International adoption is a great opportunity for families. And bringing small children into your home—whether biologically yours or not—comes with its own set of challenges. Big opportunities for success come in the early stages of the child’s adjustment into their new home. Australian Baby Hands wants to help you ensure early wins during this process. One of the keys is to ease frustration for these children who may have difficulties communicating due to language barriers.

Your adopted child may be exposed to a whole new language which they need to learn or you may continue to use their native language and introduce a second language. If exposing them to the new language of their adoptive country, baby sign language will help bridge the gap of communication while they make the connections of what it is you are trying to say in this new language. If you want to use two languages with your adopted child , baby sign language will provide a common sign for words in both languages, helping to make the transition and understanding process a little faster.

It is easier to learn new signs compared to learning new sounds/languages. New sounds require the “complex use of facial muscles including the formation of lips, the use of the tongue and controlling of vocal chords, among others.” As a lot of signs can be iconic; symbolize what you are trying to communicate, it can make learning sign language a little easier.  Baby Sign Language research has also highlighted that using sign language helps children remember the word as they are using both hemispheres of the brain when they sign.

Studies have shown that adoptions from homes and those from orphanages are very different. A child coming from an orphanage may encounter a delay in the development of their social skills (Center for Adoption Medicine). International adoptions bring with them the culture shock. Language is just one of the challenges facing your new buddle of joy. The child might not have  never encountered or developed a taste for the foods your family enjoys, or they may have unknown fears you would not expect. When they are not able to express this the result is frustration such as throwing tantrums . Let’s help soothe the child, empower them to communicate, and bring peace into the home.

Start communicating with signs. This bridges the gap and helps you and your child bond faster. Your child is never too old for baby sign.  If there is a communication barrier such as language, baby sign language can provide a tool for your child to help them be understood and bond with you much earlier than waiting for them to acquire a new language.

So let’s recap. Communication is a powerful tool when adopting internationally because it eases the child’s physical frustration to communicate, builds a quicker bond between you and your child, and gives them a jump start to their education. And lastly, in case of illness, injury, or another emergency your child can more quickly help you identify the reason for alarm.