In the eyes of God, all of us....and NOW THE COURT.....Miss Zoya Faith Basile is officially ours!!! We still have to wait 10 days during the wait/appeals period before we can take her but she is legally our little girl! What a long day and quite the story to tell....God is amazing and performed some miracles today.
We arrived at the court at 8:00, an hour early. We waited and waited and waited for everyone to arrive. For court in Ukraine, there are "witnesses" that must be present. Their role is not to decide the case, but they are allowed to ask any questions and give their opinion. They were the same witnesses from Tuesday. While we were waiting, one of the witnesses, a woman in her 60s, sat down next to us. She hadn't been very friendly on Tuesday, but then again nobody here really is. I noticed a lanyard sticking out of her purse and it had the word, "miracle," just as I was praying that everything would go well today. I thought it was pretty neat and pointed it out to shawn. I knew it was a sign!...........
Anyways, the judge finally graced us with his presence around 9:30, a half hour late. We were really nervous. They went throug the entire part of court that they already did on Tuesday. Asked us our full names, places of birth, where we live, and what we do for a living. Then they read aloud our petition asking to adopt Zoya, and did another role call where every person in court introduced themselves by giving all the same information we just gave. They asked, which one wants to go first (before the firing squad hehe) and Shawn stood up. The judge simply said, tell me all about you and why you are here. Thank goodness our facilitator gave us some questions to answer one at a time. Shawn did well and spoke from his heart. Even though our facilitator was translating everything we were told only to look at the judge the entire time (which we did EVEN when he was staring out the window looking bored!). Next was my turn. I told all about the programs we are involved in and told the judge, prosecutor, witnesses, and everyone else how these children really do have a future in America. I noticed one of the witnesses looking at me like I was bonkers....well they both kind of were at one point or another. Next it was the social workers turn. She gave all the information about why and how Zoya became an orphan and her "diagnosis." Next was the representative from the orphanage...which was my favorite part. She told the judge that we met Zoya on March 17th and visited her every day, twice a day, since then. She told the judge that Zoya gets excited when we come, she recognizes us, and knows that we are "her people"and she knows she belongs with us. That about made me cry. The prosecutor only had one question for each of us (which I hear is UNHEARD OF from this prosecutor). The judge took about 30 minutes to read aloud all of our documents. He went over EVERY SINGLE ONE and let me tell you there were a TON! When he was going through the papers, he pulled out the pictures we had printed for him. He smiled a teeny tiny smile, like he was trying not to, and then passed them to the witnesses. The witnesses both smiled. Here a smile means A LOT. Nobody here fakes a smile. When you see one, it is most definitely real!
The judge said he needed a 5 minute break. Our facilitator looked worried. They called the prosecutor out and then our facilitator. We listened to the other people inside the court room saying something....we didn't know what the buzz was all about. She came back to tell us that he wanted an offical stamp on one of the papers. Everyone else agreed it didn't need a stamp because it was on official letterhead from the hospital where Zoya was born. Even the prosecutor said it wasn't needed. He said basically that her didn't care and he wanted the stamp. Marina begged him to just finish court and make a decision TODAY and told him we would go right after court and get 2 stamps even! LOL. Somehow, HE AGREED! He took another 5 minute break to make his decision. He came back in with the witnesses, who were all smiling now...big change! He read his decision and I knew it was coming because when he said it in Ukranian, everyone started smiling, but still we waited to hear it translated in English. The court granted us our request to become Zoya's parents!!!! Shawn and I teared up big time and squeezed each other's hand. Once he was done talking we hugged each other and our facilitator. Everyone was all smiles now, even the judge!! Court finished at approximately 11:45....only 2 hours and 15 minutes!
So we were off for the hour drive to the hospital where Zoya was born. Our facilitator called ahead and said she was the assistant to the judge and we were holding up court to get this document done and could they please stamp it as soon as we get there. They agreed!! Our facilitator is THE BEST. So we took the drive there going 140km/hour....which is almost 90 miles per hour...and made it there in 40 minutes. We drove back to bring the stamped. document to the judge. On the way we stoped at the social worker's office to drop something off. Our facilitator came out and said everyone was buzzing about "how in the world did you get the judge to have such a quick court and make the decision today?" First I thought, "that was quick??!!!" And I guess where we are, it is quick. Having ONLY 2 court dates here is a victory. I said it must have been all the prayers.
Next we dropped the newly stamped paper off to the judge. While our facilitator was inside one of the witnesses, who is also a janitor in the court, stopped her. She said how in her head she was thinking this was a crazy idea that we wanted this child, but after listening to us and seeing the pictures, she knew in her heart "we must let this child go with them." She said the judge asked her, a cleaning lady (and witness of course) what she thought about the case and if he should make a decision today! She was suprised that the judge asked her opinion and she said, yes I think we should. Remember the lady with the "miracle" lanyard hanging out of her purse? I told our facilitator I thought she seemed very nice today as opposed to our first court. She said her and the other witness were both annoyed that they had to come in and hear a case on an adoption of a child with Down Syndrome. Here that is unheard of and "stupid." The miracle here is the God changed their hearts....softened their hearts for our case. Usually the witnesses don't do much, but in our case the judge asked their opinion and I believe it was through them that the judge decided to give us a decision today. The lady with the "miracle" lanyard couldn't have been happier for us, when just days before she was so annoyed with us and our desire to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. Our facilitator reminded us that we really are pioneers here and since this was the first adoption of a child with special needs in this area, people are still confused and leery of us. I am so glad to know that God has used us to open eyes here. I wonder if the judge will remember us and Zoya years from now as his first adoption of a child with special needs...hopefully years from now there will have been many more of these adoptions and maybe it won't be so taboo!
So many more thoughts racing through my head...but we are packing to leave TONIGHT! We got a flight out of here into Kiev and a flight from Kiev to Frankfurt to Chicago to Buffalo...getting in at 5:06 home time tomorrow! So excited. Off to pack, one last visit with Zoya, then outta here for 10 days :) I will probably have some more organized thoughts when my mind isn't racing a million miles a minute...so sorry for the scattered post :)