I can hardly believe that Julia has been with us 10 months already. In some ways it seems just like just yesterday that Tom and I were in Ukraine to meet her and in other ways I can't remember our life before her. This Thanksgiving we will be celebrating our year anniversary of the day Tom and I met Julia. I remember the day so clearly. We were brought to the orphanage by our driver, the facilitator and a very nice lady from the government who needed to witness our first meeting with Julia. I experienced such a mix of emotions that morning. I was excited, nervous, and a little anxious. I thought I was hiding my emotions well until our facilitator and the lady from the government speaking to one another and pointing at me. Then our facilitator says, "You look so nervous and scared. Don't worry. I know Yulia (Julia) she is a sweet, pretty little girl." So much for hiding my emotions.
I can still hear the "click clack" of the nanny's shoes as she came down a very long hallway from Julia's groupa room with Julia in her arms. All of the sudden a tiny, quiet little girl was placed in my lap. I think my brain shut down for a moment. It is hard to believe that after all the paper work, waiting for a travel date, plane rides and a long train ride that your new daughter is sitting in your lap. My first impression of Julia was that she was very quiet and sweet. Our visit was sort of rushed and there was a lot going on. The orphanage doctor was telling us about Julia and our facilitator was translating and asking if we had any questions. It was very hard to form sentences at that point, since I was trying to concentrate on Julia. I did notice that Julia did not look at us and seemed a little bit in a "fog". I knew from the reading I had done that some children who have been in an orphanage for many years may have what is known as institutional autism. I was pretty sure that Julia had some of those characteristics. This observation, of course, was in no way going to change our minds about bringing Julia home. She was our daughter and we would do anything to help her.
Today, ten months later, I attended Julia's first parent-teacher conference at her school. Wow, all I could think about when I was driving there was the first time we met her. Tom and I had no idea what her future looked like, but we wanted to be sure that she had every opportunity to grow and learn. Well, this determined little girl has accomplished so much. We are grateful to her teacher, the therapists and aides. Julia is using sign language, (almost every sign is food related :), she is walking, she is holding a crayon, she is playing with toys appropriately and seeking out interaction with her classmates. She has learned to feed herself and chew her food before swallowing. I know you other adoptive families with understand how exciting this is.
I know the workers at the orphanage would be very proud of her. I wish they could see her now and know that each child that they take care of has so much potential. We are grateful to the nannies who took care of Julia for four years. We could tell that many of the workers cared about her and did the best they could for her.
We also are so glad that I "happened upon" the Reece's Rainbow (RR) website in November 2009. Thank you, Andrea Roberts, who founded RR and works tirelessly to advocate for the children who are in need of a family. Julia has blessed our life greatly. Each member of our family is better for her being in our lives.