I left off the night before court. Greg and I miraculously slept that night. We woke up early and went to breakfast. I started to feel nervous as we were eating. We did a quick workout and then walked around the downtown area near our apartment to burn off nervous energy. Our court appointment wasn't until 3:10 p.m. and we were meeting our facilitator, Dima, at 1:50 p.m. to take the metro to the Supreme Court building.
I prayed all morning and kept singing "Our God" by Chris Tomlin. I kept singing it over and over and just praying that God would show himself to be more powerful than any judge on earth. As we walked out of the metro station to meet the translator, Natasha, I was humming "Our God." I remember vividly that moment for some reason. Over and over, I was praying to God to keep Satan out of the courtroom, give us peace, and help us say the right words to the judges. Once we met Natasha, we all headed to the Supreme Court building, which was a couple of blocks from the metro station.
When we arrived at the court building, our lawyer, Alexander, was there to meet us. We all had to go through strict security. We went through a scanner and had to give our passports to a couple of different people for security. A court official came down and took our passports again and then gave us cards that allowed us to enter the secure part of the building. It was all very formal and official. As we waited outside the courtroom in a waiting area, we chit-chatted with Alexander and Natasha about all of the formalities of getting into the building and that helped calm our nerves.
One of the court officials came out and took our passports (again). He told us that it would be a few minutes, that the case previous to ours was over and we would be next. He came back in about five minutes and took us into the courtroom. The judges came in...two men and a woman, we stood, and they started talking. When they were finished, Natasha informed us that they were reading the ruling for the previous case! LOL! We were so nervous and they weren't even talking to us yet. They left the room again and we waited.
At 3:20 p.m., our hearing started. The three judges walked in...all men. We stood as they talked and basically stated what the hearing was about. We sat down. The judge on the left was dark-haired and looked to be about 55 or so. He seemed to have compassion on his face and throughout the hearing, appeared to be the most interested in what was being said. He was also the one who talked the most and read the results of the hearing. The middle judge was large statured with gray hair. He looked to be older than the judge to his left, maybe 60ish. He showed absolutely no emotion, but did discuss some of the statements we made with the judge on his left and also asked us a question or two. The judge on the right was thin, gray-haired, and balding. He slept through the entire hearing. I'm not kidding. There was also a prosecutor, our attorney, the court secretary, and the court official that escorted us into the courtroom (I think he was like a bailiff in the U.S.).
The judges read the court decree from our hearing in Pskov. I was so difficult to sit through that without crying out. So many of the things in the decree were simply untrue. We had received a copy of the decree several weeks ago. I haven't been able to post anything about it because I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize our supreme court hearing. But the decree was written to support the judge's ruling, not to reflect what was stated in our court hearing. It was full of untrue statements, some about Clayton that were particularly infuriating to this mama.
Some were about things the social workers and doctors said in court; all of which were positive in court, but the judge had twisted and turned to make it sound like they were not in our favor. For example, one of the social workers testified that during one of the visits with Kirill, he was crying when he entered the room (because they had taken him away from his playtime to visit us). However, as soon as he entered the room I picked him up and consoled him and as the social worker described it in court, she said "it was as if this mother had a magic wand." She went on to say how that he quickly calmed down and how that she felt we had a strong bond with Kirill. The judge replied in court very curtly, "Can you show me this wand?" At the time, I wasn't sure if she was being sarcastic or if she was just joking. However, it became clear when we got the decree. Because the judge wrote in her decree that the social worker testified that Kirill was crying during one of our visits and that she believed that this meant he was not happy with us. Clearly, she took anything she could out of context and twisted it to support her ruling. It was so hard to listen to again as it was being read by the supreme court judge. At one point my emotions were so overwhelming that I just stared at this seal behind the judge's bench and prayed hard for God to keep me from crying and let me be strong for Kirill. He did and I didn't break down, but oh how my heart hurt.
After the judge read the decree, Alexander gave a short opening statement. The judge asked the prosecutor if he wanted to respond and he declined. Then, Greg gave his speech and requested that the documents we had brought be entered into the hearing (letters of support from the National Down Syndrome Congress; letters from friends who have children with DS, both adopted and biological; a letter from the RISE school that Kirill will attend stating he has a spot reserved and describing the therapies/services they provide; and two additional letters from our home study agency regarding issues the judge had with their distance from our home). I have to say, my husband is amazing. He was so strong as he read, point by point, the reasons why the judge's original ruling was wrong. I know he had to have been nervous, but you couldn't tell at all. He was very confident, strong, and compassionate at the same time. He has been such a rock through all of this and I love him so much. I am so proud of him and his love for our family.
After Greg's speech, the judges asked him a few questions, mainly about his profession...nothing really difficult at all. Then the prosecutor was given a chance to cross-examine/respond, but he refused. Then it was my turn to talk. The judges instructed me very sternly to not repeat anything that Greg said. So I was frantically trying to look over my speech and hit any high points that he missed. I also was trying to highlight all of my experience with children with special needs. So I got about three sentences out before I mentioned my undergraduate training & volunteer work at RISE, where Kirill will attend school in the fall. Greg had mentioned RISE in his speech but just in the context that Kirill would go to school there. Immediately after I said "RISE", the main judge stopped me and told me not to repeat anything Greg said. They asked me several questions about my job, especially if I did research at the University of Alabama where I work. Finally, the dark-haired judge said, "Do you want to adopt this child for research or because you love him?" I was so taken aback by the question and at that point I got very emotional and answered (as best I can recall), "Because I love Kirill! We love him so much already and we want him to be our son! We are his family. Please do not deny him the right to a mother and father that love him." He told me to sit down and didn't let me finish my speech. I was dumbfounded. At that point, they asked the prosecutor if he had a response. This time he did.
He stood up and stated that he did not think we had provided enough evidence to overturn the original judge's ruling. He stated that he agreed with her ruling and felt that we should not be allowed to adopt Kirill and that he did not feel that it was in the child's best interest.
My heart stopped.
I wanted to scream, "YOU DIDN'T EVEN LET US FINISH. YOU DIDN'T LET US GIVE ALL OF THE EVIDENCE!"
As the judges left the courtroom, I looked at Greg, he squeezed my hand, and we both agreed that the outcome would not be in our favor. Natasha looked dejected. Alexander shrugged at us and said, "We will hope for the best." I started to prepare for the worst. Suddenly, my mind started going 90 mph as I thought of what to do next...would we go to the media? I just wanted it to all be over but this was so unbelievable! I couldn't imagine giving up and walking away without making such injustice known!
As we were waiting for the judges to return with their ruling, the bailiff came over and took our passports again. This time, he was just making small talk and looking at the pictures. He showed the prosecutor and then Natasha informed us he was interested in the various U.S. landmarks on the passport pages. Apparently, Russian passports are quite plain inside. He wanted to know what all the pictures were of, but we really didn't feel like talking at the moment. It was kind of funny looking back, but at the time I wanted to tell him to please just be quiet because we didn't feel like chatting it up about U.S. landmarks.
After about 5 minutes, the judges came back into the courtroom and we all stood. They read the ruling very quickly. It was so fast that Natasha was having a hard time even getting words out but I saw a smile spread across her face and she started nodding and saying "It's cancelled! The ruling has been changed! His name is Gregory Kirill Davis." That is really all I heard and I started crying and hugging Greg. The judge stopped and I realized that he was staring at me so he could finish talking. I don't even remember what he said. I was hugging everyone...Alexander, Natasha, Greg; I would have hugged the judges if I could have! I was mouthing to them "spasiba, spasiba, SPASIBA!" That means "thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!" in Russian. The entire hearing, from beginning to end, was about an hour and a half long. We were so shocked by the whole thing...I just couldn't believe that after all the heartache and waiting we were FINALLY Kirill's parents.
As we walked out of the courtroom, the Natasha kept saying, "It is a miracle. This is not possible! I cannot believe it!" Our facilitator, who was not allowed to come into the court building at all, was waiting for us outside. I tackled him for a big hug. I think he was surprised. He's not very emotional. But I didn't care. I just hugged and hugged him and he said, "I do not even have to ask, I can see that the ruling was in your favor!" I don't remember if it was Alexander or Dima, but one of them commented, "God wanted you to have this child. It was a higher power than the judge." Praise God! Isn't that the truth???
As we walked back to our metro station, we were all chatting furiously. We didn't know what to do with ourselves. Natasha, Greg and I were talking so fast and giddy to one another while Dima, our facilitator frantically made phone calls about what to do next. Natasha was so happy for us and I was so appreciative of her for caring so much about our case. She was just such a sweet and genuine person. We kept stopping in the middle of the sidewalk excitedly talking about everything that happened in the courtroom and how that nobody could believe the outcome. Finally, Natasha said, "Why do we keep stopping?!? We are so silly like school children! We are so excited we do not know what to do! Let's go back to your hotel and sit and talk!" So we did!
Sidenote: I really cannot say enough about how good the people are here. There are so many wonderful people in Russia. It makes me sad to think about that we won't see them again for a very long time, if ever again. They have all become friends to us and I love them dearly.
So that is the story of court. We are certain that we were a part of a miracle on May 24th. There was no way this could have happened without God. We give him every single bit of the honor and glory for allowing us to become Kirill's parents. We are so humbled that we can be a part of Kirill's story. It's an honor of which we will never be worthy, but we are so thankful that God has entrusted us with his precious life.
Tomorrow...another post..."The Celebration Begins!" Tonight, we go to sleep for the first night officially as Kirill's mommy and daddy. To see our names on his birth certificate...I can't tell you how fantastic that feels!
THE MIRACLES CONTINUE...THE CANNELLS NOW HAVE $20K! PRAISE OUR GOD! HE IS AWESOME!
Thank you all so much for supporting this family. I am just in awe of God's provision right now. I think I might explode from his goodness and seeing his presence so clearly! Please, whatever situation you are in, trust in God and know that he is faithful to you. He has not promised ease in this life, but eternal life with him if you just trust in him to see you through.