November 11, 2008
Court — IT’S OFFICIAL!!!
It is difficult to capture the range of heightened emotions that have coursed through me in the past 24 hours. However, if I could only reflect one emotion, it would be absolute joy. Emilia is now truly my forever child! WOO HOO!!!
And yet my morning was much like many of my other mornings here. I visited the baby house, and Emilia was in great spirits. I whispered into her ear that today was a very big day for both of us, and she simply looked at me expectantly with her beautiful brown eyes. I was thinking about court; she was thinking about what toy she could grab next. Yet, we were still in perfect harmony.
It was an odd sensation visiting Emilia today. It was as if I had a heightened awareness of every little thing. I have taken many pictures over the past few weeks, and yet I still want to imprint everything in my memory. Aside from Emilia’s first few days in the hospital, Baby House 1/Group 2 has been her home, and she will be leaving it tomorrow to come to the hotel and then America with me. Although I am overjoyed that we are making this next step, I am feeling nostalgic about the baby house and the wonderful nurses who work there. These incredible women care so deeply about these babies, and I know they have played a huge role in Em’s development. I will forever be grateful to these caregivers, who reflect all that is good in the Kazakhstan adoption system.
By the time I got back to the hotel after my morning visit, my mind was racing. I felt it was best to work off some of my energy, so I went to the gym and walked on the treadmill, while listening to some soothing tunes. This was a wonderful distraction (good idea, JB!).
At 2:45, Aliya and I headed to court, where we were met by the director of the baby house, a representative from the Ministry of Education, the social worker, and the prosecutor. Everyone except me was very busy shuffling papers before the judge called court to order.
The court proceedings took almost two hours, during which time I was asked to stand and give my speech. This took about 15 minutes, as Aliya needed to translate the entire thing. The judge and the prosecutor did ask me several questions, but I didn’t really feel they were putting me on the spot.
At the end of the proceedings, the judge asked us to step outside his chamber, so he could make his final judgment. I already knew that all the court attendees, including the prosecutor, had recommended that the adoption take place and the court waive the traditional 15-day wait period. However, I was still desperate for him to tell me what I longed to hear…that Emilia was indeed my daughter.
When we stepped outside, I was congratulated, but I didn’t feel all was settled until the judge called me back into his chambers. Interestingly, all of the other people who had attended the proceedings had already left the courthouse. As the judge read his report, which was much longer than I anticipated, I could feel my throat closing and tears starting to spill from my eyes. I stood perfectly still and couldn’t even look at Aliya. This was a moment I would remember forever, and I wanted to make sure that all my attention was focused on the judge.
When he finally declared that Emilia is indeed my daughter, I gave Aliya a huge hug and shook the judge’s hand. It was a completely surreal experience. One moment I wasn’t a mother (at least legally), and the next moment I was. I didn’t have anything physical to show that this change had taken place, and yet it was as if the colors in the room had been altered, and everything seemed much more vivid and beautiful. I only wish Emilia had been there, so I could have scooped her up into my loving arms.
Aliya and I had to wait to get official seals on a number of documents before we could leave. This was essential, as Aliya needs to move quickly to get Emilia’s paperwork filed and begin her passport and visa processing. This process will probably take over a week, as the paperwork has to go from Uralsk to Astana, and then back to Uralsk and on to Almaty.
When I got back to the hotel, Kati surprised me with a bottle of champagne. Kati, Aliya and I all laughed as the cork flew clear across the room and the bubbly spilled onto the floor. We sat in my hotel room sipping champagne, eating trail mix and listening to my new Dombra music. We had a wonderful time giggling and sharing stories, and the celebration continued during dinner at Atilla’s.
Now you may be wondering where was Emilia when all this partying was happening? Since court ended late in the day, I will pick up my daughter – yes, MY DAUGHTER!!! – tomorrow at 8 a.m. I can’t wait to hug Emilia tight and smother her with kisses. Now when I say, “How’s my baby girl?” to her, it will be absolutely correct. She IS my baby girl!
Reading over this post, I recognize that I have not begun to capture my feelings from this day, but I’ll blame it on total emotional exhaustion and frustration over the fact that I can’t log onto the Internet. It’s been a long day, but certainly one of the most significant in my life.
It has taken almost three years to adopt Emilia, and throughout this time I have received tremendous support from so many people. I thank each of you for your abundant prayers and good wishes. The Lord heard you and has blessed both Emilia and me. At last, I have my miracle! Em and I can’t wait to share our happiness with you when we come home.
I’ll end with the words to a song called “Journey” by Karnataka. I think it gives a brief insight into how I view my own journey to Emilia.
“All my life I’ve waited for this time,
The fate of everything that I’ve been through.
All my life I’ve waited to feel this,
So it’s time I gave it all to share it with you.”
Jeannette and Emilia
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