Court (or, our heroes feel the love from home)
As many of you know, today Becky and I had our first court appearance in the steps to become PK’s parents. To be honest, we were shaking in our boots. First, it’s a huge change in life, suddenly going from two to three. Second, there’s not a lot out there about Polish adoptions – you rely mostly on blogs and other parents you know. Of course, like everything in this world, horror stories are the most common thing you see. So, there Becky and I were imagining walking into a room presided by Cruella DeVille.
God was definitely with us the whole day. This morning we had the best visit with PK ever. Laughs and smiles were had and she didn’t really make a fuss coming to us. We had a few hours to come home, attempt to eat (though nerves didn’t allow a whole lot of that), read through our home study like we were cramming for an exam, run through the apartment trying to do a weird combination of cleaning/baby-proofing, then change into our fancy clothes and go to court.
Our facilitator, it should be said, is amazing. I’ve told Becky I feel like she’s a bit like a helpful fairy. At points in our quest, she descends and makes things magically happen and then disappears until our next objective. We were the last court case of the day and while waiting, she talked to us about some things to remember in the Polish court (e.g. no matter who asks you a question, you look to the judge when you answer) and then just spent time talking with us to try to soothe our nerves. She introduced us to the prosecutor (because there’s always a prosecutor in the courts in Poland). She seemed nice but a bit disinterested. I took that as a point in our favor.
We were finally called into the court room. It looked a bit like an old classroom. The floor tiles were that institutional white with flecks and the walls were that strange shade of green that seems to appear somewhere in every school I’ve been to. The “judging tribunal,” for lack of a better word, was on a dais in the center of the room. On our left was an older woman who looked like British comedienne Jo Brand. Our judge, a younger woman who looked very put together with bright, red nails, was in the center. To right was a gentleman whose age was difficult to pin down. He looked horribly bored. Also on this platform was the court stenographer. I hope that they are compensated well for their job because Polish court stenographer requires a very special set of skills. On the same level as us was the prosecutor, still looking fairly disinterested. In the center of the room was a lectern – the dock – where we would have to stand when we testified.
Becky, our facilitator, PK’s legal guardian (who is also the director of the facility and is known as Sister Director), and I stood while our identities and basic information was confirmed. It was about that time that Becky and I felt this peace fall over us like a mantle. I knew things were going to be all right and I knew that there were so many people at home, some that I didn’t know, who were praying for us.
Sister Director was called up first to represent PK and her interests. She stated PK’s history, her development, how PK cried the first time we were together but it has gotten better every time since, and stated that in her opinion, it was in PK’s best interest to be adopted by us. She mentioned that PK has some tendencies to shyness and because of this and her history, the judge asked Sister about whether it would be in PK’s best interest to ease into family life. We didn’t quite get the translation of Sister’s answer.
Becky was then called up to stand in the dock. She was asked her age, occupation, why adoption and why Poland, if she was aware of PK’s history and medical information, if she still wanted to proceed, how we were getting through the communication barrier, how she felt she was doing at reading PK’s moods and non-verbal language, if she would be all right with a staggered integration into family life. The judge thanked her and told her she could step down and then it was my turn.
It’s a surreal experience to walk into the dock, feeling like your life is on the line. Probably a good thing I decided against criminal master-mind as a career choice. I’d been told Dad’s get questions about finances and that sort of thing. I’d spent the previous night cramming all our financial information into my brain. I was ready…and I didn’t get any questions like that. Maybe those are saved for the final court date that makes the declaration of adoption, or maybe I just lucked out by being the last case on a full day. I was asked my age, occupation, if I knew PK’s history and medical information, did I still want to proceed, could I read PK’s non-verbal communication, was I OK with staggering PK moving in, and did I like being surrounded by children.
After my testimony, we were asked to step out of the room for several minutes and then were asked back in where they declared the plan that we had been talking about. PK and Sister Director will visit our house tomorrow and Saturday. Sunday, if everything is going well, she’ll move in. However, if we need a few more days to get her comfortable, we have that option as well. Becky and I both think this plan is great because she is fierce but she can be delicate and we want this to be as positive experience as possible.
We’ll be visited at least three times by adoption officials, social workers, a court appointed guardian and the like but we can handle that. Today’s experience also has reduced the scariness of our January 3rd court date…though there will still be nerves because that’s the ig day wen PK should become an Arthur!
We cannot thank you all enough for your prayers. Like I said, we felt you there with us, standing behind us, lifting us up, and cheering us on. Becky and I are so lucky to have you all in our lives and are constantly touched by the love you have shown us and PK.
Now, on to the next adventure!