Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 32-We Passed Court!!!

Maria's View-

PRAISE GOD!  We passed court!!!  I am so thankful that we have this behind us! 

Today has been a long day.  We decided to end our visits last night and concentrate only on court today... We spent the day reviewing everything and praying.  The day seemed to creep by.

We got dressed up and headed out to our driver.  Our facilitator was with him and we headed to the courthouse a full hour early.  We stood outside for the most part of it, next to a paddy-wagon, yep, it's a criminal court, as well...and we silently prayed to ourselves.  About 20 minutes until court, our fac. took us upstairs to sit on a bench and she reviewed questions and procedures with us.  My nerves and brain were not cooperating with me at all!  

She went through the rules... Do not cross your legs, Do not put your hands in your pocket, Do not break eye contact with the judge even when I am translating, Do not look at anyone except for the judge.  Stand when you speak, Address her as Your Honor,  Don't answer with just a 'Yes' or a 'No'.
Ummmm yeah, when I get nervous, I fidget, I cross my legs, I would probably put my hands in my pockets but I had a dress on today, I don't make eye contact when I'm nervous, etc. I was a nervous wreck.  I'm also the type person if you tell me to not do something, I'll probably do it accidentally because my brain makes me do it.  ANYWAY.

She also went through all of the possible questions that the judge and prosecutor will ask us.  

So, all of a sudden, the social worker and orphanage representative were right next to us, laughing and motioning to us... and our facilitator translated that we dressed up nicely and they almost didn't recognize us!  Yeah, I really don't like to wear dresses so all they have ever seen me in is jeans... Chris, too.  Chris was lookin' all handsome. :-)  Also, we were kind of thrown off a bit by who was representing us for the orphanage because we have never had any dealings with her.  strange.

Time to go in.  I was expecting a court type setting but I was so wrong.  We were ushered into a medium sized office.  To the left of the entrance were 2 desks.  The judge's desk was arranged so that it was facing the right side of the room, the secretary's desk was T'ed to her desk.  To the right of the entrance was 2 small desks where the social worker and orphanage director sat at one, and the prosecutor sat at the other.  Our chairs sat facing the judge, directly in front of these 2 small desks, so that the prosecutor, social worker and director were behind us.  Our fac. sat next to us, and to the side sat two witnesses. 

Time to get started.  The judge went over our home study to the court and finally it was time for us to introduce ourselves by stating our name, date of birth, and state of birth.  Then she asked Chris what our purpose was and he did a great job in stating exactly what the judge needed to hear.  She questioned him basically on the logistics of everything, military status, medical coverage, immigration, what this country expects as far as yearly reports go, etc.  Then it was my turn.  Let me just say, she GRILLED me.  I stood before her, strangely calm, although still pretty nervous.  I could feel the tension creeping up into my neck and head.  She asked me all of the obvious things...

"Why do you want to adopt a child with Ds when you have two perfectly healthy children?"
-I feel that this is my calling in life.  We have been blessed with two healthy children and because they are so healthy, I feel that I will have even more time to be able to help a child with special needs.

"Do your children understand how this child will affect your family?"  My girls...I began to choke up with just thinking about their sweet little selves.
-Our oldest daughter goes to public school with children with Down syndrome.  She knows and understands the best that she can what will be involved in raising this child.  Our youngest will grow up with him and will never know any difference.   He will just always be in her life!

The prosecutor asked, "Why now?  Why not wait until your youngest is older?"
-I strongly feel that our time is now.  I'm already teaching my youngest everything she needs to know and so he will just learn right along with her. 

She asks, "But how will you MANAGE?  How will you care for him when you are feeding her, or while you are getting your oldest daughter off to school?"
-I'll manage by feeding him during the same time as I feed the rest of my kids! (I really almost wanted to laugh.)  As for when I take my daughter to the bus stop in the morning, I have a double stroller now and I will put him in it right along side my youngest daughter!

"Do you have family to help you with appointments?"  This prosecutor was really turning up the heat.  I really didn't know how to answer this question properly because I didn't want them to think that I didn't feel capable of juggling the needs of 3 kids so I stated that I do not have family in Germany. 

Then the judge jumped in, "it's impossible for you to make so many appointments and have a child like this.  There is no way that you can handle it all."

Our facilitator slipped in while she was translating for us that they need to know that I have help if I need it... whew!  So I spoke up and said, I have so many people in Germany who are willing to help me watch my children.  As a matter of fact, our friends have been keeping our daughter for us so that we can be here for the past month!

That satisfied her.  There were a few other questions but it seemed to get a bit better.

At one point, while the judge seemed to be going off on a rant (remember, this language always comes across as heated, no matter if it's heated or not), our facilitator took a quick moment to throw in that we are doing fine and it's going well.  I relaxed a bit.

The social worker had her say next.  She made it clear that she believes he is a great fit for our family.

The orphanage representative said that she can tell how much he is thriving in just this month alone.  He is much happier since we started visiting and has never seemed this happy in his life.  She also added that there was an excellent bond happening, especially between father and son.  Yes, he's definitely a Papa's boy.

The judge started summarizing everything with a long speech and as she was talking, I noticed the secretary flipping through our photo books that we brought along.  Every now and then, I would catch a glimpse of my sweet girl's faces.

We were told to stand again and she said that it was the ruling of the court that it's in the child's best interest to allow us to adopt him.  And that was that!

Our fac. looked at us and smiled, congratulated us, and then the witnesses came by and said that they were so thankful that there are people in the world like us who love children like this.  She went on and on about how blessed Griffin will be and I just stood there saying, "spaseeba" (thank you) over and over again.  The social worker and director came over and gave us the biggest smiles and made a thumbs up to us.  We were told to go outside and wait as our fac. finished up the final paperwork. 

The cool air was much welcomed.  I bent over, with my hands on my knees and was mentally exhausted.  Chris said, "Wow, they really roasted you!" 

The social worker, orphanage director, and our facilitator walked with us to our car.  They were all laughing and giggling and our facilitator translated that as they were standing behind me, they noticed how small I was in court, and even the prosecutor was concerned that I was too small to handle such a child.  They continued to congratulate us and we said our goodbyes.

Then I realized that we didn't even give our gifts to the judge and secretary.   I guess our facilitator didn't feel that they were needed. 

But anyway, it's so good to be done with this.  He is ours!  We will give him the life that he deserves.  Yes, we know it won't be easy.  We know that there will be many difficult days ahead but there are difficult days with every child.  He is going to be no different to me than my own girls.  He's ours.  Praise GOD, he is finally ours!

Chris will return on the 28th to start paper chasing and will get him out of the orphanage.  He will probably be in country for about 10 days or so.  Once he is done here, he will go to the US with him and immigrate him/get his new passport.  Once that is done, he will fly him home to Germany.  Expedia really messed us up with our tickets.  They refused to let us move our tickets up, even though Chris is certain that the fine print said that we could change them for a fee.  They wouldn't budge on it.  So for another $1000 we had to buy more tickets to Germany and it was cheaper to just do round trip tickets for both of us, even though I won't be coming back.  Our flight expense has just about killed our budget... but he's worth it.  God will provide.  Next week, I will try to Space A home to get Little G.  I miss my girls so much!  I will get to see Big G tomorrow night, on her b'day! 

Thank you so much for your prayers!!!  We truly could not have done this without your love, encouragement, support, and prayers.  We will continue to blog because we would love for all of you to see how much this child is going to thrive once he is home with us! 

We may not have a blog update for tomorrow night because it will be late when we get home!  But soon!!  I promise!

Chris's View:

Court day has arrived, and tomorrow we will be on our way back to our Big G, then Maria will be heading back to get our Little G before I have to come back & snatch Middle G from the orphanage!

Today, let's discuss driving in this country.

As I said before, we have a main road in front of our apartment, and we take this main road to the road the orphanage is on.  The main road is similar to the main streets of Paris where they have no lines marking official lanes.  It is truly a "get in where you fit in" mentality.  I have seen this road with as many as 6 cars abreast in one direction.  That means the cars on the outside lanes had half of their vehicle up on the curbs.  It is crazy & they drive crazy too.

Case in point, we have nearly hit an old lady (she was probably 60+ years old and not in the best shape, and she had to run to avoid being hit) to which our driver just honked his horn without slowing down.  We have nearly (and frequently) hit other vehicles.  I am sure rear-enders happen here all too often with the way these folks drive, yet I haven't seen too many busted up vehicles.  Our driver has, on MANY occasions, passed a vehicle stopped at a red light to take position in front of them to wait for the light to change.  I am sorry, this would have really ticked me off.  I used to have road rage, but I have calmed down a whole lot.  That would drive me right to the point of getting out and going to address the person who pulled a stunt like that!

The roads are not good, so if you do not know the roads, you are probably going to either bust a tire or rear end the person in front of you who does know the roads well.  They have a nasty habit of stopping really quickly in front of pot holes or train tracks or speed bumps.  If you are following with the flow of traffic, you cannot see the road hazards and are forced to lock up your breaks.  It would be rough learning to drive here.

Learner drivers have a yield sign sticker with a "y" in it on their windows.  These learner vehicles are rarely on the main roads from what I have seen, but I see them frequently in a large paved lot near the orphanage.  I have seen one learner driver on the road by the Karavan, and she looked scared to death!  Poor lady had the flop sweats!  LOL!  She looked like she was older, maybe late 20's early 30's, but the sheer look of terror on her face was priceless.  I do not envy driving instructors here... man, how do teach the unpredictable to someone?  It's hard for me to fathom driving here and I have been behind the wheel for years and have driven in all sorts of crazy circumstances... I could not imagine having to learn in a place like this!

Lastly, while we have felt somewhat safe in the vehicles we have had to ride in, the biggest complaint we have had is the lack of seat belts.  They are simply removed from the back seats.  The front seats have them, and one of the taxi drivers we had actually used his, but the rest of them just ignored the seat belts.  We discussed this with our usual driver one day and he said they are required, but the law is not enforced.  He seemed shocked when we told him of the $250 fine in the states for not having a seat belt on.  He acknowledged that the Americans he has driven have all asked about seat belts.  Like I said, at least we have felt somewhat safe.

See ya'll tomorrow... if I get a chance to blog due to flying home!

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