This was the first day we needed an alarm to wake us up! After the rush of meeting our son was over and the many miles walked to explore the city, we were finally sleeping soundly. Still, 5:30am came too soon.
For court day, we had breakfast first and then put on our court clothes. I wore a dress, tights and boots. Josh wore a full suit with a tie he had bought at Namdaemun Market. We were told to dress conservatively (nothing sleeveless), so played it safe.
We got to Eastern a little early, as did most of the families in our group. This gave us all a few minutes to grab a drink from the cafe (the fresh orange juice for me, grapefruit tea for Josh. Both were delicious) and catch up with the other families.
Due to the size of our group, we took a large bus to court! The drive takes about an hour, and the busy was cozy enough but very, very warm.
At court, our coordinator for the day told us where to go and what to do. After going through a security area, we rode the elevator up to our floor and the coordinator sat us in order in the waiting room.
There was a little bit of a scheduling conflict so everything took longer than expected. I was really glad we had a little something at Eastern to tide us over as lunchtime rolled around!
I was pretty nervous about court. After talking to adoptive parents who were assigned to our judge earlier in the year, I knew our judge had a reputation as thorough and ready with tough questions. We were advised to read our home study the night before court (which we did) so we would have all information fresh in our mind. We also were told to expect questions like: our motivation to adopt, how we would take care of Sam’s specific needs, how we would balance our adopted child with our biological children, why we would choose to adopt when we already have biological children, why a child with a special medical need. That sort of thing. Our social worker had already asked us one of these questions unexpectedly during our visit with Sam, and it caught me so off guard, I bombed it. It’s difficult to explain why you chose to do something that seems so right and obvious for you personally. I didn’t have a long explanation, just an instinctual knowledge.
When it was our turn, we waited right outside the courtroom door for the family before us to finish up. As soon as they walked out, we walked in. We took our seats on the left side of the room while the translator sat on the right side. Our coordinator in the hallway told us to greet the judge and always look at her during our interactions, not the coordinator. I had all of this running through my head as we sat down. We immediately greeted her in Korean, and she smiled warmly at us.
This is the first time in this whole blogging endeavor that I have felt that it is not my place to share the rest of this story in detail. Perhaps it’s the spirit of Christmas, but I am reminded of Mary when the shepherds are telling everyone what they saw and heard regarding the birth of baby Jesus. She treasured these things and pondered them in her heart. So I too am treasuring and pondering our few minutes with the judge.
What I am comfortable sharing is this: We were asked only one question, and it was yes or no. She wanted to know if we understood Sam’s backstory and why it was special. We weren’t really sure what she meant at first, so she spent the few minutes she had with us telling us more about Sam’s story, more about his birth mom’s story. I cried right there in court, and by the end, the judge was wiping tears from her eyes as well. It was such a special moment to hear even the smallest bit more about our boy’s background. I am so thankful to the judge for making sure we knew some of the details that I’m sure he will want to know one day.
I managed to get it together just long enough to tell her how excited we are and thankful to be Sam’s parents, and how excited our bio kids are (she knew them by name without even looking at the paper! She is GOOD!). We walked out of court and I cried again, just for good measure.
With court behind us, we rode the bus back to Eastern a little lighter. We could feel the process slowly coming to a close, and we knew we would return in 4 – 5 weeks with the full blessing of the judge.