Language Barrier

We are on the list as English/Spanish because Daddy can speak English and Spanish. Since I don't speak Spanish it would make it more difficult for us to parent kiddos who truly only speak Spanish.

Last fall we got a placement call for a little girl who was three and her infant brother. They we're Spanish speaking and in a foster home that was also primarily Spanish speaking. This was their second home in less than sixty days. Originally they we're in an English speaking home and the attorney requested for them to be moved to a Spanish speaking home. Less than thirty days after the move the Spanish speaking foster home closed and a new placement was needed. After much hesitation I said yes we would take them IF they couldn't find anyone else. Placement made a few more phone calls then back to us Can you still take them?. I said yes then about twenty minutes later I called the placement worker back to ask a few more questions. I was worried about the attorney not agreeing to our placement because I was no more Spanish speaking than the first family. They had been through enough moves and certainly didn't need anymore. Placement decided to talk to the worker about it and eventually it was decided that if they we're to be moved again and there we're no Spanish speaking homes available it would be best to put them back in the original English speaking home. The original family happily accepted them back and all worked out beautifully.

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Less than a week later we got a call for another Spanish speaking sibling group. We accepted the placement because although they to where from a Spanish speaking family, we felt that they we're young enough (18 months & 4 months) that any language they had was limited and could easily be translated.

Isnt most of toddler talk sign language anyhow?

So here we are almost a year later. The boys are now 2 years and 15 months old. The oldest is speaking words, full sentences, asking questions all in English. The boys are set to reunify with their father in four weeks. He speaks no English and the boys speak no Spanish. The two-hour weekly visits we're not enough to maintain both languages. The CPS worker says that during the visits the oldest understands the Spanish enough to follow directions, which is comforting. Another comforting factor is that they are still so young they will likely be able to pick speaking Spanish back up quickly. It wasn't the ideal situation. It would have been wonderful for them to have both Spanish and English speaking parents. That wasnt an option at the time of placement so we did the best we could and accepted them as ours. Their adjustment was minimal due to their young ages. An older child may face a much tougher transition period. I remember a time shortly after we got licensed

We got a late evening call from our agency worker. There was a family near by who had accepted placement of a sibling group. Three children ages 0-5 years old. The family was struggling with a language barrier. The children we're raised in an all Spanish speaking home and then placed with the English speaking foster family. During the day the family was able to function through pointing along with the limited Spanish they knew. However, at bedtime the children would grieve the loss of their family. As they would settle in for the evening the tears would come pouring out. The family struggled to console them since they we're not able to fluently speak their language. The agency was hoping Daddy could swing by and help them translate. So we all loaded up and headed their direction. As we climbed the stairs toward their bedroom we could see the foster mom patting their backs trying to comfort them. Daddy greeted them in Spanish and their little tear filled eyes popped up from the pillow. Their faces changed from total sadness to a glimmer of hope. He tried to explain that they would be staying with this family for a while and that they would visit their mom and dad in a few days. They found so much comfort in a few spoken words and soon drifted off to sleep.

Its always best if the kiddos can go to a home that speaks the same language as them but sometimes that is not an option. Not speaking the same language can make transition quite a bit more difficult. It can be done but if you are going to accept a placement that has no English language I would highly recommend you have someone in your support system who speaks the child's language. Someone who is willing to serve these kiddos anytime they need the comfort of their language spoken to them.

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Posted in Home Post Date 02/21/2021


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