The morning was quite stressful. After breakfast at the hotel, we headed across the street to the court house and took a small elevator up to the 6th floor. After a security check, we were taken to the court room which was about 20 ft x 20 ft with benches at one end, where we sat, and 3 large, ornate wooden chairs at the other end of the judge. In the middle were 2 rows of tables facing each other where the prosecutor and the social workers sat. There was also a computer where the secretary sat and prescribed the proceedings. There was also a cage on the right of the room; I imagine this is for criminals.
Irina had warned us about a male prosecutor she has seen in the past who is against international adoption and asks lots of tough questions and is rather rude. We were very fortunate that the prosecutor was a woman – she was much nicer. Once everyone arrived, we stood up as the judge walked in and sat down. We introduced ourselves and answered the many questions from the judge and the prosecutor, standing up when we were addressed. The questions weren’t very difficult, but we had to be careful about how we answered them to make sure we didn’t accidentally say anything wrong. Irina sat behind us and translated everything. The questions lasted for about 30 minutes and then the judge read from a large folder containing all of the documents we had prepared at the beginning of the process. The social worker read her conclusion, followed by the prosecutors conclusion (both of which recommended the adoption) and after our final remarks, the judge left for 15 minutes. She returned and read a paper that has been prepared that stated she approved the adoption. As she read, we held back tears. We couldn’t wait to go to the orphanage to give our daughter a big hug! Everyone congratulated us and then it was all over. In total we were there for about 1 ¾ hours.
We returned to the hotel to pack, check out and have lunch. We got to the orphanage around 4:30pm and played with Hannah until 6pm. We played with skittles, in the ball pit and she scaled the wall a few more times. People over here carry blue shoe coverings that they put on when they enter buildings after it has rained. We were wearing some of these and Hannah was very curious, so Irina gave her a set. She was so proud of herself and walked around the gym showing off her “shoes”. She was so funny. At 6pm she had to join her group for dinner and we had to go to the train, so we said out goodbyes. We desperately wanted to take her with us, but we can’t take custody until after the 10 day waiting period.
We return to Moscow on October 23rd and will see her again on 26th. She will stay with us in the hotel in Petrazavodsk until her International passport is ready on October 30th. Then we take the overnight train back to Moscow. A doctor will visit us in the hotel over the weekend and on Monday we will apply for her visa and on Wednesday will register her with the consulate. Everything should be completed by Thursday November 5th, and we will return on the 6th. It will be a long 2 weeks without the conveniences of home, but it will be great bonding time.