Sunday, October 22, 2006

Language Barrier

We have been so blessed to have two families at our church and school who have adopted from Ethiopia using the same agency as ours. And we were just ecstatic when we discovered that the 8 year old son of one of the families actually KNEW our daughter, H, from Layla House. What are the odds, right? Well, not only does this lovely young man know her, he is also excited about her arrival and often asks when she is coming to America.
Besides having an instant friend and Amharic speaker for H, it is a tremendous blessing for us to walk in the footsteps of their wonderful parents. They have shared so much of their story and been frank and honest about their adoption-both good and bad-although most has been good--we won't even mention green vegetables--and if we are lucky enough to have that as our biggest adjustment, we'll take it! It has been such a source of comfort to have someone to ask questions that would seem insane without this particular shared experience, and it has been helpful on many occasions to ask for and receive advice from their 8 year old son. When I mentioned to his mom that I was uncertain about H's language, and the possibility of another language besides Amharic to deal with--she went right to the source. She shared his insight with me here:

I just asked Baye if H speaks Oromo. Right away he shook his finger and replied, "No. No. Amharic."
I asked him how he knows and he said, "I talk to her."
I tried pinning it down more by asking, "H speaks Amharic and what else?"
He said, "I don't know. English?"
He also corrected my pronunciation of Oromo. They pronounce it with the rolled "r" sound, like in Spanish.

What an amazing gift this is for us. I've taken to calling her son the mini-translator, but he is so much more than that. He is our daughter's friend. He is one of four wonderful boys being raised by incredibly loving and committed (no not that kind!) parents. And he allows a glimpse for us into the world a million miles away where both he and our daughter began their lives. Without even realizing it, he helps us close the gap between Ethiopia and the mid-western US.
He is really more a good-will ambassador of sorts; leading two American parents to a better understanding of his country and its people and through that- our H and Baby T.


Julie said...

Thanks for the nice words! You and P are the best! Baye is happy to be your mini-translator. I wish he could answer more questions I've asked him about H to give you more insight. He's just a typical 8-year-old boy - oblivious to most things, just like my other boys. Some things are universal, I guess.

Cath said...

Your post and Julie's comments just made me smile. What sweet, delightful children.

patjrsmom said...

They are really sweet boys. Unfortunately, even if we believed in arranged marriages, none of them like girls. A big surprise from 2nd grade boys-NOT!