Drumroll, Please……..Introducing The Newest Member of Our Family
DASHA KATHRYN WERKMEISTER
...Okay, there was supposed to be a picture here, however the dial up connection is unable to download. I guess you'll have to wait until we return home on Tuesday. I promise we'll post a lot, we have some great pictures.
Sorry we haven’t written in a couple of days, but the last two days have been both very hard and very full. Of course, the most important part is our court hearing, so I will start there! We got up early today after a late dinner last night with our coordinators, Vera and Medet, at their wonderful house. At first we had wanted to just stay home, but we really had such a nice time at their house enjoying our last night with our new friends. This morning we were waiting outside the hotel bright and early. I think the three of us were just about as nervous as ever. Our coordinators picked us up and headed over to one of the government buildings by our hotel to pick us the head of the guardianship council to go to court with us. She was running late, and we waited in the car for a half hour, getting more and more nervous as we waited. The last thing we wanted was to show up late for court. We managed to get there on time, and went inside to wait in the lobby along with multiple other people waiting for other court appearances. This courthouse hears cases for all legal proceedings, so who knows what everyone was there for. We waited and waited in the lobby for the prosecutor to arrive, even though our court session was supposed to start at 10. Apparently, the young prosecutor was running late and received a little tongue lashing from the judge at the beginning of the court proceeding. This was good for us, because the role of the prosecutor in the adoption proceeding is to find ways to work against us adopting a child. He was definitely not going to open his mouth to object to anything, so our court hearing was quick and totally painless.
First, Jeff was asked to stand and address the court to tell why we were there and why we wanted to adopt Dasha. Jeff thanked the judge for giving us the opportunity to be there and to respectfully request the privilege of bringing Dasha home to our family. Vera translated for him and then kept saying, “Okay, what else?”, like Jeff was supposed to say more. I couldn’t think of anything else to say and I know he was sweating. I know he said some other things, but it was such a blur that I can’t even remember. Then they asked me to stand and address the judge. I thought Jeff had covered it, but apparently not. I told the court that we would like to adopt Dasha and that we could provide a stable, loving home for her. Then I was asked to sit down. After that, the social worker for the orphanage, who is an old Kazakh woman who always dresses traditionally with a scarf over her head, got up to talk. Her nickname at the Saramoldaev Detsky Dom (orphanage) is “Kerchief”. I don’t know what she said, since it was all in Russian, but the jist of it was that the orphanage was very much in favor of the Werkmeister family adopting Dasha, and that Dasha was happy to be adopted by us. The guardian council woman also got up and recited the findings from the guardian council hearing last week that had a favorable opinion of us, too. After that, there was a little banter back in forth, also in Russian, about the whereabouts of Dasha’s biological parents. The judge seemed satisfied with the responses and then he left the courtroom to consider his decision while we waited in the court. A few minutes later, he returned and said that he was giving a favorable finding to us and that after the 15 day waiting period, the paperwork would be done and she could come home. That was it. No fireworks, no hard questions that we had prepped for, not much of anything. Vera told us afterward that she had never seen a court hearing go so well. She had never had a family that didn’t have to answer any questions from the prosecutor or judge. Basically, it went as well as it possible could have! Yay!
Going back to the last couple of days, though, we have had such a bittersweet time. We have really gotten to know the other six adoptive families that are all here adopting from the Baby House. All of these families are made up of single women, to whom I give such credit. Having spent 4 years as a single mother myself, I really think these women are heroes of the bravest variety. I am sure that I would never have been brave enough to travel to a foreign country and live there for a month in order to complete an adoption. These women have become our family here in Kazakhstan, especially Marcia and her daughter Sara, and Sherrie from Canada. Each night at our hotel, there is a standing dinner time at 6:30 where we all meet and discuss our day to decompress. Over the past couple of weeks, as the other women have come into town, the word has gotten out that the Gasovik hotel restaurant is the place to be for dinner, and we sometimes have 9 or 10 people at the ever-expanding table. It has been kind of fun to become the “experts” at the table, able to help the others out when they first arrive and feel that nauseating-sick feeling of sleeplessness, jet lag, fear and the overwhelming smell of smoke that permeates the city. All of these families will forever be part of our family, as we (okay not Jeff) have cried with them, consoled them, strategized with them, and had fun with them.
Saturday night was our last “family” dinner here, so there was an exceptionally large group for dinner. Jacob and Sara had their wish come true, as after dinner we all went out to the Bounce House Party, which conveniently had added a new section of bounce house. The kids were so excited and had such a great time. We all needed to see them happy, because the day had been kind of hard. During our afternoon visit at the orphanage, we had decided to give our daughter the key to our house that we had mentioned before. I had tied a long purple ribbon around it so that she could wear it around her neck like a necklace. Vera explained to her what we were doing and what the key meant. She was very sad immediately, as she thought we were going home right then. Vera explained to her that we were not leaving that day, but she was still scared. I had brought a little necklace and earrings for her, since she had pierced ears but I had not seen earrings in them during our trip. I had asked her earlier if she had earrings, and she said that she did. I had also asked her if she wanted new earrings, and she had definitely said yes. When I went to put the earrings in her ears, though, the holes had closed up on the back, so they wouldn’t go in. We asked her how long it had been since she had worn earrings, and that is when her caregiver told us that when she had been returned by the Kazakh family last year, that the “mother” had returned to the orphanage a few weeks later and taken the earrings back. This made me both furious and sad at the same time. Seriously, what kind of people were this couple??? What good would a $5 pair of earrings do for this woman, and why would she want to continue causing pain to the sweet child like this? I will never know, but I thank God that He led us to this child, as she is definitely our daughter and was meant to be in our family.
Once we finished with the formalities of giving gifts to Dasha, our coordinator left and we got to go outside to play again. Dasha opened up again and her laugh came back as she and Jacob held hands and ran through the playground. It is really sweet to see the two of them becoming closer as siblings. I know that once she meets Amber and Mitchell, she is going to be just so thrilled. They will be such great older siblings for her! After our visit, we went to the store for a couple of items, and Jacob got yet another cheap Kazakhstan toy. I think we have mentioned before that the toys here are very cheap, but are also the worst-made toys you have ever seen. The little car that Jacob got came in its original packaging, so we thought that it might last a little longer than the other toys we have tried. As Jeff was opening the package for Jacob, I said to him, “Should we bet on the timeline for breakage for this toy?” I told Jeff that I gave this toy around 4 minutes before it broke. Well, as it came out of the package, it broke immediately. We have come to the conclusion that the toys here are toys that were rejected by the Western countries for shipment there, and they just come here instead. Kind of sad!
Yesterday was a very hard visit. We knew that it was going to be our last visit with Dasha before we left the country. Vera explained to her again that we were leaving, but that she would be coming home to us soon. After everything that she has been through, she has every right to be suspicious that this will actually happen. She pretty much shut down as we were saying good-bye, and we kissed her and hugged her, and promised her that we are her mama and papa forever, saying, “Ya tvoy mama, vseech da” and “Ya tvoy papa, vseech da” over and over again. When we left, I broke down completely and could not stop sobbing. I just hurt for her, since she is so scared that it is not really going to happen. We have been trying to console ourselves by saying that when she really does come home, she will be so happy and everything will be okay. She was still wearing our house key around her neck, and I have a feeling that it will not come off until she is home.
Now we are almost finished packing, and just waiting for our driver to take us the long trip to Almaty. We will leave at 2 pm our time, which is 1 am California time. We will drive for about 7 hours to Almaty and then have a few hours to kill in the airport before our 3 am flight to first Frankfurt, and then finally home to LAX. Amber and Mitchell – I can’t wait to see you!!!!! I love you so much and will be giving you the biggest hugs you have ever had!!!!!