We arrived at court about 9:50am. We climbed what felt like several flights of stairs (don't the Russians believe in elevators??) and went to use the restroom before court began. This is what the toilet looked like - sorry for the blurriness. No toilet seat (?) or top of the tank and to flush the toilet you had to reach into the tank and pull up the lever. Oh, and no toilet paper. This is in the official courthouse. Interesting...
Above is the hallway leading to the courtroom. The courtroom was medium sized and had a big desk in the front with the judge behind it, the prosecutor sitting on one side and a secretary sitting on the other side. We sat in rows of chairs with a wooden desk in front of us. Sveta printed out all our answers that we had prepared for the judge.
Tyler spoke first - he was standing for about 1 1/2 hours answering questions in English while Sveta - also standing - translated the answers into Russian. There was a social worker from Vyksa, a social worker from Nizhny Novgorod, and a doctor present in addition to us. The doctor did her very best to appeal to the judge that she should waive the 30 days for the sake of Silas' health. The prosecutor said that the doctor was lacking a document from a pediatric cardiologist stating that Silas could die if he didn't have the surgery immediately. The doctor said that she doesn't know which document he wanted and that it was clear on Silas' medical records that he needed surgery and didn't need another document stating what they already knew.
As the time went on, I became less nervous with how the court session was going, although I did feel more and more that the 30 days wouldn't be waived. When it was my turn to answer questions, I stood up for about 30 minutes. There were moments when I felt the Holy Spirit as I told the judge about my love for Calvin and Silas and also Anna, Keith, & Iryna back home. I am grateful to have the calling of a mother. And feeling the Holy Spirit during the court helped me realize that God was with me during that moment in time.
The judge went to her office to deliberate for about 5 minutes. She came back into the courtroom and said that she approved Tyler and I to adopt the boys. She then said she did not waive the 30 days. Now, to be fair, it is written in Russian law that there should be a 30 day waiting period after court. It is only when there is a life threatening issue with the child that they waive the 30 days. Whereas Silas' issue is severe, I do not think he will die in the next month, so all is well. Although, I was very disappointed. However, now I realize what a miracle it is that we were approved to adopt the boys. It is a miracle in and of itself. We met a woman in Moscow at our medical appointment. She had been to another region and met a girl, bonded with her, went to court and the adoption was denied. Apparently, this judge didn't like Americans adopting children there. This woman was coming back again - a year later - to appeal to the judge to adopt the girl. I hope she is successful this time around.
After court, it was a whirlwind of getting things ready to go. We bought train tickets for the overnight train and then began packing up our apartment. Andre picked us up to go meet a guy who makes Russian hats from real animal fur. Tyler got an "old man's hat" made from muskrat. It is awesome. I will post a picture after I take one of it. They didn't have the style of hat that I wanted, so he is going to make me one for when I come back. We packed, er, Tyler packed up all our things - for the record, he won't even let me try to pack as he deems it most inefficient - and I cooked a cheese souffle to eat and helped where I could.
Sveta and Nicolas took us to the train station and we got on it around 10:30pm. We were in a cabin with 4 beds, but thankfully no one else showed up in the room so we had it to ourselves. We went to sleep around 11pm and at 4:30am someone came knocked on the door to wake us up. We were told that our stop would be at 5:20am in Moscow, but we became worried that we were arriving earlier, so we got ready and then just sat there until we arrived at 5:20am. Do you have any idea how early that is?? And we only got 5 1/2 hours of sleep to begin with...sheesh. So we packed up our stuff and went out looking for our taxi that Sveta had set up to meet us. We walked all the way out to the main street and didn't see him, so Tyler left me with the luggage while he went back to look for him. It was FREEZING cold. Tyler did find Eugene and so we set off for the airport. It seems that every time I am in Moscow, I am so tired that I cannot take in the city much. Pity. So, we arrived at the airport around 6:30am and our flight was scheduled for 1:10pm - lots of waiting. I went to the bathroom and washed my hair and tried to clean myself up. I fell asleep some in the lobby area.
The flight was typical - 11 hours long - except for a stopover in Canada. The pilot said that we needed to refuel so we were making an quick stop there. After landing, two policeman came on the plane and handcuffed two men 3 rows back from us. Apparently, they were causing problems for passengers around them and the flight attendants. As they escorted them away, one man said "Freedom to Russians!" over and over. It was crazy. We thought that perhaps that was the real reason we stopped over in Canada, but they did actual refuel the plane and we were there for 1 1/2 hours. UGH! During this time, they had one of the back doors open so we could see outside from the plane. Tyler snapped these two pictures of Canada - looks a lot like Russia to me.
Thankfully, the stop in Canada didn't make us have to reschedule our flight to Orlando. We arrived just on time and were so excited to see Danielle and our kids + Maggie in the van waiting for us outside of the baggage claim. We drove home, put the kids to bed, talked with Danielle and then crashed. I thought that I would sleep in the next day, but after going to bed at 1am - I got up at 7:30am. I was afraid that perhaps I wasn't back on FL time zone, but I stayed awake all day yesterday - functioning rather well, I might add - and went to bed at 8pm last night, getting up at 7:30am again this morning. So I think I'm back on the time zone, amazingly enough. Although I think I am still tired from the traveling, itself.
What happens now? We should be gearing up to return for our 3rd and final trip in early March - still waiting on exact dates from Sveta. I am hoping that this recent news of Russia stopping all adoptions for Americans will not affect our adoption. Time will tell. I miss Calvin and Silas and hope nothing will prevent them coming home with us next month.