Gotcha Day!

Today marks the 17th anniversary of the day we went before a stern lady judge in Russia and in half an hour became parents to a child we’d known for a grand total of about 3 hours.

As the Soviet government had broken apart, the huge communist bureaucracy had gotten smaller and smaller. The courthouse we walked into in Murmansk was essentially deserted. There were desks and chairs stacked in the halls. None of the offices were occupied. We waited for the couple we were traveling with to finish their time then it was our turn.

We walked into a back room that didn’t look anything like a courtroom: me, August’s dad, our translator, the representative from the adoption agency and a representative for August. The judge and a prosecutor were already there. They began by telling August’s story and I was amazed at how much I learned. He had a grandmother who refused to take him. He had a grandmother! He would be alone for days at a time or left with friends or neighbors. Stories that made my heart break.

The judge asked the rep for August and the adoption agency rep a few questions all in Russian which of course I didn’t understand. The translator gave us a brief rundown. Basically what had the communication been with the birth mom as far as her desire to keep him and care for him. She wasn’t interested.

Then the prosecutor got her turn with us. By the way, I was surprised at the number of females in positions of authority. I don’t know why but I expected Russia to be more sexist than it turned out to be. Glad to be wrong! The prosecutor asked about our willingness to bring August up with an understanding of Russian culture. We of course said we planned to do that and we did, though we didn’t yet know what that would look like. And it depended a lot on August wanting to which he did at first but had no interest in at all later on.

The only other issue that came up was that all court proceedings in Russia required a 10-day waiting period before they became effective. We desperately wanted that waived so that we could travel home with August rather than have to spend more time in a hotel. We wanted to get started being a family! That was the judge’s call but the prosecutor got a vote too. Luckily they were both in agreement.

Then the judge said a bunch of stuff I couldn’t understand but it all boiled down to my becoming August’s mother forever! It was the most amazing feeling. I was happy, scared, excited, overwhelmed, overjoyed. It may not be the traditional way to become a mother, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.

My only wish is that I could have been his mother from day one. Knowing what I know now being his mom from the beginning might have kept both of us from years of pain. Might have kept us from being apart today. Might have kept him from being where he is now. Might have changed the path he seems destined to travel.

There are no guarantees and I don’t blame anyone. I can only be grateful that I was given the privilege to be this sweet boy’s mom. The song below was a wonderful inspiration to me during the adoption process. It was sung at his baptism by my fabulous friend Susan Brehmer thanks to my amazing friend Dave Golden creating sheet music from listening to it because it was out of print. Listening to it today brings me right back to that day.

Wishing everyone peace with their families and knowing there is a place for you.

Wayne Watson – A Place For You