It's official....(well in 10 days I guess)
This smile is going to grace our home and our family forever....Mia Kareen is now a member of our family.
Court went well....once we got there! We got picked up by the driver who our facilitator had arranged and she had told him where to take us and she would meet us there. Well he drops us off at this building that appeared to be a court or office of some kind and he left. Our facilitator said she would be there in 5 minutes and after 20 minutes we started to worry a little. We then get a call from our facilitator asking where we were....turns out the driver took us to the wrong place. SO we had to then wait for him to come back and get us and by the time we got to the courthouse we were 45 minutes late for our appointment AND the paper we needed to be faxed over before court, was NOT there. Luckily the judge was SUPER nice about it all.
The court room was very small and consisted of a few benches and then a cage type thing of to one side (I assume for prisoners) and then the tall bench with 3 seats...one for the judge and 2 for the jurors. The social worker and the lawyer for the orphanage were also present.
Before the judge came in our facilitator told us over and over that the judge would ask us WHY we wanted to adopt this child with special needs, and as we were talking, the judge walked in. She was VERY smiley and friendly....nothing like what we expected. She proceeds to read some documents and our facilitator was translating back and forth. Her first comment was what great smiles we had and how young we were. She asked Kris if Mia called him Papa and he said yes. Then she started asking where the paper was that we were waiting for and our facilitator told her it would be here before the end of the day and begged her to let us proceed anyway. Well we assumed at this point that we were just making small talk waiting for this paper to come. The judge asked us about our family so I approached the bench with our photo album and they all smiled and loved looking at the pictures. She asked us if we receive money from the government for having a child with special needs. We told her that we don't get money but that there are lots of programs for these kids and that our daughter Bree goes to school with typical kids and takes dance with typical kids. As they were looking through the pictures the judge asked who takes care of all of these things...she asked how I managed to take care of the house and kids and laundry and programs and such. She said "do you iron? do you cook? do you have a washer and dryer?" They proceeded to explain that these common conveniences that we have are so foreign to them. They don't have cars and dryers and schools close by. She smiled at us through the entire court process and kept saying "you must be so organized" We talked back and forth for awhile longer about our family and then she looked at us and said (through our translator) "I know you will give her a wonderful life and she will be very happy! Unfortunately by law there is no way I can waive the 10 day wait...sorry" Our facilitator then gave us a hug and said congratulations and we were a little surprised that it was over because we didn't even really realize that it was the actual court process going on. We still thought we were just engaging in small talk waiting for the paper to be faxed, and lo and behold we were now the parents of Mia Kareen!
We really felt like if there was a way around it, this judge would have done it. We felt like our prayers had been answered in the fact that she knew what was in our hearts and everyone in the room felt our love for this girl.
We are beyond thrilled that court went so well but we are so torn with what to do about staying through the wait or not. There are so many factors on both ends and we will have to make that final decision tonight. It has been an emotional day! Finding out the good news that we now have another beautiful daughter and then feeling so torn that our family is now under 3 roofs; we are under one, 3 of our girls are under one, and one of our girls is under another.
-If we travel home it is 2 days of traveling each way since we are 12 hours from Kiev so we would really only be home about a week before coming back.
-It would cost a lot more money to go home but we would love to see the other girls.
-We will be missing my brother's mission farewell if we stay and then he will be gone for 2 years by the time we get back and unfortunately either way now he won't get to meet Mia for 2 more years.
-If we go home we have to leave Mia and how do you explain to her that you are really coming back?
-what about Kris' work?
-we can't even get a flight out until thursday now because we have to sign some stuff tomorrow and then take the train to Kiev -if we leave
-the list goes on and on....so tonight we are making this decision
So after court we went to the orphanage to talk with the director and ask some questions while we had our facilitator with us to translate. We gave the director a thank you gift and expressed our gratitude to him for keeping Mia there until we came for her instead of moving her to the institution. We then asked him if we could find out more about her daily routine and if we could see where she lived. He agreed to let us go to her room and give our donations of blankets and hats and things that we had brought for the orphanage, but the only catch was we were not allowed to take pictures. OHHH how badly I wanted to take them!
So we met with one of the staff who told us all about the daily routine of Mia and she kept saying how beautiful Mia was and that she was so smart and that everyone there just loved her so much. Then she escorted us down that LONG hallway that we have watched Mia go down. It kept going and going and led to an entirely different part of the building, one that we didn't even know existed. We walk into this little room with a few couches, a small tv, a few toys, one of the playpen /crib things we had seen outside, a kitchen area, a little bathroom area (we didn't see much of this) and then a bedroom. The children were just being put down for their naptime and they called Mia out of the room to come see us and she just BEAMED when she saw us! She looked a little surprised to see us down there but she came running and gave us hugs and kisses and started waving to the caregivers and saying "paka" (bye) . They were all laughing and talking (again our translator was translating back and forth) about how much she loves us. They said that all the staff talks about how quickly she bonded with Kris, because until then she was really scared around men and didn't want to go to them. They said that every time she comes back from our visits with her, she tells them all about it ...in her little language. They said when they tell her we are coming she gets so excited! It was so interesting to see her today in this environment. She acted different, she had this new light again today, like she KNEW that we were REALLY her parents now. It made it even harder to have to leave her there for another 10 days and not really be able to explain to her why we had to do that. Why we can't just take her now!
Then the heart wrenching part came....
we were able to go into her bedroom/sleeping area to see her bed and there in this tiny room we saw the other 15 children in her groupa. All of them were special needs, which we didn't know until now. Some cerebral palsy, some with facial deformities, there were all kinds and all of them looked up at us from there little cribs with eyes that cried out to our souls. Eyes that cried out for love. I am afraid those eyes will haunt me forever. Some children stood up when we came in, some did not, or could not. One little tiny guy didn't even move, he just looked up at us with sadness and I wanted to pick him up SO badly! It just broke my heart to see them all and to not be able to pick them up and love them!
When we saw them all we knew that this group was down the long hallway for a reason, because they were being hidden from the world. This group probably did not get the same opportunities (like the performance the other day) that the rest of the kids got. We were pretty certain that some of these children didn't spend much time out of these cribs by the looks of them.
There are just no words that could really express how we felt in this little room today. Unless you could see them there is no way to put it into words. My fears of being heartbroken to leave the other children were made a reality today. It was more difficult than I could have imagined to walk out of that room and close the door on those sweet angels.
I am so grateful we got the chance to see what Mia has called home her whole life but it broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes to see those who are being left behind. I don't think I will ever forget that picture of these 15 little beds in this little room. 15 angels who should be loved and given a chance.
Mia and maybe 2 other children were in a little bed, it kindof looked like a horse trough with a mattress inside it..almost like a big cradle of some sort. And the others were in cribs. They were all dressed in little sleeper/jumper things...except Mia who was in a dress....probably because we were coming to visit. We were than motioned out of the bedroom so the kids could go back to napping and we heard their sweet little lonely cries as we visited with the caregivers some more in the kitchen area. They informed us that Mia needs to wear a bib when she eats and they tried to talk her into eating but she just kept waving "paka" and clinging to us. They were really very sweet ladies and we wish so badly we could spend time with this groupa and hold the other little angels. The ladies were very thankful for the blankets and clothes we brought and we were glad to be able to deliver them to the Mia's groupa...especially because they were all kids with special needs. We thanked them for taking care of Mia and giving her a chance and they kept thanking us for coming and saving her.
This living area was what you picture an orphanage to look like. It was nothing like the rest of the building that we had been spending our time in. Yes, it was fairly clean and kept up and yes, we got the impression that these ladies were doing the best they could and that they did care for the children but we definitely felt the true orphanage feeling in there today. The smells, the sounds, the lonely eyes. They were all what we had envisioned when we pictured an orphanage in our minds.
We saw it today. We witnessed it first hand.
We saw the "family" that Mia has had since birth and the place she has called "home".
We saw why her eyes seemed so haunted until a week ago.
We may not have been allowed to take a picture but we don't need one, because we will never forget what we saw today.
After about 15 minutes it was time to say goodbye because they needed to put her down for her nap and all we could do was try to tell her that in 10 days we will be taking her from there for good.
10 days sweet Mia......
(we didn't get back to visit her this afternoon like we would have liked and since we only got the few minutes with her in her groupa where we couldn't take pictures, we couldn't get a "court day" picture with her so these from the other day will have to do)