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Adoption: When it means changing your child's language

An interesting topic that doesn't come up often in adoption cases is what happens when adoption means changing the child's first language. If you plan to adopt in Georgia or any state within the United States, most children will be born speaking English. However, if you speak another language or are adopting a child who was raised with another first language, this could pose a problem.

One thing parents can be prepared for is that the child may begin speaking later than other children. For example, if you adopt a Spanish-speaking child in an all-English-speaking home, you would need to wait for the child to begin to learn English before they'd be comfortable speaking the language. Of course, if you speak Spanish and English or can encourage language courses at a very early age, you can boost the child's ability to adapt.

What can you do to help a child who starts with a different first language than yours?

One of the things you should consider doing is learning the basics of their language. Even if the goal is getting them to speak English, you will want to make sure you can communicate as much as possible with them at the present time. If your child speaks Mandarin, for instance, learn the basics of Mandarin so that you can communicate. This will also help you begin to teach English words in the home.

Another thing that can help is not changing too much of the child's surroundings or activities at once. You want them to be able to focus on learning language and not as much on adapting to new activities or surroundings.

For this reason, it's often helpful to have home visits and to visit their city or country during some initial phases of the adoption process. It gives you a chance to get to know each other, but it also reduces how much the child has to adapt to at the same time.

Children are resilient and often learn languages quickly. While you can help them adapt by knowing their first language yourself or providing them with tutors or English lessons, the reality is that your child will learn your language with time. You just have to be patient while they learn the meanings of phrases and words. Soon, you should be able to see them begin to respond to what you say and do, even if they haven't spoken yet.

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