We arrived at court at 9:45 and were prepped by Marina, our regional facilitator team member. Always look at the judge when answering anyone's questions, don't cross your legs when sitting, and such. She wasn't sure if he would be in a good mood because of some new law in Kiev the day before that may jeopardize all the head judges positions.
My hands were clammy, back was sweaty and mouth was dry waiting for the judge, two witnesses, prosecutor, social worker and two court reporters/transcribers (what do you call those people??). They filed in and I plastered on a smile. Steve was, of course, cool as a cucumber. The judge turned out to be pleasant and smiled throughout the proceedings. He looked every bit a judge though. He read various documents and statements, and asked us each questions, although not nearly as many as we were prepared to answer. Next thing we knew the prosecutor and social worker were both recommending a favorable ruling, which they felt was in the best interests of the child, and the judge asked us to stand again and started to read the favorable ruling. It was all I could do to hold back the tears! When he declared Steve "father" and I "mother" the judge took the time to look at each of us as he said it. Then it was done! We were in and out in 30 minutes, and he was finally ours!
Unfortunately we didn't ask soon enough for a picture with the judge and missed our chance. Here we are outside the courthouse. Proud new parents!
Then we were off running for the rest of the day. First stop was his birth city which lucky for us was only about a 40 minute drive, for a new birth certificate. On the way we were pulled over by a cop who looked under the hood to make sure our drivers vehicle wasn't stolen...??? Apparently because it was old?? Wow that would never fly at home!
The hall for Vital Records-so lovely!
We had a little time to walk around while we waited for the new certificate. It had the feel of a small town/large village, with a wide Main Street that had a lovely walking path down the center. School kids were getting out and playing in the parking lots and play grounds.
Strange to think Tavin could have grown up here. The surrounding village had a quaint, though dirty, feel to it, with brightly painted fences and gates leading to tiny yards, and gardens with chickens stretching for food. White and pink flowering fruit trees dotted the landscape and tall narrow birch trees stood like tall sentinels. Too bad I couldn't get better pictures from the window.
The rest of the afternoon was spent running around getting things notarized, copied, etc. then we took Tavin out of the orphanage to get his passport picture taken. Ironic that the nannies bundled him every single day we had taken him outside in multiple layers, including a snowsuit, scarf and hat, regardless of whether it was 40 degrees or 70, but the one day we were taking him off the grounds, they handed him to us without any outerwear. It was very warm, so I didn't mind, but still funny. We had to make a stop at the bank on the way and I was approached by an old babushka who scolded me soundly in Russian, obviously for under dressing my son. I picked up the word "hooludno" over and over which is "cold". Marina said she was telling me there was a cold wind. Hilarious seeing as it was every bit of 65 and he had been sweating in the car with the window open!!
The whole time we had him out for the passport picture he didn't make a sound. Not even a tiny peep. He also didn't stop twisting and turning every which way. It seems when he is overwhelmed he goes silent.
We went to the train station last and got tickets for Sunday night to head back to the capital and wrap up the last few days in country.
We said goodbye to Marina. She was fantastic in every way, and I know everything went so smoothly because of her hard work, planning and prep. We couldn't be happier with our entire facilitation team!
That's the train station behind us where we will be headed tonight with Tavin! It's another overnight train-please say a prayer that we all get some sleep on it! The next few days will be very busy and then we can head home! We can't wait to have our whole family of 5 together!