We had our 3-week follow up appointment with the international adoption clinic on Wednesday and I wanted to talk a little about how that went.
We went over all of the results from the lab work. Basically, everything they tested is perfect, not that we were expecting anything out of the ordinary. There are a few vaccines he will have to catch up on, but the ones he received in Korea were all effective. We had a hearing screen performed and his hearing was within normal limits (again, not a surprise), however he does have some fluid on his eardrums. If that doesn’t begin to clear up, I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up getting tubes in the near future. He has an appointment for an MRI in February and we should be seeing the neurologist early in the year as well.
The only red flag that came up was when they asked me how he was catching on with language. Frankly, he isn’t saying much at all in English. I haven’t really been concerned, but in the back of my mind, I remembered following some other blogs of adoptive parents….reading that their children (other toddlers) were already using short English phrases before they even left their home country!! EEEEK. I was fully prepared for the doctors to tell me not to worry, all in good time, but they didn’t. They flat out said he should be using a lot more English than he does.
In the end, I believe the reason he isn’t using more English is because we are reinforcing his use of Korean. I am not sorry we have done this–it has been very helpful. His foster family told us many of his common words and phrases and that was a Godsend. So when he says “gong” I know he wants a ball, so we get it. When he says “shee shee”, we go potty. If I am trying to tell him to come here we have to get ready to go outside, I say “naga” and he comes running, ready to go.
However, now that we have been home for a month and now that he understands a lot of what we are saying, I am going to make an effort to get him speaking more English. There are a lot of words he CAN say, but he doesn’t choose to. For whatever reason. It could be his personality is very stubborn (it sure seems to be) or it could be that he is just acting like a regular two year old, but there are times when he would rather throw himself on the ground and have a fit than tell me what it is that he wants. For instance, this morning, he was eating breakfast (a waffle and sliced apples) quite happily. I fixed a small plate of apple slices and a blob of peanut butter for myself and sat down right next to him. He immediately started having a tantrum. I asked him if he wanted some of mine. He shook his head no and continued crying. I asked him repeatedly what he wanted and pointed to the refrigerator and pantry to see if he might want something in there. Still screaming, shaking his head no, and then pushing plate and cup away. I decided to ignore him and he started calming down. Once he was calm, I asked him again if he wanted some of mine, and sure enough it was all because he wanted peanut butter with his apples too. Believe me, I didn’t expect him to say, “Please mom, I would love some of that peanut butter.” But a simple point at my plate would have sufficed.
I don’t really think this is atypical for two year olds. We went through the same thing with Isaac, and eventually put him in speech therapy, where I found out he didn’t have any speech problems, he just had a mother who wasn’t MAKING him ask for what he wanted. So I am officially going to start making Matthew tell me what he wants. First step is showing me, signing to me, leading me to what he wants. Next I am going to try to get him to say just the one word. Then hopefully some phrases. I know he can do it. He is quite a clever and smart little boy.
I am proud to say that he is getting more open to looking at books, especially picture books. We have one that has one object on every page. I would say that he can name about 40% of the items in the book. He says “choo choo” for train, and he always says “bye bye” for airplane because in Korea he would say goodbye to the planes flying in the air. He can say apple, banana, shoes, car, and ball, but he prefers pointing. And just to prove to us that English is really the hardest language to master, he said “quesadilla” multiple times at the dinner table last night….yet he has never said “dog”. Show off!