What can you say about going to court. Sometimes it’s exciting, sometimes it’s scary, sometimes you feel as though it’s a waste of your time. For us, I believe, it fell into the exciting and scary with anxiety sprinkled on top. Standing in front of judge is bad enough when you can understand what’s being said but now imagine it’s being spoken in Polish. Imagine, as you try to understand every word that’s being said and the only things you can make are Bill and Lori and your address. (Side note: the judge fumbling over our address is funny, because a lot of the time people in America can’t even say it right) Your Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur Conversational Polish can’t help you because the words are not even mentioned until you get to level five and volume 4 respectively. You are hanging on every word the court assigned interpreter says. These proceedings are very serious and all deal with the future of a adorable little girl.
Time to paint a picture:
As you stand in the center of the room, you are standing behind what looks like a prayer alter without the kneeling bench. Consider this where you will “take the stand.” In front of you are seated 4 individuals. Dead center is the Judge. On either side of him is two lay or lower judges with the 4th individual seated at the end of the table. She is the court reporter. To my left and right are tables perpendicular to the made judge table. (yes, that’s right I said perpendicular in a blog post – eh, engineer what can you do) The table to my left seats the prosecutor. She represents the Polish government in Elk that has the best interests of Victoria at the forefront. To my right at the other table is our lawyer representing us. That’s right she’s not sitting beside us at “our table.” This is how they do it. All lawyers and judges are wearing black robes with colors signifying their specific duty in this preceding. Green piping and a green ascot are worn by our lawyer and red by the prosecutor. It reminded me of some legal proceeding in England that I saw on TV. As you are still standing in the middle, behind you are 4 bench seats reminiscent of church pews.
Now court begins. Through the interpreter, the file of adoption for one Victoria P has been brought forth. The Moody’s have submitted the appropriate paperwork for petition to adopt Victoria. No new additions to the paperwork have to be made. (Everything is good to go) After those formalities are out of the way, the Judge asks for one to testify. Lori volunteers to go first. Questions from the judge included: Is your intent to adopt this child? Yes. Were you aware of her circumstances prior to your decision? Yes. What is your impression of the child? Tell me about her. The judge then turned it over to the prosecutor who had no questions. Our lawyer asked a few to help ram home our commitment to V: Aware of her health? Yes. How will you care for her when you return home? Do you have adequate insurance to cover her in addition to your existing children? Yes.
My turn: Judge asks if I complete agree with Lori’s testimony. I said yes, of course. He again asked the question what do you think about her. After a few more questions, he asked one final question of me. “It is my understanding that you will remind after your wife returns home to your boys. You will be here by yourself with her. Are you scared or worried?” My answer was truthful and with a bit of humor. I admitted that is was little scared or intimidated by this circumstance, but I then said that I am an engineer and I will adapt to the situation as needed. After a interpreter delay, a few chuckles were heard. Our lawyer asked a few questions and then offered an open ended question that allowed me to plead for as short an appeal period as possible. In so many words, I said that while I love Poland, I would like to be back home as soon as possible with all of us together as one big family. I believe that I was fairly eloquent. Remember, all questions and our answers have to be relayed through the interpreter: question-translate-answer-translate. Imagine all that floating around in your head.
The court then asked that the foster care family testify. The foster care mom was up first. Questions from the judge were quick and I only mainly heard her translated response. She said that she thought we were wonderful and that she felt that V would have a great family with all the love and care that she needs. Foster care dad almost seemed like a politician. Not all of what he said to us made it through translation, but it appeared very sincere. Lots of hand movements were his thing. He said that though he and his wife love V, they are much older and will not be able to give her the care that she will need that a loving family can give her.
Closing arguments included a final plea by our lawyer and the shortened time and V’s new full name on paper. We exited the room for a moment and then all returned. Court decision – she yours!!!! And the court will reduce the appeal time to the shortest amount possible. Tear, tear, sniff, sniff.
At the conclusion, we were handed a new adoption decree with the appeal ending in two weeks so that visa and passport paperwork can begin. Lots of hugs to the foster care family and some gifts to say thank you. It was a very Blessed Day. It couldn’t have happened any better than it did.
Rest assured, Lady V was under the loving care of our lawyer’s partner. He was wheeling her around the nearby park until we were finished. She slept through most of it… until he stopped moving the stroller.
One of the best days of my life.