I pulled out my list of necessary Bulgarian phrases and have been practicing speaking Bulgarian for the past week or so.
The native Bulgarian likes to laugh at me while I do this. If I mess up too badly she’ll inform me that I said something completely whack. Which usually involves her saying the word that I accidentally said (in English) and erupting into a pile of giggles, hisses, and guffaws. At least I haven’t sworn in Bulgarian although I did say something about “police” and that wasn’t what I was going for.
Which probably leads to the question: Does Jude still speak Bulgarian? Well, she really only ever had a 30-word Bulgarian vocabulary. She remembers about 5-10 of those words. She obviously understood Bulgarian prior to adoption and per our visit in June retains that understanding and will answer questions posed to her in Bulgarian appropriately in English.
I am in no way relying on Jude to act as translator, but I do think that it will be nice that Jude and Gabriel will be able to communicate amongst themselves a little from the very start.
Gabriel’s Bulgarian vocabulary is more comprehensive than Jude’s was when I picked her up in June of last year. Gabriel is speaking short sentences in Bulgarian and unlike Jude, her Bulgarian is very clear and easy to understand (it took several days for me to understand some of Jude’s words through her speech impediments).
I think because Gabriel’s language is far more developed in her native tongue the transition to English may be more of an actual transition. For Jude, we simply started using English except for the 30 words that she knew (we used those side-by-side for the first 1-2 months). Jude was speaking 3 words of English by bedtime on pickup day. 10-15 words before we made it home to Boston and by homecoming had a solid basic understanding of what we were trying to communicate to her.
For this reason, we have plans in place to have a Bulgarian translator available to Gabriel for some key needs once we arrive in Maine. I am trying, and according to Jude, doing alright with some basic phrases, but there are going to be some things that I want to make sure she has full understanding of.
I’m excited to go. Jude’s pumped. To try to give her an understanding of when it will be time I made a paper chain today with the idea that we will remove a link every day until the chain is gone. Then we will go. I am hoping that will allow her to relax a little over the next few weeks. I have the chain right in the living room where she can easily see it (but not reach it).
She made me go out and buy Gabriel a Winnie-The-Pooh baby blanket. She was quite adamant that Gabriel needed a “lovey.” When we finally found a place that had either blankets or fabric she had 3 options and said to me “Mommy, I will pick it.” And she did. Gabriel now has a “Pooh lovey” and it is in the growing pile of things to be packed.