Tuesday, February 4, 2014

She is ours!

I will begin by saying how absolutely unbelievable the support has been this week for us. Ronnie and I counted up people across about 14 different states and 5 countries were praying. People were praying in English, in German, in Russian, and in Ukrainian. Some people posted on facebook that they prayed before they went to bed.... Others said God woke them up at 3:15, 3:45, 4:03 and they spent time praying. Others set alarm clocks, and either got on their knees in their own bedrooms or they got up and drove to church to pray together for us. 

You have no idea how humbling that is until you live it. The prayers of the body of Christ is an amazing thing to experience. Thank you. 

So, here is the story.

When we had been in court on Friday, the judge had been very cold. She did not make eye contact and was not swayed by our attempts to move court along for emotional reasons. We expected the same thing when we arrived Monday. 

We were up at 8am. Well. Ronnie and I were.... We had to wake the princess up at 10. Teen girls are the same everywhere, right? 

Showered, clothed and ready to go. Elianna asked me if she could paint her face a little like mine. I love translation talk. I helped her with a little makeup. 

Our missionary family prayed with us before we left and then drove us to the bus stop to save us the 1/4 mile walk to the bus stop. This helps so much! They have been beyond helpful and supportive in this entire thing. I simply cannot imagine going through this without their love, support and friendship. We have only known them for two and a half months and yet it feels as if we have been friends for a lifetime! 

We got off the bus and started to walk to the court house. On Friday's trip, I remember Elianna playfully holding my hand for the entire walk. Monday, she simply put her arm around me, I held her close, we walked the 1/2 mile walk in the snow without talking.... I was praying.... I think she was too. 

We got to the court at 11:30 and waited downstairs in the hot pink courthouse for the participants to arrive, our facilitator was already there when we arrived. 11:45 the worker from the orphanage arrived. 11:49 the social worker from the region. We did not know what the prosecutor looked like.... I didn't know if it was a man or woman. 

We went ahead to the corridor outside the judge's chambers. Elianna, who on Friday had been so playful and funny during the wait, was more subdued this time. She was sitting at a table and kept trying to make jokes (which seems to be her way of dealing with stress).... But she wasn't laughing at her jokes. Ronnie and I were standing. Well, I was pacing. 5 steps one way, turn, 5 steps back. There are about 6 doors on this corridor and People are constantly in and out of the different rooms. I think one is the actual court room and the others are all judges chambers. Every door that opened made my heart jump. 12:00, 12:05, 12:10. Our judge's door still shut.12:20, 12:30 we find out that they are waiting on the prosecutor. Well, I guess that means he/she is coming.... Good news? Ok. Praying, waiting, I update Facebook....... Waiting on the prosecutor. I can't even remember if I got that message posted when the door opened, the judge's assistant walked out and called our name. Here we go.

Once inside, it is a bit blurry in my head. It seemed like There were a lot of people in her office. She sat behind her desk, there are three assistants at a table to the right, the prosecutor was closest to the desk, then me, our facilitator, Elianna, the social worker, the orphanage worker, and Ronnie..... All sitting in line against the wall. 

The judge called to order, stated the case. The case was translated..... 
You want to change her name and make it so that you are the mother of Lena? 

You want to change her name and make it so that you are the father of Lena? 

You want to change your name to Elianna?

To Ronnie...... Why do you want to adopt this child? 

I wish I could have recorded his answer. Ronnie has always had a way with words. He speak in public very well.... Especially when it comes to the gospel. The gospel? Yes. That is the ground for his answer the judge. He talked first about how we met her, how we love her, how our other two love her..... And then he broke into an extremely clear presentation of the gospel to the judge. She nodded a couple times before the translation even happened. We are sure she understands more English than she lets on. He talked about James 1:27.... He talked about our adoption as sons and daughters into the family of God. He talked about Jesus' earthly father being an adoptive father..... He described the death, burial and resurrection. He made Jesus known in the courtroom. He then humbly asked for the judge to grant our request and bless us with this precious orphan and handed our photo book to the judge.

I had made a shutterfly book showing our home, our family, our neighborhood, church, schools and time spent with Lena before we left the states. Apparently the judge liked this. 

The judge then asked me the same question. I really have no idea what I said. I could not think of anything to add to his answer. I said I agreed with him.... We love her... She loves us... I was stumbling with words. I fully had my answer prepared before I walked in... But now I was getting emotional! 

It didn't matter, the judge wasn't listening to me, she was too busy showing photos to the prosecutor. They apparently thought Lydia was adorable and really like the picture of Josiah playing his little guitar. She was smiling. Yep, smiling, as she flipped through the book..... 

She closed the book and looked at Lena..... Do you want to be adopted by this family?



Her answer was awesome. At least it was to me. She described how we met, how she was asked by her director when she got back if there was one family she connected with and we were the only family she could really think of that she would want to live with.... and how the next day, someone came and asked her if she wanted to be adopted by us. She said she was so happy to say yes! 

The judge asked her how long she had been at her orphanage. She answered.

She asked her if she knew how she got there. The answer, not meant to be public information, broke my heart. She knows. I am not sure what would be harder.... Growing up and not knowing how you ended up in an orphanage..... Or actually knowing how you got there and who brought you there.... 

The judge asked her a few more questions about how she would live with us. If she would be a good girl. If she would love her new brother and sister. 

The judge asked the prosecutor if she had any questions, and she had none. She was still looking at the picture book. She asked the orphanage worker if she had other questions, she had none, she was smiling. She asked the social worker if she had questions. She had none.

She asked me and Ronnie if we still wanted to change her name to our name and be her parents after what she had just told us...... I wanted to scream...yes! Even MORE because of what she just told us. But, I politely said "yes."

We all walked out of the room to wait for the decision. 

Elianna was jumping off the walls. We had to calm her down several times during the waiting time. She was happy. But we wanted to hear the decision before we celebrated. It wasn't long until we were called back in. We stood. The judge read the courts decision. 

Julia will be the mother
Ronnie will be the father
Her name will be changed
Her birthdate will stay the same.
You can pick up the official document on 2/14. Valentines day. Awesome! 

We came out celebrating, it was hard to get her to be still for a photo! She asked to go eat..... And then to go shopping.... Of course, we went! 

We love his child so much and simply cannot imagine our family without her anymore. She is our daughter. 

For the next portion, I will have to wait until 2/14 to get the court decree and then I will go to start the final paper chase here in Ukraine, there will be more in the states.... But, well, I'm just ready to go home. She will get a Ukrainian passport here wih a Us visa.... But will gain citizenship as soon as she crosses through customs in the US. 

I have already emailed the embassy to start setting up appointments! :) praise Jesus..... There is one less orphan today than yesterday! 


  1. Happy Valentines Day to your whole family! May God bless you and your precious new daughter!

  2. Julia and Ronnie what an amazing Valentine's Day you will have! We are all so happy for your family. I bet Mama is smiling down and saying how proud she is of you both. You know how she tended to adopt everyone into her life so I'm sure she is so proud to have known you both!

  3. How amazing! Congrats on your growing family.

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  5. Congratulations! I'm so happy for you! I know our lawyer once said "They don't let you get this far unless they mean for you to have the child." but, it definitely doesn't feel that way. The photo book was a lovely idea. I think that the judges and prosecutors can no more imagine what the children's life will be like than we could imagine what it would be like to live with one of them!

  6. Your writing has stirred up so many wonderful & scary memories for me of my 2 trips to bring home our babies who are now teens. Many blessings on you and your family for bringing this precious one into your home!