Friday, February 11, 2011

We Did Not Pass Court

Friday, February 11, 2011

It has been a hard day.

Geoff and I were picked up this morning at 9:00 by Germatchew, one of Imagine's staff.  From here we went to the KVI Guesthouse to pick up the other three families with court dates today.  Finally, we made a stop to pick up Marta (Imagine's Power of Attorney), who attends court with families.  When Marta came to the van, she said that she had just been notified that court had been postponed until 2:00 in the afternoon.  A bit of the excitement bubble burst.

We all drove back to KVI guesthouse, and Geoff and I hung out there while we passed the time.  Shortly before 2:00, Germatchew and Marta came to pick us up.  Once the families were loaded into the van, Marta stood at the door of the van and said that she had some bad news.  Apparently MOWA had changed a rule this morning, effective today.

A few years ago, when Geoff and I first completed paperwork for the Ethiopia program, we signed a document called an undertaking.  Essentially it said that "I Geoff, and I Ruth, undertake" to send annual reports on the children to Ethiopia, until they are eighteen years old.  No problem.  Right?  Except that the new rule pertains to this document.  The document apparently should  read, effective today, that "Imagine Adoption undertakes...".   This rule (thankfully) did not affect the other Imagine families who passed court as recently as two days ago.

When Marta had explained this, she added that she would talk to the judge when we reached court, and ask her to consider that we had had no notice of this rule change, etc etc.  But it was a very somber three minute drive to court.

When we got to court, we had to wait for about 90 minutes before being called in by the judge.  Finally, the door to the judge's office opened and Marta was invited in to talk with the judge about our situation.  Minutes later, the four adopting families were called in.

The judge herself is an attractive, youngish woman wearing a head scarf loosely draped over her head.  She asked us to sit down on the chairs facing her, at the other end of the long room, and her assistant gave her our passports for verification.  She then asked us a series of yes/no questions:  do you have other children; have we told our children about this adoption; did we understand about the identity issues our Ethiopian-born children would face and would we prepared to help them with those; did we understand that adoption is irrevocable; had we met the children; did we want to proceed with the adoption; etc etc.  Then she said that we would need to update a document for our files, and that she would set a second court date for us, which we would not have to attend.  The earliest date she had available was six weeks from now:  March 21.

We left the courtroom five minutes after we went in.  We were a sober group driving back to the KVI Guesthouse.  Geoff and I hung around there for a little while and then grabbed a taxi back to our Lodge, where we were expecting phonecalls from my family at 5:30pm (morning their time).  Of course, when I'd arranged for them to call, I'd hoped that we would have good news, but that was not to be.  It was when I was talking with my parents and speaking the words out loud that I finally lost control and started to sob.  I had a hard time getting through the phone call.  Next up, my sister called, and I was able to talk with Matthew for the first time since we left him last weekend.  I had warned Matthew before we left that things might not go as we planned first time 'round, and had spent quite a bit of time preparing him for what that meant, so I'm glad that I was able to tell him the news myself.  He seemed ok, though I know we'll be doing a lot of talking about it next week when we get home.

Which brings us to the challenge of what to do now.  We have had to cancel our planned trip to the children's birth region, because families are only permitted to do that once they pass court.  We will also not be allowed to visit the children again, which we'd hoped to be able to do on Monday once they'd be moved to Imagine's transition home in Addis (which won't happen now until we eventually pass court).   We need to figure out how to spend the next three+ days until we leave.  Do we try to change flights?  Do we stay here?  Right now, I feel like running away, but that's just a temporary thing, I know.  So we need to talk and work out what the best plan is for us.

I am so sad and frustrated.  I still believe that ultimately we will pass court and be able to bring our children home.  But I have a 5.5 year old and a 3.5 year old who need to be out of institutional care now (as good as that care is) and I admit that I am anxious about what a further six-week delay (assuming we pass on date #2 - there is no guarantee of that) will mean in their lives.  These children have been through so much; they need to be home.

So many people have prayed faithfully and hard for us, and so many have wished us well and supported us - particularly in these last 2.5 months since our referral.  We are very grateful, notwithstanding today's result.  In this, too, God has a plan and a hope for our future.

I will end by reprinting part of what I wrote on January 31, as we prepared to travel for today's court date.  I feel exactly the same as I did on that day, and bears repeating, if only to reassure myself that it's going to be ok.

Blessings, everyone.

...[T]he thing is, it's going to be ok.  Maybe not on February 11th, but it's going to be ok.  As desperately as I want to pass court while we're there, as much as I want to hear the judge grant us the right to parent these beautiful children, as devastated as I'll feel if we don't pass on the first's going to be ok.

Here are two thoughts to consider:

1.  God is in control.  As a friend wisely said to me on Friday morning, He already knew that this wrinkle was going to materialize, and He's already got it figured out.  Nothing can happen that is counter to His will.  So I can relax.

2.  God is in control.  If we don't pass court while we're there, there is no doubt that Geoff and I will be very disappointed...crushed may not be too strong a word for that emotion.  It will change the trajectory of our trip, and have a number of implications for our second, pick-up trip.  But you know what?  We'll deal with it and get over the disappointment, or at least reconcile ourselves to it, and we will prepare ourselves for a longer wait until we get through court.  I have a deep and abiding sense of peace that we will pass court...whether it's the first time or not.  God gave us the vision for these children; he will be faithful.

If I want to be a person of faith, then I need to choose to live my faith now.  Now, when it matters.  It won't mean lot if I say this stuff after we pass court.  It's easy (well, easier), afterwards, to say that I believed God would be faithful to the plan I believe He gave us for our family.  I want to go out on a fragile limb of faith and say now that I believe God has a plan for our family and that it was He who provided this vision for our family.  I choose to rest in the knowledge and belief that He will see it through to completion.

So bring on our court date.  I'm ready for whatever happens.  Either we celebrate together, or we pick each other off the floor, give each other a dusting off, and move forward.  Let's get this show on the road.


  1. Heartbroken for you, but still sure that these children will be your son and your daughter. I hope you can feel the prayers that are lifting you up.

  2. Oh Ruth, I'm just SOOOO sorry to hear that you didn't have a good court experience today! Like you, I know that God has a plan. He loved your children 2000 years ago, and he loves them just as much today.

    I am so thankful that we serve a God who uses all things for His good, and in time, maybe not this side of heaven, but in time, you too will see His glorious goodness in this.

    My thoughts & prayers are with you,

  3. So sorry about this setback. What dissapointment. God is in control.

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  5. Ruth,

    I know sometimes the manner in which the plan happens doesn't always makes sense, but God is in control and the plan is already done! This is just a small bump in the road so hang in there! But I still share in your sadness, your anxiety about the children being in the orphanage, and your faith that this too shall pass!

  6. Ruth...this is just a minor setback. It WILL happen...Looking forward to hearing about your trip at the next KM!

  7. Ruth,
    I am thinking of you. Praying March 21st will be the day!

  8. My heart sank when I read this entry. I will pray for you as you decide whether or not to change your flights. I will also pray that you will pass court date #2. Hugs!

  9. Oh Ruth, I am so sorry. Praying for your precious family here and in Ethiopia.

    They will come home, Ruth. They will.

  10. I'm so sorry Ruth. Court delays are so hard. Waiting 6 weeks can make it even harder on everyone. You are right, though, God is in control. He will protect you and your new little ones all through this process. I really believe that this will work out in the end.

  11. oh heart is sad for you, and for the other families. Praying for His peace that passes all understanding. Praying for God's care over EACH of your children. Believing that they will come home to you. Love darci

  12. I'm sorry, this is a big disappointment! I will sending my good vibes to court the 21st....


  13. So sorry to hear this Ruth and Geoff.

  14. Ruth,
    I am so sorry to hear is so much as you prepare yourself for this possibility, it does not take away the shock and pain that you feel when you do NOT get to hear those words...especially once you have seen those faces...I am so sorry. In regards as to what to do with those 3 days, Tim and I were faced with that decision ourselves last week...I decided that we needed to get out of the city, Addis was not a place for me to rest, my heart or my soul, and i needed to find the beauty in Ethiopia, so we made a few day trips out of the to a place called the Portugese bridge, where we took a lovely hike along a gorge, and saw baboons, and another day we went to a place with hot springs, just passed Adama, where we got to feed monkeys...both day were exceptionally healing, and we had a lovely time. I found Addis to be just too overwhelming for me for 7 days straight. I don't know if this help Ruth, but we are all in the same boat together, I think it would be much harder if we were in it alone...I am thinking of you, and praying for all of us!


  15. Ruth, I'm so sorry to hear this.
    Thinking of you!


  16. Ruth,

    My heart is full...
    full of heartache for you and yours
    full of sadness that you had to go through this
    full of love for you
    full of hope that one day soon this will be a bad memory
    full of joy at the prospect of meeting Seth and Lizzie

    I believe...

  17. Ruth,

    God is still God. He is the same, and knew this outcome before you did. He will be with your children, even though you are not. He will surround them with angels, and put a hedge of protection around them. He loves them more than you could ever imagine, and it runs deep deep deep. And He loves you, Geoff, and Matthew in the same way, with the same depth. We don't understand, but we still choose Him.
    Isaiah 40:9-10
    'You, whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, "you are my servant, and I have chosen you and not cast you off" fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

    Hoping you find comfort in His words,

  18. I'm so sorry Ruth, my heart just aches for you all. Hang in there, you will bring those children home. We'll keep praying, now and in the weeks ahead.

  19. I'm so very sorry for your family, especially your little boy and girl... this is so terribly unfair to them.

    Sending you my love,


  20. Stay, and do all the sightseeing and absorbing of history that you won't be able to do on trip #2 with 2 kids in tow. The museums, a church or two, restaurants, a day trip out of Addis maybe... soak it up anyway, trip #2 will be so different!

  21. It is so hard not hearing those words. We were there as a family of 6. We took our 4 boys thinking they were going to get to meet their sister and hold her and tell her that everything was going to be ok and she would be home with us soon. Our court did not pass either. MOWA was not writing letters of approval. Our thought was to go home...get me out of here. But we decided that we were here and we were going to make the best of it. This was our daughter's country and we had time to explore it. We did, we got out of the city with new friends we met at the guest houses. This was great therapy for all of us. I pray that you will take the time to explore, it will be good for you and also for your children because you will have that extra knowledge about their birth place.
    I, like Flora, pray for all us during this journey. For the day that we will be able to hold our children and tuck them into bed. We will with God's help and the friends we have met along the way and the family that supports us at home. God bless you and keep you safe and in His arms.

  22. HI Ruth,

    I have had a hard time finding a good comment to leave for you. I guess to know that some how 6 weeks will pass ( but really come on 6 weeks feels like a life time to me, so really I cant not even imagine how long this must feel now that you have spent time with the new babes )
    I do hope you either hit a day trip or two or a new flight, I so hate the idea of you both sitting in the guest house sad.
    I am so happy you are a crew there together somehow this really makes me feel like you are less alone.
    We are all cheering you on through another hurdle and I think Laura said it best.
    I also keep thinking of how very tired you must both be, I have been tired just reading your posts and the intensity of such a long trip.
    Hope sleep has eased even a little bit of the pain of today.
    Much love

  23. Oh, I am so sorry Ruth!!! I was praying for good news for you. March 21st - first day of Spring - new life, good changes, all good stuff. It'll happen Ruth! ((((hugs))))

  24. So sorry Ruth!! Here's praying and hoping Mar 21 they will be yours officially!


  25. Booo! I am sorry to hear your news Ruth. Even though you were preparing for the possibility of not passing court, I am sure it was a shock to have a new rule dropped on you. I can't believe how quickly new rules are instated - I think the same thing would probably take months in Canada.

    In any case, I hope that you find some lovely, fun activities for your last few days in Ethiopia so that you leave feeling good.

    Drink a few tiny coffees too!

  26. Oh Ruth. I'm so sorry. My heart is heavy for you. I too believe that you will pass eventually and will bring those children home but I know you still must just feel so crushed right now. I would. I will continue praying for your family, all FIVE of you. Thank you for sharing your strong faith.