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Adoption Trip to Russia

Journey to Emily and Amanda

Wednesday, November 3, 1999

In the morning we all rose early and got cleaned up for the day. We had seen a small bakery set up on the main level of the building we were in. Dottie ventured down while John and I got ready. She brought up a few different kinds of pastries. We ate our breakfast and went downstairs to wait for Boris.

Boris arrived on time. We were waiting for the Stoller’s and Yefim to meet us at our hotel so that we could all drive together. They arrived shortly after and we were off. This time while we were driving, I had begun to recognize the roads we were on and started to know when we were going to turn. We arrived at the orphanage in about an hour.

When we got out of the car Andra came up to our car and excitedly told us that we were going to court! We were a bit confused, not understanding what was going on. Apparently

Eugene called Yefim on his cell phone while we were driving to the orphanage. The court had openings today and our court date had been moved from Friday to TODAY! OH MY GOODNESS…was all we could think. We had to leave the orphanage in an hour to drive to Moscow for court. We wouldn’t even have a chance to change into the dress clothes we had brought for court. We were pretty stunned by the news that we were going to court in an hour, but we knew that the Lord would guide us every step of the way!

We all went into the orphanage and they brought the children to us immediately. The girls were dressed in the same tweety outfits they had been wearing the day before.

They seemed to come to us more willingly and they even got a little excited when they saw us!

Amanda was still very interested in our faces, hair, and mouths. Emily was more accustomed to us today and was showing a little more of her personality. She loved to look at Grandma’s fingernails. I had brought one of their shoes to try on their feet. The shoe looked so BIG on her.

At this point, John had learned to take his glasses off. Both of the girls would grab right for them. Amanda was very taken with her Daddy and with Grandma, while Emily seemed to cling to me a little more.

I was beginning to get more concerned with Emily. She was definitely coming out of her shell more than the past 2 days, but she still hadn’t smiled. Finally, Emily decided to smile, even giggle a little when I started flying her in the air. I knew at that moment that EVERYTHING was going to be just fine. This was the first time I let myself really cry because I was so happy! I was almost afraid to let my emotions run the gamut!

Time passed quickly and it was soon time for us to leave for court in Moscow. We knew that the next time saw our daughters that they would be OUR daughters…we just didn’t know if we would be able to take them home or not.

We all said an emotional good bye to the girls and left the orphanage. The drive into Moscow was uneventful, except for the fact that the Sun shown for the first and only time during the trip. We took that as a sign that the Lord was smiling down on us on this very special day.

We drove into the “downtown” area of Moscow and pulled up to an old yellow 5 story building. We were told that this was the court building. We had to wait for Stella, who would be representing us in court. We stood outside the building. It was a bit cold outside so we got back into the cars and waited for Stella.

Stella arrived within 10 minutes and it was time to go into the court building. Yefim had to leave us, so he said goodbye and wished us all luck.

We walked into the court building and there were metal detectors installed at the entrance; that surprised us a little! Our video camera’s set it off and we had to show them that it was the camera that set off the detector.

There was a coat check in the building so it took a few minutes for us all to check our coats and get our claim tickets to pick them up later.

Stella told us all to follow her. We walked down a hallway to a flight of stairs…which turned out to be 5 flights. We all climbed, huffed, & puffed up the stairs. You really don’t know how OUT of shape you are until you climb 5 flights of stairs…even the folks who looked like they were in good shape were winded.

We came up into a hallway with a few benches and some chairs. It had a few doors into what we assumed were offices. Stella asked us all to sit down while she explained the court procedure. She told what we should and should not say, and went over court “etiquette”. She told us what we could say to help get the 10 days waived. We were told that the judge we would have was not the strictest judge, but also not the most lenient.

Stella went into the courtroom and the rest of us waited. My palms were sweaty and I was getting more and more nervous. We didn’t know which of us would go to in first. Stella came out of the courtroom and told us that the Stoller’s would be first.

Stella went back into the courtroom and about 10 minutes later came back out and told the Stoller’s that it was time to go in. We all wished them both lot’s of luck as they went in.

There was nothing left for us to do but wait and pray. We all sat quietly thinking about what we were about to do. I prayed that the Lord would help us to say the right things. We didn’t know what to expect in the courtroom. We had to keep thinking that this judge was a human being, just like we were. The main thing I think we all were thinking was that we hoped and prayed that the 10 day waiting period would be waived!

It was about 45 minutes to an hour later when Mark and Andra came out of the courtroom with big smiles on their faces. We knew that things had gone well for them. The big question was…Did the 10 days get waived? Andra told us that it WAS waived and then they told us a little about what to expect. We were so happy for them!! We knew that if their 10 days were waived, that we had a good chance, especially since we were the last court hearing of the day!

We had asked Stella to find out if it would be OK for Dottie to go into court with us. Stella went back into the courtroom and 10 minutes later came out and told us that Dottie could come to the hearing. John and I were happy that she would be there for moral support.

It was time to go into the courtroom. We walked slowly into a room that looked like a large conference room with a very big table in the middle. The Judge, who looked to be in her 30’s, was at the head of the table with a Russian Flag on the wall behind her. We walked around the side of the table where there were 3 chairs waiting. We stood until we were motioned to sit down.

Stella, was our translator in court. The judge said something in Russian and then Stella told us we could be seated. The judge began by asking John to stand and state his name and occupation. She asked a few simple questions, and then told John to sit down. She then asked me to stand, state my name, occupation, and a few more simple questions. The judge then got into the history of the girls background about how they had come to be orphans and why they had not been adopted in Russia. Tatiana, the local ministry of Education Rep, and Vera, the Moscow Ministry of Education Rep went over the girl’s file with the judge while Stella translated all of the information back to us. Tears ran down my face because I couldn’t believe I was actually in court getting ready to adopt our daughters legally! Dottie and Tatiana were both crying too!

After the briefing of our girl’s history, the judge asked John to stand again. She asked him why he wanted to adopt these girls. She asked him how he plans to provide for them. She asked how many days we had spent with them and how he had bonded. After a few more questions, John sat down and I was asked to stand.

The judge asked me how I plan to handle taking care of 2 children. She asked me what grade of education I had completed. She also asked the same questions that John was asked. I was also asked if I was aware of their medical status.

We then showed the judge some video from our video camera to show her how much the girls had bonded with us. We also showed her a photo album filled with pictures of our home, the girls bedroom, and pictures of family. This was a big hit. The judge was actually smiling and even let out a chuckle. She had been very straight faced up until this point.

We were then asked if we had any other petitions to make. This was where we were to request that the 10 day waiting period be waived. John stood up and spoke as I had never heard him speak before. He told the judge how much we love the girls and how much we had bonded with them in the short time we had been with them. He talked about the girls medical state, that they were weak, malnourished, and needed the care of a Doctor to catch up as soon as possible.

John sat down and I was then asked if I agreed with everything that John said and I said that I did and I also added that I loved the girls with all my heart.

The Judge went away to make her decision. We all sat very nervously. Stella said that we all did very well. In about 10 minutes the judge came out of her office and asked us to rise. She then read the decree that Ekaterina Trophimova and Elizaveta Trophimova were to be our daughters forever. She then read a statement that said basically…. THE TEN DAYS IS WAIVED! At that moment, I lost control and squealed with delight, while Dottie snorted because she was crying so hard! We didn’t even wait for the judge to finish reading her statement, we all hugged each other and cried tears of joy and happiness. I couldn’t imagine that giving birth could be any more emotional than this experience. John and I were now the mother and father of 2 precious little angels from a land called Russia!

After we all got a grip on ourselves, we went back into the hallway. We had to wait for the court to give us a copy of the court hearing and sign a few other documents. We went back in a few minutes later and signed whatever needed signing and then we asked if we could take a few pictures of the courtroom. We were in total shock when the judge came out of her office and motioned for us to take a picture with her, Tatiana, & Vera in front of the Russian Flag. I had heard that most judges weren’t the type to do that! I am forever grateful that she did, though!

We finished up in the courtroom and then it was time to leave. Mark and Andra had left to finish up more paperwork that we would have to do the next day. We would be taking custody of our girls TOMORROW!

We asked Stella to ask our driver, a rough looking middle aged man, if he would take us to Mc Donald’s.. It wasn’t much of a celebratory dinner, but really “Who cares?” All we cared about was that the girls were OURS!

We went to the McDonald’s down the road from our hotel and Dottie and I went in to pick up the food. We were all exhausted and exhilarated. We were glad to be going back to the small apartment, however humble it was!

We arrived back at the hotel and went to our rooms. We all felt like we were flying high! We ate our McDonald’s as if it were a 10 course gourmet dinner!

We knew that we would have a long and busy day the next day and we had to get an early start. Dottie could not go with us to pick up the girls or on the errands we had to do the next day, we never did understand why though.

We all took our showers, laid out our clothes, and called my mom in Indiana, and Al in NY to tell them that we would be coming home on Saturday, November 6th WITH the babies! Everyone was so excited for us!

It was time to go to bed. This night it didn’t matter where we were, I think we all slept like babies, except for Dottie, who swears she didn’t sleep a wink the whole trip!! (more...)

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