Our Kazakhstan Journey

Welcome! Gary and I want to share our experiences as we travel to Kazakhstan for or child(ren).

Location: South Florida, United States

Monday, August 28, 2006

Here comes the judge!

Sunday, August 27, 2006
We spent a relaxing day with Galina and a lady, Michelle from New York who was on her second trip. Her baby daughter (15 months) came with us also. We spent half the day on a mountain that overlooks Almaty. There is a cable car that you can take up the mountain. We drove up and took the cable car down. The view was remarkable and the weather was absolutely gorgeous- sunny, light breeze and relatively cool temperatures. The view from the mountain actually reminded us of the mountains in Jamaica. We had lunch at a cafe there (lamb kebabs) and then headed back to the flat to start packing and prepare for the big day at court.

Monday, August 28, 2006
Well today is the big day...the court hearing. We were provided a cheat sheet by Galina with some of information that might be asked, income, assets, information on her medical condition. Igor, Galina and our attorney were scheduled to pick us up at 9:45 but arrived 20 minutes early. We were both ready- all decked out in business suits. I was very nervous about today, although I had heard from others that it was the easiest part of the process. Things had gone so smoothly for us so far, that in the back of my mind I was wondering if the most important thing would go wrong. On the way to Yessick, Galina held a Q&A session with us, to make sure that we were prepared potential questions to be posed by the judge or prosecutor.

We finally arrived at the Yessick court one half hour early at 10:30. We waited in the van while the attorney went inside the courthoust to make sure that things would be on schedule. She returned 10 minutes later to inform us that the judge's husband had recently had surgery and our court time would be changed to high noon. Galina suggested that we go to the baby house to visit Kristin. We were both ecstatic about this. She was a bit quiet today. I am not sure if it was because she seemed to have a slight runny nose or maybe she was disappointed that we were not there to feed her either yeaterday or today. For most of our short visit we kept her outside. My heart broke to leave her today. In fact when they came in to get her at noon, she cried and did not want to leave my arms. We both hugged and kissed her and said goodbye, promising to see her in three weeks.

We left the baby house and then proceeded to the Ministry of Education to pick up an official who would speak at court on the Ministry's behalf, and then on to the courthouse. When we arrived there, our attorney once again, went to check if the judge was in and if noon was still the time. She returned to he van and informed galina and the Ministry official in Russian about the tstus. Everyone was talking rather loudly to each other and the only thing I could think of was that the hearing was probably going to be postponed. If everything was fine, they wouldn't be talking so animatedly would they? Well, it turned out that it was a good news/ bad news situation. The good news was that we were still on for today, the bad news was that the judge would not be here until 1 PM. Whew, what a relief!

Finally at 1 PM we entered the courthouse, a modern, two-storey, yellow building. The judge's chambers was on the second floor. When we entered her chambers, the judge was present along with the prosecutor, a secretary, and the Ministry official. The judge read us our rights and asked standard question about whether we trusted all parties present. As if we would ever answer "no" to that question! Gary was asked to answer the questions first. The questions concerned our income, what we wanted the court to do (change her name, keep her birthdate and make us the leagal parents of Kristin), when did we arrive, when did we start visits, how long had we visited her, were we aware of her medical condition, did we have biological children, what would happen if we did, etc... a full barrage of questions, which he answered very well. Then it was my turn. I started out well, and then for those that know me well, as can be expected, I started to cry when I talked about our visits with her and how much she bonded with us. I had to try really hard to compose myself...this after all was very serious business. With the exception of the short crying episode, I think I did rather well.

When the representative from the baby house spoke, my heart broke. She spoke of how "Marzhan" was a different child since we started visiting her. She described a child who previously would cry whenever she needed attention or was hungry. She stated that after our visits, she became calmer and would wait expectantly for us to come and feed her. She said that she had put on weight since our arrival three weeks ago, and it was evident from the series of pictures that we had to present to the court. She also described our first encounter with her and how she immediately gravitated towards us, especially Gary, which was extremely unusual, since all the caretakers were female . She also spoke of the love and attention that Kristin had received from us and gave the adoption her full endorsement.

Then the court asked about whether efforts had been made to find her family. Our attorney and the Ministry representative explained that they had spent an entire day tracking down the family. They found her grandmother, who had told them that she would not be able to support her. The Ministry representative explained that Kristin had been placed in the data base for children available for adoption in April and no Kazakh native had expressed an interest in adopting her. This meant that we would be able to adopt her if the court so decreed.

The prosecutor then followed up with a series of questions regarding health care, child care, etc. which we adequately responded to. Then to judge asked us to leave her chambers. About ten minutes later she called us back in and decreed that the court would allow the adoption. There would be the customary 15 day waiting period, after which it would be final. What a relief! We expressed our thanks to everyone, shook hands with the judge, prosecutor, attorney and Ministry rep and hugged Galina, the caretaker and each other. We then left the courthouse and had lunch (you guessed it...Kazakh fast food-lamb kebabs). We finished up some final paperwork with Galina and here I am blogging! What a journey...but she is definitely worth it! Thanks for taking the journey with us and for all your prayers.

Now all we have to do is worry about Ernesto!!!


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