Why Adopted Children should keep their first languages?

Child adoption comes with the question of what languages the child in question will be speaking especially if they are adopted from a country of place where the language or languages spoken are different from those used where the child is relocating.

The Ethiopian parliament passed a law banning adoption activities altogether in the East African country and is meant to be immediately effective with just the exception of those cases where the process was or is being finalized. It should be noted that since the year 2011, Ethiopia had more than 5000 adoptions carried out by the US alone. A famous example here is the actress Angelina Jolie who adopted an Ethiopian girl as a toddler.

We also saw Madonna, the legendary musician with her second adoption from Malawi making it 3 children form Malawi that she has so far adopted.

How adoption affects languages

The issue here is what languages or language to be taken up by this adopted child. It should be noted that most children that are taken up as babies rarely get to learn their original mother tongues as they take on right from infancy the languages of their adoptive parents.

There are cases however when the child being adopted already has picked up on their mother tongue before that are taken to live with their adoptive parents.

Adoption and being bilingual

Some communication experts refer to such children who have learnt their original mother tongue before they set off to learn that of their adoptive parents as bilingual. However, they might be two kinds of bilingual here;

Subtractive bilingual; where the adopted child picks on the new language of their adoptive parents and gradually forgets their own. This is caused by the desire for these children to fit in with their new environment and culture. It is said that most children like these forget almost everything about their original language within a certain period of time. This deprives the child of cultural diversity because through a language one gets to know the mannerisms, food and way of life of a certain culture. It can also prove beneficial in the future in terms of career options at vacancies where multilinguals are required for a particular language duo. This could be in the field of translation under translations, interpreting, transcription, subtitling in any field there is; education, medical, legal etc.

Additive bilingual; here is when the child is encouraged to keep their original first language and is therefore exposed to others who share this language with them. They therefore grow up being a part of two great cultures and languages.