November 7, 2008
Today has been a great day. After sleeping late for the first time since I’ve arrived in Uralsk and having a leisurely breakfast, I headed to pre-court with Aliya. I knew when I arrived that my Canadian friends were actually in court with the judge, and I was waiting patiently for them to emerge from his chambers. A few minutes before noon, they came out and shared their happy news. They were now officially their son’s parents. There was much hugging after that!
Then it was my turn to go in to meet the judge, who sat to my left. Aliya, as my translator, sat to my right, and the director of the baby house and the social worker I originally met at the Ministry of Education sat across from us.
The judge seemed to be a kind, soft-spoken man, though I obviously couldn’t understand him. He requested my passport and spent a great deal of time shuffling through the pounds of paperwork in front of him. It really is amazing how much paperwork is required for an international adoption, and I was worried a few times when I thought we might be missing something. Thankfully, everything was in order.
The judge only asked me a few questions – specifically, my address and what I do for a living – and then he proceeded to tell me what I should expect when I go to court. It seems rather straightforward, though I do have to prepare a speech in advance. I’ll need to speak to Aliya in great depth about what’s required. I want to make sure my speech includes all the necessary points, so I don’t have an extensive Q&A period.
Towards the end of pre-court, the director of the baby house volunteered that I have made myself at home during my visits and all the nurses speak highly of me. I was very touched that she told this to the judge, as she didn’t have to add anything. The judge smiled and replied that of course I should get along with everyone, as I’m in P.R. Ah, a judge with a sense of humor!
Much to my delight, the judge rescheduled my court hearing for a day earlier, so now I will go on Tuesday at 3 p.m. If all goes well, this means that I will be able to take Emilia back to the hotel with me on Wednesday. Yeah!
Although I missed my morning visit with Emilia, I did get to see her in the afternoon. She had already been fed, so I had an hour and a half to play with her before her nap. Since the playroom where we usually go was being cleaned, we were taken to the music room on the other side of the building. This was a big room with a piano, and Em had a great time tickling the pearly whites with both hands. Of course, we didn’t do this for too long, as I didn’t want to give the staff workers a giant migraine (or me, for that matter). I found some maracas in a cabinet and gave those to Emilia. Presto! – She had two new rattles. The only problem was that she wanted to eat them and they were wooden, so I had to put them back on the shelf.
This evening I kept the music theme going and went to a free concert at the Russian Drama Theater (at least I think that’s the accurate name). To give you an idea of Kazakh hospitality, our group (12 Americans and Canadians) thought the performance was at the library. Since we couldn’t communicate effectively, a man at the library actually walked us the whole way to the theater. Then, once we were inside, a lady ushered us about, so we knew where to go to hang up our coats and then be seated. Both of these people really made an effort to help us. This seems to be the Kazakh way.
The orchestra, dressed in traditional Kazakh outfits, was excellent. It was so interesting to see an entire section of musicians playing the dombra, the traditional instrument of Kazakhstan. Several soloists also performed, including very talented opera singers and musicians (playing the dombra, of course).
There were a few things that I noted that were quite different from performances back in the States. First, there were two MCs, a woman and a man. Also, some of the performers had an opportunity to speak before they performed. I had no idea what they were saying, but I still found it unusual. Since there was no program, perhaps they were discussing the musical selections. Second, after each selection, everyone clapped. Normal, right? However, this crowd clapped simultaneously. I’m not sure if that’s common in Kaz, or if it was just this group. I decided to clap like I always do.
After the performance, which I truly enjoyed, most of the group returned to the Pushkin for Italian night. Chef prepared a tasty selection of Italian delicacies, and we even had champagne. I felt right at home with all this food!
As I prepare for bed, I’m thankful for the many blessings I’ve had today – a positive pre-court outcome, an earlier date set for court, a lovely visit with Emilia, great music and delicious food with new friends.
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