>Hurdles

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Hurdlers by misspiepie, flkr

Well, today we are at the official, two week home mark. And, oddly, enough, I think we are making some small baby steps of progress. On my part, I have gotten off schedule in my private personal schedule of weepy tension and/or fear meltdowns, missing a day off the every other informal pattern. Hoorah! Odd, you say, perhaps. I know, I didn’t expect this myself – but there you have it. I’m marking this as a positive babystep forward however, into a new normal.

We have had to correct a behavior, just like we do with our other kids. What do ya know? Another kid in the house = parenting. What are the odds? Ha. It had created some upset and then we made clear the expected behavior and also got a true apology and forgave. Now, that’s pretty SOP for our house: you get in trouble, parent or other kid gets upset, you apologize, are forgiven and the rules are made clear, then we all move on. And just going through that makes it feel a tiny bit more normal, oddly enough.

For now, and surely for some time to come, our biggest hurdle – Marta’s biggest hurdle – is language.

And make no mistake, this is like an Olympic event for her and for us all. This is a difference, I think, between adopting a younger child and a much older one. A teen will make this speech swap slower than a much younger kid, especially if they have not had any language learning beforehand. This slower acquisition impacts, well, every bit of the adjustment process.

We have an ESL tutor on tap to come over about three times a week, starting in a week or so. We have Rosetta Stone for English (And let me just give a little quickie review: difficult program in a way if you don’t already READ english and a little glitchy and a pain in the backside to get into the meat of the program – have to click through many screens before you start. And if you don’t know the language that means someone else has to click for you, grrrr). And we have multiple copies of the best dictionary we’ve come across, Concise Amharic Dictionary (thanks Cami!). We also have a great site for word by word translating that is fast. We are watching movies together to jump start that language familiarity and I talk with her through the grocery store and as we drive around on errands, describing most of the things we are doing.

But speech, actual speaking, is the biggest hurdle. Marta is uncomfortable trying out her speech and really, wants to listen and then give us an amharic word or two to clarify. We have to push her, with a smile, to repeat the english version of the word: e.g. “desta” = “happy,” say “happy,” and so on. I think she is just very shy and unsure of herself with this. We understand that. But as I told her this morning on our walk, the more she talks, the easier it will be.

But oh, such a hurdle and I don’t know how to help her much. Except to help her stretch out and try. And try again. And again. They say it will come. We all wait in great anticipation for it to start, trying to be patient, but just wanting to be able to really talk with her.

I want to hold conversations, that’s my best way to really get to know anyone. One of the hard things about this adoption and the bonding is I can’t really get to know her without talking, without this conversation. The silence is deafening in a way. We are both, all, trying to learn and use our other senses to make those connections, but as you probably have gathered by now….I am a ridiculously verbal gal. Yes, I talk a lot. I want the noisy yakking and small teasing and chatting of talking – even simple sentences and words. I know this is the “all about me me me” version; but I think that Marta yearns for talking together too. I think she’s just too unsure of these strange new sounds to be confident enough to let fly.

So we are all bruising our shins a bit on the hurdles of language, but trying hard to push and help and clear them so we can run this race together.

Because a family is at the finish line.

11 thoughts on “>Hurdles

  1. >I know Marta is a little older than our 10 year old we brought home in May, but be encouraged!! Kaylyn's English is astoundingly better than it was 2 months ago. She has lots of words and understands a ton more than she can say. She was "quiet" for about a month and then slowly started saying and repeating more and more on her own.We also thought Rosetta Stone English was a little too complicated to start with, so we went with Hooked on English (by the Hooked on Phonics people). It's VERY simple, but Kaylyn flew through it and it really helped give her confidence.Oh these first few weeks are so hard and confusing. You have a teenager but physically you feel like you have a baby. It's an odd feeling.You're doing great! Hang in there! You'll be amazed at the difference a few more weeks will make.Anna M.amaupin@bellsouth.net

  2. >praying for you. praying for language. praying for some of the transition be easy. praying. what a eautiful pic of dad with his girls 🙂

  3. >Don't you wish time would go a little faster sometimes??? because she'll have improved so much, even in just a few weeks… I know it's hard to wait and see those results. I'm the BEST at waiting and being patient (note sarcasm :). prayers and love sent your way!!! becca

  4. >If you remember, even little ones had trouble with nuances. BUT the general bit was better, I'm sure. Do you have a picture dictionary? Made one? Basic stuff like bathroom, food, etc? Happy? Sad? Mad? Good luck. Glad you are making progress.Jan

  5. >thank you for being so honestwe are preparing our six year old for some of these issues of bringing a sibling home who will not be able to speak and it's going to be tough for him – he's a talkerthis was helpfulonce she starts it will happen in leaps and bounds – but i can imagine the aching desire to be able to truly express your emotions to her and hear her own thoughts through wordsi hope that comes quickly

  6. >Our daughter Jadyn was not as old as your Marta when she came home. Jadyn was almost a month shy of 5 years old. We found removing some of the pressure from Jadyn as well as ourselves seemed to put us on a fair playing field:) Our feelings were Jadyn felt a LOT of pressure just folding into her new normal,and, we did not want her at all to feel as if she had to "perform" for us. So, not only does she benefit from ENL, English as a New Language, we began speech therapy for her. This way we could be her parents and family and she "worked" with others who became her teachers easing a lot of the discomfort of any frustrations or disappointments she might have with the language challenges. Coming into the family as an older child holds many differences than with an infant or toddler who seems to just fold into the family normal, with an older child they are still trying to even understand family aside from all the day to day life expectatins the world places upon them, so, we hoped to give Jadyn with her family a "safe haven" with no challenges of disappointing or having her feel she needed to accomplish language just for her family.Just a thought and so I hope to bring encouragement with the possibility of additional outside support. I am amazed at what all Jadyn has accomplished, in her time, with the aid of a sweet speech therapist who comes to our home and than additional speech as well as ENL in our school.An older child truly is a leap into an amazing Faith and Family journey, buckle up and enjoy the journey:)

  7. >Oh, what a great job describing your struggle. Yes, I believe it must be incredibly difficult in these first weeks. You so want to open your heart to her, and hers to you, but without the language, not quite sure how. Again, using our Mohamed as an example. At 2 months home, he was starting to be able to communicate much better, and I think the big change was he was more courageous and able to look "silly" as he tried to get ideas across, by acting things out that he couldn't verbally express. But it took several more months before he was able to verbally share some of the really deep stuff, like about his homeland, family, things like that.All to say, this takes T.I.M.E. (oh, I know you know that), and God loves to give strength for one day at a time (although I often wish he would just give me a weeks worth some days).Oh, I also just remembered, I backed off from him some for a while, and let him just spend lots of time with the siblings. This wasn't because of some amazing foresight I had, but because I didn't feel emotionally able to keep pouring into him. I needed a break, you know? Anyways, he was MUCH more comfortable trying to converse with them, not near as concerned about making a fool of himself IMHO.Take care, take care!!!

  8. >I can't imagine how difficult the language barrier is for you and for Marta. It is an olympic marathon event, I'm sure. Hold on to those baby steps. Marta's confidence will come. You all have taken on so much "new" these past few weeks. Hold on to those baby steps.Rebecca

  9. >Love reading your posts and it is so comforting to be reminded that we are not alone in the whole transition process. I mean, I know we're not alone, but sometimes it's easy to forget.On the same note, the kids' English is slowly coming along. It's so easy for them to communicate between themselves in Amharic and I totally understand that. I don't expect them to speak to one another in what little English they do know, yet sometimes it is hard.Twice the kids have tried to tell me big stories about ET and sometimes we all get a little frustrated when I can't quite get what they are telling me.Thinking of you guys!

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