Our court date today went very well. We arrived at the court house, which was a short walk from our apartment, a little after 9:00 am this morning. We only had to wait a short while before we were summoned into the judge’s chambers. We are not completely sure why we were summoned into her office and not into a court room. Xan and Brennan did go with us to the court house, however, they, nor Sasha, were allowed into the judge’s chambers. Our coordinator, Svetlana, stayed in the hallway with the boys while Natasha, our translator, stayed with me and Bucky. Along with me, Bucky and Natasha there was the judge, the county inspector, the prosecutor, two local Ukrainian citizens, the lawyer representing the orphanage and two court reporters. The two Ukrainian citizens were sort of like jurors in American courts, however, they do not have ruling authority. They could ask us questions and then were allowed to give their opinion on our case before the judge’s final ruling. Needless to say, we were VERY nervous. The judge was friendly, but she still had a powerful presence about her. She began by asking Bucky to stand and state his name, date of birth, place of birth and address. She then asked what he did for a living. After Bucky had answered those questions, I was asked to stand and answer the same questions. We were then asked to explain our reason for petitioning the court. Bucky was the spokesperson for us and the translator had given him very specific instructions on what to say. In all Bucky was speaking to the judge for several minutes. He did a great job even though he was nervous. We were asked other questions as well, but I have to save some details to share with you in person when we get home. The judge then asked the county inspector and the lawyer from the orphanage to stand and give their opinions on our case. Both whole heartedly recommended our family to the judge, but the lawyer said some things that were very special to us. She said that she was at the airport when Sasha returned from America and said that he was very excited about his time with us and showed our family photo to everybody and mentioned that he hoped we would come and adopt him. She spoke about many other things that he mentioned when he first got back to Ukraine, but those are the ones that stick out in my mind right now.
Sasha was then summoned to the room and the judge asked him several questions as well. She asked him if he understood what was going on here today, if he wanted to be adopted by us, why he wanted to be adopted by us, if we beat or abused him while he was in our care, what he liked about his time in America, etc. Sasha was very nervous too, but he did great and did not hesitate to say he wanted to be adopted and go to America with us (and that he liked our swimming pool and went swimming everyday in America. LOL!). Sasha even made the judge laugh with some of his answers. Once Sasha was finished, he was asked to leave the room again. Then, the judge and the “jurors” asked a couple more questions. The judge then asked the prosecutor to give his opinion on our case and he stated that he recommended our petition be granted. At that time we were all asked to leave the room while the judge spoke to the prosecutor and “jurors”. Within 10 minutes, we were summoned back into the judge’s chamber and the judge, with a big smile on her face, said that she was granting our petition to adopt Sasha. Bucky and I both cried and hugged each other. Leighton Sasha Rogers IS OUR SON!!! May 6th will, from now on, be celebrated as Sasha’s “Gotcha Day”. All the hard stuff, meeting with the SDA in Kiev, meeting with the county inspector in Melitopol, receiving approval from the director of the orphanage, and the court hearing, is over! Part of the tears that came today after the ruling was just simple relief. He is ours! Everything from here on out is just formality. We will pick up the final adoption degree after the required 10 day waiting period.
After the 10 day waiting period, we will make one last trip to the orphanage. We will take with us cakes, cookies, candy and drinks so that we can have a small party for Sasha’s classmates and allow him time to say goodbye to all his friends, teachers and the director. I really don’t know what to expect that day from Sasha. I don’t know what emotions he will feel or show. Then, we will travel to request his new birth certificate and passport. Hopefully, that will be completed within one business day. If that all goes smoothly, on the 18th we will catch another overnight train back to Kiev. While in Kiev, Sasha will be examined by a US Embassy approved doctor then we will have our US Embassy interview where they will grant Sasha his Visa. Once we get that Visa, we can hop on a plane back to America. Sasha is ready to get to America, he tells us that often.
Miss you and love you all!