Sunday, September 7th
We met the other WPA parents and their children for a fun day at Gorky Park. Gorky Park is a beautiful park with many American type amusement rides for children. The rides are the type found at local carnivals and fairs not the high tech theme park type. The rides are nestled among wonderfully landscaped trees, bushes, and other greenery making the experience quite enjoyable. The Go-carts are really fun ! There is a genuine old fashioned horse and buggy ride which looked great although we didnít try it. The horses trotted quite fast. Pony rides, a train ride where you are held up by Kazakh Indians (demanding anything from potato chips to leftover change) and a water park add to Gorky Parkís undeniable charm. We had a fun day. The children of the families who were already taken out of the Babyhouse are doing fantastically. They have adjusted beautifully and look thrilled to be with their forever families. We canít wait for Dana to be all ours and we plan to take her to Gorky Park to celebrate. The beautiful greenery will make for a great stroller ride! We are going to bed early tonight because tomorrow is our big court day. It is required in Kazakhstan that you must go to a court hearing in order to be granted the right to adopt your child.

Monday, September 8th
Hereís the best news first - weíve completed our court hearing and the judge granted us custody of Dana after a 15 day waiting period - YEA!! The waiting period is in case anyone wants to appeal the case. We will be flying home during the waiting period and when we return to Kazakhstan, Dana will be ours. Yippee!!!!!!!!

The court hearing was very stressful. The hearing was held in the judges office. We had a prepared speech that was heartfelt and beautifully written and the judge made it clear that he had no interest in hearing it. He was a no nonsense judge who asked many questions and wanted to make certain that our adoption procedure was followed exactly as it was supposed to be according to Kazakhstan law. Our facilitator had prepared us to answer most of the questions that he asked but a few really stumped us. The first question that the judge asked was where we lived in Almaty. We stood there dumbfounded because although we were quite comfortable walking to local restaurants and finding our way back to the apartment, we had no idea what the name of our street was because we couldnít understand the street signs as they are all written in the Russian alphabet. The next moment that really stressed us out was when the judge demanded to know from Dan where all of the original documents concerning the baby were (like her  birth certificate). We had no idea since our facilitator handled the documents. She whispered to Dan to tell the judge that the documents were in the Babyhouse. The rest of the hearing was o.k. as we were asked about our home, our ability to support the child financially, our ability to provide good medical care for the child and to describe how the child was bonding to us. The Babyhouse Director then gave a speech about the history of how Dana came to be at the Babyhouse and also about her current health.  She was also asked her opinion about how Dana was bonding to us. Lastly, a  member from the Kazakhstan Department of Education told the judge that we had completed all of the necessary adoption paperwork according to Kazakhstan law, gave the judge some information about our health and finances and recommended that we be allowed to adopt Dana. The prosecutor spoke and said that he finds no reason why we should not be allowed to complete our adoption. The court was adjourned and we were asked to step outside.

Fifteen minutes later, we returned to the judges chamber for his verdict. The judge announced that we had satisfied the adoption requirements and after a fifteen day waiting period (in case someone wants to appeal the case), we will be allowed to take custody of Dana. Wow!!!!! We were so excited to hear these words. We shook the judges hand and he smiled at us - up to that point he had appeared very stern! All in all, the court was a trying experience but we feel that the judge was just doing his job in making sure that all adoptions go according to Kazakhstan law. This is probably a good thing since so many countries that do international adoptions end up with temporary suspensions or worse yet, complete shut downs due to adoptions not being on the up and up. Kazakhstan really cares about their children and wants to make certain that the adoption agencies are finding orphaned children the best homes possible.