Monday was our court hearing and it went great. We met R at the court house and we could tell that she was a little nervous. I don't blame her! After we talked and played for a bit she seemed more like her normal self. She asked to use the translator and typed a message that translated: "I'm glad to see you (mom and dad), I love you!" She really is the sweetest!
Our hearing was scheduled for 4:00 but it didn't start until about 4:30. At the time, the delay was concerning because it brought up the possibility of having to reschedule or make the hearing spill into Tuesday. Thankfully, neither of those possibilities happened.
Court took place in a small, simple room. It had two rows of benches near the back, a table for the prosecutor, an elevated table for the judge and the SDA officials, and a barred holding cell (which we had fun teasing R about).
The judge started off by asking us each basic questions--to state our name, our address, and profession. Each time we responded to the judge we stood up and a translator conveyed our answer in Ukrainian. The judge then moved on to more in-depth questions, such as why we wanted to adopt, how we would treat R compared to our future biological children, what type of schooling and activities we had in mind for R, how we were planning on communicating, and whether we thought R wanted to be adopted. The most interesting part of the questioning was when he moved on to religion. He asked us what type of religious activities we had in mind for R. We answered the question honestly and openly, telling the judge about our church attendance, Sunday School, and Mark's involvement in teaching a children's Bible study through BSF. Not knowing the judge's beliefs, we weren't sure how he'd respond, but he followed up by asking if we trusted God to lead our life. We said absolutely. And wow has this trip reinforced our total reliance in Him. The judge didn't crack a smile once during the entire hearing, but I think he was satisfied with our answers. Then Mark stated our petition to adopt R, our desire to change her last name and add a middle, and requested that my name be put on her birth certificate in the line of her mother.
The judge then opened up the questioning to about seven different people. Some had no questions, a couple only had one or two. Answering these questions was easy because it mostly involved us talking about our total love for R. After that, each person testified as to whether we would make good parents for R and whether they supported our adoption. All testified yes and some went into depth explaining their observations of our interactions with R.
Next the judge called R to stand up and come to the center of the room. I felt nervous for her, I think I would've fainted if I had been in her position at 10 years old. She took her place and the judge asked her if she wanted to be adopted, if she liked and accepted her new name, and if she wanted to live in America--all of which she responded with a very confident "tak" (yes). He then asked her if she knew any English. She said tak again and then went straight into reciting a poem starting with "good morning, good morning to you..." It was just about the cutest thing. The judge was still stone faced, but I have to believe he was smiling on the inside because she was just too cute. After that she was dismissed back to her seat and the judge and officials left the room to reach their verdict. A few minutes later they came back in and declared that they accepted the entirety of our petition. Pending the 10-day waiting period, she will be officially ours!
After court we went out for a "Ukrainian celebratory dinner" with R and some of our Ukrainian friends. R was wide eyed in excitement the entire time. Having never eaten at a restaurant, she was in awe. She was very polite and did great! She loved eating her salad full of tomatoes and cucumbers. They brought her apple juice in a mug, but when she saw the fancy wine glass sitting in front of her, we both decided that a mug just wouldn't do! So we poured the juice into the wine glass. She thought this was just about the coolest thing. I showed her how to toast and from then on she toasted her glass to both Mark and I each time she took a drink. Ha! She enjoyed her main course of meat, but seemed to like her salad best. That girl loves her fruits and vegetables, it's great! And of course, we had to top off her first restaurant experience by ordering ice cream. She chose chocolate (my girl) and had so much fun taking tiny little bites of ice cream out of the fancy dish. Seeing the world through her eyes and appreciating every detail is something I'll never forget.
Since she loved her fancy apple juice so much, I think she drank almost an entire liter of it! That translated to a couple of bathroom trips. She'd never seen an electric hand dryer before and boy did she love it. One cycle wasn't enough for her, I think she needed to have it go three or four cycles each time she washed her hands. Needless to say our bathroom trips took awhile!
Thank you for all your prayers--our court went as good as it could have gone. We can't wait to take R home with us and continue exposing her to new experiences.