Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Our Family is coming up to an anniversary, actually two anniversaries, celebrated on the same day. On Thursday, November 30, 2006 the legal system of Ukraine confirmed what God had ordained from the beginning of time. Our youngest daughter became officially ours.

It was the third time that we have ever gone to court, and we have yet to go to a court where English is spoken! However, with each hearing the same picture is created: A hungry, lonely orphan loses that identity and becomes a beloved member of a family.

The best part of the court hearing is the end, when the judge has finally made their decision, and they say something to the effect of, "From this day forward, you will no longer be named ******** ******, but will now be known as ******** *********. (Sorry for the asterisk, but this is the Internet and I don't want any weirdos knowing my kids' names -- not that you're a weirdo, someone else reading this is a weirdo).

All the same, though, it is such a beautiful picture of what Christ does for us. In one spoken word from a person in authority, our daughter was no longer what she was just minutes earlier. She became a "new creation", in such a similar way that when a person becomes a Christian the old is gone and the record of the old is wiped clean. If you traveled to Ukraine and tried to find any records on our daughter's birth, under her birth name, they wouldn't be there (in theory at least...) because she is no longer that person. She is a new creation. You'd have to look under her new name.

So, we will soon be celebrating our 1 year anniversary of our youngest new creation.

In addition to that anniversary, my husband and I have the unique and dubious honor of celebrating the 1 year anniversary of having a high government official from another country arrested. (There's no cute picture to go with this anniversary).

Every adoptive family is nervous when it's court day. However, last November 30th, we were nervous in a whole new way. Our judge had agreed to hear the case only if we paid her a bribe. The short version of the story is that God provided us a way to not only accomplish the adoption, but to do so legally. Instead of simply paying the bribe, we (mostly our lawyer), co-operated with the secret police. Our lawyer was wired, the money was marked, and the court hearing happened.

As we stood there, answering the judge's questions, I pondered how odd it felt to be holding court with her having absolutely no idea what was to follow. I wondered if it was all worth it, or if it would make any difference. I even wondered if it was really fair, considering the fact that she might be bribing in order to pay someone higher up, or that she wasn't the only one extorting people, she was just the one that was getting caught.

I felt sick to my stomach when she looked me straight in the eyes, smiled at me and said, "It is in the opinion of this court that we are placing this child in very loving and capable hands."

Gulp. I'm really sorry I'm having you arrested, I thought. I felt incredibly guilty.

But then I remembered, she was only saying those things because she thought we had paid her to. There was a crime, and not only we, but our daughter, and many other families and children were the victims. In fact, weeks later an adoption facilitator told me he was pleased with our actions because in some regions the judges were so corrupt that they looked at each child as a price tag. Since no Ukrainians can afford the thousands of dollars to bribe the judge, they cannot adopt a child because the judges hold them off for the foreigners who can pay. This is in an adoption system where the costs should be minimal court fees!

We left the court room and within minutes the building was flooded with secret police. It wasn't long before their presence wasn't secret! We slipped out the door to find a paddy wagon, more police, and a ever growing crowd waiting outside. It was a start to a very long day, one which ended with us barely catching the train back to Kiev (thanks to the quick ride given to us by the police!), and spending the 12-hour train ride shaking our heads, laughing, shaking our heads, and worrying.

When all is said and done, I don't know what effect, if any, this will have on corruption. And, even within my own country I'm often confused about the mixing of church and state. But I do know that God called us to honor the laws of that country, that He provided a way for us to do so, and that I truly hope He never calls us to do something like that again.

On the plus side, when I became a follower of Christ, I never thought that it would include drinking tea or eating pizza with the secret police, driving with them, spending hours (and hours -- remember, it's a slower paced culture than ours!), and hours giving testimony to a regional "procurator" or watching our judge being driven off in a paddy wagon. That's just the thing with God. You never know where you'll end up when you follow him.

And for our daughter, she was never even aware of what was going on. Even now, she's not aware of her pictures in the paper in Ukraine or any of the hullabaloo that has risen from the ensuing court case. But years down the road, we'll be able to tell her the amazing story of her adoption and she'll be able to boast that she's probably the only kid from Ukraine who had a blessing placed on her by the Captain of the Secret Police.

With God the stories are always good.

1 comment:

sandra mae said...

oh, I am so glad you posted this story about the secret police! I remember when all of this was happening- or I should say, when we heard that it had all happened. this is such a wonderful truth to be told!