Way Back Wednesday

*Adoption blog, star date September 2010

What's Way Back Wednesday?
**Written the day we appeared in an African court petitioning to be granted parental rights of our Pearl

It has been a long, hard, emotional day. Sassafras is still trying to adjust to Africa time, and was awake from 2:00-5:00am again. Our alarm clocks went off at 5:30 am, and the day began with a frenzy. Our drivers were a little late arriving at our guest home, so that started us all out on an anxious note. Traffic on the way to court in the morning hours was a bit harrowing. (Side note: traffic here period is ca-ray-zay. Vans, boda-bodas/motorcycles, banana trucks, pedestrians are everywhere and in no particularly organized manner. Every journey, no matter how brief, is an experience in desperate prayers for deliverance.) Our driver did an excellent job of getting us there safe and on time, though.

We arrived at our attorney’s office for a briefing around 9:00. It was good to meet the attorney who we have heard about, talked about, and prayed for for such a long time now. He directed us in how to show proper respect to the judge, talked to us about how the proceedings would operate, and gave us a list of things not to do. “The judges here are kings” is what he told us. Their word is final and not ever questioned on any account. He impressed upon us the possibility of getting thrown out of court if we were missing a document or if the judge was irritated with us in any way. By the time we left, we were shaking in our boots.

We were escorted down to the waiting room for court, and then asked where Pearl and the another child whose family had court were located. With about 15 minutes to spare, the other mom and I hauled it out of the maze which was the court building, down the street, hurriedly changed them (with the assistance from one of the mamas from the orphanage who had come with them) into the special clothes we had brought for them, and rushed back down into the building. We sat for about 10 minutes before our attorney called us back to a second waiting room. After a few seconds, our attorney said that our family was up. I think it was at this point I threw up. (Kidding.)

We entered the room and made our way to our seats, careful not to sit down until the judge invited us to do so. I was watching the judge’s face, and saw her tell us to sit. So I began to sit. But The Captain and the other person accompanying us in the hearing did not see her mouth, so they both started furiously whispering “Don’t sit! Don’t sit!” I whispered back that I had heard her say sit, and then we all looked at the attorney, who indicated that yes, it was ok to sit. So we had our very own little Seinfeld moment to start off this incredibly important meeting. Nice, huh?

Our seats were on the left side of the room by the windows, which were open. There was loud construction work going on outside the window, and because of all the noise we had no idea what happened the rest of the time. A few times our attorney looked back at us as though he was asking us something, and we panicked because we had absolutely no idea what was going on. We spent the next 45 minutes or so sitting on pins and needles, hoping and praying furiously that we had all our paperwork, that we did not offend the judge, that Pearl seemed as though she was bonding with us, and that Sassafras was not disruptive in any way. The sweet mama from the orphanage had brought Pearl a bottle, and I held her and rocked her and gave her the bottle during most of the hearing. She eventually drifted off to sleep, so it was good to hold her and enjoy her sweet sleeping while also having some of the stress of the meeting eliminated.

Sassafras had a bag packed with fun things to do, and she was pretty great. The judge requested an additional piece of paperwork, which we did have in our folder. (Pearl and Sassafras both looked adorable in their sweet little matching smocked dresses, by the way!) At the end of our hearing (and the other family’s), our attorney debriefed us and told us that he thought it went well. We will receive our ruling (hopefully verbal and written) on October 1st. We were certainly hoping to get that sooner, but technically we are still on track as far as the time we expected to spend here in Africa. Ultimately, we were just relieved that we were able to appear for our hearing and that it seemed to go well. Except for the sitting part. ;)

We are thankful for the fact that our family and our court hearing was covered in prayer. We appreciate you all so much for the sweet emails and comments! After our hearing, the director from the orphanage told us that we would be able to have our babies tonight. We were really excited about that because we had first been told that we had to wait until we had our positive ruling. Our afternoon trip to the orphanage was especially exciting because we thought we would finally be able to bring the babies back with us and begin to bond with them a little better here. However, once we got there, the director said that we were not going to be able to take them. So, we are back to waiting on our ruling before we can take custody of Pearl. It has been frustrating and heart-breaking, all the back-and-forth.

When we left today, Sassafras poked her lip out and started crying when she realized Pearl was not going to come with us tonight. Which broke this mama’s heart in 2 different ways (hurting for the baby I’m leaving behind, hurting for the baby who is sad because we have to leave her behind). I have to say that ultimately we love this place that has nurtured our children and trust their efforts to protect them. We realize that perhaps this is just better for the babies...which is what we will always want for them. The best part of today was definitely when we started to leave and we kissed our babies goodbye and they CRIED for us. I know that sounds horrible, but what that means is that our children are becoming attached to us. They are beginning to see us and depend on us as a constant in their lives. Pearl is beginning to bond with us! We are sad to see her tears but praising the Lord for what they mean. God is good. Even when there are tears. Sorry the post was so long. So many details I just want to remember. Thanks for being my sounding board.