Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 22

Le sigh.

It's over and we PASSED!! Slava Bogu (Praise God!!)

We had no reason to believe that we wouldn't, but getting through it is tough.

We were an absolute wreck when we got to the court house. Our facilitator prepped us on all the things to say, what not to say, what to do, what not to do. I thought for sure I was going to puke and cry and pee on myself right there. Nathan kept trying to lighten the mood by being funny, except... times like this when the air is thick, Nathan IS NOT FUNNY.

We had been told not cross our legs and not to fold our hands in front or in back because it shows that we are too comfortable and is a sign of disrespect. We were practicing our pageant answers and Nathan's hands were at his side. They s l o w l y floated up in the air like Ricky Bobby's on Talladega Nights because he didn't know what else to do with them... (okay, he's funny).

After an hour of waiting, it was our turn.
Gaaahhh, it is SO tense- trying to remember all these rules and you can't understand anything that's going on. The stacks of papers behind the court reporter are are millimeters away from toppling over. The judge is stone cold, all business. I very clearly hear the second hand on the clock moving. We each stand to say our full name. The judge checks her cell phone. It's lunch time. I'm not hungry. My right sock is slightly higher than my left. I think I heard someone say something about our citizenship?
Nathan hands the judge our passports.
The last time I saw his hand shaking like that, he was standing in front of me with an engagement ring.

She read through our paperwork, stating several times that both biological parents had "rejected" her. I nearly cried. No, they didn't. That's not fair. I know this is their culture and some terms are likely altered in translation, but that word made me HURT for her. In addition to being socially unacceptable, there are NO resources here to care for a child with Down Syndrome.  None. We were told the child would likely never leave their home.  By placing her in the orphanage, she at least had a chance at a life by adoption. I hated hearing them say my daughter was rejected, but I was still, hands unfolded and by my side.

She asked me to stand and started the questions. Most of which, we expected. We were told to provide "several phrases" and not just yes or no answers, but it seems like everytime I paused for translation, another question was asked before I could expand.  Will you stay home with her? Do you know about her "disease"?  I got upset (inside) because she kept asking WHY. Why would you adopt a child with special needs? Why HER? But WHY?

She wasn't asking because she was curious about our personal reasons. She really didn't get it.  I had tried to explain simply that we were ready to expand our family. I tried to explain that we could provide love and opportunities for her. I tried to explain that our hearts were connected to her.

She asked Nathan, (translated) "Do you agree with your wife? WHY are you requesting to adopt HER, why not a normal child?". I wanted to scream, "She IS normal!!". Instead, I sat motionless, legs uncrossed. No tears.

A few more questions each and we made it through. We were asked to step out while the judge made her decision. She had no facial expression, no inflection in her voice. What did she think? Are we enough? Did we do it wrong?  While waiting, both the prosecutor and the rep from the Children's Department shared big smiles and gave us thumbs up. Tatiana said, "You are parents, I know it!". I don't know how they "know" it, but they all seemed pleased with what had just taken place.

About ten minutes later, we stepped back in and the judge read all kinds of formal jargon for what seemed like forever. She ended with (translated) "from this day forth, she is not Varvara Evgenevich , she will be Anna Gray West."
Nathan squeezed my hand. Tatiana congratulated us quietly. We thanked the judge and a HUGE smile appeared on her face. For the first time, I noticed she was pretty. And I exhaled.

We were back in the hallway within seconds. Can I cry now?!
SO many emotions!
The obvious elation, dampened slightly by her loss.
I wish she hadn't said she is not Vara.
She is, she always will be. We have no intention of taking that away from her.
But we anymore excited that now she is also our new daughter!
Oh, we hugged so tightly.


Those are ridiculously happy faces!

I get to go see her tomorrow and tell her that I AM HER MAMA!

Nathan left about an hour after we got back from court. He is already on a train headed back to Kiev. He will fly out tomorrow and be home Sunday afternoon, God willing. I think he took it harder than I did. I couldn't tell if he is sad about leaving her, worried about me being here alone, or both.

I feel totally fine about it. More than anything, I am worried I'm going to be bored out of my mind! Tatiana and Edward (mother and son, btw) said they want to take care of me.  Edward will get me whatever I need and I am to email Tatiana every day and tell her I am okay.

Starting tomorrow, there is a 10 day wait for appeals. These are going to be THE longest 10 days of my life. Regardless, they will be joyful days because THERE IS ONE LESS ORPHAN IN THE WORLD!!


  1. Crying tears of joy right now for her and you.
    There is indeed one less orphan in the world!
    Praise God!
    Amanda DePriest

  2. Happy, happy tears. God is SO faithful, and I am amazed at your obedience in this journey He has taken you on. So proud of you both and absolutely can not wait to meet my new "not my niece." Love you all.

  3. Oh My Goodness!! Congrats West family!! So happy to hear that court is over! We were told so many things on what to expect how to act in court when we were with Russia! I can get a good idea of how it was in there! You two did awesome!!! I'm so happy for you and for little AG!!! :) BIG HUGS for all!

  4. So sweet! I am so happy for you and your family. Congratulations on being brave and stepping out on faith to do what God led you to do. Many blessings to the newest West member!
    Becky Abutrab

  5. Oh so happy to hear this! I've been following with you guys every single day. We adopted our twins in 2008 and it has been simply wonderful ever since. Big, Big Congratulations!
    Tiphane Lowery Minnicks

  6. You don't know me - but I'm friends with Jessie Leath. I've somewhat followed your posts through the latter half of this process. I just couldn't leave without saying how HAPPY I am for your family - ALL of you. Although I do not know you personally - it is easy to see from what I have read that both you and your husband are blessings from God. I'm so thankful for such giving and loving people like the two of you - and that sweet babies like Anna Gray are loved for and now part of an amazing family. Praise God for his love and many blessings - both over this adoption and the two of you. Good luck on your families return home!

  7. Oh Amber and Nathan I got chills when I was reading about your court hearings. I would have had the hardest time sitting proper! But God has the best plan for your family and I knew it would work out! Aww I am so happy for you guys!!!! Much love, Brittany Lawson

  8. Congrats West family...pray for a fast and peaceful 10day wait.
    Your internet RR friend
    Kim Baumann

  9. Amber and Nathan, I am sooooo happy for you both but I do have to tell you I am more happy for Anna Gray!!! She is so blessed to have you as parents, to have you as MOM and DAD that will take care of her for the rest of her days!!! Love to you both! Mylinda Parker

  10. Congratulations! So very happy for all of you!!


  11. Amber, this is awesome! I am crying tears of joy for you and your family, but mostly for this blessed little girl you will call daughter!

    Mandy Eden :)

  12. Congratulations!!! We will pray that these 10 days pass by fast!!! Love and Prayers!!!

  13. Yay!! Congratulations! I will be praying for you during the next ten days and I cannot wait to see Anna Gray HOME with her brother and sisters! Praise God!

  14. God is so Good! Praying for you during the next 10 days. The heart of a "loving Mother and Father" can move mountains...So happy for you all.

  15. Congrats!! Can't wait to see your whole family home together.

  16. The last few weeks have been such a whirlwind for us that I don't "comment" you as often as I should. Know that we are very proud of you and truly over the moon anxious to meet our newest addition. Counting the days!! Love you Amber, Nathan and Annie! Deda & Poppie