As you probably read below in Tara's post, our court appearance went very well. Ten days from now we will officially be the proud parents of Elizabeth! And now Vika tells us that we get to visit her not just a few times, but every day except Sunday. I don't know what Elizabeth has on her schedule for Sundays, but apparently she's busy. :) To me, being allowed daily visits is HUGE because we need to reestablish that bond with her as much as possible before we travel back home with her.
For the record, the courthouse is on Sovetskaya Street. [UPDATE: This might be it here, on the right..] The courtroom number was 114; just in case that means anything in numerology. :) In court, of the eight of us, I was the only man. For some reason, that calmed my fears a bit. I guess because I knew that if push came to shove, I could "take 'em." :) There was no "bailiff" or any sort of security person, which surprised me. I was expecting several unsmiling men with guns, in those iconic red and green Russian army uniforms.
One of the "witnesses," looking at the photo album before the hearing began, noted how much Elizabeth looks like Tara. I joked that she looks more like me, just because I'm contrary like that.
Once the hearing began, each person except for the judge stood and introduced herself, talked about her hopes and dreams and ... OK, not really, but they did state their names and titles. As expected, they started the questioning with me. I talked about how long Tara and I have been married, why we're adopting, why from Russia, and how much we love Elizabeth. A lot of it is just a blur, but apparently I performed well. They asked each of us about our jobs and finances, and me specifically regarding experience with children, what we would do with Elizabeth if we were divorced, and did we have a prenuptial agreement. That one also surprised us. I said that, in accordance with the pre-nup, we would sell her to the highest bidder on e-bay. :) Actually, I said we would see who she was closest to, and that person would be the one who kept her. Of course, the other spouse would try to get visitation rights, and there was no pre-nup.
At one point, the judge took an unexpected break and left the room. When she returned, she was unable to keep a straight face as she asked, "So, have you changed your mind about this adoption?" I just laughed and said, "No." After the hearing, Tara and I laughed about that question. "Yeah, we've changed our minds. We were just kidding. We never thought we would get this far. I guess we didn't really think this through."
At the end of the hearing, she again left the room, this time to make her decision. By the way, every time she came or went, we all had to stand. The same was true whenever we answered one of her questions. It was good exercise.
Anyway, the hardest part is over. Now we just have to worry about the rest of our lives.
After tonight, we will be relocating to a less smoky room on a lower floor. We went and looked at a possible apartment for the rest of our stay, but the neighborhood was just way too broken down, scary, depressing, and isolated. Vika said it was a safe neighborhood, but "you never know." The apartment itself was OK inside, but we just decided that we had it pretty good at the hotel, after all, so that's where we will stay.
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Here is the complete blog of the adoption experience in paperback form, Russian Adoption: From Nashville to Astrakhan and Back (PDF). And here is the fictionalized, future "homeland tour" (action adventure) version in various forms: on Kindle, various electronic formats, and in paperback.
This time next week.... Preparation The day before Travel day In the air We're in Moscow Moscow Check out time We're in Astrakhan It's only Monday? What a day... Tuesday (2007-10-02) It's a girl! It's a girl! Wednesday Thursday Great visit Sights of Astrakhan Another great visit Last visit for a while Atlanta! We're home! (10/06) Round two Skora mweh tam boojum Internet access Elizabeth's room Mweh yeddum v aeroport eta ootra In the air again Back in Moscow (11/26) Tuesday (2007-11-26) Back in Astrakhan Russian adoption consultant Comments welcome Showtime! And the judge says...... Success! The day after Saturday morning Much better visit today Beet salad Went for a walk ... Its going to be a good week She's warming up to us Light at the end of the tunnel Picture of us before court More pictures She's ours! The first hours of parenthood Bowel movement Sleep, what a concept Update Nothing much to update about 51-1/2 hours Just another week to go Pictures of our life in Astrakhan Back in Moscow (12/18) Moscow update continued Update to the update's update To the embassy Can't leave early Still in Moscow Riding the Metro Riding the Metro, part deux We're home! (12/23) A few pictures Airport arrival Stay tuned More pics Summary Doctors say she's normal Adoption video Holmes Russian adoption videos Adoption videos updated Our Russian adoption story