Thursday, February 7, 2008

Post the First - Court Day


Kara and I (Josh) have been wanting to get this blog up and running roughly since the day that we returned home from Ethiopia with our baby girl.

But, if there's one thing I've learned about doing anything when you have a child, it's this - you gotta just sit down one day and start it, or you never will.

This week seemed like a good time to start - Mihret turned 1 on January 28th, and on February 4th, we completed our in-country adoption (as seen above).

It was a good day, and in a lot of ways not unlike the day that we met Mihret.

On that day, it was somewhat cold and rainy.

On the day we completed her adoption, it was cold and snowy (and later, rainy).

We were supposed to be at the courthouse and in our courtroom at 11:00 AM. We had planned to leave the house around 10:20, just to make sure that we weren't late. We wanted to make a good, punctual impression on the judge.

But, of course, when you have a toddler with you, everything takes longer. So we got out the door at 10:30.

Then my car wouldn't start. For no reason. It was fine the night before, the gas tank was almost full, and while it was cold, it wasn't "car-won't-start-cold." Finally, after five or six or seven tries, it fired up and stayed running.

So we were running even more late.

Then, when we got to the courthouse, we were supposed to go through security. Only, of course, I had brought my keychain Swiss Army Knife with me, because I wasn't thinking. So I had to run back to the car and put the knife in my glove compartment.

Despite all this, we still got into the courtroom with about ten minutes to spare. We were promptly kicked back out for a divorce proceeding.

Then we went back into the courtroom, and sat and waited, and waited, and waited, for about ten minutes, for everyone to show up. It made me incredibly nervous, as I had this feeling we were in the wrong place, and I would have to reschedule, and I was totally running out of personal days at work.

And then the judge showed up.

The court proceedings were short and sweet and a little hilarious. The judge went through the papers submitted by ourselves and our local agency, noting that he couldn't read the untranslated parts of Mihret's Ethiopian birth certificate.

Kara and I were called up to the witness stand separately, and asked the same questions. We had brought the video camera with, but the questions and answers were pretty anti-climactic, after all the nervousness we felt about the process.

And I forgot to videotape, anyway.

Ultimately, the most memorable moments were when the judge asked, first:

"Do you feel you have bonded with this child?"

And, second:

"Do you feel that this child has bonded with you?"

I can't say that I know what Kara felt when she answered (she said, "Yes, your honor," to both questions, while I just said, "Yes.") but as I sat up there, watching my daughter and wife playing and waiting for daddy to get done answering the nice judge's questions, I could feel my heart swelling up and the tears starting to flow.

I was looking at my very own family - my wife and my little girl. I was only seconds away from getting to signature that said, "These three people will be as close as blood from this day forward."

I tried to hold the tears back, and sorta-kinda failed. The witness stand had a box of tissues on it, and I grabbed the last one and dabbed my eyes.

The judge asked, "Do you have anything more to add?"

In a way, I wanted to give a speech of some kind, talking about how happy I was. But my throat was closing off, the way it always does when I start to cry, so I said, "No."

The judge smiled. "I think you've probably given us the best answer you could give."

And then it was over. The judge signed the papers, the stenographer took pictures of both our family and our family with the judge, and after that it was legal fees and paperwork.

Then we headed off for lunch, which brought the second bit of symmetry to the first time we met Mihret.

On the day we met her, we arrived just as it was time to feed her. They handed Kara and I a bowl of porridge and asked if we wanted to feed our daughter.

At the time, it didn't really work out. Mihret wasn't much for solid foods, even mooshy ones, and the adult-sized spoon we were using was just a little to large for her to get a good scoop of it.

Kara and I ordered breakfast, even though it was noon, while Mihret, who had already had a long morning, napped in her car seat.

As we reached the end of our meal, Mihret woke up, looked around, and whimpered a bit. She was clearly hungry.

The day we met her, one of us held her, because she couldn't sit up yet, and the other tried to feed her. The spoon didn't fit right, and most of the porridge ran down her chin.
The day the adoption was finished, she sat in my lap, with no bib on (we forgot to bring one), while I adult-spoon-fed her oatmeal with brown sugar in it. She ate it like a little girl, without getting a single bit of it on her dress.

She also ate some American fries, with her eight teeth that she's grown since coming to live with us.

When we met her, she wouldn't even lower her legs in an attempt to hold herself up.
On our court day, she walked a few steps without help.

She's our little girl - Mihret Aida Mirjam Demesse Patterson - and she always will be, forever and ever.

-Josh

1 comment:

MrsMelvin said...

You suck. You made me cry. You...you...WRITER!