As you probably read below in Tara's post, our court appearance went very well. Ten days from now we will officially be the proud parents of Elizabeth! And now Vika tells us that we get to visit her not just a few times, but every day except Sunday. I don't know what Elizabeth has on her schedule for Sundays, but apparently she's busy. :) To me, being allowed daily visits is HUGE because we need to reestablish that bond with her as much as possible before we travel back home with her.
For the record, the courthouse is on Sovetskaya Street. [UPDATE: This might be it here.] The courtroom number was 114; just in case that means anything in numerology. :) In court, of the eight of us, I was the only man. For some reason, that calmed my fears a bit. I guess because I knew that if push came to shove, I could "take 'em." :) There was no "bailiff" or any sort of security person, which surprised me. I was expecting several unsmiling men with guns, in those iconic red and green Russian army uniforms.
One of the "witnesses," looking at the photo album before the hearing began, noted how much Elizabeth looks like Tara. I joked that she looks more like me, just because I'm contrary like that.
Once the hearing began, each person except for the judge stood and introduced herself, talked about her hopes and dreams and ... OK, not really, but they did state their names and titles. As expected, they started the questioning with me. I talked about how long Tara and I have been married, why we're adopting, why from Russia, and how much we love Elizabeth. A lot of it is just a blur, but apparently I performed well. They asked each of us about our jobs and finances, and me specifically regarding experience with children, what we would do with Elizabeth if we were divorced, and did we have a prenuptial agreement. That one also surprised us. I said that, in accordance with the pre-nup, we would sell her to the highest bidder on e-bay. :) Actually, I said we would see who she was closest to, and that person would be the one who kept her. Of course, the other spouse would try to get visitation rights, and there was no pre-nup.
At one point, the judge took an unexpected break and left the room. When she returned, she was unable to keep a straight face as she asked, "So, have you changed your mind about this adoption?" I just laughed and said, "No." After the hearing, Tara and I laughed about that question. "Yeah, we've changed our minds. We were just kidding. We never thought we would get this far. I guess we didn't really think this through."
At the end of the hearing, she again left the room, this time to make her decision. By the way, every time she came or went, we all had to stand. The same was true whenever we answered one of her questions. It was good exercise.
Anyway, the hardest part is over. Now we just have to worry about the rest of our lives.
After tonight, we will be relocating to a less smoky room on a lower floor. We went and looked at a possible apartment for the rest of our stay, but the neighborhood was just way too broken down, scary, depressing, and isolated. Vika said it was a safe neighborhood, but "you never know." The apartment itself was OK inside, but we just decided that we had it pretty good at the hotel, after all, so that's where we will stay.
Here is the complete blog of the adoption experience in paperback form, "Russian Adoption: From Nashville to Astrakhan and back". And here is the fictionalized, future "homeland tour" (action adventure) version in various forms: on Kindle, various electronic formats, and in paperback.
This time next week.... Preparation The day before Travel day In the air We're in Moscow Moscow Check out time We're in Astrakhan It's only Monday? What a day... Tuesday (2007-10-02) It's a girl! It's a girl! Wednesday Thursday Great visit Sights of Astrakhan Another great visit Last visit for a while Atlanta! We're home! (10/06) Round two Skora mweh tam boojum Internet access Elizabeth's room Mweh yeddum v aeroport eta ootra In the air again Back in Moscow (11/26) Tuesday (2007-11-26) Back in Astrakhan Russian adoption consultant Comments welcome Showtime! And the judge says...... Success! The day after Saturday morning Much better visit today Beet salad Went for a walk ... Its going to be a good week She's warming up to us Light at the end of the tunnel Picture of us before court More pictures She's ours! The first hours of parenthood Bowel movement Sleep, what a concept Update Nothing much to update about 51-1/2 hours Just another week to go Pictures of our life in Astrakhan Back in Moscow (12/18) Moscow update continued Update to the update's update To the embassy Can't leave early Still in Moscow Riding the Metro Riding the Metro, part deux We're home! (12/23) A few pictures Airport arrival Stay tuned More pics Summary Doctors say she's normal Adoption video Holmes Russian adoption videos Adoption videos updated Our Russian adoption story
"Dear Elizabeth, Welcome to the family! We love you already and can't wait to meet you. Love, Ronica P.S. I have lots of bubbles and stickers!!! I can't wait until we can play!! " Ronica, 2007-11-29 09:59:32
"Praise be! I was so happy when I got the news at work I was crying for joy so hard I had to stop and take a walk, before I could get back to work. This is such wonderful news. Elizabeth you have a whole new family of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents that can't wait to meet you and spoil you every chance we get. Your Aunt Stephanie can't wait to play with you! Your brothers and sisters (Chandler, Joey, Daisy, and Sunny) are very excited to meet you and can't wait for you to begin dropping food on the floor so that they can help you clean it all up. Lots of Love, Stephanie " Stephanie and Todd, 2007-11-29 11:37:44
"Welcome to America and your new family, Elizabeth! Your new mom and dad have been waiting a long time for you and God picked you special just for them. I know that you won't get to meet me and my family for awhile but I can't wait to help shower you with gifts you don't need and noisy things to annoy your parents! I share the joy with your new family and I also cried a little when I read this post. I am so happy for all of you! God bless your new family! Love, Aunt Emily, Uncle Rob, Kaitlyn and Alan " Auntie Em, 2007-11-29 11:45:32
"Welcome Elizabeth!!! Your Nana is nothing but a big cry baby! As soon as I learned that you are now our new grandaughter, I had to leave home to do some business ... but all afternoon while I was away, I was singing about you in the car--through my many tears (of GREAT JOY!) When I was the Sunday School teacher for our little "Sunbeams" (ages 2-4 years old), they all loved to sing so much! Their very favorite song was "I am a Child of God"... and their sweet little voices filled the air with JOY every Sunday... Your Nana has not been able to stop singing that little Sunbeam song all afternoon--thinking of YOU!!! I am sending a group email to your Mommy & Daddy with this song's "MP3" of the children singing! (If it weren't for your precious Nanny, now in Heaven, I wouldn't have ever been a Sunbeam teacher or learned their songs!) Maybe someday, when you are older, you can sing this little song yourself! Your Nana & Papa love you already, with all our hearts and we have both been praying and dreaming of the day Mommy & Daddy bring you home to the whole family--who also already love you!!! (Many angels in many cities have been praying for you day and night--and we know you are sent from Heaven above -- so it is quite appropriate for me to send you "I Am a Child of God" -- because you truly are!) Please save lots of hugs and kisses for us! Love Always! Nana (& Papa too) and our kitty: Hallendale " Mom & Nana, 2007-11-29 14:38:35
"I am so happy for you all! " Jeannie, 2007-11-29 16:28:21
"Well Bill, Now you are a father and life as you knew it will never be the same. You will be a great father and you won't miss your old life at all. Everything things is better with a little one by your side! Love you, " Jeannie, 2007-11-30 02:14:181