One year ago today, Phil and I were asked the biggest question of our married lives: “Would you consider adopting a sibling group of five?” We are so thankful we said, “YES!” Our lives have been enriched in a way that is indescribable. To invest in the lives of five abandoned children, and to show them love and acceptance has been a rewarding experience. We entered into this situation with the hope of being a blessing to these children, but in reality we are the ones who have received a blessing, our lives forever changed.
The process of becoming a bilingual family has been so neat to experience! It has been very interesting to have a wide range of ages and levels of language represented in both English and Portuguese. Phil and the older kids are fluent in Portuguese. Before the new kids joined our family, Kayla and Makenna didn’t know much Portuguese at all. I was only comfortable speaking simple sentences with small children.
Within only a few short months, Kayla and Makenna have shocked us all at how quickly they have learned. Kayla can now communicate well with her new siblings. She has amazed us all with her confidence level, and isn’t afraid to speak. When she comes to a word she doesn’t know, she quickly fills it in with an English one and moves on. Makenna is a bit behind her age level in English, so people often have a hard time understanding what she is saying. Her language of choice is now Portuguese. Because she and Ana-Clara spend the majority of their days playing together, she has learned Portuguese at a remarkable rate. (This is a five year old Ana-Clara version of Portuguese, not necessarily “proper” Portuguese 🙂 ) Our hearts melted the other day when at the dinner table, Phil told Makenna it was her turn to pray, and she prayed her whole prayer in Portuguese. It was PRECIOUS!
Our new five who didn’t know any English when they came to live with us five months ago, are all at different levels of the learning process. Lucas is studying in the Brazilian school this year so he isn’t as exposed to English as Victoria is because she is studying in the American school. Lucas has a desire to learn, and loves to try out new phrases he learns on people to get a response. Victoria on the other hand, has AMAZED us. She already understands most of what we say in English, and oftentimes she can respond as well. Ana-Clara hasn’t learned much yet, but that is because she spends her days playing with Makenna who has chosen to speak Portuguese. 🙂 Up until recently we spoke to the twins in Portuguese, but then decided it would be a good idea if Phil continues to speak to them in Portuguese, and I speak in English so they can get a good grasp of both languages.
Last night Makenna woke up from a deep sleep yelling for water. She yelled, “Mamai!!! Estou com sede. Quero agua!” On the other hand, today Haylee asked for water by saying, “Mom, agua?” She says “Mom” in the same way she hears my teens say it. 🙂
As I was thinking about our family’s language learning process, a song I listened to as a kid came to mind: Love in Any Language. It is neat to think that love can transcend all language barriers. It will be interesting to see how languages continue to develop in our family.