This morning we woke early and learned the confirmation that our nurse would not be able to travel to help bring the kids home. While we don't have the answer just yet, we have no question in our mind that whatever ends up happening, the kids will be cared for and it will be good. So we made the two hour drive to court all the while reading the Bible - eating it quite literally. The Words of His sovereignty, His perfect plans, His power, His justice made us even wince as we thought of life before Him when we lived in our own ideas. So our first praise was just to thank Him for saving us from ourselves! What a good and faithful God we serve.
Court was super official- the most official we've ever had. Two officials from each district, the judge, prosecutor, secretary and two locals to ask questions if they wished. I try to be official. I mean I want to be honoring and respectful. It truly is my goal but I often begin hugging or smiling or crying or....... So I just prayed and asked God not to let me do anything in my ignorance and to only let Him speak through me and Randy. As I sat there looking at the Ukraine emblem over the bench, I made it to be the Cross and I reminded myself of who rules the court.
One minute in, George's musical ring tone LOUDLY goes off while he is at the microphone and session had started. I didn't want to start digging through his things and it was quite obviously a distraction so I did what I thought best and took my coat off and threw it over his stuff then quickly grabbed Randy's coat from him and threw it over mine... Layers, you know, help. Hello! That thing kept singing forever. I think I already had them giggling by that point watching me try to stop that thing. Official Ukraine court - not so many smiles run around there.
(On a side note- I think I am learning I will never get to be one of those really put together looking ladies. Or if I am I have to hold some sort of Lucille Ball air sort of class. Are any of you mom's like that? It would really make me feel better if you would come out of the closet and join me. Thanks.)
So with that, I was SO thankful they called on Randy first. And he got the first "Why do you want to adopt invalids?" He expressed seeing all of his children as gifts and being able to watch Maxim transform in the last two years made him excited to see what is in store for Cephas and Lucia. He told the judge that he just couldn't wait to get them home and to begin caring for them as they need. He was bold and gentle at the same time.
When they called me to stand up and speak I was asked similarly. I tried to talk but that huge thing that shows up in the back of your throat came first. LONG pause....and as I am praying for His word to come out, I say "I'm really trying not to cry." (Awesome Tina!) And so fighting through tears I explained to him that it's really amazing to hear about gifted children and how they succeed with high grades, go to college and maybe even become a judge. But - we also think its pretty amazing when children who were born without those abilities and were not given any chances to learn and grow, suddenly begin to see themselves in family and able to try new things, and see themselves as successful. I told him, "I will be honored to call Cephas and Lucia mom."
The representative of the prosecutors office asked one question but for the most part it was the judge who had about 50. The funniest question was, "What does 3 1/2 bathrooms mean? How do you have half a bathroom?" The whole place laughed out loud and for the next several minutes his secretary couldn't pull it together. That just hit her funny bone. Guess its a goofy American thing.
"Well it seems that caring for these children takes great work Tina. Isn't it so, that for a woman this is quite a lot?" I thought for a moment, looked at him and just said, "Yes." I wasn't going to get focused on the whole woman part. I got raised eyebrows with my short answer. I think he expected me to lay out the list of how incredible I am. He smiled though. I think he might have found that answer refreshing. It was he who quickly followed up with, "Surely your husband helps with the children some?" And to this, I gushed over how amazing my husband is and told him what an amazing baker he is too. "Even knows how to correctly fold fitted bed sheets!" No joke, I said that. It's on audio filed with officials in Ukraine. (So for those waiting for the amazing speech of the century, might want to pass on this one.)
But what amazed us was what happened when the representatives of the districts and orphanages stood up to speak. Each of them shared stories and personal perspectives that brought tears not only to us but to the secretary and witnesses and soft eyes from the judge. One of the inspectors fears when we showed up was that we wouldn't know all that was wrong with Lucia but then we came armed with questions more than they even imagined we could know to ask. They were so surprised that we would know so many problems, be planning for them, and STILL wanted to do this.
The orphanage representative shared about how she went to Lucia before our arrival and to explain that some guests were coming shortly to see her about the possibility of adopting her. She became visibly upset and said no. The lady told her she didn't have to be adopted if she didn't want to but that when they rolled her in to see us and she saw, Lucia's face lit up immediately. Lucia explained to her that she thought "guests" meant strangers but that she knew we were her parents and she had been waiting for us to come a long time. She just didn't want anyone else to take her before we got there. Yeah, that pulled on some hearts BIG! So the judge said, "She understands?" "Oh yes she understands everything. I saw them meet. It was love right away between Tina and Lucia." He was very surprised that someone in her physical condition could express all of these thoughts and feelings. So she elaborated.... "And when I go to see her she has three dolls holding hands next to her bed and she named them, Mama Tina, Papa Randy and Lucia."
"She wants to be their daughter." HOLY SPIRIT CHILLS - Oh did I feel the power of God in those words.
And so when it came to Cephas the judge inquired about his medical condition and if it was true. "Yes. It's true." The judge was just amazed at how severe they were and that they were still expressing themselves. "Yes Cephas wants to go to America and he calls them Mama and Papa."
There wasn't anyone contesting but a true interest in trying to understand us. "Between you, who decided to start adopting children with special needs?" I couldn't help but giggle inside as I told the story of how we were told Grace was healthy and that when we met her we learned of her special needs. Grace started it all. God started it all.
It was a long day but a good day..... turned into a time of story telling, reflection, a TESTIMONY to the goodness of God. With all our flaws, all of our tears and blubbers and blunders....it was perfect because God is. Doesn't really matter if Randy and I shined today, God does. And what He just did today will never be forgotten.
We were able to run by to see Cephas to deliver the good news.... This is what he thought about it!
“I will remove from you
all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals,
which is a burden and reproach for you.
19 At that time I will deal
with all who oppressed you.
I will rescue the lame;
I will gather the exiles.
I will give them praise and honor
in every land where they have suffered shame.
20 At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes[e]
before your very eyes,”
says the Lord.