I do not know how to even start! What an unbelievably awesome day we have had! I am purposefully going to leave out a lot of details because I feel like some of what we learned today about the girls' past should remain private and all you probably want to do is look at the pictures anyway!
Our day started with a visit to the Orphan court building to meet with Sandra, who is the girls' social worker. She gave us all the history she had on them and let us ask questions. She did not speak English, so Daina translated for us. They were both very opinionated about the girls' birth mother and how glad they were that we are adopting them.
After that we headed to Rauna, which ended up being about a 2 hour drive. We stopped at a grocery store to buy a cake and flowers for the foster family. Apparently that is a tradition in Latvia to bring cake when you go visit someone. The closer we got the more snow there was, which slowed us down and I was beginning to think we would never get there. Sandra called them to tell them when we would be there and she said the girls were worried that we couldn't make it because of the snow. Then I saw the house from the pictures they had emailed us. We drove in the driveway and all the dogs greeted us (the black dog still had the Yellowjacket dogtags on!) As we were getting out trying to carry everything in, Agnese came running out with a huge grin on her face. I lost the ability to speak for a moment as I hugged and kissed her. Then Daniela came out with her sweet smile and we hugged and kissed! It was a flurry of excitement when we entered the house and Aina (foster mom) welcomed us and started talking about all the food they had prepared. She told us who made what and they seated us and starting bringing in this feast. It was interesting to say the least... 2 words for you... MEAT JELLO! There was a ton of stuff and Aina kept making us pile more and more on our plates. I did my best to try everything, but there is no way I could eat some of it! Tim actually did better than I did! He ate all his meat jello. There was nothing to drink but tea and coffee and no napkins. Anyway, the hospitality was something I will never forget. Aina's love for the girls and all the other foster kids was so obvious, I teared up several times as she talked and Daina translated. She told us a lot of things that the girls have said about us and how much they want to be a part of our family. She is so happy for them and thankful that they are getting out of Latvia and having the chance at a whole new life. She talked a lot about the other children and it was heartbreaking to hear what some of them have been through. We didn't even realize there were so many kids there because they were all in another room (even our girls) the whole time. We sat at the table for a couple of hours. Sandra talked to all the kids (it is her job to check up on them). When Daina realized what time it was, she said we needed to hurry up and get back for Court. Then all the kids started to come down the stairs and most of them were crying. It was such a sad, sad moment for them, having to say good-bye to their foster sisters. I felt so sorry for them. Daniela was crying, but Agnese was hugging everyone and inching her way to the door. We took some pictures and saw their rooms and then it was time to go. Aina prayed over them and whispered a good-bye message to them. It was so sweet to watch her. We hugged all of them and cried with them as they told the girls bye. The girls got in the back of the vehicle and when I got in Agnese said "Mom, I'm ready!" She was so confident and happy, it was such an answer to prayers! We gave them their Latvia-English dictionaries in the car which made them both happy! It was a wild ride home, Edgars was driving like a maniac since we were late and we hit some pretty bad traffic once we got in to Riga.
They "briefed" us on the way back to the court about what the questions would be and how we should answer. For some reason, I wasn't even nervous or worried about the court appearance. It was very non-intimidating, and it looked nothing like an American courtroom. It was a panel of 4 women sitting at a table, Tim and I sat with a translator and Daina and Sandra and one other lady sat behind us. It lasted about 10 minutes and they had us go to the hall where the girls were sitting. We waited about 2 minutes and they had us come back in to tell us that custody was granted and we needed to spend time in Riga with them until the 22nd. Now all of the paperwork goes on to the 2nd court.
We said good-bye to all the court people and got back in the car (where Edgars was napping!) and then they took us to the grocery store. It was a lot of fun to shop with the girls and Daina and Edgars did their shopping, too. We picked out enough groceries for a few days (it was funny some of the things the girls wanted, like a specific kind of yogurt "No, Activia, we like Smile" they said! I don't know how often they have shopped at a big store, but the enjoyed taking turns pushing the cart and picking things out. But they weren't asking for everything and seemed to be honest about what they would and wouldn't eat.
After that we headed to the apartment. It has been nonstop activity since they walked in the door! They were excited about their clothes and their MP3 players and the other stuff we brought for them. Daniela is just like Ryleigh, she divided everything up evenly, but she decided what she got and gave the rest to her sister! We may get kicked out of this apartment if Tim and Daneile don't settle down! They are playing kickball with one of those big punch balls. Daniela is having loads of fun sliding in her thick socks on the hardwood floor. Agnese is drawing a picture of Nick Jonas and it is turning out great! They have done some arts and crafts and worked part of a puzzle. We talked to them about changing their names and they definitely want to, someone must have already asked them because Agnese already had a name picked out. We will let them announce the names later when we decide for sure.
I am really just enjoying the fact that they are with us. It's so fun to watch them explore and move from one thing to another with such excitement. They are really tired, but we are staying up until we get a call from the girls. It is going to be a long rest of the trip trying to entertain them and deal with missing Ryleigh and Reagan.
I know there is a lot I left out, but that should give everyone a good idea of what our day was like. We feel so blessed to call these precious children our daughters and again, we thank everyone for the prayers and support! Things could not have been so wonderful today without the prayers of so many people!