Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Almost our final adoption update

NOVEMBER 19, 2012

Monday at 2pm to be exact.  

It was looking like this would be our last court date.  We were hopeful but you really never know what to expect here.  

Literal (or almost literal;) transcript of happenings in court:

1:50pm - Zhenya's prep with lawyer (he adopted Maya alone, with my permission, but at this point in time he is her sole parent legally).  Last time I didn't say anything in court but just observed in the back.  Which was good because our judge intimidated the pie out of me.  She spoke incredibly fast, incredibly quiet, all while keeping her head down looking at her papers and needless to say all in Russian.  Sitting in the back it was almost impossible to hear and understand what she was saying.  So. Back to Zhenya's prep….unexpectedly our lawyer turns to me and starts prepping me for what I will need to say in court.  Uh, What??  While I do speak Russian, all capabilities in the language seem to fly out the window when I am intimidated and nervous.  As the blood drained from my face I tried not to panic and think of how I should answer the questions.

2 pm - Enter the court.  Present are Zhenya and I, our lawyer, the social worker who has been visiting our home to check things out and see how Maya is doing with us, the Prosecutor who represents Maya and her best interests (she fights on her behalf if she sees that we are an unfit family) and then after we are seated, the Judge.

2ish - Lots of quiet fast reading by the judge, standing up and down while she makes some official statements, reading of papers, etc.  Each of the representatives are given the chance to share, add things or raise any questions.

2ish+ - Zhenya is called forward to answer questions.  He does a great job answering things like, Ryan's dual citizenship, what Ryan thinks about the adoption, etc, etc.  Pretty basic stuff.
UNTIL, suddenly and unexpectedly, the judge and prosecutor come back to the fact that Zhenya is adopting alone.  Even though this is legal, they don't like it and feel like now is the time to try and talk us out of it.  And the same ol' questions start over again….do we really live here, are we really going to stay, what if Maya would get dual citizenship, what would America do/require, we already have a biological child -why adopt.  But what became scary was when they seriously started talking about that it's not a good idea for Zhenya to adopt alone.  Why not wait a few years until things are better with my Russian docs?  Why hurry now to adopt?  She is living with us in foster care and can do so until 18.  So we have lots of time, just wait and adopt her later….. Zhenya then does a great job addressing all of this and makes it clear that we do not want to wait and have her only in foster care.  That even though this might be a more difficult path, it's important to us that she legally becomes a Shulgin.  

2:40ish - My turn.  Thankfully there was no reason for my momentary panic in the beginning.  When I was called up they just wanted to know if I approved, what I thought about the adoption, IF my family in America knew about the adoption and what they thought about it.  Now this kind of conversation is right up my alley!:)  Not hard at all for me to talk about Maya and my family!  It's interesting, but there was an immediate softening in the Judge and Prosecutor as I talked (I think that had something to do with sharing how my Mom and Dad cry tears of joy when they talk with Maya on skype and how much they love her and are happy for us).  They also asked what words she was saying now.  1 being Papa that is used for Daddy, Mommy and Ryan.  2 being Hi in English.  When English was mentioned they almost seemed a little surprised and asked how she was doing with that.  Since we have our example with Ryan and how both languages are completely natural to him, it helped a lot to alleviate fears that she would only know English.  All in all, it seemed to go well.  Zhenya seems to think that my testimony was the clincher and is convinced that this helped our case strongly.  

2:45 - Prosecutor share her opinion and recommendation.  She is a very nice younger lady that seems to like us.  So she had nothing negative to say and basically shared that she approves.

2:50 - Judge leaves the court room to make her decision.

Eternity….Ok, so it was only a couple of minutes, but it felt like forever.

We all rise when the Judge comes back.  Lots of fast, quiet talking AGAIN!  Ahh, come on!   I could barely catch anything that she was saying.  But at a certain moment Zhenya turns to me with a slight smile and nod of his head and I gathered that everything was alright.

3:00 As the proceedings are finishing up our Judge suddenly turns very human on us while smiling and congratulating us and wishing us all the best.

3:15 Sitting in the car making phone calls to our loved ones letting them know the news.  First call is to Masha, Zhenya's sister who is babysitting Maya.  On the loudspeaker we can hear screaming, laughing, dancing and tears.  Maya gets on the phone to excitedly "talk" to Papa.  And that's when I lose it.  It's really over.  15 months of the most stressful time of our married lives.  15 months of miracles and roller coasters.  15 months of battle with papers, people, lines, deadlines, and in prayer.  15 months of living on the edge and waiting for God to come through yet again - miracle after miracle.  It's really over.  We still feel like we are in a state of shock.  

3:45 We pick up Ryan from friends who helped watch him while we were in court.  When he is told the news there is more dancing.  The past few months he has asked more than a few times if Maya was ours yet.  So he was beside himself when we told him that Maya is now a Shulgin.  He has been sharing the news with everyone, without much explanation, just excitedly proclaiming, "Maya is OURS!"


Please know how truly thankful we are that all of you have carried this burden with us as we have been on this journey.  It doesn't seem enough to say Thanks for your prayers.  But we are so very very thankful and humbled by your love, support and encouragement.

All our love,
The 4 Shulgins