Monday, June 26, 2006

 

 

Please allow us to introduce to you, our son, Jonathan Sterling Drake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

  

Today was the infamous court day and what a court day it was.  We awoke with the birds, Bryan dreaming that we slept through it and me, just not sleeping period.  Because of that, we had PLENTY of time to get ready for the big day.  We had stayed awake last night preparing for our court appearance, rehearsing answers to possible questions, praying, and anything else we could do to feel prepared.   

 

Dina picked us up at 10:00 as scheduled and we went to the Baby Home to get the “book” which held our signatures for each day we visited.  She must have known that we would need that book and need it we did.  Our friends Ross and Karen had court at 10:30 and we asked why they didn’t already have the book?????  Now we know why.  They had a pleasant judge and we had the Mr. Let Me See How Much I Can Make You Sweat, judge.  Anyway, we passed the attire test and Dina was pleased that Bryan wore a suit and tie.  That whole topic was up for some debate but it was a good thing we opted to over dress for the occasion. 

 

We arrived at the Court House with an hour to spare-just enough time to get good and nervous while we waited.  So we do what we do best-we ate to pass the time.  As we were sitting there our prosecutor walked in and that is when we realized she would be the one declaring our petition to the court.  Our encounter with her was brief and our words few.  However, in the end, she did what we wanted her to do so we aren’t complaining. 

 

We finally went upstairs to the court room to wait for the judge.  I am including a photo of the courtroom so you can see how vastly different it is from what we see in the States.  Very stark, sterile environment with a few particle board benches and desks.  No fluff here.  Lots of scrambling took place while documents were being sorted out and set on the judge’s desk before he arrived.  We had just enough time to take a restroom break before the judge walked into the room. 

 

We were asked of course to rise when he walked into the room and then the door went shut and it was the judge, his secretary/court reporter(hand writing the notes), the Prosecutor (who looked thoroughly bored), Bryan and I, Dina behind us and the wonderful lady from the Ministry of Education.  We really liked her a lot and she was definitely on our side. 

 

The judge began speaking and Dina did a great job translating although I couldn’t tell you what she said because I was so nervous.  Then he asked Bryan to rise and state his case.  He did a fantastic job and then underwent rapid fire questions of which the judge already had the answers to but was testing to see if we were going to try and pull any fast ones. 

 

Then it was my turn.  Oh my goodness.  This is when it turned not so good.  He asked me to rise and speak.  I opened my mouth to say what I had prepared and the tears started and I couldn’t talk.  It was absolutely awful.  Dina kept saying “don’t be nervous-it’s ok.”  It didn’t matter I still couldn’t get anything out.  No surprise there-or maybe some of you are thinking usually you can’t shut me up but either way-I wasn’t doing well.  By the grace of God, and I mean that literally, he finally must have had a soft spot in his heart and felt a tiny bit sorry for me because he could see I wasn’t going to regroup anytime soon so he started asking me questions.  I was able to pull myself together after that and answer his questions.  Then he started grilling me about my job and who was going to take care of my child.  Sorry Grandparent’s-I said you!!!  Then he wanted to know if we owned our house outright or if we paid monthly payments.   Of course I said we had a mortgage and he didn’t seem to like that answer so he kept at it and wanted to know how much we paid, whey we didn’t own our home etc. etc.  I finally told Dina, it is fairly common in the US to have a mortgage.  Yikes.  Then he talked about the awful abuse and even death cases from some American families that had adopted Russian children.  He mentioned there had been 14 deaths by Americans to these children and what did I think about that??  I managed to squeak out that I thought it was awful but that Jonathan would be loved very much and well taken care of.  It was horrible.

 

He then made Bryan stand back up and answer some more questions about where he worked and would we treat Jonathan the same as we treat our biological daughter.   All of this in Russian and then translated.  If you could hear his voice the whole time it was very harsh and at times very LOUD.  My poor husband had sweat dripping from his face. 

 

What seemed like hours later (it actually was only 40 minutes) he asked if we had anything else to say so I figured I had better redeem myself so I stood and thanked him for inviting us to this country and giving us the gift of this beautiful little boy.  He packed up his papers, said a few things to Dina and the Minister of Education-the Prosecutor did her thing and he was out of there.

 

We sat there looking at each other not knowing what had just happened.  It is normal for him to leave the room so you can sweat it out for another 15 minutes or so before you get his decision.  At this point, all that was running through our minds was-is it possible that we would go through all of this and he would say NO?? 

 

Pretty soon, we were called into his chambers (which thank goodness had air conditioning) and he read a bunch of stuff and said the words that we had been waiting to hear.  “We the Court agree to satisfy the Petition of Bryan Sterling and Margaret Anne Drake to Adopt Jonathan Sterling Drake”.  We then of course were all smiles but remained composed.  We were dismissed so then I did the next crazy thing and asked for a picture with us to commemorate the moment.  He agreed but did not smile.  We have included the photo. 

 

We recognize that this is serious and he has to be stern but it was still a long hour none the less. 

 

We got out to the hall and we got lots of hugs from the others in the courtroom and we felt like a 10 ton weight had been lifted off our shoulders.  It was a great feeling.  I guess you have to be able to equate something to actual child birth so this was it I’m telling you.

 

We enjoyed a nice lunch with Dina and our Social Worker from the MOE and then it was time to change clothes before heading to the Baby Home for our visit.  We got to spend from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. with Jonathan and he was excited to see us.  It felt so good knowing we are on the downhill slide with all of this and the hard part is over. 

 

Now the process is as follows.  The 15 day waiting period in which the adoption could be contested by the mother or family member starts tomorrow and will conclude on July 12.  Then Dina has more paperwork to complete before we arrive to pick him up.  It is looking like around the 21st or 22nd of July depending on flights and cost. 

 

Then we will make one last trek to Kaz to pick up our son!!  What a joyful day that will be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Sorry for the long post today.  Thank you so much for all of your prayers.  They helped get us through. 

 

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.  We couldn’t be happier and now are looking forward to getting home to Rachael as soon as possible. 

 

Love to all!

Maggie and Bryan

 

A relieved Daddy and his little boy.

A happy mommy with her precious son.

If you look close and pretend you can almost see a smile.  Hey, he is the man who declared Jonathan our son so we think he ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!

The wonderful woman from the MOE.  She was wonderful to us and even hugged us after court.  We promised her we would stop by in July and introduce Rachael to her.  That made her smile even more. 

 

 

        

 

And that about sums it up!!!!!  Cheers!