Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Speaking a Different Language

Recently someone we're close to learned for the first time that our adoptees aren't academically at grade level. They're behind, whatever that means. (Who do I compare them to anyway? Do government schools provide my goals or is the Bible my plumb line?)

I was reminded of a party I attended last year, where I ran into someone I hadn't seen since way before our adoption. They were absolutely fascinated with our adoption story. I mean, seriously captivated by every detail. That is, until she asked if they were on grade level. I laughed and said: Oh no, she's probably about ____ grades behind.
Her face dropped and she actually looked embarrassed for me.

I suddenly realized there was no way I could explain it to her in a way she would understand.
Of course my adoptees are behind! Of course they're not on the level of children their age who were read to, sung to, hugged, held, and talked to!
Of course!
And I don't expect them to be!

My Maya could run a house at her young age of 14. She is gifted. She knits at the speed of lightning, decorates cakes, and has a passion for photography. She knows how to calm a wailing baby and what spices go with which foods. She has great strengths.
She loves the Lord and forgives easily and quickly. She is an amazing peacemaker and very willing to give up her wants to make someone else happy. She's not a martyr; she's loving and loving others makes her happy. She reads the Bible every day on her own because she wants to.

I wanted to tell this lady: Don't be embarrassed for me! I'm PROUD of these children! Don't you see what they've overcome? What little they were given? What struggles they have to compensate for? We didn't adopt them to give them an academic future! We adopted them to give them a FAMILY!

But she was too entrenched in her mainstream thinking to be able to see any of these things. It made me sad.

We just weren't speaking the same language.


RobinC said...

So true. People just don't get it. The fact is, my adoptee would not be on grade if we sent her to school either, yet people assume it is because she is homeschooled that she is "behind". Yes, I am sure that lack of personal contact and nutrition in her beginning years coupled with having to learn an entire new language and culture before she begin learning the necessary academics have nothing to do with it .

Sometimes we stand in awe at how far she has come. We are not going to worry about how far she has to go:-).

Tereza Crump aka MyTreasuredCreations said...

It's so hard to move away from that box thinking, but it is possible. :) I have bought the book "The Connected Child", I don't have any adopted children Yet, but it is really helping me with my own biological children. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.

I myself had to change the way I taught on grade leveles just by having a girl and a boy that are school aged. They learn so differently, and at different speeds too. :)

Dusti said...

This is precious, and so true for me too! I never thought of it this way, thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I really loved this post. Particularly the comment about adopting them to have a Family. We sponsor two beautiful twin 9 months olds in Liberia and I pray one day they will be here with us. BUT like you said - Of course I want them to have a better education, better health, better future but the MOST important thing that we can provide them with is a loving family.

MamaMahnken said...

I love this...and I want Maya to come live with me, lol :)

patchworkmommy said...

Ginger, We have 7 Liberian children and only two are almost at grade level. The other five are a few years behind. The child farthest behind is one that was 11 when she came. She is now 15. She is still at a second or third grade level. I understand the looks well!


Kelly said...

I love that she asked. Because then you're given the opportunity to expand the way she sees things. Until I started reading more blogs about adoption, I had the same assumption and would have felt embarrassed for homeschoolers as well. Explaining this to her is no different than explaining grammar to kids that don't know about it.

Ginger said...

Why would you be embarrassed for homeschoolers specifically?

Anonymous said...

Probably because I would of considered it a failure of (OK, don't chuckle) "the homeschool approach"...yup, like there's one. And I probably also would have assumed that she wouldn't have "fallen through the cracks" if she'd been in public school.

(I'd link to my page, by I've forgotten my password.)

Ginger said...

The funny thing is- she would have fallen very far thru the cracks had she been homeschooled.
I have just recently been realizing how good I have it that I can tailor-make my homeschool to my kids' specific needs. They are so blessed to be homeschooled and learning, rather than public or private schooled and failing. I'm so grateful.