Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One Year Ago - Court

{This post was originally published one year ago, when we were in Ukraine adopting our sweet Carter}

We are finished with court.  It's over.....

Anton Oleksander no longer.

new name, for a new boy.

Carter Benjamin Gibson...he's officially ours.

We're parents!!!!!

Let me start at the beginning of our day!  A different driver, Eugene (who we also like very much!) picked us up at our apartment around 11:30.  Which was about 20 minutes after he called us.  So, we threw our stuff in our bags and got dressed for court.  That's how it goes here - you just have to roll with it!  So we did.  We moved in to our new apartment and left for court.  We got there about 50 minutes early, so Eugene took us to a cafe for some coffee.  He gave us an excellent history lesson about this city and the Russian language.  We learned many things that we would never learn on wikipedia :)

Right at 2:00p, Yulia walked up and away we went, in to court.  Originally, Yulia thought Rachel would be able to stay in the court room if we just said she was a 'relative' - well, somebody said no, that it was a closed hearing.  So we had to have Rachel sit in the hall!  This made me so nervous!  She's 100% our responsibility, and she's sitting in a hallway with a bunch of people awaiting their court hearing!  All I remember saying was "stay put - do not move!!".

Just before the judge came in, Yulia said "All you need to know, is stand when the judge enters.  At the end, you say that you want to move forward with the adoption, you want to change his name, and you want to be put on record as his parents."  So we both started immediately reviewing these 'rules' in our head.  We actually never had to say any of that.  My point?  Don't panic during court.  It will all come to you when it's supposed to :)

In the court room was us and Yulia, the prosecutor (who was wearing sweatpants and ugg boots...), the judge, two jurors, the orphanage director, and the child services representative.  When the judge walked in, we stood.  At this point, I was feeling good.  She asked Jake basic questions like our address, place of birth, etc.

Okay, easy stuff.

And then the real questions started.

Why are you adopting a child when you don't have your own biological children yet?

Why are you adopting a child with special needs?

Why don't you adopt from America?

Are you unable to have kids?

What do you know about kids with Down syndrome?

Why will his life be better in America?

How will you take care of him?

When will you have your own children?

How can you love this child as much as your biological children?

Okay, now we started to panic a bit.  Yulia seemed to be a bit nervous, too.  I think that's what made me panic.

Then they started asking about our house.  How big?  How many rooms?  A yard?  How many bathrooms?  Wait - we have a book with photos of our house!  We passed the book over, and as the judge flipped through, she paused on the photo of Carter's bedroom.

"Is this...the boys' room??"  She seemed shocked.

"Yes - that's his room."

This is when the doctor winked at me.  And I knew we were golden.

Then it was the doctors turn to speak.  He talked about our first meeting - and he told the judge that Anton  immediately hugged me, and made eye contact.  He told her that he hugged and wouldn't let go.

And the judge and jurors lost it.

They all three broke down crying.  One of the jurors continued crying through the rest of the hearing.

And the doctor winked again :)

The the doctor said "Anton?  Picture?".  Well...we didn't have a picture of Anton with us.  Luckily, Jake had the iPad - so we got it out and showed the judge and jurors photos of our first visits.

More tears.

The judge had a few more questions about Anton's biological family.  She directed most of them to the orphanage director.  He explained that they haven't visited in 6 months, and they have signed away their rights.  He told the judge that Anton's grandparents came to visit every birthday, and the judge seemed concerned that they would come this year and wonder where he was.  He said no - they wouldn't come again.

They wouldn't come again, because his parents found out this week that Anton was being adopted by an American family.

And in his words - "They were very - very positive.  They want an American family to take their child.".

It made me emotional to know that they've been informed.  They know their boy is going home.  To a family.  In America.  It was hard to hold back the tears.

So - after the doctor explained this all to the judge, they went to deliberate.

This is when Yulia told me that this judge has never done a special needs adoption before.  Ever.

I'm so glad she waited until now to share this!  I would have probably been a nervous nelly!

They all came back into the room, and told us that they were in favor of this adoption.  They all agreed that this boy would have a better life in America.  And they agreed to record us as his parents.

I cried.  They cried.  The doctor hugged us.  And that was all.

It's officially official :)  He's ours.  Our boy.

Carter Benjamin Gibson.  :)


Since we were able to move before court, we had time to make it to our afternoon visit!  We were so glad to be able to see our boy!

We arrived and he was sleeping.  Well this time, I was able to snap a photo :)

They brought him out to us about a half hour later...and for the first time, he was excited to see us.  He was laughing and smiling, and reached right out for me. Oh how that does this mama's heart good!

The Gibson Family :)

Ok, guys - can we quit taking photos?  I'm so ready to go home...

I finally have my own family!
Thanks, Rachel - for taking all the sweet family photos :)

Shortly after they brought him out, one of the nannies came back with his puppy :)  We were so glad to see that he still had it.  She motioned that he slept with it.

Sometime during the course of our visit, little man pottied on me.  He was wearing a diaper - but like everything else, it was too small for him.  So - I took him back to be changed, and I had to laugh as the nanny tried on 2 different pairs of tights, and 4 pairs of shorts before she found any that were big enough for him :)

Our only photo of Rachel & Carter together.

Let me just say - Carter is obviously feeling so much better.  The nasty cough and congestion is gone.  And when the cold left, the sassiness came.  This boy is a little dickens.  We saw a side of him today that we've never seen before.  He was loud, and laughed at everything...especially when mama & papa told him 'nyet'.  I think I've got my hands full!

Yep - you've got your own family, little man.  Life is sure going to change for you!


So that was our day in a nutshell.  Afterwards (around 7:00p), we went to Friday's to celebrate (this was the first meal of our crazy day!).   Jake & Rachel played table hockey on the iPad :)  Rachel won :)

And to celebrate this exciting day - we had dessert!!

Look - Horner Family!  I won out this time!!  Apple Crisp!!

One less orphan in this world tonight...amazing, isn't it?  What a blessing this boy is.  Thank you, Lord.

"God sets the lonely in families"
Psalm 68:6

One Thing I Know For Sure: God is so, so good.  What an incredible gift.

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