Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Moscow Court Anniversary

Today is a special day...the first anniversary of our court date in Moscow to adopt Kolya. It is rather unbelievable to me that it has been a year, though it feels like we have always been a family of three. One year ago today we woke up in Moscow and dressed in our best clothes...we traveled through Moscow to the court house, a statuesque building that on that day controlled our very future. Our driver dropped us and our translator off in front of the building and wished us good luck...he held his hands together and shook them in the air to wish us well and touched his heart. Our translator briskly brought us into the building where we turned over any cameras, etc. and then checked our coats. We walked further into the building and showed our passports as identification. Then we took an elevator to an upper floor. We waited in a sitting area along with our court translator (who we had just met), the director of Nikolai's orphanage, our translator and two other families who were waiting for their appointments before the judge. Time seemed to stretch on infinitely as we waited for our moment. Our appointed translator for court asked a few questions and went over our file to familiarize herself with our story and Nikolai's.

When we were finally called, we entered a large courtroom. There were four benches at the back of the court room, a podium in the center of the room and the judge sat a the large bench at the head of the room. She sat in an enormous chair with a back that must have stood 6' tall. Two shorter chairs flanked her sides. On one side of the bench sat the prosecutor and on the other side sat the court secretary. We took our seats with our translator on the benches to the left and the orphanage director and city official sat on the benches to the right. Once the proceedings began, the director and city official each gave their testimony as to why they believed we should be allowed to adopt Nikolai. After that, I was called to the stand. I walked up to the entire being was nervous, scared, numb...our translator walked up with me and stood to my forward right. There were a few moments of discussion as she tried to decide where to stand so as to be able to see me and not disrespect the director and city official by facing her back to them. I was asked to state my name, address, etc. I made the huge mistake of answering this question while looking at the translator and not the judge. I had been quite aware to do this until everything in my brain and body had numbed to the point where I was walking and talking on sheer instinct. The judge corrected me on this and I answered the next few questions making absolutely sure to look at her. I was then asked when I was married. Well, one would think this would be an easy question. I could rattle that and many other personal statistics off to you in my sleep. Now, I'm told that my pause was not even notable, but I will tell you I was having a whole debate in my head. "I know its April...I'm sure of that...and I know it was 1999...but the date...the Date...the DATE...oh my gosh!...I'm going to die right here...the 17th...I'm pretty could be the 15th...oh my gosh!...o.k., so what if I say the 15th and it really is the 17th...the judge is looking right at our file...she knows the date...she is going to think I'm a liar...she is going to think I don't care about my husband, my I still breathing?..." Well, it was the 17th of April and I actually said that! We moved onto a series of other questions and I tried to mentally slow the beating of my heart...the judge then started sternly telling me something...what now? The translator turned to me and I stared straight at the judge..."The microphone is not working...stop leaning into it..." (I had been prepped before hand to lean into the microphone as all court hearings are recorded.) O.k., so now I am standing stick straight, staring at the judge, smiling just enough to look pleasant but not enough to look culturally insincere. I was then asked how much money we make each year...this pause I am sure was actually tangible...again my brain began to converse with itself..."o.k. so Jason just got a new job...what was his salary exactly and I just started a new business...oh gosh how much did I make this year...if I get this wrong..." I gave my best estimate, finished my questioning and returned to my seat. Jason was now called to the bench and answered a shorter series of questions. I was so thankful knowing that he is always so calm and collected and even knows our wedding date!

The judge then returned to her chambers to make her decision. While we waited, our translator told me that she had our wedding date, finance information, etc. before her and was trained to read from that document rather than translate what we said! Apparently, I'm not the only parent-to-be with temporary memory loss. The judge returned after a short recess and gave a long speech in Russian. She didn't smile, but rather sounded as if she was reading to us from a telephone book. Our translator quickly told us we were parents! Every emotion swept through me and we thanked the judge for our son and the director and city official as well. Their jobs are so important and they want the best for each child that they can have a hand in helping. We are so thankful for them and especially for our son!

Nikolai and I were in a celebratory mood this morning and baked a Russian apple pie...yum...the recipe is extremely simple and tasty...

Pirog (Apple Pie)

4 small apples
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup white sugar
butter to grease pan

Preheat the oven to 375.
Core, peel and cut apples into small pieces.
Mix eggs, flour and sugar in a bowl.
Grease an 8" round cake pan with butter.
Add the apples to the cake pan.
Pour egg mixture over apples.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Allow to cool and slice.

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