We had our court appointment this morning and, as you can see by the title of this post, things went well! Richard and I were up and ready by 8 am this morning and Masha came by the hotel to pick us up around 8:30. Masha's car had been having some problems so it was at the mechanic's and she had asked a friend to drive her to Artemovsk. Unfortunately her friend's car was not big enough to transport all of us to the courthouse (Richard and I, Masha, the social worker and the orphanage lawyer) so we had to do shifts. Eventually we all made it. . . . just in time to spend the next 45 minutes waiting for the prosecutor to show up. After calling the prosecutor for the third time, he finally decided to send his assistant.
The assistant prosecutor arrived around 10 am (an hour after our court appointment) and spent a few minutes running around talking to various people and gathering paperwork. As we stood and watched the prosecutor running to and fro, Masha said what we were all thinking. . . ."That woman has a mustache!" I'm not sure if it was the timing of the comment or nerves, but at that moment maturity slipped away from me and I could not suppress my laughter!
Eventually we made it into the courtroom. A "jury" (two random women who had been sitting in the hall) was invited to join us in the courtroom and the judge read through our application (which was basically a condensed version of our homestudy). She then directed questions at Richard. She asked him if we understood Evan's medical condition and if we were prepared to support him. She asked him if our children understood what was going on and how we thought they would react to having a new brother with special needs. She then turned the floor over to the jury for questioning and they asked Richard why we had decided to adopt. Next up for questioning was the prosecutor who asked Richard if we had researched Evan's medical condition to which he responded that we had. She then asked Richard if he had ever been in drug rehad or been under psychological care (I guess that she thought he must be insane or on drugs to be adopting a child with special needs with young triplets at home)???? Masha told us after court that when the prosecutor asked this question that it had taken everything in her to suppress her laughter and that she was afraid she was going to "ruin everything" by laughing. Richard responded to this question with a simple, "Who? Me!? No!"
Once Richard had been grilled, it was my turn. The judge asked me if I felt I would be able to give all of my children the time and attention that they need once Evan is home, since he will need a lot of time and attention. She then asked me if I was prepared to handle his medical needs to which I responded in the affirmative. She asked the jury and the prosecutor if they had any questions for me. They did not. She then asked the social worker, orphanage lawyer and the prosecutor if they were in support of our adoption. . .they were. She then granted our petition! She told us that the adoption would become final after 10 days and that we could take legal custody of Evan at that time! So. . .on December 17th I will return to Artemovsk and take legal custody of our son! I cannot wait!
After court we checked out of our hotel and went to the orphanage to share the news with Evan and say good bye. It was a bittersweet moment! We were elated that our adoption had been granted, but sad to say good bye to our sweet little man. It has only been a few hours since we left Artemovsk and I already miss him so much!
We left Artemovsk and drove to Kramatorsk where we had the request for Evan's passport signed and notarized. Our plan was to take the overnight train from Kramatorsk to Kiev, but unforunately, we were not able to get tickets (very long story, don't want to bore you with all of the details). So, we are currently in a hotel in Kramatorsk. We will be taking a cab to Donetsk at 3 am and flying from Dontesk to Kiev at 5 am tomorrow morning! Once in Kiev, Richard will go to the Embassy to sign some paperwork and then we will spend our last night together in Ukraine before heading home on Saturday morning.
It has been a wonderful journey and once again, we have seen the hand of the Lord at every turn! Another testament to me that, if you allow the Lord to lead you, He will take you amazing places!
So my friends, I am happy to report that the Rieben Family of 6 is now officially, the Rieben Family of 7. . .and boy does it feel good!