Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Adoption US style

Today we went to the court house downtown for Maryna's "re-adoption".  This is an optional step which basically just files her Ukrainian documents into the US system and recreates them in their US formats.  So she now has a US decree of adoption and a New York State "certificate of birth" (not quite a birth certificate) which will also be on file in the local county clerk's office.   This means that when she applies for a driver's license, or a job, or a college and needs a copy of these things, she can get and submit something from our local county.  We have a few spare copies in a safe place here, but if they were to go missing she'd be stuck requesting a copy from her home region in Ukraine, having it officially translated, and then dealing with the guaranteed confusion that would come from that.  Not to mention how much all of that would cost!  

We had the same judge that did Jorge's in 2009.  He's actually first generation Ukrainian-American and greeted Maryna in Ukrainian.  After the short signature portion of the morning, his assistant (also Ukrainian) took Maryna for a tour of the court house while Judge H talked informally with me and Rob about the Ukrainian community here, the churches, some upcoming events, and a few key contacts we'll be following up with.  

Our Family
As with Jorge's process, we were welcome to stay and play a bit.  The staff took lots of photos with my camera and played with the kids.  Sadly, these days are a rare happy treat in a family court setting.  Most of their days are spent dealing with families in crisis and coming apart.  So the whole staff was smiling as they listened to the younger 3 rattle on about school and books and their extended family while Maryna, Rob, and I chatted with the Russian and Ukrainian speaking court crew.

Afterwards we went to the Polish restaurant which has food pretty similar to Ukrainian.  The kids all rattled around the house all afternoon, Maryna made dinner (Wednesday!), and bedtimes are done.

I think, overall, the day was good.  Maryna seemed nervous or annoyed or otherwise out of sorts this morning.  In retrospect, I realized I had not actually given her breakfast.  We're working on the "help yourself" thing but she's not quite comfortable with it yet, so we tend to make her a breakfast plate and hand it to her.  I was trying to get a little work done this morning and Rob was out of the house until 10, so I dropped the ball there.  She was far happier after court and lunch.

Oh, the eye roll.  She takes her responsibilities as a teenager very seriously.

On that note, I find myself struggling with how much and what to write here these days.  I want to share all the ups and downs of integrating the newest member of our family and that dominates most of our energy and attention these days.  But I am also plunging into the world of teen parenting and teen boundaries.  With a baby or even a little kid, the goofy things are as much or more about the parent as the kid.  Babies aren't doing things intentionally, and so sharing their hard days isn't about privacy and respect, it's about the parents venting.  With a teen?  Yea, I'm not going to vent.  Whatever difficult parts of a day I have, I'm sure it's a cake walk compared to the average stress level in her day.

I love this girl so much.  I mean, just... this gets the "I can't even..." trail off.  We went to an event last week with a bunch of people that do speak her language and are from her culture, and they immediately started speaking to me in Ukrainian and Russian, too.  I quickly answered that I don't speak either language and they were visibly confused: how do you talk to your daughter? How could you possibly communicate and know each other?

And I looked at this beautiful girl that I have come to love with my whole heart, who I can exchange weak conversations with through a few gestures and carefully chosen nouns and verbs, but meaningful conversations via texts and translate software.  I thought of how much we love tiny babies before they know how to talk to us, and I didn't know how to explain it.  I just do.  I love my daughter.

Difficult days?  Of course.  Misunderstandings?  That's our life.  And Love?  Speechless.

Judge Maryna

1 comment:

  1. No words for this beautiful post.

    Jennifer M.