Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Friday, April 15, 2011

Communication Communication Communication

14 months after our adoption took place, it is the single greatest issue that continuously proves to be a significant challenge.

It's really difficult to explain. There are such a number of scenarios in which this plays out during the course of a day or week or month or year. A large portion of communication is non verbal as well, so that element also plays a role in the challenges we face. There are attitudes and actions and facial expressions and words - or a lack thereof, on all of our parts, that couldn't possibly be quantified or expressed in one tidy little succinct blog post package. As I regularly tell my long distance friend while we chat on the phone about the subject "you should come and see what I mean." That may be the only way to really understand.

Suffice it to say, the bottom line is our ability to communicate clearly with one another is strained. Still. This shows itself in a variety of ways. I believe since our kids were older when they were introduced to the English language, it was a very difficult transition for them. But, truthfully, it's not only the ability to articulate and pronounce words (which Meadow does quite well but Flint still struggles with some.) It's also how we communicate with one another that proves difficult. In addition to the customary blank stares and prolonged pauses as they try to search for the answer I may want to hear, (whether their response is true or not seems to matter very little to them, if they are able to come up with an acceptable answer) that are their typical response to being asked direct questions, the expression of thoughts, feelings, and or emotion is also really tough - because it doesn't exist. In other words, neither one of them verbally express thoughts, feelings or emotion. At all. This makes a nice heart to heart conversation impossible. ☺ Even when something occurs that may call for a reasonable discussion. Which in turn, makes it hard for me to feel like I am really getting to know them well, or that we are developing a close relationship. The usual give-and-take piece that vital relationships naturally have is certainly not there.

Another thing is we have seen absolutely no signs of the grieving process we were prepared for and thoroughly expected. None. I don't know if this is typical or not. At first, I thought we escaped that unpleasantry scott free and they were just so overcome with joy to be here they did not miss their caretakers or lives in Ethiopia. Now as I have witnessed other situations that should typically evoke sadness, and do among our birth children, but leave Meadow and Flint completely unscathed, I am beginning to wonder if this lack of grieving is not indicative of another issue all together.

As a woman and a mother, I love to talk to my kids. Getting to know them each on an individual basis, nurturing bonds with them, observing their growth and change in all categories, hearing their "take" is one of my greatest joys on this earth. Even the youngest kids like to talk to their mommy....a lot! I am praying for wisdom and insight that will help me develop that type of close knit relationship with each of my African gifts.

I am not writing this to seek advice or input, (although if you have some I'm definitely all ears. Especially if it doesn't involve costly therapy appointments!) Mostly, I just want to say, that if communication is an obstacle you wrestle with as you forge and foster relationships with your adopted children, you are absolutely not alone.


Carla said...

I will offer something because I know EXACTLY what you are going through. We decided to send our adopted Ethiopian children to school for a few years to help them adapt (the oldest is in first and our youngest will go to kindergarten in the fall). We got a call from the school asking if we wanted the oldest in the ESL program and I said "YES!" Even though she speaks English perfectly, she still does not understand the meaning of a lot of words. I am hoping this helps both of them because I am worn out from trying to communicate with these children. Maybe you could see if your children could get in an ESL class somewhere. I don't think you have to send them to school to get this kind of help. I know you weren't asking for advice, but if I can help anybody at all in anyway I'll try cause I know how challenging this is. Oh,my oldest bio daughter just returned home from her second mission trip to ET, the same place where are children are from. She works with children there and even with the adults, the communication is very difficult. Such a different culture from ours.

Courtney said...

i love these posts. where you're just honest so others can know they aren't alone.

Anastasia said...

Tisha, I'm just curious, what is the Ethiopian culture like? How do the people there "live" or "exist" together? I wonder if that part of them is still very much "Ethiopian" while trying to live in our culture? You probably already have explored all of that, I'm just curious on my end...

Lindy said...

First of all, Meadow (and her hair!) look absolutely gorgeous in this picture! I LOVE her hair!!

Second, I was just thinking that same thing the other day. Eme is much younger, but we cannot have a conversation about feelings or thoughts. She just makes statements and asks questions. I tried to ask her opinion, and she simply repeats what a sibling has said. Even though it seems she has such a great grasp on language, I find that real conversation is not taking place. I'm just starting to really process this and if I come up with any ideas, I'll share.

I haven't talked to you in TOO long--I'll give you a call sometime soon! Miss you.

Sharon said...

Love your honesty. Communication is so challenging. At our house, it seems to come down to how things are said, not necessarily what is said. Our daughter went through much grieving the first few months she was with us(mostly in episodes of anger), but she still struggles to let her emotions really come out. We've heard only a few real cries and she struggles to allow herself to be happy-as if in searching out something negative. Does that make sense? All that to say, every child responds differently, but you are SO. Not. Alone.

I've read your blog a few times (I think your aunt or some relative of yours in MN passed it on to me last year after we had just brought our 5 year old daughter home)and finally decided to "delurk".

Mama D.'s Dozen said...

I am so Right. There. With. You.

Oh my! So hard!

My African beauties are 9 and 12. They have been home for 3 years. They still show little emotion (besides the occasional RAD rage of the youngest). They don't laugh when the rest of the family is in hysterics. They very rarely cry, and then only from anger (never showing hurt, pain, etc...).

They hardly communicate ... even though they have 10 siblings who LOVE to talk. They can hardly even answer direct questions. We were at the Dr. office last week and the nurse asked the youngest what her favorite food was. She fully understood the question, but gave the nurse a blank stare.

No real suggestions, but wanting you to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE.


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