Friday, January 30, 2009

Day 11 - Baby Signs*

*This post was updated with photos and additional info after adoption

Somebody asked about what baby signs we're using, so we thought we'd post a little about the sign language we're trying out. Most kids who have spent some time in a baby house are a little speech delayed - they just haven't had somebody working with them one on one like a parent does. One of the ways to get them thinking linguistically and expressing their needs and wants, even if their little mouths are having trouble forming the words, is to use sign language along with spoken English.

We didn't use baby signs with Sam or Ben, so although we were familiar with the concept we hadn't ever actually tried it out. Before we left for Kaz (during those endless months of waiting) we started researching baby signs so we would be prepared if we wanted them in country. We got a book from Borders (there are dozens out there, if you're interested just go to a book store and page through them until you find one you like. Or just get the one that's on sale). We read it through and then photocopied the signs that seemed most useful so that we didn't have to bring the whole book with us (the luggage weight limit rules our lives!). There are also tons of baby sign sites on the Internet if you want to do some research without laying out the $15 for a book.

The signs are just ASL signs, although sometimes a book will simplify one or two of the more complicated motions for little hands. The signs we've been using are:
  • Mama
  • Papa
  • More
  • Again
  • Food
  • Drink
  • All done
  • Ball
  • Book
We figured we had nothing to lose - if she jumps straight to vocalizations, great, but if the signs can give her a stepping stone for a little while, that'll work, too.

Today was the first day that Sasha has actually signed anything to us (Mama) and it was such a thrill! She was obviously very proud of herself as she put her little fist to her chin and said "Mama" and we are really encouraged that pairing the signs with the English words is helping to make some connections.

Other notes:
We've been collecting photos from our strolls around Karaganda. Here's a shot of my favorite mode of transportation here - the kid sled! We've seen very few strollers here, but tons of baby sleds and they just make so much sense in a place covered in snow for a good part of the year! The sleds either have bars to push them, like this one, or they're towed with a rope, either way they're always loaded up with a (usually sleeping) toddler or baby in a gigantic snowsuit.

And did you check out the heels on the mom?!? Seriously, I have no idea how they do it, but most of the women wear boots with heels while walking around the snow-covered streets of Kazakhstan. Steve and I have near-death experiences every day on icy stairs and sidewalks while wearing our gigantic boots... those women have a sense of balance that far exceeds ours.

Papa came out ahead in today's visits - he got to kiss Shura's "hurt" hand after she "pinched" it in a cabinet, "burned" it on the heater, and "hit" it with the balloon (see yesterday's post for an explanation of the "Sash pretends to hurt her hand and needs a thousand kisses" game). We're just tickled pink that she's coming to us when she's in need of comfort, mock or no. Yesterday, Mama got to do all of the comforting, but it was great to see her go to Papa a couple of times today when her hand needed kissing.

And Papa got his first Sasha kisses today! It was a very sweet day all around.

Prayer requests: Please pray with us that Sasha would continue to look to Steve and me for comfort, cuddles, and consoling when times are tough or she's hurting. We are so encouraged by the really healthy steps toward trusting and dependence she's already taken and please continue to pray that she will continue to look to us, not just as cool people to hang out with, but as Mom and Dad.


Jill (& Bob) said...

(delurking for a moment - an on hold Kaz adoptive parent that ended up with a domestic baby somehow)

We are loving baby sign language with our 4 month old. It's great to be able to communicate. Good to know it's useful for our future Kaz baby too! I love the site for the whole sign language dictionary if you need more although it sounds like you've done your research! Glad things are going so well with Sestra!

Jessica and Chris said...

I love your signs! I am an OT for a school system and although I don't know a ton of signs (not compared to the speech therapist) I do use them and they are an excellent way to communicate. I am so glad you guys are using them! Sestra will have you figured out in no time :)


sandyamstar said...

The baby signs are very cool! Sestra is a quick learner!!! What amazed us with baby signs is how long they remembered the signs and how it prompted verbal skills. It should be neat to see if Sestra invents any of her own signs to share.

The Fox Den said...

I've just spent a half hour getting caught up with what's going on and loved every moment. Thanks for posting prayer requests too. It's fun to be apart of this incredible process by praying.

Lou Ann said...

It sounds like things are progressing nicely both with the adoption and bonding as a family. Congratulations!

Lou Ann & Lexie

PS - If you think their winter shoe fashions are crazy you should see what they wear in the summer - 4 inch heels with short shorts or skirts for one! Have fun.

The Stackler Clan said...

Hi Morningstars! I love reading about you and your little girl, I can't wait to meet her.
We used sign with our kids, Sam was a bit speech delayed, and after seven years he still signs "please" when he is asking for something. He doesn't even know that he does it. It is so cute.
I am praying for you guys! Keep warm.

The Gobble's (Lanetta) said...

wow... I was just catching up and so glad to hear things are going so well.. as a Speech-Language Pathologist I was so excited to read about your guys using baby signs!!!! I used baby signs with both of my girls and it was AWESOME.... and plan to do so with our Kaz. boy(s) as well.. We are joining you in prayers...


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