written while out of the country finalizing the adoption of our son...
I cannot believe how calm I am. For weeks I have been a nervous wreck, anticipating all the things that could go wrong at this very moment. Now that I am here, though, in the moment, I am calm. You can't have fear and faith at the same time, and I am suddenly filled with faith. My husband,on the other hand, is not calm. He is pacing the marble floored hallway and occasionally shooting me that look of his which says "don't say a word to me or you will make me even more nervous!" I tell him everything will be OK. He says "stop talking." I should have listened to the look.
We are about the put the fate of our little family in the hands of a judge in a family court in a foreign country. Going before a judge in our own country would be daunting enough, but in a foreign country anything could happen, Literally anything could happen. The internet and the 24/7 access to media may make the world seem a lot smaller than it was 20 years ago but the fact is foreign countries are just that; foreign. We do not all think alike.
Which explains my nervousness of the past weeks. The fact that this particular court requests that the man speak first and the wife wait until further clarification is needed, if it is needed, is why my husband is currently still nervous. In our little union I am usually the voice. Don't get me wrong; he is definitely the brains behind the operation. I am simply the mouthpiece. But today I am to sit quietly and not jump in with the answer if my husband falters. This requires me to maintain near constant eye contact with the judge, in order to refrain from looking at my husband, who I can feel is looking at me, trying to find the right words to express his answer to whatever question was just posed. Suddenly I am thinking, "Is this weird? Am I starting at her? Is she going to think I am crazy? I don't want her to think I am crazy! Stop staring at her!"
It is my turn to answer questions now. I am ready. I know why I want to adopt this precious little boy. I know why we want to grow our family. I am prepared for the chaos of parenting two young boys. I am ready for this. I answer question after question, immediately volleying the answer back to the judge. I am on my game! This is going well, I think. And then I am asked a question I do not know the answer to. How long of a drive is it from your home to Washington D.C.? "What?", I think. The consulate is in Washington, which is what prompts the question. Why I would ever need to drive there, I do not know. And even if I did need to drive there, I would use a map. Or my GPS. Or I would fly. The pilot always seems to know how to get where he is going. I have never been stopped from getting to where I needed to be because I didn't know how long of a drive it would be. I panic.
Geography is not my strong suite. I can cook, I can sing, I can play euchre and uno. I cannot tell you where the states go on a map. Oh I can pick out Ohio, and Florida, and probably California. I know what states are somewhat close to my home. I can read maps and use them to get from one place to another. But give me a blank map of the United States and I am sorry to say that I would not be able to tell you where each state belongs. Again, I go back to my pilot theory. The pilot is NEVER going to emerge form the cockpit looking harried and alarmed and run to my seat in coach, throwing himself down at my feet and begging me to please, oh please, help him navigate this plane! He ALWAYS knows the way.
But here I am in, in the foreign court, being asked this absurd question in a very serious situation. "Am I supposed to know this?", I think. I have no idea how long I have been thinking about the answer so I suddenly say "about 7 hours." I say it with authority, as though I am daring anyone to question my answer. I breath a sigh of relief as the judge moves on to another question. Later my husband tells me that he was a little panicked at that moment also. He couldn't believe I, of all people, was asked a map question during this, possibly the most important interview of our lives. A map question! It was like my kryptonite.