Saturday, September 19, 2009

We Made It Home

We made it home in one piece, but it took 3 flights and 26 hours!

After court on Tuesday, I was so excited that I had been given permission to share photos of Emma. I decided then that I would post about the court session afterward...

On Saturday (last week), I had been given a "speech" prepared by our translator that I was to study and then present during court. I was very nervous about reading this because as I think I mentioned earlier, it was written in the English translation of Russian. That meant that some of the sentences were not as we might talk here in the US. I read and reread my script over and over and practiced it outloud to JC many times.

On Tuesday morning (the 15th), we had to check out of the hotel, and we were supposed to meet our translators in the lobby at 11am to go to court. We came down about 10am because we are ALWAYS early and because we needed to make sure that we could check our luggage with the desk clerk to be picked up later in the day. As soon as we arrived in the lobby, our translators were walking in. They wanted to get there early to "practice" the speech again!


About 11am, we all went to court.
Our court building was right in the city centre of St Petersburg. It only took about 10 minutes by car. We pulled down a side street, and we were surrounded by VERY old buildings. We parallel parked because there are no parking lots (people park EVERYWHERE). We all got out, and JC and I still had no idea which building it was since nothing was really marked.

door close


We followed our guide into a building and were instantly surprised at how run down everything was. There were exposed wires everywhere - I am sure they are not up to fire code. Also, the stone steps were very worn and cracked and the paint was peeling off the walls. We take for granted the standards that we have here in the US and the nice newer buildings. I joked that the buildings on that street are probably older than the United States itself.

Back to the topic though...We were about 45 minutes early since our hearing was scheduled at noon on Tuesday. We waited, and eventually the doors opened and another American couple came out. They had just been granted the right to adopt a child from the same Baby Home as the one Emma is in. We congratulated them and they wished us luck. Then it was SHOW TIME!!!!

In the court room, which was very small and very plain, there was a judge at the front of the room. To her left was a clerk and to her right was a prosecutor. Also in the room was the doctor from our Baby Home and the social worker. At the back of the room facing the judge was me, our translator, and JC. Everything happened really fast as soon as we walked in....we were expecting a certain format for court, but the exact opposite occurred.
Our translator did an amazing job trying to convey to us everything the judge was saying. I had to stand at first and answer a lot of questions about myself like my full name, date of birth, state in which I was born, etc. I was then expecting to have to start reading my speech, but the judge just kept asking questions about our children and why we were adopting another child and what our boys thought about having a sister. We had been instructed to give very minimal answers if asked a question, so that is what I did. The judge, however, wanted very detailed answers so I had to give more information for a couple of questions. Then she moved onto JC, and he had to stand and also answer questions. It was nerve racking and a little scary hearing the Russian language and English simultaneously and trying to understand all that our translator was asking us. After about 15 minutes, I realised there was no way I'd be reading my speech because a lot of the information had already been asked. I got a little scared then because I knew the court would be ALL unprepared questions. The judge was interested in our house, our boys and our visits with Emma and how many visits we had already had with her. I had brought about 18-20 photos with me to court so I offered them to the judge to see. They included all of the photos from our original dossier of each room in our house, our boys and our mini dachshunds. I also brought along three photos of Emma's room all finished. Then we included about 10 photos of us with Emma from previous visits. I think I saw the judge smile once, but I am not sure it was really a smile! Then the photos got passed around the room for the other persons to view. After this the judge said a few more words, and then she asked if I had anything else that I wished to say to the courts. I got a little emotional here, and asked her to adopt a positive decision for our case. She then left the room to "deliberate"!!! I was very fidgity and hot - it felt like it was a million degrees in that room. She quickly returned and we all stood. She started talking about Emma and our case. She then said that we could be Emma's parents and that we could officially change her name on her birth certificate and that we could be named as her parents. We were very very grateful for this verdict and expressed our thanks to her and the court. Then she left and it was OVER!!!! What a relief! A lot of anxiety left my body at that exact moment. It was a beautiful day in St Petersburg Tuesday for so many reasons!

Oh - and remember the post about the Russian physicals that we endured and paid $1700 (US) for??? Well, we had our medical reports with us in court, and as the judge was deliberating, I said to the translator, "oh no, does the judge not need to see these?" since they were still on the table in front of her!!! She motioned for the clerk to come over, and she handed the stamped reports over. They sat on the clerk's desk throughout the entire end of our court session, and the judge NEVER EVEN LOOKED AT THEM!!! Let's just say that we were less than happy...the ONLY reason we went through Moscow this trip was for the medical exams; they took 5 hours to complete; they cost A LOT of money; and it was slightly stressful having to undress in a room with multiple people and with people constantly walking in and out - TWICE!!!! But...we were granted the wish of a lifetime, and we would do it all over again if we had to!



Tara said...

I had sinus surgery last week so I've been away from the computer mostly but I have read your last few posts and am SO SO happy for y'all! I cried when I saw where the judge said yes and Emma's beautiful pictures ;) She is a lucky little girl and I can't wait to see the pictures of her at "home."

Jodee Leader said...

I am soooo glad you made it home safe and sound! What a stressful court hearing -- I can't even imagine!


Janine said...

Congratulations! Emma is beautiful! I stumbled on your blog tonite and recognized those court doors. We brought our daughter Emily home from St Pete 18 months ago. Enjoy this precious time. It goes by way too fast!

Jo said...

One more step closer to bringing Emma home! You certainly have been through a lot the past few months ~ it's almost over.

At least you will have stories to share about your medical exams ~ does that help with the cost? ugh!

Happy to hear that you made it back safely.

Anonymous said...

Glad you are back some safely:)

Blessings! Ashley

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Welcome Home!! I can't imagine what you went through in that courtroom....I was sweating as I was reading it. And, OMG about the medical stuff. I cannot believe you had to go through all of that and pay that kind of money and the judge didn;t even look at it.

I guess I didn't realize you had to make one more trip. I thought this was the last one....but it sounds like you will be going back for your gorgeous girl real soon:)


teg said...

From what I gathered on Saturday it sounds like you're almost home free. Travel safe during the home stretch. I'll be thinking about you!!!

Over-Caffeinated X 4 said...

Oh, doesn't that just add insult to injury with the medical? Ugh, typical Russian court stuff. No bother, the end justified the means, for sure.

So what is the exact date you leave to go get her?

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