Vladivostok 2/11/2010 6:23am
Today is the big day! I can't believe it's finally here. I couldn't sleep at all last night. I feel like a kid that is about to go to Disney for the first time. This is just so exciting. But I'm also very nervous too! Who knows what type of questions the judge will ask us today. I'm saying my prayers now that everything goes well and we get to go get our little boy today.
New Orleans 2/11/2010 12:21am
Vladivostok 2/11/2010 4:21pm
Today at 10:00am (or about 6:00pm New Orleans Time on 2/10/2010), Jace and I became parents! They approved our petition to adopt Bogdan.
Our last picture as a family of just two.
A lot changed today for all three of us. We all got new names. I'm reminded of the stories in the Bible where God changed the names of people to make them represent something (Abram to Abraham, Saria to Sarah, Saul to Paul). I feel like God has done the same for all three of us.
From this day on, Jace and I will be known as "Dad" and "Mom" to the most wonderful little boy on the planet. And that little boy, his new name is Cohen Bogdan Raney.
Court was interesting. They started by asking easy questions, like "what is your full name." Don't worry, we got that one right. Then they asked Jace questions about why we wanted to adopt, why we chose Russia, etc. Then they asked him about our adoption education, and how many hours we had taken. Jace proceeded to tell them about the 10 hours of online classes we took and explained that our social worker also sat with us a couple of times to go over adoption related issues. He talked about the attachment process and how the baby would take to his new life. He did great! Jace handles himself really well under pressure and he's an excellent speaker. I knew he would do great.
Then they asked Jace if Bogdan remembered us (um…do you remember how much he screamed at us the last few days?). Jace was honest and he told the judge that Bogdan did not remember us, but he did remember the cookies we brought for him. When Jace made the comment about the cookies, the prosecutor laughed out loud. Then they asked Jace about Bogdan's likes and dislikes. Jace was great! He named off every toy we played with and explained why Bogdan liked that toy.
Then it was my turn. Prior to our court date, we were told that Jace would get most of the difficult questions and I was good with that. Well they were wrong! The prosecutor grilled me! They asked me where we would register with the consulate and I totally didn't know the answer. I was frozen. I just knew that if I answered it wrong that they would throw me out, so I told the lady that my adoption agency handled all the paperwork. It was interesting.
After I totally messed up the very first question, the prosecutor continued on…she asked me about child abuse and how I felt about that. She went on to give detailed numbers on the adopted Russian children that were abused by their mothers. I was almost in tears. How could someone hurt a child like that? Why bother going through all this trouble to get a child, and then hurt him? I looked at the judge and I said "I wish that no harm ever come to this child." And that's the truth. I don't want anyone or anything to ever hurt my child.
As if that line of questioning wasn't bad enough, she went on to ask about my patience and what experience I had with children. They had asked earlier about the primary care of the child and I explained that I hoped to stay home with him. I guess she thought I was going to lose it one day. She asked what I would do if I ever got frustrated and couldn't handle the situation. What do you say? How do I know what I'm going to do when I've never had a child of my own…I've never stayed home for long periods of time a toddler. I just told her that if it ever got to a point that I couldn't' handle the situation, I would seek help, either from other moms or from my agency or the pediatrician. She seemed ok with my response. The only thing I could think was "Emily, don't you cry in court. Emily, don't you cry in court." I didn't want them to see me as weak.
They also asked me about our religion. See now this is a line of questioning that I would have asked the father…but noooo, they asked me. They asked what religion we were, I said "Christian." Then they wanted to know what type of church we attended. I said "Baptist." Then they asked what religion I would raise my child to be. I explained that he would attend church with us as a family, but in the end it is his decision. I can't force him to believe something. (But my prayer is and will always be that Cohen has a personal relationship with Christ, no matter what church he's attending).
In the end, they approved our adoption.
After we left the court building, we went to the market to get cakes for the social worker and the care takers at the hospital where Cohen was staying. It felt like an eternity. I had just been told that I could take our son home with us, and now I have to run all over town buying cakes!?
When we got to the orphanage, I couldn't wait to hold my son! It was the best feeling ever. I remember fumbling around trying to get the camera so that we could get a picture of the hand-off. I wanted to document every moment, because I know he won't remember.
The official hand-off picture (of course he's screaming!)
They had just finished feeding the children, so we had to wait 30 minutes before we could ride in the car (I know it seems like a strange thing to do, but remember, these kids have never been in a car, so let's not upset their fragile system, please). He cried the entire time we dressed him. We waved goodbye to the care takers, put on Cohen's snow suit, and headed back to the hotel, with our son!
The car ride back to the hotel was peaceful. We were with the other American couple (who had just picked up their daughter). Both kids did great in the car. Cohen sat on Jace's lap and was finally quiet!
Once we stepped foot in our hotel room, took off the snow suit and sat Cohen on the floor with all the toys we brought, he was a totally different kid. Jace and I kept asking if this is the same kid from earlier that day. He started laughing and making funny faces right away. We had not ever seen this side of him. He was also making grunts and sounds that he never made in our presence before. He was running everywhere!
We are also in the process of teaching Cohen to drink from a sippy cup. I know, seems crazy to go backwards like this (he was drinking from a cup at the orphanage), but a real cup makes such a mess, and he can't do it on his own. I'm all about independence! He's figured out how to use the cup with a straw, but the others are not going as well.
Jace fed him tonight. He did so good! Cohen held his own spoon and fed himself most of it. We are feeding him chunky baby food so we don't mess up his little tummy right now. I'd really rather be home before we need to visit a doctor.
After eating, he welcomed us to parenthood with a messy diaper (and shirt and pants for that matter). It was so bad, we had to give him a bath. I was concerned about bath time, because they say these kids aren't used to bath time being fun time. It's more like a chore for the workers, so they get it done as fast as they can. Our first bath experience with Cohen was not much fun. He didn't scream, but he did cry. Maybe tomorrow he will do better.