March 2nd - Day 20: Court - It's official!  We are Emil's forever family!

The day began with Dave putting the finishing touches on his speech before the judge.  I was glad Dave was in charge of the speech ... we were told that the judges like people to be brief and to the point and Dave is much better at that than I am!  We got all dressed up and spiffy-looking and Igor picked us up to go to the judge's office.  It's so nice to be in the helpful, knowing, capable hands of WPA's partners over here.  As were entering the building, the guard exchanged some words with Igor and didn't seem to want to let us in.  He started to make a phone call and then Igor said something that somehow convinced him that he should let us through.  Thanks, Igor!  Upstairs, we waited in the reception area with the baby house director and had an opportunity to show her the pictures of where we live and of our extended family.  (As much as she is probably grateful for Emil's future, I imagine that some part of her must be sad that he will be so far away.)  Within a few minutes, the Andrews came out of the judges chambers all smiling and weeping!  It brings tears to my eyes even as a write this to have had the honor to see them be approved to be Alexander Artur's parents.  This is such a huge dream come true for them and he is a very, very lucky boy!  We didn't have a chance but to exchange a few quick hugs and congrats/good luck before we were led into the room.  We took our seats and the proceedings began right away.  Everything went just as Olga had said, Dave did a fantastic job with his speech, and I mustered a few words through tears as well.  The 

prosecutor voiced her approval of the adoption but not of immediate

execution.  The judge had the final say, however, and he said "yes" to            Emil Paul Sander with his Daddy and Mommy


such a flood of emotion ... relief, gratitude, joy and excitement!  We quickly thanked the judge and practically ran out of the room, sobbing tears of joy!  We had a brief opportunity to get a picture and give Olga, Masha, and the baby house director hugs in the reception area and then went home to share the great news with Uncle Robin and Big Sister Sierra before going to the Records Department to pick up Emil's new birth certificate with our names listed as his parents.  From there, we went to the baby house to visit OUR SON!  The picture, I think, says everything about what that moment was like and Masha did a great job capturing it!  It was like Emil knew he now had a family!  He was just giggling with glee as soon as he saw us, like he never had before.  While she had no logical explanation for it, Masha said that that happens a lot with families and their babies after court.  As she said, "It's like they know!"

Officially, we could have picked Emil up from the baby house today.  I never imagined that I wouldn't want to do that, but after hearing the opinion of the baby house director and local facilitator, we decided to wait until we're on the way to the airport on Friday.  They recommend waiting so that the babies have one less transition to go through.  That makes a lot of sense to us although it feels a little weird, especially since court ended up being today instead of tomorrow and we're not leaving for Almaty until Friday.  We'll get to visit Emil tomorrow morning as usual and then again in the afternoon when we will have an opportunity to say goodbye to the baby house staff and thank them all.  Then, Friday morning we'll pick Emil up on the way to the airport!  We can hardly believe it!

After the afternoon visit, Dave, Sierra, and I went back to the Museum of History (Dave had missed it the other day).  I was glad that I could point some things out to him that I had learned about and to be able to take some pictures.

We took Olga, Igor, Masha and Aliya out to dinner to the Camelot to thank them for everything they've done for us these last two and a half weeks.  (Phillipich, the other driver and Igor's father, couldn't make it.)  It was a great meal and a nice opportunity to just hang with them and talk.  They are such incredibly special people and we are all starting to get emotional about parting in a couple of days.  We will miss them all very much.    


                            In front of court house                                                        Happiness, tears, and relief!


                Holding Emil's new birth certificate                                                Comfy transport for a toddler


Children's Hospital #2 - Where Emil was taken after                                          Close up of hospital

    he was born for tests and initial vaccinations


Dave and Sierra in front of Museum of History                         Dave looking at map of the Silk Road


                                                             Kaz clothes                                                                    Man playing dunbar (sp?)


                                                                                                                                   Everyday clothing


                            Yurt used by nomads                                Igor's grandfather (upper left); Manchuk (lower left)


                                                                Antique Kazakh jewelry


                            Emblem of Kazakhstan                                  "Paka Paka" to our Uralsk angels - Igor, Olga, Masha, Aliya