This is when our request to adopt our son will be heard by a judge in an Ethiopian court. No, we will not be present for the hearing. We will actually be asleep in our own beds when it happens, as Ethiopia is nine hours ahead of us. (Yeah right, like I will be able to sleep that night...) An individual from our adoption agency has power of attorney for us and will present our case to the judge.
Hopefully, we will receive a phone call early in the day on the 12th letting us know that we have passed and we are legally and officially the parents of our little guy.
Unfortunately, about 50% of families do not pass court the first time. This happens for a number of reasons:
- First of all the courts are in Africa. Things are a little more laid back there than they are in the U.S. Recently, several families didn't pass simply because the courts decided to have some meetings that day instead of hearing the adoption cases that were scheduled.
- Sometimes paperwork doesn't make it from one office to another. One missing document is all that it takes to not pass.
- A member of the child's birth family does not appear in court. If there are any living birth family members, they must travel to the capital, Addis Ababa, to testify before the judge that it is, indeed, their wish to release the child for adoption. This can be a very big deal, depending on where they are from. Our son is from the far southwest corner of Ethiopia, Bench Maji. I've learned that it takes about 24 hours of travel to reach Addis from that region. A family who is in a situation that requires giving up a child for adoption is most likely not in a good position to make a huge trip like that. Our adoption agency assists them in their travel, but still it can be a tremendous burden on the family.
If we do not pass court the first time around, we must wait for another court date a month or so later. Yuck. If we DO pass, we will travel to Ethiopia pick up our son approximately six weeks later.
Please, please pray for our court process:
- That God's hand will be over the whole process and his will be done in our son's life.
- That all the proper paperwork and officials show up at the right time.
- That Little Brother's mother will be able to make the trip to Addis Ababa to appear in court.
- That we are able to find out more information about his birth mom's life and situation. Someone from our agency will ask her a few questions for us while she is in court and record the answers. We really, really desire to meet her when we are in Ethiopia, but we do not know yet if she will be willing. If she is not, this will be our ONLY OPPORTUNITY to find our more information about our son's history.
My emotions have been at a low point since last week. Last Wednesday we received a monthly update from our adoption agency, complete with photos and info about his current size and health. I had been nothing but excited about getting all of this information and seeing more pictures. But my emotional reaction was not what I expected. I could see immediately in the photos that he is bigger, and he has grown two pounds in the month since we received our referral. The realization hit me hard that he is growing up without us. He was four months old when we received our referral and saw the first pictures of him. He is now five months old - he has lived 25% more life already. And meanwhile, he is still just sitting in the orphanage, and we are sitting here in Tennessee, waiting around for something to happen. There is absolutely nothing we can do to expedite the process (except for pray, of course). He hasn't known what it is like to have a mother since he was relinquished at 6 weeks old. Already he is 5 months and has lived two-third of his little life passed around in several orphanages. He needs a mommy. I have been feeling so lonely for him.
So once again, I ask you to pray that we pass court the first time. I want to go get my boy!