How Is ASL Going?
Most notably, WE LOVE ASL!
Okay, so really, this is a lot of work. It is so good, but it takes a lot of time, energy and focus. ASL truly is another language, not just a set of vocabulary words with signs attached. Many times throughout the day as we are talking with each other or the kids we are reminded that we are nowhere near able to communicate those things in sign. And signing will be THE way we communicate with C. So obviously it is so very important that we are able to. We are working hard, and will continue to do so.
We have always had such an incredible amount of respect for people who learn a new language, especially as adults, and that respect is only growing. It grows each and every time we thought we understood something and then yet again were humbled by our inability to communicate. Looking at each other with confused expressions, only to have our 8 or 6 year old (or sometimes the 2 year old) easily fill in the gaps of our understanding. What we would give to have their ability to learn a new language!
How Are We Learning?
We have been using a number of different ASL programs at home, both online and DVD. We also have an incredible amount of resources that so many of you wonderful people have loaned to us in this time. Once again, thank you for all of your support! All of these things have allowed us to be learning constantly while at home and we are so grateful for these.
Once a week our family goes to the Minnesota Academy for the Deaf in Faribault. There we attend a free ASL class for families of deaf individuals. They have so graciously allowed us to be a part of the class as we prepare to adopt C (& J). This is a highlight of our week! Our teacher is Deaf, and can I just say that she is wonderful? There we get to put into practice what we are learning at home while she is teaching us the very many aspects of the language that are much easier in person. She kindly corrects our poor execution and answers our very many questions. The kids are in the class for the majority of the time with us, but near the end we allow them to go run around in the gym before heading home. There they play with both deaf children as well as hearing children with a deaf sibling. They sign away and play together and just make it work. It is beautiful.
When we think about the first week we attended class and how little we understood, we are amazed at how far we’ve come. Of course, we have so far to go and will keep pressing on with every bit of our energy that we can. We hope and plan to learn as much as possible in this time so that we can be best equipped to teach C what we know, and obviously so that we can communicate with her. And continue learning, forever learning.
So if you are wondering what we are doing with our time, there it is. If we have any spare time in our day, and even when there really isn’t, it is quickly filled in with this aspect of the process.
Why This Learning Process Is So Important
We couldn’t write about our process of learning ASL without bringing it back to C. As much as we love all of this learning and are loving the language itself, it is all with the heavy heart of knowing that she has never been taught a sign language (until very recently). Our level of struggle to grasp onto a new language is nothing compared to how hard she has had to work to live in this world without a language for so long. So we are fighting for her as we learn - fighting for what a language will give her. Will language fix everything or resolve the trauma from the past? Definitely not. But we hope that it will allow her to know and understand more of what is going on around her. And for that we will fight.
C has been able to recently start learning LESCO (Costa Rican Sign...which is not the same as American Sign Language) and for that we are incredibly grateful. We are told she is loving it and we couldn’t be happier for her! We will have to transition her to ASL but are thrilled that she is learning to communicate and being poured into in this way.