I feel like I left everyone hanging with my last post; Vincent trying desperately to claw his way out of the car, screaming at the top of his little lungs. An image I'd rather forget, though he's two and I'm sure Andy and I will be seeing more of that particular "performance" in the future.
Back to the court hearing; it's really just too... "interesting" not give you the play-by-play. Few things in my life have every been "typical", so why shouldn't we have a court hearing that closely resembled a skit from "Saturday Night Live?"
Andy and I made our way to the Moscow City Court via Vincent's orphanage; we stopped there to pick up "Reds", the director of the orphanage. No, that's not her real name of course, just our little nickname for her. The 5 of us were piled into our driver's small car. It was about 95 degrees and 90% humidity. The only automobile air conditioning we experienced during this trip to Moscow was what my father used to call "4-40"; open all 4 windows and drive 40 mph. Andy was in a suit and I was wearing a black dress; we were a sweaty mess by the time we arrived at the court building. Fortunately it was air conditioned...what a relief!
Our hearing was scheduled for 4:00 pm. We arrive close to 3:30 and wait outside the courtroom. No sign of the judge by 4:00. Still no judge at 4:30. At 4:45 we spot a middle-age woman running down the hall; here comes our judge after all! She was the spitting image of my mother's friend, Fran! Of course I couldn't properly pronounce our judge's entire Russian name, so I nicknamed our judge "Fran." Are you keeping up with me? So far we have "Reds" and "Fran"; if these women only knew what I was calling them! Soon we were asked to enter the courtroom and we take our seats. Immediately we hear a loud thumping noise coming from the judge's chambers. It sounded like a pipe was going to explode. It was loud, and very distracting. Everyone is giggling. The judge appears, and she starts to speak. Our interpreter, Katya, is sitting next to us, translating so that we know what's being said.
Fran asks that all the Russian speaking people present sign their names in a book, located on a podium near our seats. As they assemble around the podium, they're searching for a pen. The "pen" was actually this big, poofy purple pom-pom thingy. This is a courtroom, people, not a pre-teen girl's bedroom! Everyone giggles as they pass around the jiggling, poofy pen.
Soon it's Andy's turn to take the podium. Fran asks him (via our translator) his name, date of birth, address. Then she asks Andy the date we were married. Andy, please forgive me for telling this part of the story. Oh boy, I can see the sweat collecting on Andy's brow. After a slight delay, Andy replies. He's off by a few days. There's a delay and then Fran says, "That's not the date I have, do you want to try again?" He shoots, he scores... he gets it right this time! More chuckles ensue from the crowd.
Let's not forget about the thumping coming from the judge's chambers. The door of the courtroom flies open. It's the bulding's maintenance crew, outfitted in bright orange jumpsuits. They walk DIRECTLY across the middle of the courtroom with a ladder. The Three Stooges disappear into the judge's chamber to tend to the thumping.
Red's cell phone rings. There are signs in English all around the court building (in fact, the only signs I saw in English our entire trip) stating that nobody is to use a cell phone in the building. This doesn't stop Reds. She starts chatting and laughing on her cell phone while I'm at the podium, answering the judge's questions. Another cell phone rings; this time it it's our attorney. The theme from "Swan Lake" plays as she flicks open her phone. They're both talking on their phones at the same time. The judge doesn't appear irritated by the phone calls, so I figure if she's not bothered by it, why should I be? Right?
Fran retires to her chambers for a few moments before reading her verdict. Just as she reappears and begins to tell us whether or not she has awarded guardianship of Vincent to Andy and I, the Three Stooges reappear from her chambers. They walk, with ladder in hand, directly across the middle of the courtroom. They exit, Fran reads her verdict, and Vincent is now part of our family! Everyone begins hugging and kissing everyone else.
I tried really hard to remember exactly how I felt at that exact moment, the moment when Vincent officially became our son and we became his parents. One day Vincent will ask what happened that day, and Andy and I can recount the events to him, ringing cell phones, poofy pen, and Three Stooges with their ladder and all.