I know better than to get into adoption talk before I go to bed, last night I did it anyway. So with adoption on my mind as I trying to go to sleep, I thought about an article I read many years ago. An article about an adoption that the mother penned, and if I remember correctly, she had asked her daughter to explain what it was like to transition from one language to another as a young child.
I can’t tell you what the daughter said, just the impression those words created and stuck in my mind all these years. She talked about after being at her new home in her new country for a while, she started to lose her native language, but English was still just words. At one point she stopped being able to think in her native language and there was a time before she could think in English – and she thought she was losing her mind.
When I read that article I could relate in a different way, and imagine the feelings that must have evoked in her, because I read that article when I was still trying to recover from loosing my speech and my ability to write. I vividly remembered the stark fear upon realizing I could not speak. When the EMT’s came to the house and asked me questions – I couldn’t answer them, but at that point I didn’t realize I’d also lost my ability to write. When I couldn’t write the answers the fear escalated as I realized, I could only answer yes or no by shaking my head. That’s why the story I read so many years ago stuck with me, that fear of not being in control. It broke my heart to understand what international adoptees go through being suddenly deprived of the ability to speak, and to be heard, but worse yet, words spoken to them they can’t understand either. I can’t imagine going through something like that as a small child. It was scary to go through what I did as an adult, and still have the knowledge that I could answer yes or no questions, and I still had my ability to understand the questions being asked.
Being adopted is hard, it’s harder for some than the others …