It has been a long process (and technically it isn't over yet), but the judge ordered the approval of our adoption at 12:15PM Poland time yesterday. In Poland there is a 21 day appeal period after the adoption decree is made for people to protest the adoption. Our judge was amazing enough to shorten that to 14 days. That means, in 14 days, everything is official official.
We showed up to the court and the foster mom was there with our Polish social worker. The social worker had visited with us 3 times during our bonding period. We also had an interpreter. She proved to be really good in the courtroom, but when we were having conversations outside the courtroom, she was pretty lousy. We had a great reunion with the foster parents. They are incredible people and they will remain in our hearts and family. We love them for loving our children so well for the last few years.
When it was our time to enter the court room, there was a prosecutor on the opposite side of the room, a head judge, and 2 lesser judges flanking her. There was also a court reporter to type the important things that were said. Side note: the court reporter typed every report with 2 fingers staring at the keyboard, but boy was she fast.
The main judge began by reading out the personal information of our kids, stating our intentions, and asking us to submit a motion to adopt the children.
She then began the formal questioning. She asked the foster mom to come to the podium and asked her if she and any objections to our adopting the kids. Then, the social worker stood and said that she had visited with us on several occations, that we were happy and the children were happy. She had no objections to our adoption.
Then it was Future Dad's turn to stand and answer questions. He did great! The judge asked him lots of questions, and some of them were hard. Some of the questions were regarding our ability to care for 4 children, nurture their emotional state and provide help if needed. She also asked him lots of questions about our communication with them, our desire to maintain contact with the foster family, and whether or not we would encourage the retaining of their Polish language and culture. She also asked how we had prepared our home and life for 4 kids. She asked him questions for about 30 minutes, then it was my turn.
I stood and answered questions for much less time, but my questions were a bit more personal. For example, she asked if I had fertility issues, and what my plan was for helping our children process the adoption.
When the questioning ended, she asked what we wanted to be our childrens' new names. Luckily, we had that written down for her to put in the document. Once the names had been typed into the document, we were asked to leave so the judge could draft a decree. About 20 minutes later, we were ushered back in for the reading of the document. She graciously waived 7 of the 21 day appeal period and began to read the official document. In order to waive 7 days, she could not write her reasoning in the document, so she read it orally to us. It was quite beautiful. She said her top reason for granting our adoption was that these children would now have a bigger hope.
That is what we have wanted all along, at the beginning of our process, before we knew we were adopting 4 children from Poland, we wanted to give some siblings a bigger hope. Hope for a family, a future and a faith that will last their entire lives.
A bigger hope.
She then went on to tell us many more kind things and finished with the words “Congratulations, you are now parents”
In much sadder news, 2 days before court, we got a phone call that Future Dad's dad passed away. He had been ill for some time, but his death was still unexpected. Future Dad's family was able to set the visitation and funeral for this weekend, so that he could be here for court.
The circle of life continues to turn. Future Dad is leaving Poland today to fly to Tennessee for the visitation and funeral, then return to Poland on Sunday.
We feel blessed that he was able to Skype with the grandkids and see pictures of them before he passed.
Before we came to Poland, we had chosen to give our second son his middle name. Now, Grandpa, Daddy and #2 all have the same middle name. It is such an honor to be able to continue his legacy in the life of our son.
The kids and I have a special blessing though: my dad is coming to stay with us for the week Dad is gone. His plane lands one hour after Future Dad's takes off.
Daddy is going to America and Papaw is coming to Poland. This is my dad's first international trip (if you don't count Canada) and it will be the first time he has ever used his passport. It is so fun. In fact, I think he is somewhere over the Atlantic right now.
We have made the decision to not post the names of our children on the public internet, but we did want to show our family photo.
Thank you to everyone for the prayers over the last year.
October 30, 2013... we are family.
November 13, 2013... appeal period ends. We are a forever family.
November 14-20ish... paper chasing and more documents.
we all come home.
Home as a family.
A bigger hope.