If I look back to when they told me our son was deaf, I think it was like a nightmare, it was so sad. Everything was dark and confusing at that time. And now I’m feeling like this is the best thing that could have happened to our son. I mean, he’s talking a lot and every day there is a new word and if you tell him something new he gets it right away, the first time. Just one time and he gets it, which makes us so happy.
Part of His Identity
When he was first born with hearing loss, at first for me, it was hard, but now he’s really come a long way and it’s been a long road with lots of sleepless nights but he’s really come so far. And he identifies with his hearing loss and vision impairment. When he draws pictures of himself he always has his hearing aids on and glasses on his face and when his friends draw pictures of him they also draw his glasses and hearing aids. I appreciate that he identifies with what he needs. He tells everybody if his hearing aids aren’t working or if something doesn’t feel right and he’s always asking us to make sure that everything is set for him to go off to school and be successful for that day so he’s really picking up on the self-advocacy, as well, because he really wants to succeed.
To be very honest with you it was devastating. It really was devastating, because I’m a hearing person. I’ve worked in special education for twenty years and I’ve never worked with deaf children. I had no experience with them. Here’s the one special need that I had no information on, but I knew how to get the information. I was handling it better than my husband, because I knew what we needed to do. I knew who we needed to call and where we needed to bring her. My husband just was in total denial. He kept saying that maybe with the other tests they’ll find that she can hear a little bit. I said, “You don’t understand.” After this test they said to me, “She’s probably going to have to learn American Sign Language and get involved in the Deaf community,” and I’m thinking, “They don’t tell you this if your kid has a minor hearing loss. She thinks it’s pretty severe.” I spent a day and a half seriously grieving this, but then I said, “We really have to move on this. She’s already eighteen months old, we’ve just got to get moving. We don’t have a lot of time to hang around and feel bad about it.” You do feel bad about it at times, and then you try to see the positive. Molly is just a pure joy. She really is. When I think about her, it has nothing to do with her deafness. She’s just really a joy. She’s a happy little girl. I think she’s very special and that I’ve been given a gift from God. She’s here for a reason. I don’t know why yet. I don’t know why she’s deaf or why I’m hearing, but she is a gift. I think that she’s here to do something special in life; I don’t know what it is yet. I’m just here to try to support her and get her to that place. She’s pretty awesome!
I remember feeling that something was wrong and this can’t be right. I think it was all at once. How can that be? Why? What is it? A question that keeps coming up is “Why?” I can’t figure out how this happened. All three of them have it and it’s oh well, we’re lucky to have what we have and we just deal with it. In the long run it’s not that big of a deal. First it was disbelief, then it was questioning why it all happened, but then you come to this is what it is and you just deal with it.
There are moments where it really tries my patience and can be really frustrating. When you first find out it’s really devastating, but then that kind of eases into learning how to work with it. You realize that you have to slow your life and your time with your kids down and look at what each of your needs are. Our society is so fast paced and we’re always looking for better ways of doing things and perfection. We have to really take the time and look at who the kid is and meet their needs. It becomes a job in itself. You’re growing from a different situation. It’s not smooth sailing by any means but with careful monitoring you can enjoy it.
I Began to Relax
I remember being very aware when she was diagnosed that it wasn’t just her, it wasn’t just my husband and me, but this would have a dramatic effect on the kids. Our lives were going to be affected by it. At the very least it was affected by the fact that I was certainly very depressed initially. That made me less available to them. I think I relaxed once it became clear that she was starting to learn how to speak. I felt very sensitive about it and was constantly comparing her with her peers. On some level I still do.
Providing My Child With Confidence
What I’m trying to give to her is to be independent and not to feel like she’s different. To have that confidence inside and be able to do whatever she wants to do. I think that being very open about her situation, like she knows if she bumps her head that could be a problem. You have to get past that grieving period, ok this is how your life has changed and now we’re going to move forward. She’s just very positive, and I think that it helps if you’re very open kids don’t view it as a disability or don’t tease her.
I Blamed Myself
I blamed myself for certain things, or “what’s the future going to be like?” but you just have to take it now, one day at a time. It doesn’t help to stress about something you can’t change.
First and foremost we’ve never made any issue of his deafness. This is not a universally appropriate approach. He is deaf and he needs to understand why he’s deaf. We don’t deny that he’s deaf; we just don’t make a big deal about it. It’s very matter of fact. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that he’s deaf because it’s not a big deal for us anymore. It was a big deal for us when he was first born, but now he’s just Sam. So far the environments that he has been in have supported that perspective. I think he’s comfortable with his identity.
One of the things I would say to parents is that our relationship almost broke down because of this. We had a lot of problems, a lot of stress, a lot of arguments. But I think we were very patient and our love for each other and our son helped us. So you have to be very patient and you will enjoy it. Now we wouldn’t change our son or our lives for anything. He’s so smart. You just can’t believe it.
Through email I did get in touch with other parents that adopted because I’m affiliated with Chinese Adoptions. I did talk to a couple other people through email. I would be willing to talk to other parents in the same boat. I found that helpful for me to be able to talk to someone who is a couple of steps ahead of me. That’s why I’ve offered my services to the local early intervention so if they just want a parent speaker to come in a talk about this I’m willing to do this.
The hardest thing is getting over your own disappointment. I think you have to be flexible.
Re Evaluate As You Go
Re evaluate as you go. There’s a tendency to do things a certain way and not realize that the child doesn’t need that any more and you can change things along the way. Those are things that are true about parenting in general.