Barton is so amazing. He was very nervous and unsure of everything at first. Theo and Orion practically busted down the front door and went running around the house to check everything out when they came home for the first time. Barton stood in the doorway until my husband took his hand and led him to the couch. We had to make sure everyone gave him some space to get comfortable. Orion's excitement can be overwhelming in the best of circumstances, as those of you who have met him know! My youngest daughter gave him a stuffed frog which he didn't let go of for the next few days. Eventually he made his way to the dinner table and enjoyed a few slices of pizza.
I really credit my youngest daughter, Theo, and Orion for helping Barton feel comfortable. Even though he didn't respond at first, my daughter always made a point of finding a way to include him in what she was playing by bringing him a few toys or telling him what she was doing, without pushing him to do or say anything in return. She is so sweet. It was also really great to hear Orion telling Barton all about our family and what to expect, with Theo chiming in. Some of what they had to say made me a little sad too, like when they were telling Barton about how nice everyone was and that there was always lots of food and how we never ever hit them. I am however thankful that they are able to talk to each other and have that bond of shared language and some shared similar history.
This photo is from a few days later as Barton started to get more comfortable with everyone. He was playing in the block bin while my biological children did their homeschool work. We are still trying to decide what we will be doing for school for him this year. He is just SO smart but starting from scratch is very hard when you are almost 17. Right now a regular classroom would be overwhelming both in terms of material and general environment. The type of classroom the other boys spend a lot of time in at the elementary school is almost entirely life skills in the junior and senior high, and that certainly isn't the right fit for him. He is working on the English alphabet right now at home and picking it up so quickly. We may keep him home for the rest of this year and then have him start next fall, or he might start in the spring. The school is trying hard to fit the needs of all the boys, but this entire experience is well beyond anything they have done before. They have never even had a student who spoke a language other than English before! Plus the boys are growing and learning so many new things so quickly that it can be hard to remember that they don't have much experience with a lot of the expectations for kids who have been in school but they are also capable of learning those things if we teach them. It is a tricky thing to balance!
You can really tell how much more comfortable Barton is in this picture from one of our movie nights. These boys all love Thomas the Train! Barton is in green, Orion is in gray, and Theo is in the stripes. I've read a lot of comments that most adoption blogs aren't real enough. You can see the clothes I was sorting in this background of this picture if you're looking for real. Showing our laundry baskets might be more real than folks can handle. Haha, truthfully, we have had far fewer things to deal with than we anticipated. We expected a lot of things that we just haven't seen yet. Every single thing hasn't been rainbows and unicorns, but we knew that. I can talk about more real in another post, but I want everyone to know that what I share here IS real for our family. We are happy, the kids are doing great, and everything is super wonderful busy chaos and I love it. These kids have come from a background of unimaginable trauma, but they are just kids. Wonderful, normal, great kids.
One last bit of real - our grocery bill has definitely gone up! As a family of ten we go through a lot of food. This is the first batch of popcorn from one of our movie nights. These kids are great eaters!
These are a couple pictures of Barton and Theo playing soccer yesterday. I love seeing them all play together. I was worried that Barton might not be as comfortable with Theo and Orion because they had known each other for so long, but the three of them have really bonded. The first thing they do when Theo and Orion get home from school is hug each other and talk about their days. I really love when Barton gives Orion a quizzical look because Orion has no idea that he has started talking in English instead of his mix of Russian and Ukrainian that Barton can understand. Barton is picking up a lot of English very quickly though! It is amazing that we had expected him to be nonverbal based on descriptions from so many different people who had interacted with him, but his speech is much more clear than both Orion and Theo's! He likes to ask about what we are doing and how to say things in English, which is helping him learn so quickly.
Here are a few other updates on the boys. We had a long day at the children's hospital a couple weeks ago. You can see how happy the boys look to be in the waiting room so early in the morning. You might see Orion making that sideways look. He isn't really that suspicious! He has trouble seeing and that is the easiest way for him to squint for a better view. Sadly his eye appointment was cancelled by the clinic because of a scheduling error on their end, so that was moved to the end of this month.
Here is Theo understandably looking a little nervous before his turn for his MRI. He did absolutely great though! He loved that there was a therapy dog at the hospital that he had a chance to pet while we were waiting between appointments.
And here is Orion enjoying himself. He chatted my ear off while he was waiting for his MRI. He also did great with his turn. He had a lot to say about it the next day at school. Luckily I had written them a note explaining what he would be talking about, or it might have been tough to figure out why he was talking about listening to music during the audiology appointment, or smiling for his pictures and sleeping because it smelled funny for his MRI!
Theo was playing the other morning and made himself a bed in the middle of the living room, then put on a pair of goggles. He cracks me up!
Last but not least, Evan has a very important message for all of you. As you probably know, Maya's Hope has done some amazing things to improve life for the kids where Theo, Orion and Evan used to live. They have provided private caregivers, therapies, surgeries and medical care, all kinds of things. They have a chance to earn $10,000 to continue and expand the great work they have been doing! Here is what you need to do. Go to mayashope.org/vote. You will need to create an account. It's free. You can vote 4 different ways. It might take five minutes out of your day. These kids are worth that much and so much more! It would make a tremendous difference for the kids we spent so much time with during the boys' adoption. Please go vote!