Monday, January 3, 2011

In Need of Encouraging Words!

We do not have internet so I have not been able to be on the computer, visit any blogs, write a new post, email (except through my phone), check in with yahoo groups, research anything, etc. It has been a little frustrating and yet at the same time it has forced me to do something I have not done in quite awhile- read a book! I am really enjoying it! I kind of feel like this is a book I was supposed to read- a story I needed to know for future direction. God did not stop the internet here while we were on vacation BUT last minute we changed our dates and I do believe the timing was HIS. (The building we are in is changing internet providers so the old one shut off and the new one is getting started. It turns out the people we are renting from did not get the memo and who knows when our unit will get it??) 

We are having a great time and I think of a new post everyday but its driving me crazy that I can't write it/ them.

Today I am discouraged and could sure use some uplifting words. Life is great, everything is fine BUT Emma and Ellie's english is coming so so so slow. I feel like Ellie can do better. She has a bit of a lazy streak and is not naturally inquisitive or eager to learn. I think her ability is average to slightly below. Emma will see a specialist at the end of February- I am hoping for answers then.

I think they understand most of what I am saying. They do not misbehave except for a few stubborn moments. Their english is limited to single words. Ellie tries to rattle off a sentence and tell us things but most of it we cannot understand. Because of a few highlighted words she gets her point across. Emma has some words but she mostly parrots back what we say or what Ellie has said and then forgets it immediately.

Honestly, I feel like I just haven't done a good enough job... okay, okay, yes I am feeling sorry for myself, I should go eat worms. I know I have not read enough to them- I need to read read read, simple simple simple books. That is my new years resolution- everyday 5 simple books.

Today we asked the girls "What did you do today?" Ellie could tell Dad what we bought at the store- "towel, goggles, bag" and that we went "swimming". Emma could not answer us. We helped her- and broke down the sentences but she forgets the moment she hears it. I just need answers- I need to know if this is good for her or if I am totally missing the boat. I need my expectations to meet their abilities. 

We took a short walk and tried some new words- ocean, shell, beach, palm tree. Then I asked what color is the grass- my heart sunk- it's blue. Yes, I do find some humor in it  and so does the hubby. He made some witty remark. But oh my we have been working on the colors for 4 plus months. Lord have mercy!!

So now friends- please shower me with your encouraging words!!

We are all happy, we are doing really good in almost every way! The trust is building! Attachment- it is moving in a good direction but it is something we will continue to work on. So I am doing okay but just momentarily dragging...

Hubby tells me that one of my strengths is when I need something I come right out and ask for it. So I'm asking you for some nice encouraging words (I know I'm kinda pathetic- but it works for me). Next post will be a happy happy happy one! BTW a few prayers for the girls and their English would be welcomed!!

They loved having their big brother in the pool! As you can see they are all over him! This is why when we are home we have a big kids only downstairs. They love their little sisters but sometimes they need a moment to themselves! 

We love sunsets! The girls are not as impressed with them as we are but they are always up for a walk by the beach!

It was incredibly windy on the beach!

The big kids went home on Sunday. It was so much fun having them here with us for a little while! Billy's girlfriend Kelly is on the far left.

Thank you!!


Susan A said...

Hi Jean, beautiful photos you shared there :)

I wanted to encourage you with the langauge thing... think of it as if the girls are like empty glasses, you just keep pouring in immersing them with talking, discussing, etc, like pouring water into empty glasses, and bit by bit the language builds up in them, and soon it will be overflowing and it will come second nature to them :) They will not have to think of how to say it, they will just automatically say it... it takes time, some pick up quickly, and some take ages.

Maybe try incorporating some ASL signs? It may enhance Emma's reception and expression... sign language do work wonders sometimes :)

You are blessed and may your 2011 be blessed! :)

Jennifer said...

I agree with the sign language. As the speech pathologist explained it to me: Teach the signs and it "tricks" them into talking because very quickly it is easier to say the word than do the signs. I would be interested if it would work with older kids/language learning as well as it does with preschoolers.

Hang in there. God works over the long stretch. Imagine a post a year from now and you will be amazed at the progress when you look back.

Keep the faith.

Shonni said...

Dearest Jean,
the above suggestions are wonderful!!!
As I was reading your post, I really felt that these little darlin’s have missed so much nurturing in their lives, and that the “fields” may just need a little more time and tending before the language comes along. They may be putting so much energy into “catching” up on the love and trust, being in a new culture and learning “what” a family is that there just isn’t enough for all that they are trying to learn. Kind of like a battery that is already 1/2 used up. We give a baby years to learn...these little ones (just what I feel) may just need more time.
And, I think that you are doing a wonderful job with your family! I wish I could meet you in person and give you a hug! You encourage me so much. In fact, YOU and your family are one of the biggest reasons that I felt that I could adopt an older child...and now look, we are bringing home TWO.

Angela said...

I agree with all the comments above! I read your blog all the time. I so appreciate the way you share what is really going on...both the highs and the lows. I am planning on using some sign when we travel next week (!) to bring home our 8 year old daughter. And I do think some things just take time. I know you must be weary. But what a wonderful thing to be pouring yourself out for something that brings Him glory. Just like you fill up their cups slowly until they are overflowing, He will fill yours as well.

Praying for you (and will continue to lurk for much needed advice :)


Difference2This1 said... are doing just right. You know all this takes so long, much longer then what is "advertized" in the older child adoption materials. You have always sought to do what is in the best interest for both Anna and Sarah as you navigated those new waters- you have the experience and wisdom now. And the faith to keep His will for these children in the front of your mind. We are experiencing some dark times with Tessa right now and I've had to open my mind to new ideas of what might be in her best interest; I'm being forced to just trust that no matter what she learns/doesn't learn, no matter how her English progresses/doesn't progress, no matter how much darkness stays in or leaves her heart...."Thy will be done". Hang in there and just keep doing what you are doing 'cause He is in your corner on this one! God bless, Jennifer

expressmom said...

What if they never learned to speak English? You have given them more than anyone in their short lives ever has.

You have given them love, security and a forever family.

In any case, they will learn English soon enough, in their own time.

Much love & admiration to you!

a Tonggu Momma said...

Oh, Jean, I think you are a wonderful, wonderful mother! I have no advice, since the Tongginator's language acquisition was seriously the ONLY thing we did not struggle with, plus she was so young, but I did want to offer up some encouragement.

When I was a preschooler, I was the only English speaker at my school. They say my first six to nine months I did little in the way of talking, as I was just kind of "soaking up" the language, learning to understand it and such. But I wouldn't speak. Then - one day - I just exploded with sentences.

I don't know if that is what will happen with your girls, but I do know that language acquisition is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. You keep loving on them and talking with them and reading to them and they will get there. Hugs.

Lori said...

Jean...bless your heart! I understand your frustration completely. And I'm about to dive into teaching another child English. It just takes these older kids so much longer. Try to imagine yourself learning Chinese. OK, you are a tad older than your girls :) but still, it takes hearing and saying words over and over and over before it really clicks and sticks in their (our) brains.

You are doing a FANTASTIC job!! Don't underestimate all that you are doing. I truly believe that just simple conversation (whether they just listen of try to participate) is the best way for them to learn.

It WILL get better! Just keep up the good work.

"Are These Kids All Yours?" said...

I am with you on this one. We can beat ourselves up a lot....especially since we home school. We aren't doing good enough we say to ourselves. BUT (although I don't have children that don't know English, I have children that have dyslexia). It is heartbreaking because I want soo much for her to do more.

Of course if you knew Abigail you would say she is well mannered, compassionate, loving, and caring. What more can I want? Really....reading abilities, math abilities, speaking abilities, English abilities.....but when it comes down to it. It's their personalities. Who they are that REALLY MATTERS.

From your own descriptions It seems to me that they are wonderful young girls that are happy and loving. That is what is important! It will come in time. Maybe a lot longer than you wanted, but they themselves are doing great. They have a family that LOVES THEM, lets them know daily that they are loved!!!

Ellen said...

I agree with the other comments. Take some deep breaths, relax and continue to work on developing their attachment to the family and their security. Coming home together they may have had less need to learn English, being able to rely on their existing relationship.

Add some signs, continue to provide a simple, but language rich environment. Do not worry about colors, concepts (over, under, before, through etc) for now. Those will come later. Use the terms but do not expect them to get them until much further along in language acquisition. By changing and adapting your expectations you will decrease your frustration and be able to celebrate their progress as it is.


Rebekah said...


I have no experience to offer you advice in this area. But I do think you are a great mom making an INCREDIBLE DIFFERENCE in the lives of some very special children. . .all through the power of a very AWESOME GOD. He gives us new mercies everyday, and He will empower you to do His mission. Remember, where He guides, He provides. Without hope in Him, there is no hope, but just think of all the hope we have knowing He is totally in control!

Proverbs 3:5-6

Sally-Girl! said...

Oh my sweet friend who is so full of life, wisdom and love you are doing just fine. I agree that there are just big gaps in these precious girls lives that you are filling, it is just going to take more time than the 5 months they have been home.

Rest, breathe my dear friend! You and I have too much to do in 2011 to let the little things worry us. They are here and home and loved all else will fall into place in due time!!!

Sally-Girl! said...

BTW , I loved that you had the nerve to post this as I need to do a similar post when I leave for Gracie as I know that I am going to need to be encouraged by my bloggy world while alone in China with Gracie. I have never been away from hubby for that long and have never done an adoption trip alone. So I may just need to copy your post for me!!! You lead the way!!!

Gayle said...

You are doing a fabulous job, Jean! First of all, you are providing a language rich environment, just by being a talk, you share, you are loving on the girls. I don't believe learning English is the most important thing for them right now, being loved and cherished is!! Kudos to you!!

Have you tried Rosetta Stone? Selah used it every day for a year--some of it is very, very simple and repetitive, but it works!! They may enjoy the time at the computer for a treat.

And talk lots, having the girls repeat what you say...whatever you are doing, talk it through...I'm washing dishes, this plate is blue, this plate is blue. I'm putting the dishes in the dishwasher...that also helped Selah lots. YOu probably already do this...

Enjoy your vacation!!

Tesseraemum said...

I'm with Shonni! Their brains are stll healing from years of neglect. It is wonderful to see that THEY are happy and secure and not frustrated with their communication abilities! They are like toddlers. They understand what your saying but feel no need to "perform"!!
When your new littles arrive you may try asking Emma and Ellie to interpret for you. It won't just be repeating information...AND They can be the BIG sisters! You will probably be surprised at how much they have stored away!!

One day you will get up and realize that they have "always" been here and feel that these days were a million years ago! Sheri

Sophie said...

Don't come down so hard on yourself, you are an amazing and devoted mother and these children are so blessed to have you.
I'm sure she's still going through an adjustment period and trying to soak everything in and find her place in her new world.
I almost wonder if she depends on her sister to do the talking so she doesn't have to, my nephew was like that.
Praying that the therapists will have more answers for you.

connie said...

First, you're an amazing mama, no doubt about it! I completely get the 'lazy streak' and wondering if you're doing all you can do. (We are 14 months home and still struggle with language SO MUCH!)
It's so frustrating because language is really our lifeline to a relationship with our older children, and when it's such a barrier it's easy to become discouraged and lose hope that we will bond as we hope to.
There is a constant struggle for balance here ~ between bonding/learning/chilling out and enjoying the fact we're all together.
We've had to let the language take a back seat to the relational issues...but again, communication is part of relating.
Just know that you're not alone; you've been given wonderful advice; and you are being bathed in prayer.
Love the pictures!!!

Melinda said...

Hi Jean,

I don't know if this will help, but our daughter has been home for a little over two years and still has language issues. She came home right before she turned 8.

It is very frustrating sometimes, but I have to continually remind myself to think, really think about all the things she has all ready learned. I really try to focus on the things she has learned and to stop focusing on the things she has not learned.

Can you even imagine how stressful and traumatic it has been for them? Your doing GREAT! and So are they, I can tell by all the great SMILES!

Cari said...

Jean you are the best mom for your girls. Someone told me once that especially during the first year home, focus more on just being a family and less on education, because there is soooo much stimulation for them to the point of overload. They will get it when they are suppose to get it. I think reading the books is a great idea, but evening more for bonding with them/you plus them hearing the English is a bonus on top of the bonding time. :)

Pam said...

Jean, I just want to encourage you by saying you are a GREAT mom! You are doing all the right things, and as I am finding out, some things just take TIME. I know that with homeschooling Grace, my goal all along for this first year was just to get her acclimated to life in OUR family and to provide a language rich environment. Anything else would just be icing on the cake. And yes, I have to continually remind myself of what I said.

The first 3 months we had Grace home, I was SO frustrated. She never would repeat what was said to her, ask what things were, nothing. And she didn't seem to care a bit that she couldn't communicate with us. For us, at about 3 months home, finally a little communication and interest began to take place. It was just the glimmer I needed, as many had been telling me to give things time, language WILL come etc. But when you're in the middle of not seeing anything, it's hard to believe what the others are saying. You know what they are saying is true, but you think that in your case, maybe it won't be true. :) But sure enough, they were right, and once the language starts, it begins coming more and more quickly. We have been home for 6 months (today) and still have a long way to go with the language, but I'm at the point of seeing progress in the right direction, so that is enough for me right now. It WILL come. For Grace, for Charlie, and for your girls, too.

In my Hague training, I remember learning (and I'm going to botch trying to say it, but hopefully you'll know what I'm saying) that chldren who are living in the fight/ flight mode cannot learn. Their brains cannot learn in such an unsettled state. Your Emma has undergone so much trauma that it is going to take a long while to reset her brain connections and patterns. But change will come as she is reassured more and more of the security in her new family. She's had 9+ years of the past, so really, in the scheme of things 5 months just isn't much time at all. (Even though it seems long when you're in the middle of it.)

Hang in there, and just keep filling her up with your mama's love. From the outside looking in, I see such a HUGE difference in her countenence since you've had her. And that is just HUGE.

From the Erben Gang..... said...

I've seen you in action. You are an amazing mother!!!! You will know, when the time comes, if they need more "education" than what you can give them, and again you will ask for help if you need it. I agree, they are sponges and you love and security are the best medicine. Its a marathon, not a sprint-right?

Dr. D said...

Hi Jean,

I haven't read through all the comments, but I did want to encourage you from a linguistic and ESL perspective.

Sometimes with language acquisition, the language (vocab, semantics etc.) builds up internally first and then one day finally comes bubbling out (similar to what Susan said.)

It's just like when you have toddlers. One might be a chatter box from the start, first with words (mama, dada, juice), then phrases, then sentences. The other toddler, on the other hand, isn't even trying to talk. Sometime the parents start to worry. Then one day, that child goes straight from not talking to full sentences. It wasn't that the child wasn't acquiring the language, but it was a very internal process for the child.

Language aquisition has many factors that define and affect the process. It is still early yet in your girls' transitions. Also, if they are also still speaking Chinese to each other they have less motivation to work on their 2nd language (L2).

I think it's great they have the Chinese, so I'm not saying you should stop them speaking in Chinese. Just know it is likey to affect the speed at which they aquire their L2. Also, if they have acquired Chinese, then you know they have the ability to acquire language.

I'm glad you have the testing coming up in February, even for you to have some more answers and perhaps some clarity on how to move forward.

Great pics. Looks like everyone's been having a blast. :-)

Sammy said...

I think you're worrying WAY too much. With my two news one I started to them and then I discovered Yeah!!!! I don't have to do the work now!!! This is the greatest program every for teaching the new kids English!!! I am making Remi and Shepard get on it at least 30 minutes every day. I also make them listen to my other kids read at night. So right now I'm not even feeling guilty!!! I bet your daughter knows about this program too. Our schools uses the book in 1st grade or K. I'm not sure which.

Sammy said...

Jean, I said learn English, but I meant reading. See the kids will do better learning from the books than me anyway. : - ) I have started to teach them things like how to tell (Remi knows already) time, and words like tomorrow, today and yesterday.