Part of parenting any child is celebrating their firsts: first time taking steps, losing a tooth, riding a bike, and so on. With adopting two older children (one being very much older) our firsts look...different. So far, we've had their first trip on a plane, first snowfall, and first time seeing deer in the yard. We would like to share with you a huge first for our Claudia.
You see, tomorrow is Claudia's first day of school. And in a lot of ways it's her very first, first day of school. While she has been to school a bit in the past, it was never with anyone who tried to communicate with her. So it was a place to go but not a place to learn.
Claudia is attending the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault. This is a school especially equipped to help her to learn and grow, and that lets her be a part of the Deaf community. This is the school that we took ASL classes as a family last year (and will continue to now that we've settled in a bit). She will be bussed there every day, which we know is a far way, but we are incredibly thankful for the opportunity. Claudia is more excited than ever. In fact, most of the times we've talked to her leading up to her start she has immediately hugged us. It didn't even really matter what we were saying about it; first we got a hug.
We've explained before that for most of her life she has been without a language. If you really stop and take the time to think that through, it is an incredibly humbling thing to do. As with many things in our lives, it is easy to take communication for granted. Just over a year ago, a small group of amazing women in Costa Rica went above and beyond to get her started on her language journey. She started learning LESCO, which is Costa Rican Sign Language. LESCO is different than ASL, but we've found there to be much more commonality than we were expecting. Now, of course, we use ASL with her, but we still all have a lot to learn.
Being without a language for 16 years is a lot more complex than simply not having words. The effect this has had on her is her Special Need. It's not nearly as much her deafness, but her lack of language for most of her life (and everything that comes along with that) that is her need. It is what we have taken on with her and for her. Most of the details around this we will keep private.
Above is a picture of Claudia at the Academy on Friday, which was a "shadow day" for her. She was able to meet her teachers and classmates, see everything around the school, and get a glimpse of what her days will look like. Tomorrow is her first official day. We invite you to cover her in prayer this week as she makes yet another huge adjustment in her life. She met more people in her first hour on Friday who could communicate with her than she's ever met in her life. This is a whole different world for her and while she is exceptionally excited, there is a lot of anxiety as well. Please join us in praying her through this week.
A frequent question that we are asked is "how is bonding going?" Honestly, it's a hard question to answer because there are so many dynamics to bonding as an adoptive family. Every family and every story is unique, and every bond made within the family is unique, too.
Bonding with Claudia and Jefferson are very different experiences. Things are happening at different paces and in different forms. They are two different people, so naturally, it's going to look very different. In a lot of ways it's very simple: it's just spending time together and meeting needs. And in a lot of ways it's very complicated: it's spending time together and meeting needs.
Thank you all for allowing us the time to be together and meet their needs. Not just Claudia and Jefferson, but all of the kids. This is a very precious time and we are choosing to try our best to be present in it.
So today, on November 4th, we bonded while carving pumpkins. Because it's still Halloween, if you round...
We are Brian, Ann, Kennedy, Rowyn, and Silas. (For now!) We're on a journey to adopt. You can follow along through this blog as we share our hearts and our tales of the process.