No flags or cookouts or fireworks here, but Happy Independence Day to everyone!
Bob and I start the day at the gym. After an hour of lifting and exercises, we're ponging by 9:30. Play is much more even than during our last outing: I take the day 6-5 and lead the series 36-30.
After I return to the hotel, Alli and I go to the park to read for a while before getting ready to walk to the baby home. The daycare/summer school group we've seen before is back again: The kids are very cute, but it is clear the teacher has her hands full, particularly with one little girl who, despite her skirt, purse and pigtails wants nothing more than to be one of the boys. As the other girls are sitting quietly playing dolls and chatting among themselves, little miss tomboy is quite the sight tearing around after the boys (while they drive their cars around the edge of the fountain) and lifting her skirt up over her head! And the entire group of them can't seem to stay away from the four older gentlemen playing a board game under the gazebo. The older kids know they shouldn't be there and keep a watchful eye out for the teacher, scattering quickly at the first sign of her approach, but out intrepid wannaboy gets caught red-handed every time....
It's a beautiful day, sunny with a nice breeze, and we enjoy our walk to our visit with the kids. Everyone is outside today. Molly is glad to see me when I arrive: She has not been fed yet and appears wet through her diaper and pants. I spring into action: She's naked and I'm half-way through a fresh diaper when the care-giver comes over to investigate. Upon further review, she might have been wet from having sat in something, but I need the practice. We pick out a pink onesie and a little bonnet. The care-giver laughs at Papa, who is struggling to tie the bonnet because it is on backward! The care-giver feeds Molly while I play with the other kids, then we're off to the marble room.
Molly's string of sunny days continues, while Aidan's blues persist. Luckily, Alli hits on a new toy: a small container of Motrin. Aidan laughs as if it were the funniest thing he's every seen, giggling so continuously he's soon out of breath. We get some great video! Capitalizing on his first good mood in three days, we saddle up the Snugglis and take both kids outside. Once again they are quite content: They appear to be comfortable in the Snugglis and more than sufficiently amused with everything we encounter on our walk. It's a great way to close a good visit.....
We bus back with Olesya: we get off near the hotel, and she continues home. We have our pre-trial hearing today at 5:30, and she asks us to be ready in the lobby of the hotel by 5 so we have plenty of time to walk there and arrive early. Alli and I grab a quick nap from 4 to 4:30 and all are dressed in our best by 4:55. Olesya is in the lobby when we walk downstairs and we're off.
The walk is not long - maybe ten minutes - but it's warm in the afternoon sun and warmer still in a suit and tie. The good news is we will meet the judge and prosecutor in chambers. The bad news is chambers are on the fourth floor of a building without either air conditioning or elevator. We're sweating profusely in the hallway outside chambers at 5:15, and we're invited in around 5:40. The four of us sit in straight-back chairs against a wall opposite the judge's desk. Between the judge and us sits the prosecutor, perpendicular to both the judge and us. Olesya sits across the desk from the prosecutor. A doctor from the baby home sits at a desk behind Olesya. So you can picture this better, from the judge's perspective (she is the twelve o'clock position), we are at six o'clock facing her, the prosecutor is at 3 o'clock facing Olesya at 9 o'clock.
The judge, the prosecutor and the baby home doctor are women, so Bob and I are the only men in the room. The judge and the doctor are Kazakh; the prosecutor is fair and probably Russian. The judge welcomes us and introduces herself and the prosecutor. She has our large files on her desk and decides to begin with us, specifically me. She asks several factual questions - my date of birth (she congratulates me on my birthday the previous day then congratulates us all on our independence day holiday), the date of our marriage, the date we arrived in Kostanai and the date we first met our children - then asks a series of more probing questions re: adoption - why we decided to adopt, why we chose Kazakhstan, why we are adopting two children at one time, from whom will their primary care come, whether we have carefully considered the responsi- bility that comes along with raising children and how much our lives will change as a result, etc. I remember to look at her while she is questioning me and when I am answering her- though she is more often than not reading from our file or making notes from the last reply - and look at Olesya only while she is translating. I'm nervous - and still sweating - but I think I answered as asked and well. Alli is next. She gets similar factual questions - including her birthdate and our marriage date (luckily we got our stories striaight on that one! - and the judge also asks whether Alli is up to the challenges of motherhood, who will help her if needed and how our families feel about our decision. Ironically, the judge closes her questioning of Alli with an admonition that her nightclub days are over. (Have their paths crossed in Key West or New Orleans...?) We receive our final court data and time - Friday July 8 at 2 PM - and sign an acknowledgement of same.
Bob and Beth are questioned similarly, and when the judge has finished, the prosecutor asks the boby home doctor several broad questions about our visitations. Bob and Beth receive their court date, too: Friday the 8th at 3 PM. I believe this is the best we could have hoped for and we are pleased. Olesya thanks us for the good answers we gave to the judge's questions. It is we who should thank her for her preparation.
After court, a quick change and we're off to dinner. We had thought Olesya might join us, but she decides to head home. We don't want to drag Dana out, so we decide to try The Dom on our own. The waitress recognizes us and brings the English menu over: Good. Our waitress does not read English: Bad. We convey several choices successfully (salads, beef stroganov and their "scrambled vegetables") but we strike out with french fries and mashed potatoes. As Bob had planned on a meatless meal, this leaves him staring at the prospect of no more than vegetables for dinner. We inquire about shishkabob: Our waitress does not appear to recognize the word. I point to the grill where the kabobs are prepared: A smile of recognition means we're halfway home. Now, how to convey pork instead of chicken...? While Alli pages through her phrase book I take action and perform what I believe to be a more than passable pig imitation. Gales of laughter ring out and our order is complete. We cross our fingers that she properly translates my snorting and grunting and, voila!, we have pork shishkabobs five minutes later. Our first dinner on our own is a success!
Back to the hotel for leftover birthday cake and a movie: The Italian Job, a loaner courtesy of Olesya. Post-movie, Alli reads and I journal on the last page remaining in the book I brought with me (courtesy of our MC). Bob and I agreed to go to the gym for ping-pong only tomorrow.
Lights out at 1 AM.