Yesterday, after a lot of running around, we were able to obtain the Final Decree from the court, AKA Their Ticket Outta Here. We had court on January 19 and this is the decree from the judge that grants Valentina and Sergey to us. It did not take effect however, until after the 10-day waiting period expired. Ukrainian law provides this time to allow for appeals. I've never heard of anyone appealing, but who knows. Even if someone appeals, they'd get a pretty tough grilling by the judge. Where have you been all of this time? Why have you never visited the child before now? Do you have the means to care for this child? You're planning to adopt this child, then, are you? etc. It's VERY unlikely to happen.
The Final Decree is the piece of paper, 3 sheets in our case, that is the key for the remaining adoption tasks we have. Friday, the first step was to go to the courthouse and get it. Now, let me ask ask you: How many decree originals signed by the judge do you think we will need? One? How about 14. Our facilitator was in a hurry, so we only got two for now. Will get the rest next week. We went down to the office to get birth certificates, but uh oh, she told us that there is a mistake in the decree. Some place name is wrong. So it was back to the courthouse to get it fixed. They fixed it fast enough, but the judge was presiding over a criminal trial. Our two updated decrees needed his signatures. So we had to wait and wait. Finally Nataliya was able to get the signatures. We went over to #4 so that I could sign some documents, then we went to the passport office to get that started. Throw in a trip to the Notary's office somewhere in there and by this time it was 5:00 and that was all we could get done. We never did make it back down to the birth certificate office. That office is closed on Monday. I'm not sure if we've had a setback or not, there is some overlap in the things going on here.
On Monday, our facilitator will be in Valya's registration city, Rozdilna, dealing with the property issue that she has.
Monday will also be a big day for us. At 9:00 AM, I will go and sign out Sergey from the orphanage. He will be with me permanently after that point. Afterward, I will take him for a haircut, and go food shopping for his going-away party after school.
Tuesday, Sergey will have to come along as we go to Rozdilna to get Valya's birth certificate. Things are still tentative, but I'm thinking we'll bring Valya down to Odessa overnight so that I can take her shopping. She needs a few articles of clothing yet that I don't have. We didn't know her size, so we weren't able to bring them from America. Neither of the kids can take their clothing from their orphanages, not even their underwear, so I have to provide them with all when they sign out. On Wednesday, both of the kids need to get photographed for their Ukrainian passports. They'll need them for travel. Then I'm thinking we'll have Valya's party at Andreyevo and I'll sign her out. If this ends up being the plan, I will finally have both kids with me permanently by Wednesday night. This has been a long time coming, it is surreal to even think about.
I went down to Sergey's orphanage this afternoon. I knew that he wouldn't be aware that he was leaving on Monday. I gathered up a bag of clothing and shoes for him, and headed over there. When I met him, I told him that I have big news for him - Monday you will leave. He didn't understand what I meant. Leave, to go where? No, I mean you will be leaving here forever! At 9:00 on Monday. It took him a while to grasp it as I have never hinted before as to when he would be able to leave. He was SO happy. I showed him the clothes that I brought. I told him, on Monday, you will not have to go to school. Don't put those clothes on, put these on. We went through the bag to make sure everything was in there. Then I told him, let's go, we're going to go have pizza at M's. M and Sergey have been friends since he was in 1st grade and he had never been to her apartment before. He gave his things to Grisha to save for him, then the next thing was to go find a supervisor. In the past, I've been very humble about asking permission for things. This time, I just told her, I am taking Sergey out to eat, we will be back in a couple of hours. She looked a little surprised, apparently she hadn't heard that Sergey is leaving on Monday. I told her that and that put an end to any resistance.
We had a nice dinner with M and her roommate. Sergey got to look at photo albums of pictures that M had taken at the orphanage over the years. They had fun reminiscing about former classmates and friends. M put him to work helping with an apple crisp. After dinner, we played Dutch Blitz, which Sergey won. That was quite an achievement, since M is an expert and usually wins.
As we were walking back to the orphanage, we stopped at a red light. He was just standing there bouncing and singing, "So happy. Happy happy happy" with a big smile. I told him, "Me too."
Here are some pictures.
These are Valentina and Sergey's current birth certificates. We have to turn these in when we get their new ones, with their new names. My understanding is that they will be destroyed, wiping out completely their original identities. Reminds me of our own adoptions, as Christians, into Christ's family. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" II Cor. 5:17
I showed Sergey his Final Decree. The one decree actually covers both Sergey and Valya.
These are Sergey's clothes he'll wear on Monday.
Helping out with apple crisp.
We have called you "Son" for a long time, it just took the government a while to come around! Hold on, in just two days your life will change forever!
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