Hello Canada – A Wonderful Welcome Home!

On Wednesday, February 19th, after over twenty-two hours of flying, we were welcomed home by a wonderful supportive group of family and friends! We loved coming down the escalator in the Winnipeg airport arrival area and seeing our entire support network cheer us on. It brought tears to our eyes! There were balloons and banners and teddy bears and so many family and friends. We felt so supported and loved and it made the twenty plus hours of not so easy travel, worth it. Everyone wanted to meet K and this wonderful little circle of people surrounded him as he took it all in. He loved the balloons and he spotted them right away. He also loved the teddy bear and boy did he love all the kids! It took him no time and soon they were all running around the airport arrival area together, ha ha. (Sorry to anyone else trying to arrive that day, we kind of took over!) O was also so happy to be back home, surrounded by his cousins and friends. He sure did miss them and it was so nice of everyone to include him and welcome him back in such a warm and thoughtful way as well.

How did the flying go with a newly adopted child that does not speak the same language as you? Well, we will just say we made it! I took all the advice other adoptive parents had given me and I’m glad I did, but nothing can really prepare you for that long flight home, you just have to jump in and do it! The key was to eat lots of food, drink lots of water and laugh/make jokes when you can. Let’s just say we told the customs agent that we weren’t planning on leaving Canada anytime soon, and boy did we mean it! When our plane landed, we were just so happy to be back on Canadian soil, in a country we know and love. A place where we felt we could conquer all the hard that has come along with this journey. A place where our support network lives. A place that is our family home.

We can’t thank our family and friends enough for coming to the airport to meet K and welcome the rest of us back. We loved the “Welcome to Canada K” banner and we loved the “Welcome back” banner too! Thank you for being there and showing your support the minute we got off that plane! Thank you to everyone for filling our home and fridge with food and meals. What a treat, as we needed time to recuperate after such a long and overwhelming travel day. It truly was the most special welcoming for our newly adopted boy and our family of four. One we will never forget!

Day Twenty-Two – Goodbye Lithuania – Flying Home

Today, Wednesday, February 19th, we fly home! We are sad to leave the beautiful country of K’s birth but are so happy to start our next adventure as a family of 4 in our homeland of Canada.

We have too many words to express how we are feeling at this time. It is with mixed emotions we leave. We are so thankful for the beautiful people and land we have experienced in Lithuania. We are forever indebted to them for raising K thus far. A piece of our hearts will stay there forever. Thank you Lithuania. Ačiū už daug ką!

Please pray with us for our travels. For safety and for everyone’s emotions and well- being. We will see you soon Canada! (As in later tonight!) We can’t wait to introduce you to K. Here is to a beautiful new beginning as a family of four!

Day Eighteen to Day Twenty-One – February 15th to 18th

Well the last few days went by fairly quickly as we decided to try to get out each day as a family, as hard as it was. We were starting to all feel a little cooped-up and needed some short adventures to help our boys expel all their daily energy! The outings were good for our minds and for physical well-bing as well.

On Saturday the 15th, we went to visit Trakai. It is a 30 minute drive outside of Vilnius. This was a worthwhile trip as there is a castle at Trakai on the island. The castle was built in the 14th century. It was a beautiful scene! As we drove to Trakai, the frost on the trees was a sight to see. So pretty. Then when we arrived, the castle had just opened for the day so there were not many tourists yet. The boys had fun running across the two bridges to the castle. Inside the castle we paid to tour the floors. It was a neat experience and an overall successful trip. We all highly agreed that it was fun to visit a real castle and Otto really enjoyed this outing. In summer it most be very busy but nice as there were beaches and boat docks everywhere. We are sure it’s a popular summer vacation spot. We would highly recommend a visit to a Trakai if you are ever in Lithuania.

Then on Sunday the 16th it was Lithuania’s Independce Day. Lithuania actually celebrates two independence day. This one on in February and the other one is in March. This day was celebrating the act of reinstating the independence of Lithuania in 1918. We took the boys on a walk through old town Vilnius to a park. Along the way we were able to watch part of a march celebrating Independence Day. There were a lot of people and Lithuanian flags hanging from every building. In the evening Jeff went down to the main areas and all the important monuments were lite up in the three colours of the flag. It was a neat day for us to experience and explain to K later on in his life.

On Monday, we took a drive to the city of Kaunas. There we drove past the Kaunas castle, the liberation street where they celebrated the end of the WW2 and then stopped and explored the Ninth Fort. It was a fort constructed in the late 19th century. During the occupation of Kaunas and the rest of Lithuania by the Soviet Union, the fort was used as a prison and way-station for prisoners being transported to labour camps. After the occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany, the fort was used as a place of execution for Jews, captured Soviets, and others. At this site they have constructed a huge monument in remembrance of those who have died here. We walked the grounds of the monument and fort as a family. It was a moving experience and one we will never forget.

On Monday the 18th, we spent our last full day in Lithuania as a family. We took the boys on a morning walk through old town. Through the gates of dawn one last time. Then Jeff and I took turns going for one last walk through the streets. We really each enjoyed spending some time alone doing this activity in the past week. We then packed all our suitcases. We sure have a lot of travel memories to bring home! Then we took the boys to the Toy Museum in Vilnius. It was filled with old Soviet toys and the boys both enjoyed playing there. Otto especially enjoyed the air hockey table and foosball table!

We head home on Wednesday, February 19th. We are very excited to head home. We are also thankful for this whole experience. Lithuania will always have a special place in our hearts as that is where our precious K came from. We really hope to return once the boys are older. We are thankful we got to experience so many aspects of Lithuania to tell K about as he grows older. Jeff’s Lithuanian also improved greatly, mine not so much! We are so happy to head home and introduce K to our families and friends. We pray for our travel. We feel for our little guy as he has never experienced what is coming ahead. We hope it goes well. Please pray with us that our travel will go well for all. Thanks for following along with our journey. We appreciate all the prayers and support along the way!

Goodbye beautiful Lithuania! Ačiū!

Visiting Trakai Castle.
Beautiful Trakai Castle.
Walking the streets on Lithuania’s Independence Day, February 15th. This is the building where the act of independence was signed in 1918.
Viewing the monument for those killed by the Nazis in WW2 in Kaunas, Lithuania.
Last family walk in old town Vilnius.

Day Thirteen to Day Seventeen – February 10th to 14th

Well the days are sure starting to blur together. Life has become very busy, very interesting and very entertaining. After my Mom left to go home on February the 10th, we spent a quiet day at “home”. The boys played a lot with the items in the AirBnB. The most interesting items for K has been the swifer, the light switches, washing his mini cars and airplanes in the bathroom sink and the laundry machine. Oh does he love watching the laundry machine! (I have learned that there is a spin only cycle and that to uses a good 15 minutes of entertainment!) Otto loves that we are on the main floor and there is no one underneath or even close to us, so he practices his basketball dribbles daily with the small Lithuanian basketball he purchased. He also enjoys playing mini-sticks and both boys have enjoyed fort building too. It’s amazing what you can come up with when you have a small space and limited items. The day still seems to pass quickly!

We cook all our meals here and we grocery shop almost daily. That is what the locals do so we’ve become used to that too. There is a small grocery store called Maxima just around the corner so one of us walks there to pick up the essentials. It is interesting to meal plan when you can’t read any of the packages but all three boys think I’ve been doing a pretty good job and there have been no big complaints so far. We don’t eat out or even go out a lot as a family of four as K does not do well yet in large crowds (totally understandable) and is actually just the happiest being here at home. So Jeff and I take turns going out. He likes to visit the gym, I like to wander the streets with my coffee and go shopping or visit the history museums. (Don’t ask me how many Lithuanian children’s books I have bought!) Then in the afternoons Jeff often takes Otto out for an adventure too. They have been to the Illusion Museum, a Lithuanian basketball game, and today the Vichy Water Park – they said all were a lot of fun!

The only two outings we have done as a family of four is going to the Zoo Park and going up to the Gediminas Castle Tower in Vilnius. Both boys loved the zoo park as it was indoor and they got to fed rabbits and see birds, monkeys, fish, and all sorts of other animals in aquariums. It has been raining and sleeting a lot and chilly out too, so this was a good indoor place to take the boys. We would love to be doing more stroller walks but alas the weather has not cooperated. Today, however, we finally saw sun so we took the boys up the tram to the top of a hill where the Gediminas Castle tower sits and it offers a great panoramic view of Vilnius. On one side you can see old town and on the other side you can see the new city. It was a neat perspective and we were glad we ventured outside as we were maybe going a bit stir-crazy and the fresh air and sunshine felt good today.

When are we coming home? Well on Tuesday, February 11th, in the morning, we got a call that K’s birth certificate was ready and it was time to apply for the passport. We were asked to attend the passport office at 1pm that day. K has afternoon naps so we knew that time would be tricky but we wanted that passport, so off we all went. Well, we will just say, one hour later, we had one usable passport photo! So off the documents went and then we waited to hear when it would be done. On Thursday we were told it was ready! We were happy it was so quick. This time K was not needed so Jeff dropped me off and I waited with a lady from our Lithuanian lawyers office to pick up the passport and other documents needed to travel as well. She told me it would be a 1-2 hour wait and we ended up waiting 15mins! We were so lucky it was that fast and I then was able to stop for groceries and Uber back home to the boys. So by Thursday night we had all the documents in hand that we needed to travel. That felt so good!

Jeff and I then talked about switching our flight home to an earlier date. We had originally been told to plan for a travel date based on the judge’s pronouncement taking anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks (2 weeks is the total amount of time it can take). Since our pronouncement took only 4 days, we could apply for the documents earlier than expected and they were completed earlier than expected too. So after a few hours on the phone, we were finally able to change our date from the 23rd to the 19th. So we will be heading home in 5 days. We can’t wait!

So the next few days are much the same like at home. Cooking, cleaning, washing dishes by hand (no dishwashers here), doing laundry but drying everything on a rack (no dryers here) and entertaining the boys. We hope to get out on a few more adventures but we will take it easy and just enjoy this time away from our regular life and routine at home. Bonding and attaching with K are our goals and making sure O feels secure as well during all these changes. We have been praying a lot already about our flight home as I had said, K does not do well in large crowds and new situations, so you can pray for us as well on the 19th. You can also pray that we will all feel well rested and ready to travel the 20+ hour distance home. We can’t wait to return to Canada and for our families and friends to meet our new boy!

Receiving K’s passport on Thursday!
Playing every day in the sink with the water, what fun!
Feeding the Rabbits at the Zoo Park.
Morning out exploring the
Gediminas Castle Tower
Taking in the view of the city of Vilnius.

Day Eleven- February 8 – Happy Family Day! Day Twelve – February 9 – First full day as a family!

Well today was the day some call family day or gotcha day. We finally picked up K for good and it took us about a whole 30mins to pick him up! We arrived at the orphanage at 9am. K was ready to see us, a bit confused as to why we weren’t going out right away, but generally happy. We handed out the flowers to the workers and the toys and food we had bought to the kids. Then we proceeded with packing a few of his items (mostly the ones we had given him in December) into the suitcase we had brought. He liked the suitcase, especially since it had all his new clothes in it. With the help of a worker, we then changed him (as he was a bit confused as to why he was changing again!) yet he loved his new jacket, boots, hat and mittens so that part was easy. Then we wanted to take some photos but he was ready to leave! Before we knew it he was saying Goodbye in English (we were surprised and assume a worker was teaching him that!) and away we went. He pushed his suitcase the entire way to the car. And of course, he loves the car so in he got and off we went to Vilnius. Overall he did relatively good on the 2.5 hour drive. He was pretty quiet at the beginning, just taking in all the sites of the countryside. As we got closer to the city though, he was ready for the car ride to be over.

We arrived in Vilnius just after noon and we checked in to our new AirBnB right away. It’s a lovely 1-bedroom apartment with a full kitchen and big bathroom. It’s located right at the start of “old town”. Old Town Vilnius is one of the largest surviving medieval old towns in Northern Europe. If we were just here on vacation, this would be a wonderful place to stay and explore. It’s a bit different this time for us now though, and that’s more than okay too. We do hope to do some short stroller walks around this old part of town in the days to come.

The boys were very happy to get out of the car after the long drive and within 5 mins the place was destroyed, lol. Toys everywhere, rolling around with the covers on the bed, opening every cupboard, pushing around the vacuum cleaner or swifer and of course K was checking out every light switch! We had some lunch and then attempted nap number one. We decided to stay in for the rest of the day as there was so much excitement in the morning and that was a good decision as everyone needed some time to adjust to their new surroundings. We had supper and then attempted bedtime routine number one. Let’s just say, if big brother is not in the room it is much more difficult than if big brother is in the room too. When O finally came to bed, it took K only 5mins to go to sleep.

We are feeling so thankful to finally be our little family of four. We are learning new things about K hourly. We are also learning how to adjust too to this new busy toddler life and new two kids life too. We are taking it very slow and not venturing out much for now.

My mom is going home tomorrow so this morning (February 9th), after we made a breakfast of bacon and eggs for all, we went for a stroller walk with the boys. When the boys headed back, my mom and I continued on and had a good morning of exploring Old Town Vilnius. Since it is Sunday we ventured in and out of the local churches. I think we went into 4 or 5 churches and every church was having a service. We also probably walked by about 8 old churches just on one street. It was a pretty neat experience. I’m thankful that my mom could travel with us on this trip. She has been a great help, especially with Otto. We could not have done the court day without her. We are really glad she could experience this with us and visit where K is from too. We are so grateful for her assistance and we will sure miss her. I know once she’s gone there will be a lot less posts as our parenting duties will be calling us. Bonding time is also very important to us so we will be spending a lot of time switched off from reality, and of course just playing with the the vacuum hose and light switches!

Happy Family Day!
Excitedly pushing his suitcase down the hall to the car.
On our way inside to pick up K forever!
Finally wearing the matching Jets toques and heading to Vilnius in the car.
Exploring the streets of Vilnius.

Day Ten – February 7th – The Pronouncement Day

Today was the pronouncement day. We all actually slept good, considering we were so excited to hear the news. In the morning, we went out for one last outing. We went to go visit the Miller’s Homestead which was the location of a 150 year old windmill that was used for grinding flour. It was a very educational trip for O. He loved learning how the flour was made. K loved running around as usual and the neat thing was there was a dog at the site. K loved meeting the dog and that was a relief, as we have a dog at home, and we sure hope he will love our Ralph as much as we all do!

After that we did a lot of errands and packing in preparation to move to the capital city tomorrow. We bought all the workers flowers and some toys and sweet treats for the children as a goodbye present. Then we decided to walk down the pedestrian only part of town one last time. We saw some neat sculptures and stopped at a local coffee shop too. It was a nice afternoon as we were waiting to hear the official news.

At around 2:30pm we heard the results of the official pronouncement that was at 1:30pm. To clarify, this was done back in court but we did not have to be present. Only our lawyer had to attend on our behalf. And so the news was… K is officially ours! We are so beyond happy and excited. It was the best news to get after all this waiting. Our orphanage got the official paperwork just before supper. We had already decided that K would sleep one last night there before the big day. So we made a plan and tomorrow morning at 9am we will pick him up and all move to the capital city of Vilnius. As O says, I am not sure how I am going to sleep because I am so excited! We all are!

Tonight we had one last visit with just the four of us playing in his orphanage toy room for the last time. We drove the remote control cars, played tickle games, built with blocks, listened to music and just enjoyed each other and our time there together immensely. We then watched him have supper with the other children in his group, said Ate (goodbye) and see you tomorrow morning and off we went. We can’t wait to go back in the morning!

Our blog posts will start to get fewer in between as life is going to get a lot busier! Also all of us have not been feeling the greatest so we are really looking forward to the move and just being together as a family. My mom flies home on Monday and after that we plan to hunker down in our new Airbnb and just get to know each other and get used to making a new schedule that is our own on our own time. Being restricted to visit at certain times was harder on us than we thought and we are looking forward to the freedom.

Next steps is we apply for a birth certificate. That office only opens on Tuesday. Then when that is complete we apply for a passport. So we will have some downtime just waiting for these things to get completed in Vilnius.

Thanks to everyone for their prayers, well wishes and words of encouragement! We really appreciate them all and are so happy you could share in this journey of us becoming an official family of four. We can’t wait for you to meet our new boy K!

And yes, don’t panic, we will post about the gotcha day (which is tomorrow) once it’s complete and we have accomplished the 2.5 hour drive with all 5 of us in the car and our luggage. We are already playing Tetris in our brains 🙂

Visiting the town windmill.
Going for one last morning visit to our AirBnB before we move to the capital city tomorrow.
Last official visit.
Playing trains at our last orphanage visit tonight.

Day Nine – February 6th

Today was our second last day of having to visit our boy in his orphanage. We only have two more sleeps in his city until we move to the capital city. This morning we decided to take him to the train museum as he loves playing with the train cars we brought along from home. When we arrived we were taken by a security guard to the museum. The lady in the museum did not speak English but she still toured us around and did a very good job of trying to tell us what the museum was all about. I was actually surprised and appreciative of her efforts and we got more out of the tour than we thought. They had a miniature train set there that was working and both our boys enjoyed seeing it work (thankfully it was behind glass or it wouldn’t have lasted!). Then we got to tour an old train car which was neat as well. This museum was free so we enjoyed our short visit. It left us with time to come back to our AirBnb to play and eat snacks. K loves coming here and today he learned how a suitcase works and had so much fun rolling it all around our place. He also loves to eat Oreos which we found out! And he loves bananas, which we knew from our visit in December. So we had a nice snack of Oreos and bananas and the adults had tea and coffee. It was a lovely morning once again.

Then, after we dropped him off for his lunch and nap, we headed to the arena. Jeff had contacted the local basketball team and actually had success in getting access to buying their jerseys. So off to the arena we went and the boys had fun shopping. Basketball is the number one sport here in Lithuania. Unfortunately there were no games on in the town we were staying. But the boys wanted a souvenir from this area and what better souvenir for O, then a sports jersey. Let’s just say he has worn that thing all day and insists he will wear it again tomorrow! Jeff hopes to take O to a basketball game in Vilnius later on next week.

After that, we went out to a pub to eat lunch. My mom has been our restaurant organizer and she has done a great job of locating places to eat. We enjoyed the atmosphere and the food of this pub. Then we decided to explore a bit more of the main pedestrian only street. It goes for many, many blocks so we haven’t seen it all because it is too far and too cold to walk in one day. (Maybe in summer but lately it has been very chilly here). We went to the photography museum and were able to go up on the rooftop terrace. It offered us some lovely views of the town. Then we decided to visit the bicycle museum. This town has a bicycle factory called the Baltic Vairas. It is the largest bike factory in Northern Europe. It was established way back in 1948 under a different name but was one of the main industries during the time that this town was growing and known as the man the third largest Lithuanian city. It is now the main industry of this town. We saw many different kinds of bikes produced from this factory over the years and the boys really enjoyed this visit as they had bikes you could ride on as well. We have now visited the chocolate museum, the leather shoe factory museum and the bike museum; all three were integral to building this city to what it was today. We enjoy visiting these places so we can tell our boy about this in years to come.

Tomorrow is the day we hear our judge’s decision. He will make his pronouncement at 1:30pm but our lawyer said to not expect any news before 3pm. So we will keep everyone updated as soon as we can. We hope we sleep well tonight as we are excited and hopeful. We sure love little K and he sure is starting to love us too, especially big brother O! We get hugged and told “meilė, meilė”every time we come visit. That means “love, love”. We can’t wait for the official documents to be complete so we can start moving ahead with the next chapter of our family’s adventure!

Visiting the train museum.
On the rooftop with the Cathedral in the background.
Visiting the bicycle museum.
The pedestrian only street.

Day Eight – February 5th

After a whole day away yesterday at court, today we got to see our little boy again! From now on we will call him K as if you saw our post from the Hill of Crosses on February 2nd, you saw that Jeff had wrote the initials O, K, T, J Klassen on a cross. So his name does indeed start with K (if you know the rest of our names!). That will make it easier instead of me always referring to our kids as as little boy and big boy 🙂

K was very excited and ran to get his boots when he saw us. Since we found out we have a few more days in the town he lives in (I have been calling it a city but learned today that the locals call it a town) we decided to explore a few more local landmarks. First stop was the town Cathedral. It is called the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. It has been around since the 17th century and although most of the town was decimated in both world wars, parts of the cathedral always survived and it was lovingly restored every time. In 1997 Pope John Paul II visited and elevated this then called church to the status of cathedral. The inside is pretty plain in comparison to some other ornate cathedrals we have seen in Europe, but the all white interior and dark wooden benches made it a lovely place to be. We were glad we took turns stepping inside as K was enjoying his stroller and he did not go inside like the rest of us. As well, this Cathedral was very busy, with numerous people coming in to pray. We all agreed that this seemed like a well-loved and well-used place of worship.

After that visit, we walked around the town square which is right across from the cathedral. When Jeff and I were here in December, it had a big, beautiful Christmas tree and a light-up sign (just like the Winnipeg sign at the Forks) of the town name and year. The tree was gone but the town sign was still up. K loved running around here, trying to chase the pigeons and also push his stroller around. It was a quick visit though as today is one of the colder days we have experience here so far.

We still had some time after those two stops so we made one more stop back to our AirBnB. K loves coming here as it is just us and so warm and cozy inside. He has discovered his suitcase with all the toys, clothes and shoes I have packed him. I think he tried on every pair of shoes and boots I had brought along today! He loves to wear anything new, like the mittens I have brought him and the boots and the toques. He often wears them inside while we are playing, silly boy! He also loves anything remote control and light up. Yesterday Jeff and I bought the boys remote control cars in Vilnius as court day presents and he loved playing with them today inside. We hope these will keep them both busy for the days ahead when we are hunkered down in our new AirBnb in Vilnius, waiting for all the paperwork to get done.

This afternoon my mom and I walked over to a museum. It was actually a palace built by industrialist, Chaim Frenkel, in 1908. In the late 19th century he opened one of the largest and most modern leather processing plants and footwear factories in then Tsarist Russia. The Chaim Frenkel Palace has elaborate ceilings and woodwork inside. His family lived here until 1931. From 1931-35 it was a Jewish Secondary School. During both wars it became a military hospital. Chaimas Frenkelis was a Jewish man and he did many wonderful things for the community, like opening up schools and fire halls and more. People say this town would not have survived if it wasn’t for his large shoe factory. He died in 1920. He had one son, who luckily survived World War Two, by moving to England and then the US with his wife and kids. But Frenkelis’ wife, Dora, was not so lucky as she would not leave the family home and factory in Lithuania and ended up dying in the Jewish getto during the war. The family never got their shoe factory back after the second world war but in 1994 it became a museum and it took ten years to restore. During the Soviet period, they continued to make shoes (under a new opener and name) in this factory but it never did as well as when he owned it. My mom and I both enjoy history and we were the only visitors here today, so we enjoyed walking around the the two floors, reading and listening to an electronic English guide. It was a very interesting afternoon.

Tonight we went back to the orphanage to play with K. Today we were back up in his regular playroom. I kind of like it up there as we can hear the other kids and workers and it gives me a sense of what life has been like for him. Our one favorite workers was on again today (the one that worked at his old orphanage with him) and she always pops into the room… she does not speak any English but we have figured out our own way to communicate with each other. Our boy may have picked up the cold that Otto and I have had for the last little while. He was very quiet today and just happy to sit in either Jeff or my lap. He still really enjoys watching his big brother and continues to copy words that he says. It was a nice quiet evening, just the four of us. We only have two morning evenings like this before reality hits and then I told Jeff it probably won’t be so quiet and peaceful anymore! We are enjoying this stage while we can, as we still can not believe that by Saturday we will be leaving his town and moving to the capital city. So we are taking everyday in stride and trying to capture the feeling and even smells of his town for our memories and his too!

K pushing his stroller around the town square. The Cathedral in the background.
The town sign that is displayed in the town square.
What the town square looked like in December when we first travelled.
Walking to the Cathedral.
The inside of the Cathedral.
The Frenkel Mansion.

Court Day Details

On February the 4th, Jeff and I attended court in Vilnuis, Lithuania. This was the official proceedings to adopt our little boy. At noon we meet our lawyer at her law office in Vilnius. She practices family law and has been doing this for over twenty years. Her office is filled with bulletin boards of photos of children and families that have adopted with her assistance and that was very neat to see. There are only two ladies who work in the office and the other lady was the one we meet in December, when we visited our son’s orphanage for the very first time (she was our representative on that first day and visited alongside us). It was very nice to see her again as she has also been the primary communicator between us and our Toronto agency as well.

Also, we saw (with our own eyes) all that paperwork that had been sent to our MB agency, then to Toronto, then to Vilnius (and then translated) over the last 1.5 years. To me, that was huge because it had indeed arrived! There was a file on us (it was huge) and it really had been in someone’s office waiting for the past few years. During all our months and months of waiting we would talk about our paperwork and file and hope and pray it was in the right place and safe as we had heard horror stories of people who’s paperwork had got misplaced/lost. So to just see our file there, we knew these two people had been doing their job. I almost cried tears of happiness just knowing they knew everything about us and were ready to represent us in court as best as they could. Nothing had been lost. Nothing had been wasted in this process. Nothing was still sitting in a filing cabinet somewhere. It was all ready for us to head to court!

At noon, our lawyer sat us down and told us exactly how court would proceed. She gave us a very good description of what to expect and exactly what we would need to say when and where. After court was over, Jeff and I both agreed she had been very accurate in her description. She also told us a bit about our judge, as she has been working as a lawyer for a long time she knew him from past cases. She told us he was a man of few words and would hardly ask us any questions (whereas there is a different judge that loves to ask families many questions). She was very correct in her description as well. The only thing she left out was that he was young, maybe in his early forties. Jeff commented that we would never have judges that young in Canada.

At 1pm, the three of us took a taxi down to the court buildings. There is hardly any parking down there and this was by far the easiest way to get there. Our lawyer was in charge and we just followed her lead, we had no worries along the way as she was very likeable and trustworthy. When we arrived at the court building, we were about 15 minutes early. Our lawyer right away met many people she knew and was busy chatting with them all. You could tell this is a place she visits regularly. Then we were introduced to the director of the orphanage (who we had met a few days earlier) and the representative of the state. We had never met this lady before and it was only during and after court we realized how important she was to our story.

At 1:30pm we entered our court room, room #3. There was the Lithuanian flag in the corner of the rom. The coat of arms hanging on the wall. There were three large dark oak tables. One at the front of the room and two coming off that table. There were large red chairs at every table. The one at the front was for the judge, the one to the left was for our lawyer, Jeff and I and our translator and the one to the right was for the Orphange director and the Representative of the State. At the end of the tables was a podium. As we entered the room, the court secretary took our passports right away and began to enter them into the computer. Everything is recorded in court. Then we met our translator. She is a court translator and she was very nice. She told us court adoptions are her favourite part of her job and she was very happy to be working for us today. She told us she just loves to work on cases like ours. She also did an excellent job of translating everything for us and she would also whisper and explain parts to us that seemed a bit confusing.

Court started about 10 minutes late. The judge entered the room around 1:40pm. The first thing I noticed was the size of our file he carried in. It was about 10 inches thick, no joke. I am pretty sure 5 inches was the information on us and 5 inches was the information on our boy. It was huge! Again, all our information had been passed into the right hands and we know he had already read it all previous to court and was familiar with our case.

I won’t go into full detail about what he all said as some of it was briefly translated but he officially opened the proceedings, said a few things about our legal names and the child we were there to adopt and then it went straight to our speeches. I spoke first and Jeff spoke second. I got up and had to stand behind the podium and swear in to court with the LIthuanian oath. I can’t quote it for you as it was actually pretty confusing as the translator was saying some of it pretty fast, so I tried my best to understand her and I think I got it mostly right. After my speech, each party represented had a chance to ask questions. The judge asked none, the director of the orphange asked none and then the representative of the State asked me a few. Nothing that took me off guard as we knew our boys file, so I answered with what we had read in that file. When I was done, Jeff proceeded with his turn. He also swore in and then said his part of the speech. I should note, our speeches took a very long time to get through as our translator had us stop after every sentence. So it was hard not to get lost as we were talking but we both did a good job and made it through with little mistakes. After Jeff was done, everyone in the room had a chance to ask questions and again, only the representative of the State had questions for Jeff. She asked pretty much the same questions as me and Jeff had all the right answers. After our part, we asked the court for their grace in helping us adopt our boy as soon as possible (not waiting two weeks for the decision). After that line, we were done our part.

Next we got to hear the director of the orphanage speak. Since he did not work with our boy until the start of this month, we could tell that his speech had been written with the help of our boy’s social worker. It was actually a very nice speech and he had nothing but positive things to say about our boy and wanting us to be his adoptive parents. We are so thankful for that social worker, she has been so kind and good to us. When he a was done, the floor was opened for questions, but no one had any.

Then we heard the representative of the state speak. She had submitted her speech ahead of time so she did not go in to full details, just summarized what we all already knew. She just stated things from the government’s position and how international adoption works in Lithuania. When she was done, the floor was once again opened for questions, but no one had any. We later learned that she was the person to match us to our boy, how neat! We loved that we were actually able to meet her and thank her in person and she also let me take her photo which I am so thankful for!

Then the judge had to ask if he needed to read our file out loud or if we are all familiar with it. I prayed he did not need to read it aloud as it was 10 inches thick! He did not, thankfully. After that, a few more words were said, Jeff and I stood up once more to affirm our decision and ask for a timely decision of the adoption of our boy. Then he opened his agenda book and started flipping pages and said “February 7th at 1:30pm I will have my decision” and court was adjourned.

After court, we were able to talk to the director (though that was difficult as he does not speak English) and the representative of the state. She spoke great English and we had such a nice chat with her. She told us she had the same birth year as Jeff and I and she also told us about why she picked us to be matched to our boy. She also told us about her job and her family here in Lithuania. We will forever remember that conversation, it was very nice and thoughtful of her. Once again, we are so happy to have her story as part of our story now too!

After that, the three of us took a taxi back to the law office. Jeff started to ask our lawyer all about basketball (as that is the main sport here!) and she loves basketball so Jeff learned everything there is to know about Lithuania basketball. Fun fact, did you know that there was a Lithuanian player on the Toronto Raptors last year? Jonas Valanciunas. Then Jeff and I stopped for something to eat and headed 2.5 hours back to our boy’s city. That was our day! It was a good and happy day. We were relieved that all the formalities are coming to a close and now we can relax and just enjoy our time as a family. We also can not wait till the 7th as the official pronouncement will be made and we will be anxiously waiting for that phone call from our lawyer to hear the official news! She said not to expect it any earlier than 3pm, so we will be waiting as patiently as we can be!

Photo taken in the court room, right after court was finished.

Day Seven – Court Day – February 4th

First my apologies, I wrote a blog post yesterday for day six and it stayed in my drafts. Never published. So if you are reading this now, you’ll want to go back and read day six so you’ll know what we were facing today.

Today we won’t write much as we are exhausted. But a very happy kind of exhausted. We got up early, drove 2.5 hours to Vilnius for court. Jeff and I went to court from 1:30-3pm and then drove 2.5 hours back to Otto and my mom. Our court proceedings went well. Our speeches were well received. Our attorney that we work with was excellent. We were very happy with how everything proceeded. Court ended with our judge declaring that he would give his official pronouncement on Friday the 7th at 1:30p.m. (That is his yes or no). Our attorney was very positive that it will be a yes. So until then we wait. We continue with our two times a day visits and start planning for the next stages of our time here in Lithuania after we officially have our boy, which should be no later then Saturday!

Outside the court building in Vilnius, Lithuania.
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