Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Perry Mason, Part Two (in which the women do glorious battle upon the field of valor)

Original Post Date: Saturday, 11 September 2010

Adopting Aaron was an insane decision. We were both working every waking hour, our building business was on life support due to the downturn in the economy, and both of our teenage children had a lot going on. We had discussed adoption in a “someday” sense and considered it a worthy calling, but it wasn’t on our front burner. We didn’t have the money or the time. Traveling for 3-6 weeks was out of the question. Spending down our pathetic savings was also out of the question. Where on earth would we find twenty-six to thirty thousand dollars for a venture like that?

All of that changed when I found Reece’s Rainbow. Those pictures are completely unfair. I can’t look at all of those poor kids without longing to help them. After we saw Aaron’s picture and read Molly’s pleas, we couldn’t say “no” anymore. We tried. We prayed, cried, prayed some more, talked to our boys and wrestled mightily against the call of God. But He would not ease the burden on our hearts for this one little boy so far away. And so, against all of our better judgments, we decided to jump together off of the biggest cliff we’d ever faced.

After we got used to the idea and began to make a few vague plans, one of our desires was for people to see God at work in saving Aaron’s life. This idea came from a scripture in John 9. Lots of Reece’s Rainbow families have quoted this passage, because it’s so appropriate to the special needs adoption ministry. On the day we e-mailed Andrea at Reece’s Rainbow to make our formal commitment to Aaron, Rob wrote the following for our family sponsor page:

John 9 tells the story of a blind man: “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.’”

Jesus restored the man’s sight, and the man’s story challenged the religious establishment that didn’t believe in Jesus. Rob and Julia hope that Aaron’s new life away from the institution will also display the work of God. They hope to see God at work in the hearts of everyone whom Aaron’s life touches, just as He has worked in their own hearts.”

We hoped that all of the good things happening for Aaron after we adopted him would demonstrate God’s goodness to the world. We had no idea when Rob wrote those words that the blessings would begin in our own hearts and in the hearts of everyone who helped to bring Aaron home, long before we ever met Aaron in person. In the hours before we left for court, when we were going over some scriptures people had shared with us, we were reminded of our family sponsor page. We opened up it up and reread those words from January. We expected good things from God, but He provided far more than we envisioned.

(Rob writing)

Our saga continues…

The judge turns her attention from Perry to Julia, and starts to bully her instead.

Judge: I was not satisfied with your husband’s answer. I do not see how you will manage this child when you do not speak his language.

Luda (translator/facilitator) to Julia: There was no question in there. Respond. RESPOND (harsh whisper).

Julia: I admit that I have not been able to learn much of your language. I’m just plain lousy at learning languages. My husband has worked as hard as he can to learn the language. When we point out objects to Aaron, Perry gives the native name and I give the English name. We have been trying our best. We are living with a wonderful woman from your country and she has taught Perry many more words than he has said here.

Judge: Humph.

With this response, Julia feels that she has at least defended poor battered Perry, and may have even scored a small victory.

Judge: What is your religion?

Julia: I am a Christian.

Judge (harsh bark): Then where is your cross?

Julia: (?!)

Luda to Julia (stunned whisper): You may say that your tradition does not…

Julia: My faith tradition does not require me to wear a cross.

Judge: Are you Roman Catholic?

Julia: No, I am a Protestant.

Judge: Humph. (Stream of commentary, un-translated, unintelligible)

Julia: (interrupting) We are committed Christians. We are very involved in our church and our boys worship alongside us every week. We will take Aaron to church with us just as our other boys go to church with us. We love the Lord…

Judge: (interrupting) Humph. (more un-translated comments, followed by a long pause)

Judge: How is your health?

Luda: (look of astonishment)

If Julia were to be entirely honest here, she would have to admit that at the moment she feels like her head is caught in a wood splitter and she would like to vomit on the judge’s shoes. Instead, she decides to answer the question in a more general way:

Julia: I am in excellent health.

Judge: Does your husband beat you?

A low laugh rises from the crowd. Julia is obviously not a battered woman.

Julia: No, of course not.

Judge: Don’t you realize this is a very sick child? Don’t you realize you will have to care for him for the rest of his life?

Julia: I fully understand that Aaron will be a part of our family for the rest of his life, just like our other sons. We will treat him just as we treat them. Neither of my other sons is perfect. Each of them has his strengths and weaknesses, but nothing can change the fact that they are our sons. Aaron is just the same-- he has some weaknesses, but he also has some strengths.

Judge: (various un-translated interruptions)

Julia: I don’t consider Aaron to be “sick.” He has a disability that affects his body, and we will do whatever we can to get that treated. But his mind is good. He is extremely bright and creative. He knows how to play. He is learning English. He understands much of what I tell him. He is also very tough. He does not whine or cry, and he handles disappointment well. I will love him as much as I love my two other boys.

Luda: You may sit down (Julia’s grilling is over for the moment).

Judge to Aaron: Do you need to go to the bathroom?


(Caretaker repeats the question to Aaron, and he shakes his head “no.”)

Judge: Perry. (Perry transfers Aaron to Julia and stands)

Judge: Where will Aaron sleep?

Perry: He will have his own room, a freshly painted room with two beds, his own closet, his own dresser, his own bookcase for his toys and books. We have a picture if you would like to see it.

Judge: Who will care for this child at home?

Perry: We will both care for him, but my wife will be his primary caretaker.

Judge to Julia: Humph. (She looks at Aaron sitting in Julia’s lap.) How will you care for this child when he is so heavy and you are so small? The child is too big for her.

Julia: He is NOT too big.

Perry: The child can walk. This is not an issue. (The crowd murmurs.)

Judge: Humph.

Judge: What is your occupation?

Perry: I am a homebuilder and a carpenter.

Luda: (harsh whisper) Tell her that you own your own business.

Perry: I am the owner of our building company, Covenant Builders. (Editor’s note: This is obviously a side business, because we already know that Perry is a heroic criminal defense attorney.)

Judge: Does this company have a license?

Perry: Yes, it has a Class A license from the Board of Contractors for the State of Virginia.

Perry feels it would be unwise to mention here that Covenant Builders presently stands with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, that if our new house doesn’t sell soon we may exhaust our credit line, that even if it does sell we will continue to fall further and further into debt unless house prices rise again. It’s one day at a time, trusting the Lord every day, these days.

Judge: I think it’s wrong for the boy to lose his culture.

The judge holds a general discussion with the other women in the court: the SDA (government adoption agency) representative, another attorney hired by the legal team, the internat “inspector,” the prosecutor, the jurors. Very little of it is translated for our heroes, but it all centers around the native culture and what a shame it would be if Aaron lost it. Our heroes find it a bit silly: What “culture” does Aaron experience in his mental institute? They do feed him borsch, and on the weekends, they play fast polka music non-stop on the radio. Culture, indeed.

Next comes some brief testimony from the SDA representative. Little of it is translated for our heroes, but she probably testifies that the SDA has reviewed the file and approved all of the documents. The SDA recommends approval of our heroes’ petition.

This is followed by more approvals from the internat inspector.

Then comes the attorney hired by the legal team. Our heroes get a bit of this: she has visited the chief prosecutor down south, and he has reviewed the case file. All concerned think that adoption is the best choice for Aaron, especially as compared to a restricted life in the boys’ mental institute, followed by permanent committal to the adult mental institute. In light of the fact that Aaron will have better opportunities for education, for medical care and for family life if he is adopted, all believe that adoption is in his best interest.

There is also testimony from the internat’s senior caretaker. The judge wants to know if Aaron thinks of our heroes as his parents. She testifies that he calls our heroes “Mama” and “Papa” whenever they are away. The judge wants to hear this. The caretaker tries to get a rise out of Aaron, who continues to play with his trucks and ignores her. Luckily, the judge doesn’t insist.

The hearing to this point has lasted for nearly two hours. The judge announces a recess (which shocks Luda, as this has already been the longest adoption hearing she’s ever had). The judge allows Aaron to return to the internat. She also requires Luda to call Aaron’s home town and find out if he has any siblings who are available for adoption. She wants an official document saying that there are none. The hearings will resume at 1:30.

Outside the courtroom, Luda’s anger at the judge burns. To avoid being singed by its flames, Julia and Perry ride along with Aaron and his two caretakers back to the internat. The round trip takes 1½ of the 1¾ hours they’ve been given. They wisely and appropriately use the time together on the ride back to roundly curse bless this country, its language and everyone who has ever lived in it back to the third generation. They’re getting a bit sick of used to all of this suspicion.

So ends this second round of our battle royale. Our heroes’ prospects look bleak indeed. But this is the Perry Mason show. Will a surprise witness burst into the courtroom at the last possible second with crucial testimony to turn the tide? Hang on to your seats. Don’t forget to tune in for our next episode.


Some of our readers will be wondering what Aaron was doing through all of this. He was behaving himself beautifully all through the proceedings. His nurse tried to get him to keep his mouth closed, as he has a tendency to let it hang open (he currently has a cold). He tried for a while, but then he forgot.

Early in the hearing, the judge asked Rob to bring Aaron to the front so that she could see him with us. He sat with us until the recess, looking at his little cars. The judge smiled at him and tried to get him to speak, which of course he wouldn’t do. He’s not included much in the dialogue above because we missed what the judge said to him. We think she asked him if we were his Mama and Papa, and perhaps whether or not he wanted to go with us. He stuck his little tongue in his cheek to show that he wasn’t going to talk. He nodded a time or two, but not in the appropriate places. Thankfully, the judge didn’t insist on a proper response from him. She just wanted to see him and to see for herself that he was comfortable with us.

In the end, the fact that he had to go to court was no big deal and not worth the wrangling it would have taken to prevent it. Aaron loved his car rides, during which he got to see more cars, trucks and animals than he ever sees peering through the gaps in the internat’s fence. The judge didn’t seem to scare him. He doesn’t talk to any strangers, so we weren’t surprised when he didn’t talk to her. He got tired, but not overly so. It actually gave us a decent view into what we can expect from him when we burst open the gates and lead him out of that place. He is unfailingly curious and interested in the world around him. He has a long attention span and is not easily bored. He does or tries to do what he’s told, at least with his nurses. He’s a little rule keeper. He’s just plain good.


  1. I was looking forward to this part of the case for a long time...finally. You are quite the mystery writers!!

    Cogratulations Nalles!
    Blessings on your new life with Aaron.

  2. oh hurry up with the next installment!

  3. Hello, my name is Rachel and your story has been such an encouragement for me. My husband and I are still in the beginning process of our adoption. We began this whole process by faith knowing that God had called us to adopt and fulling depending on Him to supply. Our little boy does so many of the same things as Aaron. He has paralyzed arms but he can flip pages in a book, throw toys and even feed himself. Several weeks ago we used the verse from John 9 on one of our blog posts speaking of the life of our son who we hope to have come home soon. Thank you again for telling us all of His marvelous works. Please stop by our blog, if you have time to read our story, as we also hope to glorify God through this process and through the life of our son Josiah.

  4. WOW. What a tough time she gave you! Praying she isn't so tough the next time an adoptive family comes along! It's so inconprehensible to those of us who "knew" Aaron through your blog that she could be so worried that you would have to carry him the rest of his life (!) evidently. But I guess to her, not so obvious.


Loving words from kind people make our hearts glad!