We left you last time as we were about to sleep for six hours before we were to meet a driver who would take us to Kandalaksha. Sergei was a man about 40 and evidently had learned one English word a year. Brock sat in the front with him and I couldn't help but bite back chuckles as I watched these two grown men communicate in two word phrases and excessive gesturing. So many times, one or the other would nod their head in a exaggerated way as if to say, "I have no idea what you are talking about, but I appreciate the effort you are making to tell me." Then the other one would laugh and they would find a new topic to explore. They talked about the weather...."Brrrr!" They talked about fishing...."hobby not profession". They talked about skiing and snowboarding down the "Big hill, little hill". They talked about coffee...."nit!" And the climatic conversation centered on road construction. Some things are just cross cultural-including Brock's mouth.
When we arrived in Kandalaksha, we were motioned into a room with Roman and his little eyes lit up! I know that I know that he recognized us! We rolled around on the floor with him and all three of us laughed. I sure do love that little boy. At lunch, our Inspector who knows about as much English as we know Russian made a motion like she was eating and then asked, "Fish or Pig?" Gee, when you put it that way...do you have any beet, raisin and mayo salad? Oh you do! Lucky, lucky us!! In all seriousness though, she was extremely kind and we were so incredibly touched by the genuine effort that these people made to make us feel as comfortable and safe as possible.
When we met with Roman in the afternoon, we noticed that he wasn't quite as active and realized that he looked very sleepy. He did sit on the floor by me-and boy would he snap his head around if I moved-and stack up blocks. After four or five blocks, he would knock his tower over and squeal with delight as he watched them fall. And then, his chubby little fingers would begin rebuilding once again. We took a few videos of him and showed him the camera and our little man was utterly delighted to see his pictures on the screen. Brock pulled out his iPhone and let him hold it while it played music. He sat in my lap, held the phone up to his ear with his little chubby hands and swayed quietly back and forth to Mercy Me. It was a precious, precious moment.
After Roman was taken for his supper-and believe me, he was not happy about relinquishing the iPhone at all!-we were uncertain what we were to do. We had no translator, no guide and all the caregivers we knew had gone home for the day. We cautiously made our way downstairs when a strange man threw open the door and announced with a big grin and a stout finger into his chest, "Antone! Irina's husband. Come."
We followed our newest Russian friend to his car and he took us to the "produce market" so we could get something to eat for supper. Brock told him, "Irina very kind" to which he responded, "Da. Married with one daughter 11. One son 8." Even in his limited language, you could sense the pride this man had for his family. We arrived at the hotel and he pointed to the numbers on Brock's watch to indicate what time we should be ready to leave in the morning. A car with the numbers 551 would be by to pick us up at 6:15 AM to take us back to Murmanask for our court hearing,
The next morning, we were in the "lobby" of the hotel and the receptionist was watching the window for us. She called to us (I think) and made a motion that our car was outside. We'll never know how she knew that was for us. So, once again, we climbed into the car of another strange man who spoke no English. He picked up the kind inspector next and we were off on the dark and icy road to Murmasnsk.
Court today was a big blur. I felt complete peace as I was asked to present my speech first. The judge smiled at both of us several times and with each minute, I felt more and more relaxed. She asked about discipline, how we felt about the rumors that Americans adopt Russian children and are violent with them. I told her that all children deserve to be protected and it is a horrible thing when any child of any nationality is not safe. She did ask about religion and if going to church and learning the Bible was mandatory in America. I told her it was not but that we were very involved in our church and while Roman is young, he will be going with us but when he gets older, he will make that decision for himself. I told her that I believed the Bible and taught in a class about the Bible and Jesus. She asked if our religion had rules for discipling and other things like fasting. I told her no we do not have to fast and discipline was a decision made by each individual family. She asked me if I thought after such a short time I could have a maternal love for Roman even though I didn't know him very well. I told her that I loved him the best way I knew how to at this time and I was confident that that love would grow as we spent more time with him as a family. I told her that I imagined that what I feel for Roman was like what a pregnant woman felt the first time she knew she was expecting. "I don't know what it is like to love a child as it grows in my womb, but I know that he has grown in my heart." And parents who live with their biological children learn every day how to love their child more as they grow together. I know I have a lot to learn about Roman, and I'm confident that what I feel for him now is only a brief glimpse to how I will feel about him in years to come. She seemed very satisfied with that answer. She asked some questions about our infertility and if we would continue to try to get pregnant. I told her no.
"Because every month," and I had to bite back tears again, "that was not successful getting pregnant was heartbreaking. It's not a healthy way for us to live." I saw deep compassion in her eyes.
She also asked me why it was that I started crying at the end of the last court proceedings. I told her that ever since we met Roman in July, I think about him constantly, dream about him and I know that two weeks was a short time, but it just meant another delay and I am so ready to have him home as our son. She nodded as though she understood that.
Thankfully the court prosecutor had only two questions for me:
"Do you know that this is a favorable decision that you will have to register his birth certificate and new passport before you can bring him home?"
"Are you aware that Russia requires follow-up interviews after you bring your child home with an agency and are you prepared for those appointments?"
That was easy!
Brock spoke next and answered all of her questions about his income and our money. The judge asked him how he felt about our life changing so that his wife couldn't pay as much attention to him since there would be a child . (I've seen Brock around children and I think he's gonna be juuusst fine!) He was also asked how he was going to help Roman become a man. His answer stirred my heart and made me appreciate the man God has given me for a husband and my future children for a father.
"There is no greater privilege I have than to help my son grow up to be a man of integrity. I take this responsibility very seriously even though I've never done this before I know the importance of what it means to raise him to be a good man."
The judge seemed very pleased with us as potential parents and then she moved on to ask questions of the Director, the Inspector, the Social Worker and the Speech Therapist. They were all asked to give their impressions of us and our interactions with Roman.
"They were very affectionate with Roman and he responded well and was affectionate in kind."
"They acted like they have known Roman for years and he was very receptive to them. No, Roman is not receptive to all adults. It takes him a while most of the time."
"I believe they will make very good parents to Roman."
"I think Roman even looks like Brock, his dad."
"I've never met a couple I'd recommend more strongly for adoption." Aww, shucks, now I'm blushing!
Then, each of the ladies was asked in detail about Roman's birth mother. Why did she relinquish her rights? Why does she not want Roman? Each lady gave very good answers (in my inexperienced opinion) and the reasons aren't necessarily things I want to share publicly. Those are part of Roman's story and Brock and I want to protect those details for him at this time.
After the four ladies were interviewed, the judge abruptly announced that we would take a recess until tomorrow morning at 10:30. So, that's all we know right now. We have to wait again, but thankfully not as long this time. For now, we rest.
Brock and I both feel an amazing amount of peace right now. At 9:30 tomorrow morning, Tatiana will meet us at our apartment to walk us the half a mile to court. That's the part I'm nervous about! It is so cold here right now that if you breath through your nose, you can literally feel your nostrils freeze together for a split second. Other than that, we still have that peace that passes understanding.
We are still going to ask, in the case of a favorable decision if the judge would waive the 30 day waiting period in Roman's best interest and hope for the best. We appreciate the prayers and I hope tomorrow's blog is short, sweet and to the point we ALL are waiting to hear! I'm so ready to know that emotionally AND legally Roman will be our son.