Approximately 5,370 children were adopted from other countries and brought to the United States in 2016. The majority of international adoptions involved children from China, Ethiopia, and Russia. Choosing to adopt a child from a foreign country comes with its own unique hurdles and benefits. One of the questions many parents of internationally adopted children face is how to incorporate the child’s heritage in his or her life. A new scientific study suggests that this task might be easier than prospective parents may think. The study shows that babies who are adopted before they learn to talk still retain some of the ability to speak their home country’s language.
Study Shows Language Acquisition Begins Very Early in Life
The study, led by Dr. Jiyoun Choi of Hanyang University in South Korea examined adults who had been adopted as babies from South Korea by Dutch-speaking parents. The participants were tested on their ability to pronounce Korean consonants correctly compared to participants who were not born in Korea. The research team found that individuals who were adopted out of Korea before they learned to speak could pronounce the Korean consonants better than other individuals. In fact, there was no difference between the speaking ability of those people adopted under the age of 6 months and those adopted after they were 17 months old. Dr. Choi explains, “This finding indicates that useful language knowledge is laid down in [the] very early months of life, which can be retained without further input of the language and revealed via re-learning.” The results of the test were profound because Dutch and Korean are vastly different languages with very different sounding consonants.
Dr. Choi encourages all parents to talk to their children during the first months of their lives as much as possible. Even if a child is not yet talking, he or she is absorbing a great deal that will be helpful down the road.
International Adoption Concerns
Language, culture, and heritage are just a few of the factors you will need to consider when you choose to adopt a child from another country. It is up to you and your family to determine how many or how few of your child’s native customs and traditions to embrace. Keep in mind, however, that children who struggle with their own identity could be at risk for mental health concerns, including depression, as they get older.
If you are thinking about adopting a child from another country, you probably have many questions, concerns, and hopes for the future. At Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., our experienced Kane County adoption attorneys are equipped to help you find the answers you need. We maintain a vast network of resources for adoptive parents, and we will work with you provide the best possible situation for your adopted child. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation today.