This morning in my prayer journal I wrote the following, "Today is court. I confess my stomach is in knots. Heavenly Father, speak peace to my innermost being. Grant us grace and favor for Your Name's sake. O Lord, I pray that this day would be our 'Gotcha Day'".
How precious it was checking email, before heading out this morning, to find several messages from the blog and Facebook from dear friends lifting us up in prayer. What joy it brought to my heart. Thank you for your faithfulness and encouragement!
We left our flat at 8:00 AM to go pick up the kids at the orphanage for court. We were both wondering how it was going to go with 4 kids in court with us, but they were very well behaved. We did have a 'moment' prior to our hearing when I took the three girls to the, as they say over here, toilet (too ah let). All three had to 'leave a present" (if you will) and almost raised a commotion in the building while doing so. However, when the mission was accomplished and we filed into the courtroom each quietly took their seats. Even though my mind was at peace, my stomach began to twist in anticipation. Then the judge, along with two jurors, entered the room.
The proceedings began... Formalities were given... Then the judge said he would like to begin with me. (Mind you, all of this was in Ukrainian and then translated by our interpreter, Sasha). The judge asked me to tell some 'stuff' about myself. Isn't that supposed to be the easiest question? Anyone can talk about themselves, right? (ha ha) Well, I basically ended up saying something to the effect of, "My name is Kimberly Merida. I have been married to Tony for just over 5 years now. I come from a family of four children myself. We've not been able to have children and have a heart for adoption because we believe children are valuable. I would love to be a mother and would like for the court to grant us favor in becoming parents to these four." And then I was completely at a loss for words... "I don't know what else to say?!." The judge smiled graciously, noting aloud that our petition stated that I am a housewife. Then he asked, "Do you know how your peaceful life is about to change?" (We all laughed at this reality) I replied, "Yes. This will become my full-time job and more. I'm grateful for having a wonderful support system in place: my family, our church and my wonderful husband." The prosecutor (a younger woman) asked me a question somewhere in there about being a mother. All were pleased and had no further questions. Then it was Tony's turn...
To be honest, I don't remember much of anything the judge asked Tony or what Tony stated to the court. All I could focus on was not becoming a crying mess. The awesomeness of the moment was nearly too much to bear. Just 16 days ago we were preparing for a college event in Mississippi when "the phone call" came telling us we had 4 days to get to Ukraine. Five days from the news we were presented with a file with pictures of four orphans who had just become available for adoption. Two days after that we met them for the first time. A little over a week later, here we were asking the court to grant us favor to bring our children home.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Praise the Lord! Is this what I would have mapped out for my life nine and a half years ago when the first of these was born? I don't think so. But now, I cannot imagine a greater blessing than the honor of raising these four children. Our children. My children. His ways are higher than our ways! His thoughts, grander than anything we could imagine.
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are..." (1 John 3:1a)
Trust in His Providential care. God is good. I am thankful that He gives us grace each day to walk in what He sets before us... 'cause I need it! (ha ha) Speaking of laughter... The judge, toward the end of our time together, asked each of the children what they wanted. The two oldest replied rather shyly, "I want to live in America with Momma and Papa." When the judge attempted to ask the younger two, they both just giggled. Then the judge asked the youngest, "Have you ever been anywhere outside of this town?" She replied, "I've been to the circus one time." We all nearly died laughing. It was precious. The judge and jurors left for about 10 minutes. Upon their return, the judge shared that it was the decision of the court to satisfy our petition to adopt in full... So meet our family...
Our Family with the Orphanage Director and Prosecutor, following the words spoken by the Judge, "This court rules in favor of satisfying your adoption petition in full."
The Merida Family...
James Arthur (9 years old)
Angela Grace (7 years old)
Jana Sophia (6 years old)
Victoria Joy (4 years old)
We now have to wait 10 days before we can receive the formal court decree. At that point, we will then have to travel approximately 700 km from here to their birthplace to pick up their birth certificates. Next, we will wait in region (Zaporizhia - approx. 6 hours SE of Kiev) to complete the passports for a couple days. Finally, we will all travel up to Kiev for medical evaluations and American Embassy visit (which should take 2 days). We are hopeful to be home the weekend of May 16th. Meanwhile, we will celebrate with our kids tomorrow and then head on to Kiev for the weekend. We plan to meet up with our friends, the Ragains, for a little survival shopping for the children. Also, we have the blessing of taking part in a worship service on Sunday with our friend and Lifeline facilitator, Ben. That is the nutshell of "all things Ukraine" for us. :) We love you and thank you for your continued prayers!