Friday, August 29, 2014

Our first Skype call

I have written and deleted this post several times. I'm trying to decide how much I can share without violating our girl's privacy. Our agency has given us no guidance on what we can and cannot share online. Instead, I ask myself this question - "If my girl comes across this post in the future, will she be embarrassed by what I wrote?"

I do want to share what we learned in hopes of helping other adoptive parents who are preparing for a Skype call.

Prepare as much as possible ahead of time. You will have no idea up front if the translator/social worker will take charge of the call or let you lead. On our call, the translator sat back and let us completely control the content and pacing of the call. We were not prepared for this. The translator may or may not be fluent in English. We were blessed; ours was great at translating our questions and our girl's responses but did not translate a lot of our commentary.

Do not assume that you will have the same experience as other adoptive parents. We were told that once you break the ice, you will be able to interact with your child. Our girl is shy and guarded her expressions and impressions of us. Be hopeful that your child will interact with you but prepare in case they will only give one word answers or refuse to answer at all.

Learn at least a few words or sentences in the language your child speaks. I introduced myself in Chinese and asked a question in Chinese. The translator was happy that I was making an effort to learn Mandarin. I'm not sure what my girl thought, but at least the translator could later reassure her that Mama is making an effort to make communication easier.

Be prepared for a bad Skype connection. The children's home had spotty internet and Skype kept dropping the call. That gave us a chance to quickly discuss what to try next to get her to relax but also made it harder to get any sort of momentum going.

What will we do different next time? We will be prepared to entertain her for at least the first 15 minutes of the call. That will remove the pressure on her to be involved and will hopefully allow her to relax. We've tossed around a few ideas like singing songs, performing magic tricks, reading books out loud, etc.

Next time, I hope to have a printed cheat sheet of Mandarin sentences that I know. I've been studying since last fall, have a pretty solid foundation, but completely blanked when the translator told me that our girl wanted to hear me say something else in Chinese.

I have not yet heard a report from my agency about what our girl thought of us after the call. My impression is that she will not say no after seeing us on Skype but that she's also not ready to say yes.

I do know that I love that kiddo an awfully lot and hope to be her mama. It was wonderful getting to see her smile on the call. I hope and pray that she will decide to become our daughter because I can't wait to start loving on her!


Anonymous said...

If you will pardon the expression, it sounds like you've got to make about the toughest sales pitch immaginable. I hope and pray that it went well and that she saw - even through a spotty connection - and heard - even if through a translator - the love that you have for her.

Maurita said...

We sent a scrapbook to our kiddos. Showed them our pets, family meals, bedrooms, and our property plus pics of grandparents etc. So when we met in person for the first time they had questions and comments about the pictures they saw in the scrapbook. There are always those should have could have moments, but continue to trust in God and believe He is in charge. Her smile most assuredly is genuine!

Cassandra said...

Jim - I think find that an applicable metaphor. :) She's an older child, she has to agree, and we have to sell her on the benefits of a family. OUR family. Still no report back from our agency.

Maurita - I love the scrapbooks! I'm sure your kids really enjoyed seeing your house and family! We've sent two different photo albums. I was told she's looked through them carefully. I look forward to seeing what God has up His sleeve!

Julie Fukuda said...

I think those are very helpful ideas. I like the scrap book too because the child can refer to it as long and often as she wants and become more familiar at her own pace. We sent scrapbooks with our foster children when they were finally adopted so they could have a reminder that they had always been loved and cherished.

Anonymous said...

We sent a photo book as well, though our little girl was (probably) too young to really understand. She clearly liked looking at it, though!