On the morning of December 5th, our facilitator called and said we were indeed having court that day at 3 pm. She also told us we would be heading back to Kiev that evening, and we could leave for the US. We already had plane tickets on hold with a travel agent, so we let him know we would indeed be leaving Kiev the next morning. We spent the day packing and making sure we had everything just right for security checks.
Our facilitator called at 2:30, ready to pick us up outside our hotel. As we drove, she told us what to expect in court: the people who would be there, the order of the proceedings, the questions we would be asked, and how to stand/sit/answer/address the judge. We went to a building that looked like any other court house you might see, and went upstairs to a foyer area. We were then ushered into a long “court room” which looked more like a conference room…at one end was a row of tables and chairs where the judge and other officials would sit. Perpendicular to that were tables running the length of the room and piled high with stacks and stacks of papers. We were given seats along the wall. Our facilitator and 3 other women came in. One was a prosecutor, and she would bring any case against us that might be cause for the judge to deny our petition to adopt. She looked stern, and we wondered if she had anything to say against our case. The other women chatted happily with our facilitator. Eventually, the prosecutor looked up, smiled, and joined in their conversation. This made us feel so much more at ease.
We stood as the judge entered along with 3 other court officials, and she took her seat at the center of the row at the end of the room. The questions began with our basic information: name, address, occupation. The judge also asked why we wanted to adopt, if we knew Masha’s background, and if we felt we could care for a “such a large family.” She asked about our previous adoptions and how we planned to help Masha make the transition into a family. Then the orphanage director was called on to testify. She told the judge that she had witnessed good interaction between us and Masha, that we knew of her background and needs, and that she thought we would be great parents for Masha.
Next, a social worker was called on, but this was a different woman than we had met that first day. This lady again confirmed that she thought we would be a good family for Masha. The judge asked the social worker about Masha’s life in the orphanage. The social worker said she had had no visitors during her time there. That was hard to hear that no one had come to see this little sweetie. Then she added that every time a social worker went to the orphanage with a family for another child, Masha would ask, “When are you going to bring a Mama and Papa for me?” Oh.my.goodness. I looked at Kevin, and again we both teared up over our girl’s lonely heart longing for a family.
Lastly, the prosecutor was called upon. This is where were kind of holding our breath. What if she had some reason to say we shouldn’t adopt Masha? Our fears were soon relieved as she also gave the judge a favorable recommendation! The judge spoke for just a few minutes and told us she was going to make her decision. We had been told she would leave the courtroom for this, but she didn’t. She needed no recess to make the decision…we would be granted the privilege to adopt Masha!
When court was over, we asked our facilitator about going to the orphanage to say goodbye. The orphanage director was standing there, and she advised against it! What?! The director told us it would be an emotional goodbye, and that she would explain everything to Masha. This woman had been so kind to us and our girl, she did know Masha better than we did, and we really had no reason to doubt that she was right. As much as we hated it, we would have to leave the country without saying goodbye to our girl L We ended the day by traveling back to the notary office.
That night as we drove to Kiev with our two facilitators, we discussed the process that remained…returning to finish paperwork and obtaining her passport, getting Masha out of the orphanage, getting her processed through the US Embassy in Kiev, and bringing her home. We talked about all of the upcoming holidays and how it all could work out. I cannot begin to count how many times over the last month we have studied the calendar! We still thought we wouldn't be back until January. The facilitators dropped us off at the airport in Kiev where we hung around for about 7 hours before our long flights began to head back home. We landed in Atlanta in the afternoon on December 6th. We were so glad to be home!
As we left the airport, I checked my email on my phone and noticed one from our facilitator. It could be worked out for us to come back, ready to go, on December 16th, which meant leaving again on the 14th. We would barely be home a week! But the possibility of getting our girl home sooner was going to be worth it!