It’s taken me a few days to get to the point where I could actually write about last week. Thanks for your patience everyone! I dropped Caleb off to my friend’s house about 8:30am and drove on in to Oradea. Found a parking spot straight away and the chiosk had parking tickets on hand as well. Score and Score. Walked over to the courthouse and sat down on a bench just across from it. Time was 9:52am. The court appt. was for 11am. At 10 I called my lawyer to let him know I had arrived and he said “Well, they are doing foster care cases first so I’ll be there in about 15.”
Foster care cases first? Yes, of course, I knew that…but why would he tell me that on the phone when the appt. was for 11am?
At 10:25am I headed into the courthouse, hoping the lawyer had arrived. He hadn’t, but my boss (who is also adopting) here at FCE and her family were there waiting. “Kelsey, where have you been? Why weren’t you here at 10am?” Not understanding what they were talking about I said, oh well, I was cold so I was sitting in the sun outside since I was here so early and our lawyer hadn’t arrived yet. They looked at me a bit strangely but we were interrupted just then by one of the court secretaries. She rushed over to us and said “We are so sorry but there are so many foster care cases today and we are the only court room running today. You are going to have to wait awhile longer. Again, our apologies.” Then, she rushed off back down the hallway to the court room.
Huh? Now I was really confused. I looked at my boss and said, “Was the appt. for 10am?” She looked at me confused and said “Yes, how did you not know that? My court citation was for 10am.” I pulled my citation out of its plastic sleeve and yup, 10am. How did I miss that? Oh Kelsey, seriously. Praise the Lord that the courts were running late and so I was just on time.
The lawyer arrived and he spoke quickly with my boss, and then with me. I told him, again, that I wanted to present a request to have the birth mom’s 14 business days revoked. (By law the birth mom gets 14 business days to overturn the final adoption ruling. But, if you have the support of Child Protection social workers, lawyers and the judge then you can have this revoked.) He kind of brushed it off, again, and said he would speak to the judge when we got in there. I felt this would be too late because I thought that we would need to write up, on paper, this request and buy the special court stamps to go on it etc… So I was frustrated because I didn’t want to get in there and not be prepared. Anyhow, he wasn’t budging so I couldn’t push it any further. I was the last case of the adoptions. They cattle hurdled people in and out so fast, I think because they were running so late. The secretary would hurriedly open the door, call out loudly a name and those people would run inside. Literally only 45 seconds would pass and out they would come again…with such relief written all over their faces, and tears in their eyes. Each time the door opened I caught a glimpse of the head judge, and I prayed for her and over her. That she would be compassionate for my case, that she would grant our request concerning the birth mom’s 14 business days, that God would hold her heart in His hands… My boss went in just before me and it was such a joy to be standing outside of that door when her and her family came out. They were overcome with emotion that their daughter was now confirmed on paper, as much as she already was in their hearts. Then, my turn.
The waiting room was empty by now, seeing as how I was the last. My name was called and I walked in. Many people were there, court officials of some sort I’m guessing, but I didn’t recognize many of them. Many more than were at the first court hearing back in May. My lawyer, and the lawyer from Child Protection presented my case and immediately the judge starts making a fuss about my file. Not everything was there – or the order wasn’t correct – or it didn’t look like the others. I had trouble making out her grumblings and my lawyer, as were the others in the room (including the secretary) were trying to explain to her that the way my file looked was exactly the way it was supposed to look. I, on the other hand, started hyperventilating/praying. You know, the usual. 🙂
My lawyer presented the case, including what Caleb’s name should be changed to. That part was a little funny because he couldn’t pronounce “Douglas.” Made me smile a bit. The judge asked the Child Protection lawyer if they had any concerns about this adoption being finalized, or if they wanted to bring anything up against my case. “No,” she said.
Then the judge turned to me. “Are you in agreement with all of this, ma’am?”
The tears flooded out of my eyes, the joy spread all across my face and I just about yelled “DA!” Only, I quickly remembered I was in court and I couldn’t yell so I brought it down to an enthusiastic “DA” instead 🙂 And, the tears didn’t stop…the judge said something about it being over and my lawyer, catching my emotional breakdown, told me to wait for him in the hallway.
My boss was out there with her family, they needed to speak with the lawyer, too, and we celebrated together for a few moments while waiting for him. Meanwhile a security guard came up to us asking us why we were just “walking around” and that it wasn’t allowed. We were to leave. Yikes! We headed to the public corridor. The lawyer met us there, spoke some with my boss and then turned to me. He said “the judge wants to speak with you.” What? With me?
A young woman approached me just then, she was in the court room but wasn’t the presiding judge over the case, and says (in English);
I want to talk with you.
With me? How may I help you?
I have lived in United States. In Seattle. In Texas. In Arizona. Very hot in Arizona.
Yes, yes, I know it is very hot there. I have heard, though, that Seattle is very beautiful.
Yes, it is. Now, tell me, where are you from in United States?
Oh Michigan, yes yes. Now how long have you lived here?
Wow, seven years.
….. and after a few more comments, which I can’t remember, she ends with:
Good luck with the kid.
Immediately after she leaves my lawyer comes to my side and anxiously asks “What did she want with you? What did she need to speak with you about?”
I asked him, “Who was she?”
He replies back, “She was the judge. And, I spoke with her and she said that she is willing to sign to have the birth mom’s 14 days revoked. Only thing is that we need to move fast because she goes on vacation next Thursday. We have to get the final papers, and get her to sign them by next Thursday.”
I say “What?? Are you serious?? She only wanted to tell me that she had lived in the States before, that’s it.”
I didn’t realize there were 2 judges in the court room that day. Crazy, this woman felt a connection to me because she had lived in the States. Therefore she agreed to the 14 business days being revoked. It was so God planned and led…
A few seconds later I was able to run out of the court room in search of Caleb. My fellow Mama friends had come to wait with him, so that he could be around his friends for this very special day. I ran outside and…couldn’t find him. He was hiding from me. Once I found him he tried his best to run away from me. Finally I was able to grab him in a hug, kiss him and tell him the good news. Then he immediately ran away again. It was a little sad for this Mama to see that he didn’t really want to be around me for such a big moment. But, I think it was more that there were so many people there that he was really embarrassed. As we went through the rest of the day you could see the joy on his face…every single person he recognized he ran up to them and said “MY ADOPTION IS DONE!!” Then, when putting him to bed later that night, he thanked Jesus for giving him a Mom, for his adoption being done and that he was so thankful for all of this. (No prompting on my part…)
It was wonderful having my other Mama friends show up for the big day…one has already finished her process, another is halfway and two will be beginning theirs soon. These few truly understand how it is to be led to a child and become their Mom years before a paper states the status. I am so thankful that they were there to support us!
Caleb’s choice…McDonald’s for lunch to celebrate then off to see Cars 2 (which he didn’t like b/c it scared him so much.) 🙂
It was amazing – wonderful to know that he is legally mine for the first time in 7 years. But, because I knew we had to move fast to catch the judge before she went on vacation, I think I still wasn’t able to breathe fully yet.
Although, for the first time since I can remember, I slept the whole night through for 2 nights. Both Wednesday and Thursday nights. That is huge!
Part 2 tomorrow….
Photos from Wednesday…. running after Caleb, grabbing him in a hug finally, calling my parents and them sending me to voicemail – ha ha!, finally Caleb Douglas Winters.