It was around 10am local time in Samara, Russia. As usual, there had a been a large snowfall the night before and I hadn't slept well. Nothing against the Renaissance Hotel in Samara, it was very nice actually, I was just a bit nervous/excited. We met up the other family that we were traveling with for breakfast. I ate very little (not because the food wasn't great, but b/c I typically wasn't that hungry at breakfast and maybe a bigger factor was that the breakfast buffet was somewhere around $30/person).
After heading back upstairs to our room to change into our Sunday Best, which mine luckily arrived at Sheremetyevo 2 (Moscow airport) the day before after taking an unwanted detour in Toronto without us, we jumped in a car with our fearless driver and were off to become parents (note to those traveling to Moscow, if your luggage is lost and you don't speak the language, find a translator. I think without her, I would have certainly been wearing jeans and a sweater to court and my luggage would have been lost forever amongst the seemingly thousands of other pieces of luggage in the Aeroflot lost and found).
After arriving at the courthouse, the other couple went first, so we were left to sit nervously in a hallway outside of the room until we were called(note to those traveling to Samara and going to this particular courthouse, use the bathroom before you leave the hotel). When our time came, Sara and I entered into the courtroom along with a translator, a judge, a prosecutor, a representative from Lletyon's (then known as Gorsha)orphanage, and the Minister of Education in Samara. For a period of about 30 to 45 minutes we answered questions such as: Why are you adopting?, Why don't you have children the natural way?, Why are you so young?, How much money do you make?, What does your house look like?, How will you discipline this child?, How will you love this boy?, What do you think about other Americans that have abused their adopted Russian children?, etc. If I remember correctly (it was kind of a blur), I answered most of the questions because it is customary in Russia for the man to speak for the family.
After leaving the room to contemplate whether or not to grant us our wish of being parents to the perfect little boy that was waiting to see us again at his orphanage, the judge reentered the courtroom and informed us that our dreams had come true, and Lleyton was officially our child. Not the old fashioned way of becoming parents, but the way that we took, and we wouldn't change it for the world.
Following that declaration, we were driven to the orphanage to finally be able to hold and kiss and love a child that was officially ours (he had been ours in our hearts since the moment we met him). We were allowed a brief tour of the orphanage during this visit, which was very valuable, because it gave us more insight as to what kind of life Lleyton had lived for the first year of his being. After our tour and playing with our son for about an hour, we had to say our goodbyes and leave our newly minted son in the care of the orphanage for one last time. It was very difficult to leave him there, but after visiting the orphanage on four different occasions, we felt that he was in good hands there and they would take wonderful care of him until we were able to come back and bring him home with us and for good. As I sit here and write this, it's very clear why we haven't left him since.