Julia came home forever on December 24th, 2008. Christmas Eve is a very sentimental holiday for us! In Ukraine she was called "Yulia", but it's spelled with Cyrillic characters that we don't have in our alphabet. So we compromised on her American name...it's spelled with a "J" but we call her Yulia at home. She introduces herself as Julia because it's just easier. Confusing? Maybe. But she's Yulia to me.
Julia has undergone the biggest transformation of all of our children. After we arrived home, we quickly learned that she had some sensory issues and needed extra help. Sadly she didn't get the help she needed in Ukraine. Our theory is that she was sent to the sanitarium often because the orphanage staff didn't know how to deal with her behavior. This is incredibly sad because sensory challenges are 100% treatable with the proper therapy. And have you seen the photos of that sanitarium? Scary place.
The Children's Hospital occupational therapists were amazing with Julia. They new just what she needed and how to help her. As a result, Julia's physical strength and motor skills have improved dramatically. This summer she took a "princess class" and made huge strides in learning age appropriate social skills.
Julia's language skills have also improved dramatically. Through testing last year we learned that Julia's ability to express herself in English was only with in the first percentile, based on the amount of time she's spent speaking primarily English. With the help of an individual education plan, Julia is getting the help she needs at school. Now her vocabulary is improving every week and she can write complete sentences, paragraphs and even short stories! Next week Julia will be evaluated by a speech/language specialist so we can figure out how to further help her communication skills.
Watching Julia's personality unfold has been incredibly heartwarming and satisfying. For many months her answer to everything was, "I don't know." It took a long time for us to understand that she just didn't know how to express herself. Well now she definitely has an opinion...on everything! Julia is kind, compassionate and very giving. She has a great sense of humor, just like Kolya, and she keeps us in stitches at the dinner table. Speaking of the dinner table, we haven't found a food that Julia doesn't like! She's in the middle of a huge growth spurt and will probably pass me up in height by the time I wake up tomorrow morning.
One of Julia's favorite pastimes is horseback riding. Or should we call it horseback standing? Yes, she can ride a horse standing up on it's saddle! At home it's all about artwork! Julia is very creative and loves to draw, paint, mold just about anything.
I'm so thankful that Julia is our daughter and I cannot imagine life without her!