Friday, March 22, 2013

One More McCracken, One Less Orphan - March 22, 2013

Our court session was just as we had been told it would be.   It took place in the judge’s room, with chairs packed in so tight you are almost sitting on your neighbor’s lap.  The judge presided from her elevated desk, with a clerk beside her; below her sat the prosecutor and two jurors.  In the audience were myself, Peter, our interpreter, and two witnesses: the orphanage attorney/representative, and the regional social worker of children’ services.  As the court directed questions back and forth to Peter and myself, we took turns standing up to answer.  At one point, we showed her a picture of Gillian, and for a brief second, the judge raised her eyebrows and smiled.  She did this a second time when I explained to her that in our country, Leeza will have rights the same as any other human being:  The right to family, the right to participate in activities, the right to an education, the right to seek medical attention, the right to attend college if she’s so inclined.  When the judge finished her questioning, we were cross-examined by the prosecutor.  Next the witnesses were asked for their recommendations, which were favorable.  The orphanage representative in particular gave a sweet recount of her observations of my daily visits with Leeza (I did not know that I was being observed!) -- that we sang and played and snuggled and even did PT exercises together, and that Leeza was clearly bonded and responsive to me.  She also explained Leeza’s sad history, which (like most children with Down Syndrome in Eastern European countries) was a story of being given up at birth, with never a visitor.  She reiterated for the court that Leeza has no hope in her country.  When questioning ceased, we were asked to leave while the court deliberated.  About five minutes later, we were called back in:  The decision was rendered; the court found in favor of our petition to adopt.  I cried so hard, the tears were splashing off my sweater.  Peter was crying too.

We are pleased to introduce our youngest daughter, who -- by order of the Court today in Ukraine -- will be named “Elizabeth Jean McCracken.”  We will call her Leeza, as it is what her nannies have always called her.  The “Jean” is named after her Gramma Jean McCracken, who ultimately propelled us on this journey that led to finding Leeza.  If she had never mailed us a newspaper clipping, it is entirely possible we’d never come to know that there are specially-abled children like Leeza living institutionalized lives.
Elizabeth Jean McCracken ... "Leeza"
When we sat outside the courthouse building early this morn, after a sleepless and fret-filled night, I suddenly felt warmth like a ray of sunshine surround me.  I turned to Peter and said, “I can feel it. I can feel our friends and families.”   I could feel the prayers.  I could feel the love, the support.  We stepped out of the car into the cold air, but that feeling of peace stayed with me … right through the court proceeding. 

To all who helped us along this journey, there really are no words to express our gratitude.  There is no way we could have done this alone.  Your kind words, your interest in this little blog, your offers of assistance, your prayers, your sweet gestures, your donations to our fundraiser … you are our village, and we thank you.  Immensely.
Today Leeza  is somebody:  She is a daughter.  A sister.  A niece.  A grand-daughter.  A friend.  And very soon, a member of our community that helped to bring her home.



  1. Oh my goodness, Im sitting here crying my eyes out with tears of happiness! Ive been waiting so long to hear she had a forever family!!!!! Praying for your whole family and Leeza!!!


    Stephanie @

  2. Stephanie, I thought of you as soon as we were finished with court! Thank you for being Leeza's guardian angel for so long ... I loved knowing that you are out there, hoping and praying. Sharon

    1. Its been my pleasure, I am continuing to pray for you all!! Im so beyond happy I think I've been on clouds since I heard, I just cant imagine how you and your family feels! Praying for safe travels as well!!!!

  3. What a delight to read your blog tonight-made me weep for joy-godspeed my friend

  4. Petr and Sharon,

    I have so enjoyed reading about not only your journey but about your life with your family. What great people you two are for taking these children that no one else wants or cares about. Looking forward to our trip in June. Congratulations on Leeza's adoption.
    Linda Lay