March 31 Day 20 of Journey

March 31, 2011 Day 20 of journey

By Tony

Drumroll please….Court is now in session. The court in Tamokovka is in a very small building. Our courtroom inside was about half the size of a regular school classroom with a six inch wood plank floor with the paint peeling off. Sort of reminded me of an old boy scout summer camp building. Old and worn out or not, this court has just as much power in Ukraine as any court in the United States. We had a lady judge who was the same one who did David Howick, so she was familiar with the Save a Child foundation hosting process that we went through. Thus, there were not as many questions for our facilitator or us about the hosting program as there were in David Howick’s case. The judge wore a black robe and we all stood when she entered and left the room just as in any other court.

On our left, sat the recorder who actually used a computer which was a first official person that we have seen use a computer. Seated next to her was the “prosecuter” who represents the state to see that the best interest of the children are looked after. She was young and very pretty. I kept looking at her trying to figure out where I had seen her before as she looked extremely familiar. Near the end of the hearing I figured out that she was a dead ringer for Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise’s wife. No kidding!

On our right sat two assessors who essentially acted as witnesses and assisted the judge. Yulia sat behind us on the right. She is the director of the orphanage and had to present official papers designating her as such. To our left, sat Zhenia, Luba, and Yuri. In front of them, sat the county inspector who did the initial evaluation when we came to the orphanage. To our right, sat Victor, our facilitator from Adoption Way. The judge went over all the paper work and had each of us stand up at various times and asked us questions along with the prosecutor. Nobody else asked any questions. Fortunately, everybody spoke in our favor including the children and the final verdict was an apporval of our petition to adopt Luba, Zhenia, and Yuri.

Everybody this time in front of the courthouse

Now we will go into a 10 day open period where anybody who wishes may make an objection with the court. That 10 day period will end on April 10 which is a Sunday. On Monday morning, April 11, Victor, our facilitator, will then apply for new Tax ID numbers for the children. Previously, it has taken only a couple of days to accomplish this, but the region recently introduced a new system and it now can take up to 10 business days. Anne will not return to Ukraine until we know that we have those numbers as no other steps can be taken until those numbers are obtained. Once she has returned, she is expected to take about a week to get the children’s new passports and clearance from the US Embassy in Kiev. We are hopeful that we will have everybody home before the month of April ends.

Right now we are on the night train to Kiev click-clacking along. We will be playing some games and watching the last half of Lord of the the Rings: Return of the King for awhile before getting tucked in for the night and arriving in Kiev around 6:30am

Note from Anne:

I love that Tony starts our blogs, so that I can just add on to his a few of the details that I think would be interesting to you, helpful for families coming here later to adopt, something our new children will enjoy knowing about as they progress in their lives, or something I want to remember.

We packed up and left our third apartment this morning. It had served us well for the week. We were very happy to be in Zaparosha (sp?) for the week. It seemed a step up from Nicopole. As we were packing up and hauling our bags down the four flights of stairs to the taxi, Tony (and Sam), for the hundredth time, was complaining about how much stuff “I” as in me, Anne, brought on this trip. Again, I am used to all these guys giving me a hard time, so I am sure I will survive. At least I do not have trunks of frilly dresses, hats, and parasols, or something like that. Kerry Shaw and Kim Golling will be moving into the apartment behind us. Just so they know, we washed the dishes and rinsed them in boiling water. Well, we didn’t wash the nice glasses on the open shelf above the counter. I hope that it will serve their needs. They got a better price on it than we did, because we were able to give them the landlord’s phone number so they could rent it directly from them.

So, we were finally all loaded up and headed to the orphanage. We were late leaving the apartment, but the taxi driver must have made up some of the lost time in speed. I did notice that he had to use his breaks much more as we approached some of the worst sections of road and we bounced around even more than usual. I was TRYING to read a book, but it was mostly impossible. I would read a few sentences and then think about them while my eyes rested, then read some more, etc.

When we arrived at the orphanage only about 7 minutes late, Tony and I headed off to find the children. Yuri came out of the school building looking very nice in a suit and white shirt with no tie. Zhenia somehow slipped out to the taxi without us seeing him. He was dressed in the sweater he wore on the airplane when they came to visit, a collared shirt he had on the day before, and some nice pants. We were then searching for Luba. Two lovely ladies were down in one of the classrooms getting her ready. Her hair was braided very cute. She had a white blouse on that was a little too big with a black dress with spaghetti straps over the white blouse. She had a nice black jacket to finish it off. Lucy and I went into the room. The ladies explained that Luba had nylon tights on, but she tore a hole in them playing. One of the older girls had been sent to the dormitory to get a new pair for her. She had some fancy shoes on that look a little too big. The three children are so cute, that it really didn’t matter what they wore, but Tony and I were so appreciative of the ladies at the orphanage for helping them look so nice.

It was a bit tight, but the taxi drive (Slavick), Tony, Lucy, Yuri, Samuel, Zhenia, Luba, Gabe and I along with ALL our luggage fit in the van. Since we don’t wear seat belts around here, we didn’t have to worry about that. We retraced our drive back to the city where the courthouse is. The taxi driver stopped to ask for directions just before our facilitator called to find out where we were. We were at the courthouse within a minute’s drive. Victor, the facilitator talked with the three children and explained to them what would be happening and what would be expected of them. Since they really want to be adopted, we were not really concerned about them. Victor then talked to Tony and I to let us know what to expect. Tony was told that he would be asked what we are asking from the court. He was given the five things listed in the court papers about wanting to adopt the children, to have their names changed on their birth certicifates, etc.

Tony and Victor, our facilitator

Victor then took the three children with his taxi drive (Victor) from Nicopol to get photographs of the children. We just stayed there and snacked on some things that we had brought. By this time, it was 1:00 p.m. and we were all a little hungry. We decided that it would not be a good idea for us to get out the mayonaise and mustard to make ham and cheese sandwiches or the peanut butter and jam. None of that would look very pretty on our nice outfits, so we had to make due with dry bread, chips, cashews, raisins, and some cheese. Another taxi pulled up and it was the taxi driver (Yuri) from Dnepropetrosk with the orphanage director that has been in Dnepropetrovsk for the past week and a half. So we had taxis, coming from three different directions, all meeting in this small town. Today alone, we spent just under $300 in taxi fees. We only had to pay part of the taxi fee for our facilitator’s taxi, because he had been on a trip for the other family he is representing and was just needing to stop off to attend court with us. We usually spend $100 each day for our taxi. Today we paid for three!

So, at a few minutes before 2:00, we all walked to the front door of the courthouse. Tony described most of what went on, but a few additional items are . . . not long after starting the hearing, Yuri, Zhenia and Luba were asked to leave the room and to go stand in the hallway. This is a nice thing for the judge to do, because they can then give information about the children and a little bit about their family history and current situation and ask Tony and I questions without having the children there to hear about it. One family that we heard about in a previous year, the child was not asked to leave and sat there hearing some things about their family and past that they did not even know about and ended up in tears. The adoptive parents were very sad that the child had to hear all these things and had wished that the child was not present. Anyways, back to our story. Tony was asked a few specific questions, “Do you think that the children will be good in your family?”, “How do you think they will get along with your children?”, and “Are your children supportive of you adopting three more children?” The questions I was asked was, “Are you a housewife?” and “Do you have help taking care of your family?” My response to the latter was “No.” After I sat down, Tony told me that he helps take care of the children. That is true, but I think they already knew that, but then again . . . men in Ukraine may not be nearly so helpful around the house as Tony is, in fact, many men in America are not nearly so helpful as Tony is around the house and in raising a family. I am a lucky lady.

Yuri was called into the room. The judge asked him a number of questions about his trip to America and his experience in our home. He was also informed that I do not have help around the house, so that meant that he would be having to help work around the house and is he okay with that. His response to that was, “Da,” (which means yes). The children have a younger half sibling that was adopted by a family in France a number of years ago. They were not asked about her, but they were asked about what their older sisters and brother thought about them being adopted. He told the court that they are happy for them. The director had also been questioned about the older siblings. No family members have ever expressed any interested in adopting or helping these children. The older siblings had not either, and are in no situation to do so if they wanted to. The prosecutor was the one asking all the questions about the siblings. The older siblings are all 18 y.o. or older and are unadoptable. Oh, by the way, while we were all in the courthouse, sweating bullets, Lucy, Sam and Gabe sat out in the taxi van playing Phase 10! Since Lucy was not able to come into the courtroom, Sam and Gabe suggested that it would be best for them to stay out there and keep her company.

Zhenia and Luba had similar questions. They all were very nervous to be questioned, but they were all very cute about it. We were ALL relieved when the questioning was complete. The judge left the room to consult with the assessors and secretary. They all then returned with a ruling in our favor. We were all very grateful to have the HUGE hurdle jumped!

With that stressful situation behind us, we all realized that we would like a decent meal. Tony treated us all to a meal, either a late lunch or early dinner, at a local diner. Us being, the three taxi drivers, our facilitator, the orphanage director, Tony, Lucy, Yuri, Samuel, Zhenia, Luba, Gabe, and I. We ate until we were stuffed. After we ate, Tony gave, what he called, “a little speech.” He thanked the three taxi drivers that have been helping us. He thanked our facilitator for all his work on our behalf, and he especially thanked Yulia, the orphanage director, for taking such good care of the children. Tony also thanked Lucy for all her wonderful help in translating for us. After we ate, I asked the children if they wanted to call their sister and brother. They did make both phone calls and seemed happy after they got off the phone. We finally all had to say our goodbyes. We all headed our separate ways. The taxi driver from Dnepropetrovsk would be taking Yulia and the children back to the orphanage, the two Victors would be returning to Nicopol, and we would be returning to Zap to catch a night train to Kiev. So here I lie blogging to you all as the train jostles and sways, it is a bit better than trying to blog in the bouncy car. It feels like about 80+ degrees in here with no window to roll down! The movie is just about over with Frodo and Sam completing their journey. The climax of our formal adoption journey is over too. The journey will not be complete until I return home with our three new children. At that point the REAL adventure begins for us all. We are excited and just a bit nervouse about that part, but as we all work together and learn to love and understand each other, our lives will all be richer.

Thanks to all of you, our friends and our family, that are supporting us in this adventure. It is an adventure of a lifetime and a lifetime adventure “to infinity and beyond!”

Whew!! Congratulations to all of you that actually finished this LONG blog. 🙂

6 Responses to “March 31 Day 20 of Journey”
  1. Beverly Ward says:

    Congratulations! What wonderful news! I am glad that everything is working out well for you. It sounds like you have had some wonderful support from people there, which is so important. We have been thinking about you during your trip and hoping for the best. Congratulations again!


  2. Erica says:

    Congrats!!!!!! I’m so glad it went well! *hugs*

  3. Anne, it was easy to finish the blog. Thanks for writing so much. As I read, I try to imagine the feelings, the sights, and the experiences you and the boys are having. I’m glad everything went so well. We love all of you and keep you in our prayers.

  4. Susan Taylor says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. Congratulations to ALL of you. What a blessing. Hang in there.

  5. Natasha says:

    I’m so glad to read of your successful court proceedings–Congratulations! Thank you so much for keeping us posted. I also enjoyed filling in for you in KoL today, Anne.

  6. Stephanie Holbrook says:

    The kids look darling! How wonderful is it that the people that care for them at the orphanage took the extra time to make them look and feel special for their special day! Congratulations!! I love reading your posts.

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