Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our Court Date

Today was the day for us to go to court. This is the day we have been waiting for a long time. It is the date that we have waited for Dove to call us and say “We have your court date. You can go to Ethiopia!” We got up early, had our breakfast and waited for our driver to show up. We took the 15 minute ride to the court house and met up with another couple we had met as they were going to see their kids the other day. We chatted for quite a while and then we were finally ushered in to the building.

There were no words in English so we kind of checked out each floor and kept getting sent away to another floor. We finally found where “baby court” was and walked into a 30x20 room (roughly) and we sat down as more and more people made their way in. We didn’t see any of the other Dove families and wondered where they were. We sat and shared with Brad and Elisa and learned their stories and shared ours.

After about 25 minutes a flood of more people came into the room along with the rest of the Dove families. We were 5 families in all. There were easily 50-75 people in this small room, most of them standing as there were only chairs along the outside of the room. We met our lawyers’ assistant and waited. As we waited we shared and talked with the other families and some other couples who were at our same orphanage from Belgium. The room was filled with about half white people and the other half Ethiopian. These were birth parents who were coming to testify that they were legitimately giving up their rights to their children. What a dichotomous moment. Joy and sadness filled the room at the same time. Tears were welled in eyes all over the room. Some tear because they were making the final legal effort to say yes, they were giving up their rights and some tears because this was part of the legal process to gain custody. The air was thick. Not just of emotion, but it was warm with all the breathing in that little space.

There were signs all over to be silent in many different languages, but the volume kept rising. Nervous tension, I think. After about 45 minutes of waiting and conversation at a peak a woman came in and banged three times on the metal door as loud as she could and there was sudden silence in the room. Whoops.

Our lawyer showed up and said we would soon go in, but we would likely be near the end because there was a big group of us. We all chatted and wondered what the result of each person who came out of the judge’s chambers was. Did they pass court? Did their MOWA letter arrive in time? We studied their faces, but couldn’t tell. There weren’t smiles, nor were there tears. I asked one man what happened and he said they didn’t have their MOWA letter and they were asked about 5 questions that required a yes answer.

Suddenly we discovered that there was some paperwork missing. Not good. Then our lawyer said, “Who is Williams?” Gulp. “That’s us.” He told us that our paperwork was not there, but that his assistant was running back to get it. “No problem.” I did not stress about it, thankfully. Our lawyer went in to the chambers and then came out again, then finally our paperwork arrived. We went in with 2 other couples, while the other 2 couples with our agency waited their turn.

The room was about half the size we were just in and there were 2 tables in it. Behind one were two clerks who were going through paperwork and behind the other was the judge. We had heard about this woman. Everyone said she was very beautiful and soft spoken. Both were true. She asked us if we had met with our children 2 times and if we understood that this was a forever decision. She told us it was important for us to learn as much about Ethiopia and its culture that we could so we could pass on what we learn to our children. Then we were done.

Kynzi had made a beautiful and very colorful drawing that she handed the judge and her face moved from quizzical to delight when she unfolded it. She said thank you and we walked out. We did not pass...there was no letter from MOWA. Our lawyer told us he hoped 10-15 days. We are praying sooner.

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