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.