad. Plus, we met up with two more families from our agency here. They had had court a week before us and had waited their 10 days at home so they were returning to pick up their children. It was nice to meet other adoptive families and to have some other Americans to spend time with in a foreign land and we all shared our experiences over a dinner of Russian pizza which our translator had kindly ordered for us. It was quite good, less sauce and toppings than the American version but with fresh herbs over the top which gave it a pretty unique flavor.
We got to visit the kids on Monday which was definitely a juggling act for our translator as the single mother we'd had court with was put up at a different hotel and one of the families we were now staying with had kids at a different orphanage than the rest of us. We were very excited to see Joshua again and told him that we would be taking him home soon but he was much more interested in trying to get my water bottle open.
This was the last visit we got for a few days as the translator needed to go with the other families to get their kids' birth certificates and passports arranged (all back in the capital city) and our orphanage was ready to start moving the kids to their summer camp out in the country which we did get to visit and I'll get to next time. I think I hear a little one waking up so I'd better leave it here for now.