The next morning, after we had gotten dressed and had eaten breakfast of milk porridge and tea, we were so happy to finally see Cava. After he had given Benjamin a big hug, Benjamin couldn't wait and had to give Cava the Christmas gifts we had for him. As back story, we had a long search in Kiev for a toy store. We ended up finding one on Esplenada Street near Plats Sportu on the metro stop. That was one of the coldest days we were there and the wind was blowing the snow at an angle so it really hit our faces. Still, we were determined to get Cava a Mishka bear from "Masha and the Bear." The name of the toy store translated to Toy Store, not very original but we didn't care. Here's a photo of the one we found:
It was here that we found Cava a talking stuffed Mishka bear and a "Masha and the Bear" Christmas book. We were thrilled to find them. Here's a photo of it with the tiny Christmas tree we had with ornaments Benjamin had made at church:
Here is Benjamin giving Cava his Christmas gifts:
He had the biggest smile when he opened it. Of course, since the bear played a song and laughed, we had to make sure that Cava left it in the van and did not take it to court with him. He loved pushing the paw that made the bear sing and laugh. Boy, did he love pushing that button.
Once in the court room, we waited on a bench together for the judge to enter.
There was the judge, the jurors (one man and one woman), the social service worker, the lawyer from the boarding school, a prosecuting attorney, a stenographer, and our translator.
I was first to be called to the stand, which was a podium where we had to stand and address the judge when he or any one of the others there asked us questions.
Some of the questions I was asked was:
1. What is your name? I had to give it as last name, first name, and then middle name.
2. When were you born?
3. Where did you live?
4. Do you live in a house or an apartment? Do you own it? Describe the house.
5. Where do you work? How much do you make?
6. Why do you want to adopt?
7. Why do you want to adopt from Ukraine?
After the judge asked his questions, he then asked each of the other people in the court room if they had any questions for me. Once that was done, I was told to sit down and Danelle was asked to address the court. She was asked more questions than I was. As I sat on the bench, I noticed Cava was rocking back and forth a little, so I put my arm around him. He liked this, scooted up right next to me, and looked up at me with a smile on his face. After Danelle, our son Benjamin was asked to stand at the podium. One of the questions he got was, "You are an only child. Will you be jealous of having a new brother?" Benjamin replied, "No. I love Cava as my brother and I have always wanted a sibling." Finally Cava was called to the podium. Since he is so small, the judge couldn't see him behind the podium and asked him to come around and stand in front of the judge's bench.
The first thing Cava was asked was, "Do you want to be adopted by this family?" In his soft little voice, he replied, "Yes."
"Do you want them to be your Papa, Mama, and Brother?"
"Do you want to go to America?"
"Yes." (Before we had left to go to court, the lawyer from the boarding school had gone to get Cava. She asked him, "Cava, do you know where you are going today?" His reply, "To America." "No, not today, Cava," she told him. "Today you are going to court.").
The female juror asked him, "What do you expect America to be like?"
Being only 8, Cava didn't know how to answer this question.
When he sat down, he and Benjamin held hands.
Then the judge and jurors left the courtroom to make their decision.
While we waited, we asked Cava, through our translator, how he got his cut and scratches on his face. Cava said he didn't know. When she asked the lawyer from the boarding school, she told us, "He got into a fight with a bigger boy." We, of course, asked, why he got into the fight. She said that the bigger boy told Cava that we weren't coming back for him and we weren't going to adopt him. Cava wasn't having any of that and he beat the boy up.
When the judge and jurors finally came back into the courtroom, we were over the moon to have our petition granted to adopt Cava and to legally change his name to Alexander Cava Blackwell.
The judge and everyone in the courtroom congratulated us and wished us a "Happy New Year." Our translator congratulated and hugged us.
On the way back to the boarding school, Cava leaned forward from the very back seat of the van we were riding in and said, "Papa, telephone." "I don't have a telephone, Cava." But he repeated again, "Papa, telephone." It too me a minute to realize he was talking about my iPod. So I handed it back to him. He began to discover all that the iPod did: he played music, added numbers on the calculator, discovered the "Masha and the Bear" app, and took photos. Here is one he took of he and his brother:
The two of them are so happy together. One thing so many people had told us before we left was not to take Benjamin. They said bringing our son along would just add extra stress. We, however, wanted our son to meet his new sibling when we did and to see where his new sibling lived and what the culture and country was like. The two of them bonded immediately and, I think, Cava bonded more quickly with our family because of Benjamin. I am thankful that we did decide to take our son with us so that he would have an experience he would never forget and I truly believe that we, as a family, grew even more closer because of this trip.
Back at the boarding school we had to go to the lawyer's office so she could draw up some more documents that needed our signature. While we waited for that, we waited in one of the classrooms. It was in there, that Cava asked us, "Do I really get to keep the bear?" He was so happy to hear that he got to keep his bear because we had bought it for him.
Being inquisitive and wanting to know how the bear made noise, Cava discovered the little voice box in the back. He took it out and began to hold it to his ear like a radio. Then he would push the button and dance to the music.
After we signed the documents we went outside and had our translator take a photo of our new family in front of the small chapel on the school grounds.
We had lunch in the cafeteria before we left. As we were leaving, the kids we had met on our previous visit came out to say good-bye to us. Earlier in the day, before we had left for court, I had run into the twelve year old girl and she smiled when she saw me. At first she put her hand out for me to shake it, but quickly that turned into a hug. She also asked me through motions if I would draw for her again. Unfortunately, our visit was so quick I didn't get a chance to. And, while all the other children were smiling and telling us "good-bye," I looked over and saw that she was crying. It was all I could do not to cry myself.
All of us gave Cava hugs and kisses and told him that we loved him and would be back for him because he was part of our family now. It was so hard to leave him again.
Now we have to wait 10 business days so they can publish in the newspaper that we are adopting Cava so that if anyone wants to come forward and appeal the adoption, they can.
Throughout this journey, especially while we were in Ukraine, it was so amazing to see God's hand in all of it. I truly didn't think we were going to get to go to court before we left for the United States, but through God and the hard work of our translator, we did.
I must admit, there was a part of me that was sad to be leaving this country that was now a part of who are family is. Like the children at the boarding school, I came to love the people, the culture, and the city of Kiev. We had made friends like the Midkiffs and the Bergstroms. We liked the time we spent with both our facilitator, translator, and driver. To all of them we truly wish them a very Happy New Year.