Learning Languages for Adopted Children

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Next week we are heading to the Ukraine to adopt our seventh child. I have tried to block out time from my day to study Russian, but just haven’t been able to make any progress with it. It isn’t that I don’t want to–I really enjoy learning new languages, but have been very busy.
Before we adopted our baby, Matea, from Guatemala, I spent hours studying Spanish. On our way to Ethiopia, I memorized such choice phrases as, “I am your Mother!” and “Do you have to go to the bathroom?” I was fortunate while in Ethiopia and Guatemala that many people spoke English. This time I am heading to a region in the Ukraine near Russia, where very few people speak English. I really have no clue what I am getting into.
The common story of the evolution of parenting is so true. With the first child, you tend to sanitize everything. With the second child, you pick up the pacifier from the floor and rinse it off in cold water. After your second, you just grab the binky from the floor and stick it back in your child’s mouth. My adoption skills are becoming refined when it comes to putting a dossier together in a week, but I truly am slipping when it comes to language preparation. This is our fifth adopted child and our third adoption. My language prep is similar to the dropped binky on the floor–I am winging it.
I picked up five CD’s from the library and have learned such words as “spaseba” (thank you). A girlfriend told me that is the only Russian word she remembers because she was taught to think “space-a-bar” to remember it. Russian isn’t a simple language. I am secretly hoping that since I have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and can speak in tongues that I will miraculously start speaking in Russian and not even have to learn the language. But I know that “God helps those who help themselves,” so I will have to learn some Russian words and phrases on the plane. According to an old book I found on how to learn a language in transit, I will be fluent in 12 hours. I am not desperate enough to believe it, but if I can find enough words to say, “Take me to the hotel,” or “Where is customs?” I will be okay.
I am also praying my new five-year-old son will be patient and happy to teach his new mother some phrases. I hope that I will know how to say, “I am your mother,” “I love you” as well as “Do you have to go to the bathroom?” I will also insist on learning phrases like ‘quiet,’ ‘be careful,’ ‘slow down’ and ‘stop hitting your sister, or you are in trouble.’ Other than that there is always the fall back word, “space-a-bar.”

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