Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In Which We Get The Ball Rolling

So our initial adoption application has been accepted, we've been assigned a social worker, and we're on our way!  And, of course, the first thing we have to do is fill out this fourteen page packet where we answer approximately eight billion questions which are meant to get us really thinking about issues we may run into while parenting an adoptive child.  None of them, I am sad to say, are multiple choice.  This is our opening teaser to the sheer mountain of paperwork we will have accumulated by the time we are finished with this process.  We'll slog through all of it, I'm sure, though I may be a bit tired of writing by the end of things.  Expect short blog posts when we're in the thick of the process.  Or long whiny ones-- one of the two.

Anyway, thanks for all of the well wishes as we start our adoption journey, folks!  I'll do my best to answer the questions you've asked so far about Sylvie while respecting the fact that she's not "ours" yet. 

We don't know whether or not Sylvie has been fitted with hearing aids yet, but my guess, since it's not mentioned in any of her files and she is also totally non-verbal, would be "no."  We're not sure of the extent of her hearing loss, either, but based once again on the fact that she's totally non-verbal I would guess that it's relatively profound.  What technology we might consider for her, be it hearing aids, bone conduction aids, cochlear implants, etc would be contingent on what kind of hearing loss she has (we don't know), how severe it is (ditto) and how she is developing.  We're huge proponents of total communication around here (feeling with our current non-verbal child that ANY communication is good communication), and though we don't know anything for sure yet my guess is that a kid who's not talking at all and is being fitted for a hearing device at five or six years old is probably not going to be a great candidate for an oral program.  So we'll just have to see how she's doing.  I'm now pretty close to fluent in Signed Exact English and Jeremy is in advanced classes, so we'll continue learning.  Hopefully sometime in the next year I'll start ASL classes so I can eventually be fluent in that too.  I believe right now Sylvie is totally dependent on sign language, and that will probably remain her main form of communication.

What sign language it is she's learning we're not exactly sure of either.  This is because the orphanage social worker, when asked about it, claimed that sign language was "universal."  Right.  I'm taking an educated guess and betting that she's learning Thai Sign Language, which is the national sign language over there and is used by the majority of the Deaf community.  It's has its origins in ASL, so hopefully the transition between the two languages will actually be smoother than it probably would be if she was speaking Thai and transitioning to speaking English.  This is pure speculation, though-- she could be learning Pig Latin for all I know. 

That's one of the things about adoption-- you end up with a whole lot of questions you won't have the answers to until you meet the child.  Some of the questions-- things about birth family history, medical history, and background of the child-- these are questions you may never have the answers to.  We're going to have to take a lot of things on faith; though we will get the chance to send our questions over to the orphanage, there's no guarantee we'll get any answers.

Oh well.  It'll give us something to talk about on our breaks from filling out paperwork.



Herding Grasshoppers said...

At least she's learning some language. And you're probably right, about the transition from one sign language to another.

I know a woman who works at the local university, in disability services. They frequently have exchange students from Japan, and occasionally have had deaf Japanese students. They pick up the American ASL a lot quicker than the hearing students get fluent in English. It's amazing. Even though the signs are totally different.

You will do GREAT!


leah said...

I think it is strange that the social worker thought sign language was universal! I once viewed a video of British Sign Language and the alphabet is very interesting (compared to ASL). It is good that Thai sign language has a base in ASL- at least some of the signs should be familiar. Using SEE2 is a definite plus, since it will expose her to the articles and word endings she'll learn how to read in Kindergarten.

Congratulations on getting the ball rolling! I think I would be so consumed with shopping for little girl clothes that I couldn't focus on the paperwork, lol!

Julia O'C said...

I'm very impressed at how much work you're putting into making this little girl's transition as easy possible. Like I said before, I'm very happy for you guys - but I'm REALLY happy for her!!

Katy said...

You know, Charlie was my biological child and I still feel like there were a lot of unanswered questions when he first got here. You're doing so great with all of this!

Elizabeth said...

This is all very exciting -- albeit, overwhelming, too! I have a colleague in the world of special needs who works for the Colorado chapter of Hands and Voices -- do you know the organisation? I will send her an email with a link to your blog and hopefully the two of you can connect. She has done and continues to do amazing work in the deaf and hard of hearing community and has a teenage daughter who is deaf. Keep us posted!

Jess said...

That's our hope, Julie. We'll just have to see how things go!

Leah, I've met a whole lot of people who are unfamiliar with sign and believe something similar. Crazy, huh?

Julia O'C this is totally off topic, but six months after we get her home we're going to have to make a trip to a Thai consulate to finalize the adoption. We MIGHT just go to the one in Washington DC, and we MIGHT just have to make a trip to some of the surrounding states. Ahem. Though come to think of it, there's one in New York, too. You and leah can duke it out.

Katy, it would be awesome if kids came with instruction manuals. As long as they aren't like the ones from Ikea.

Elizabeth I do know about Hands and Voices, though we haven't really been involved with them here. And I would love to get in touch with anyone and everyone who's done this sort of thing before, as this is uncharted water for us. We can't wait to get our feet wet!


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