- Associated Press - Sunday, January 7, 2018

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - For the first few weeks, communication between Brad and Nicki Price and their children Thomas and Lexie was difficult.

Thomas, 5, and Lexie, 3, did not speak English. Brad and Nicki did not speak the children’s native Indian language other than a few words. But in the eight weeks since Thomas and Lexie arrived at their new home in Dothan, the two siblings have learned some of the basics. Momma. Daddy. Home. Car. Store. Eat. Mickey - as in mouse, of course.

“They are both so happy and giggly and will laugh - him even more - at the most random things,” Nicki Price said of Thomas and Lexie.

Things that people normally wouldn’t find funny, Brad Price said.

“If the TV wasn’t on and he was in the mood, you could start pointing at that cup and call it a puppy dog or call it Mickey Mouse and he would think it was the funniest thing that has ever been.” Brad said. “Just silly stuff.”

The international adoption process started nearly a year ago for the Prices. In February, they were matched with Thomas and Lexie, a brother and sister who had been living with their grandfather prior to living at an orphanage in India.

When the Dothan Eagle first met the Prices in May, it was thought the adoption process could take as long as year following a match. But Brad and Nicki were hopeful they could bring the children home before the end of the year. The family came home together Oct. 13.

“It really happened faster than we could have hoped for,” Nicki said.

Nicki flew to India first and spent a week with the children before being joined by Brad, his children from a previous marriage, Isaac, 13 and Reagan, 12, and Brad’s father. They stayed in India for two weeks to finalize arrangements for their journey back to the U.S., giving the family time to bond. Thomas and Lexie had been given photographs of their new family and were quick to bond with Brad and Nicki, their brother and sister, and their grandfather.

“God must have prepared their hearts,” Nicki said. “The orphanage helped and did well to show them pictures - this is your mom; this is your dad - and as soon as we went, they attached to us right away and yet were still quiet and everything around strangers.”

The first two weeks in their new home had some ups and downs. There was a lot of jet lag following the family’s long flight and the time difference between India and Alabama. Thomas and Lexie were excited about their new surroundings - opening every drawer and cabinet, keeping Brad and Nicki on their toes.

“Now, we’ve kind of developed more of a routine, and their learning so much of the language,” Nicki said.

Thomas, in particular, would become frustrated by the language barrier and not being able to communicate with his parents when he wanted something. But the children have since learned phrases of English such as “brush your teeth” or “time for bed.” Nicki had learned some basic phrases in the children’s native Marathi, which is spoken in states in western India.

Brad and Nicki have put out inquiries locally to find someone who speaks Thomas and Lexie’s Indian language, but there are so many different Indian languages (Hindi is the most common) it’s been difficult to find someone who speaks Marathi. In the meantime, the children are learning English and Nicki plans to home-school Thomas until they can gauge where he’s at educationally.

The family continues to adjust and adapt. Thomas and Lexie are still shy around strangers but warm up more quickly now. They’re happy and relaxed at home - Thomas laughs easily and loudly when Brad pretends to “eat” his foot; Lexie pulls Nicki down to the floor to help with a puzzle; and they love the family’s trampoline, especially when Brad teases them from the other side of the safety net. They recognize their grandfather’s truck and take a little longer to go to sleep when their older brother and sister are the ones putting them to bed for the night. They like to curl up with Brad in his recliner, and they are enthralled when Mickey Mouse is on television.

Thomas likes Elmo. Lexie is attached to a particular stuffed puppy. They love vegetables and have adapted to eating meat on a more regular basis.

“They will eat pretty much anything you put in front of them,” Brad said. “And unlike most kids in the United States, they prefer water over anything else to drink. You can give him juice and he will drink some but will eventually ask for water instead.”

They like to sing and make up simple songs about their parents’ cars. They love people they’ve met at First Baptist Church in Slocomb where Brad is an associate pastor and student minister. They’re drawn to things that remind them of India, and love elephants.

“I think that part of what helped them transition better . was coming together,” Nicki said. “But also I think what helped besides having someone else familiar is that they weren’t at the orphanage that long, and since they had each other there, I don’t think they developed super close friendships at the orphanage.”

They love all the Christmas decorations in their home and around the community, but Brad and Nicki aren’t sure how much Thomas and Lexie understand about the holidays. But they do like Christmas trees, reindeer and snowmen.

“It seems pretty new to them as everything does and it seems pretty exciting,” Nicki said.


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