Monday, October 11, 2010

How's Aaron??

We have had a lot of people wanting to know how Aaron is doing.  The little fugitive has been in our possession for almost three weeks and to be honest, we are still in the 'figuring out how Aaron is doing ourselves' stage.   We've had good days, we've had hard days and we've had the 'scratch your head, not sure what happened' days.   Three weeks is not long enough to understand what goes on in the mind of a child who has been taken out of the only world he knows and thrust into a world so big and strange that it takes his breath away.  All the props have been knocked out from under his feet and the poor little guy is trying to figure out a way to stand again.  Aaron is a rule keeper by nature and he is struggling to figure out the rules in this new world.   His world at the institute was based on a rigid schedule - the same foods, the same nurses, the same activities (nothing) to occupy his day.  He knew every person at the institute - their job, their schedule, their personality.  He knew what was supposed to happen and when at every minute of his day.  Aaron found security in that knowledge.

Our world is not regulated by the same system.  We do have routines that we have established for him and those have become his lifeline.  Morning routines, dressing routines, bathtime routines and tucking in bed routines are strictly followed in order to give him a sense of sameness and security that he craves.  The rest of our day is dependent upon the schedules of the four older people in his family.  Sometimes Papa is home but most of the time Papa is away 'at work'.  This is a difficult concept for a little boy to grasp and at times it shows in his anger at Papa when he is home.   Ben and Elijah move in and out of the house at breathtaking speed.  It is hard on him.  Aaron came out of a world that was black and white.  Everything was the same, day in and day out.

So how is he doing? 

In terms of bathroom and sleeping, he is doing wonderful. 

In terms of eating, it is definitely a work in progress.  We have yet to find food that he not only likes but that also satifies his hunger.  As we became sick of soup in his country, we know he is sick of yogurt, cucumbers and fruit here, but they are the one constant that he is willing to eat consistently.  When he is hungry, he is willing to try other foods but he is clearly not happy with his food choices.  We are trying.  Many quiet tears down his face have been shed over the eating issue which breaks our hearts, but each day is a little better than the last in the food department.

In the social realm, he is very shy around anyone outside our family.  Since he holds celebrity status in our world, (the power of blogs) it makes it rather difficult for him in public.  Everyone knows his name.  This causes distress in our little fugitive, as he would choose to stay hidden at this point.  But all in all, he is slowly getting used to going out.  The joy of riding in the car is slowly outweighing the discomfort of mingling with the masses.  We are seeing progress in his willingness to being carried into buildings.  He loves the stores, loves seeing the trucks on the roads, loves pointing out the cows and other animals (we live in the country).

As far as language issues go, Aaron is understand more and more of what we are saying to him in English and is very slowly incorporating some English words into his vocabulary.  Sadly, though he talks to us in Ukrainian/Russian non-stop, we rarely understand what he is saying.  He uses foot motions, mouth pointing and every other trick he can think of to try to get us to figure out what he is say but we are often left scratching our heads.  His patience with us in this area astounds us.  I would be beating my head against a rock if I was dropped into a world where no one understood a word I said.  He just patiently tells us again and again until he realizes the futility of his words.

Emotionally, Aaron has good days and bad days.  At his institute, he survived by bossing, manipulating and using a rather developed silent treatment on the adults who cared for him.  These were valuable tools he desperately needed to survive, but in a family, they are no longer necessary and healthy.  Giving them up is terrifying for him.  The battles have begun but we are committed to winning the war.  Each day is a new opportunity to teach this love-starved little boy that no matter what he choses to throw our way, we will not abandon him or withold our love from him. 

As far as his physical disabilities go, we will begin addressing his Arthrogryposis issues next month with our first visit to the Shriner's Hospital in Philly.  Until then we are working hard at keeping him safe from the ever-constant danger of falling.  He has been doing extremely well about not falling outside (grass play is so much better than concrete play) but inside is another story.  It is sad to learn lessons at the expensive of Aaron's poor little head.  We are removing slippery carpets, no longer dressing him in the bathroom and overall watching for things that would cause him to trip and fall. 

We are loving our little guy more and more as the days goes by.  He is funny, creative and just all around precious.  We take great delight in his smiles and laughter.  The fact that God chose this little boy to be in our family still causes us to marvel at His wisdom and grace.  Not every day is a walk in the park - we are adjusting to a new normal and it is stretching each one of us.  Love is very much a choice, but we are learning to take delight in how God is weaving our family into a new design that includes a very special former 'lost boy.'


  1. It sounds like all of you are doing just wonderful.
    Perfectly the way God has orchestrated it. :)

    You have an excellent understanding of Aaron's former world, which gives you so much insight into his responses and reactions to his present world!

    This is one of the reasons that I think the 10 day wait, as hard as it is, is a good thing. As parents we just want to get there and get back.... but if we were to do that, we would not be able to see the world our children come from with any amount of depth. Not that 10 days give depth, but at least it give opportunity for understanding we wouldn't otherwise have.

    I know you hate soups.... but if you want to give Aaron a really simple treat for borscht.
    Instead of the home made kind, (which is easy)
    This is easier.
    You can get SHREDDED beets (not pickled) at Kroger. (If you have kroger) OR you can just get the sliced ones... but the shredded works better.
    Heat them up with a little chicken broth and serve with sour cream. He will be in heaven.

  2. Thank you for posting this! The one month, then one year, etc... home posts will be here before we all realize and wow, I am sure the growth will be just amazing:) It's just such a relief to know that he is here.

  3. I can't imagine how hard it must be to watch him fall. Poor Aaron! I'm sure you're anxious for the Shriner visits to get here. Not that you'll find any help with the falling, but maybe in some adaptive tools for him to use in life. And...well...who knows what else? Hugs and continued prayers for all of you.

  4. Ahh it sounds like you are making good progress, I am so happy he is home with you. Is there anyway you can find a translator to help with the transition in language? I know he is so young he will pick up English easily - but it would be so nice to know what he is saying!

  5. Maybe the "University of Virginia: Russian and E European Studies Center" would have someone, and intern or something that could come out once a week and practice their own skills while helping you?

  6. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. We will continue to keep you in our prayers. I would say overall he is doing as well, if not better than could be expected at this point. You are all a wonderful testimony. Thank you!!

  7. It is a pleasure to hear your sweet words as you adjust. We are still learning daily as we journey, and still don't know much of what we need to. BUT, the Lord is helping us, so it can only get better all around. I look forward to hearing how your trip to the SH goes. We're still in the process of applying.

  8. I know you got sick of soup, but maybe Aaron isn't? Isabel still loves eating chicken noodle soup. Rest assured that he'll find more things to like in due time. With Isabel, it took about 7 months before she decided that American food was acceptable. Just keep offering foods and don't get discouraged. Blessings!

  9. Thank you for being transparent in your with your new beginnings as a family with one more added blessing.It gives us opportunities to know how to be praying for you all.Aaron is blessed to have all of you. Love the photo of big brother pulling him in the wagon:)
    God's grace to continue for you all,
    Carolyn and David

  10. Sweet sweet sweet. It brings tears of joy to my eyes to hear you lovingly trust in our Father's love as you choose to extend that love to this little boy.

  11. Thanks for sharing your hearts, Julia!! I will keep praying for you all and eagerly read the progress posts...glad you are learning to be ok with the on and off pace of things and that it is not like routine with each day following consistently on the last one...
    May He provide in terms of translation helps, whether a bi-tri-linggual person, a voice activated speech program on the computer (interesting to see what could be downloaded off the net...would you know where to start with that?! Would you like me to scour my contacts for anyone who might know where to start?
    May the food stuff sort out well and from the internet might help too...
    Lots of love to all 5 of you guys!! : )

  12. It sounds like you are doing great! Maybe Aaron would like to know where his family are going to be all day. Would a pictorial time table for each person help? Make little pictures of different activities; eating lunch, driving, at work, at school, playing, and a photo of each person in the family. Laminate them if you can and stick them in a line showing each person's day with their picture at the front of it. Use blu tack so you can change it for each day. If you want to get really sophisticated you can add times too! Aaron can check to see what his family are doing and when they are coming back home to him.

    Good Luck!

  13. Glad all is going well. You are so patient and kind, just what Aaron needs. Have you thought about what a gift you are giving him though this blog? One day he will be able to read the history of how he became part of your family.

  14. I love Claire's ideas. My daughter was 7 when she came home and struggled with the same things (except the eating) But she still loves soup, ramen noodles are true cuisine for her.
    I would advise not to do the translator thing, we did and regretted it. It caused immediate emotional stress-not pretty, and very sad. Within 3 months all her Russian was gone, it is hard to believe but Aaron will soon be speaking to you in sentences of English!
    I think Aaron is feeling the same way about our food as you did about your food there!
    Stay strong!


  15. Hello, Julia, Rob and the boys. It's good to get a good update on how your youngest one is doing. We're still working on bringing Sophie home. I have a resource for you - there is this course called "Gogo loves English" where in a form of a cartoon kids learn English through repetition, etc. It has helped many of my friends (Russian speaking boys) to get some basic English. You can google it, and even YouTube it. Many have given rave reviews. I also speak Russian (my native language). If I can be of any help, let me know, I can even give you my phone number. Lord bless your family!

  16. Glad to hear that Aaron is doing as well as can be expected. I love the suggestions provided above and have nothing to add, but I think that you are awesome parents to Aaron. You are all very blessed!


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