The impetus for this blog follows and email I got last week from one of my supervisors. It’s about the new semester of some Chinese language classes in Kansas City. It sounds like a great deal. I’m really glad we have such a thing. They have classes for adults, children, and families. I think they are wanting to market to the adoptive families, which is so awesome. The times are right, the prices are reasonable and we can’t beat the location. The emails between my supervisor and I went as follows.
Supervisor: FYI <forwarded message about the Chinese language class>
Nikki: Awesome! Thank you. We have been talking about this. But we have no time. Perhaps we should learn [the words for] eat, bathroom, and drink before we go.
Sup: Yes, probably a good idea
Nik: We're in this super intensive 9-week Empowered to Connect class (the brain child of Karen Purvis) and it's intense. And awesome. But this is giving us no time for Chinese. Quandary: would I rather help create a super attached child that I can't talk to? Or talk to a child I don't know how to attach to? AHHHH? The choices!
So yes, there are a lot of choices in the limited time some of us have for adoption. Between the actual adoption paperwork, applying for grants, doing my work, organizing fundraisers, calling the school, doing my work, setting up resources, planning to do her room (then the subsequent actually doing of the room), doing my work, doing my work, having our main sewer line snaked (oh yes friends, that was last night) and doing my work, how on earth can I do everything I want to do to prepare for this child?
Then, bless their hearts, there’s the other people who have been waiting 8 years for their China baby to come. I’m thinking those folks are none too motivated to enroll themselves in this language class either. Totally get it guys, don’t beat yourselves up.
I would love to take the parent/child Chinese language class after we get home with Yiyi, but really, I’m not sure that a 10-year-old native speaker will be all that engaged learning “Ni hao” for three weeks and coloring a picture of double happiness. So we remain hopeful in the powers of Wi-Fi, Google translate, and the prayers that Yiyi picks up English relatively quickly. The sweet doctor man told us that typically when one of a child’s senses is impaired, the others are heightened. This throw away statement the sweet man uttered in passing 9-months ago echoes in our minds, and we remind ourselves of this assessment on a nearly weekly basis. No vision = better hearing and language acquisition? Um, yes please!
But even if she does pick up English pretty quickly, how is that honoring our child’s heritage? How is that showing her that we love and respect her birth country enough to learn her language? How is that showing her that we are now a Mexican/ Italian/Mennonite/Chinese family?
All that’s stuff for the long term. Right now I have nothing more than the ability to triage the situation. And the situation right now stands that in about four months I’m adopting a 10-year-old with her own personality, beliefs, preferences, and mannerisms, who hasn’t had a mom and dad in quite a long time. And I’m going to be like, “Nice to meet you. We’re your mom and dad. Here’s a doll. Get on this plane and leave everything familiar to you behind.”
I desperately need her to attach to us. So apparently I’ve chosen between honoring her culture by learning her language and taking a parenting class that is going to give me the tools to help this hurt child bond and eventually (hopefully) attach to her new family.
I’m not sure that I made the right choice. I’m not sure there is a clear “right” choice in this situation. Or if there is, perhaps I don’t want to admit to it because I’m afraid I made the wrong one.
So my message to you dear reader, is that we can only do what we can do. And let me be the first to let you in on this little trade secret: we can’t do it all. We have to make choices. Let our journey show you that even busy people can adopt too. And if this is the last time I’m dabbling in imperfect parenting…oh my lands…I can’t even finish that thought. It’s almost laughable.
Bless this child. She’s getting a whole ball of crazy up in here. I wish I could ask her what she thinks about this. But I can’t, you know, because I’m not taking the language class.