My Daughter Doesn’t Know She Has Deaf Parents.

deaf parents

My daughter, Coral doesn’t know she has Deaf parents.

We have been faking being hearing for a little longer than two years now. We rocked out to the music. We chatted with each other in gibberish. We toss an object across the room and pretended to hear the noise. Out in the public, we nodded every time people spoke to us. Our family and friends knew about our secret plan and they went along with it.

When do you think is an appropriate time to inform our daughter that we are Deaf? I am considering maybe when she turns 18, so we do not have to pay for her therapy sessions.

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Just kidding. 😉

Coral is only two-year-old. She knows she has parents (mom/dad, mom/mom or dad/dad) just like everybody else, but she has no idea that we are different from most parents. Having Deaf parents is normal for her. She is hearing, but we are raising her the Deaf way.

What does the Deaf way mean? We converse in ASL (American sign language), always have closed captioning on TV, use flashing lights or stomp our feet on the floor to get attention, write on papers to communicate with non-signers, etc.

We started signing to her right away when she was born. It was strange for us to sign to her as she would not look at us. She seldom paid attention to us. Imagine my surprise when at hardly six-months-old, she signed her first word, NO. She waved her index finger at people, our dogs or objects and said NO! She knew her first sign had to be NO. From there, her sign language and spoken language flourished. She learned both at the same time. She was paying attention after all!

She notices if closed captioning are not on the television and could not care less if the TV volume is off.

Coral LOVES to do facial expressions from early on. When she signs or says words, they often come with facial expressions. She also makes a lot of noises when she sign. Facial expressions and noisy sign language are common in the Deaf world.

deaf parents

Coral KISSFIST (love) chocolate chips! Psst, she has chocolate on her teeth.

 

She will point to any noises and tell me what it is.

*points to the sky* AIRPLANE!

*points to the busy street* CARS VROOM!

If she looks in the direction of the noise, I will ask her what was that noise and she will answer me.

She loves music. Every time her favorite show’s theme song comes on, she grabs me, drags me over to the TV and we start dancing to the song.

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She knows to tap on my leg or shoulder to get my attention. She started doing that when she was a baby. Before she could walk, she crawled up to me and tapped on my leg. She knows to maintain eye contact while communicating with other people. However, she is being a typical 2-year-old nowadays so she ignores people on purpose.

Coral believes that all people know how to sign. Boy, how I wish that could be true. She gets discouraged when she tries to sign to other kids and they do not acknowledge her. I normally go to them and gestured to other kids to play with Coral. They were thrilled to play together. At first, other kids would try to communicate with Coral but they soon realized that she wouldn’t answer back. They managed to interact through gestures while playing instead. It is crazy how young children are more accepting of people different from them.

When she gets older, she will realize that her parents cannot hear and talk with our voices. I hope when that day come, she will be proud of her Deaf parents and of her bilingual & bicultural life.

Life would be less complicated if we have a Deaf child since we already know what the child will go through. We will be ready to guide the Deaf child to prevent the same mistakes from occurring. Nevertheless, I am always up for new challenges. It has been a grand adventure navigating through life with a hearing bilingual & bicultural toddler.


 

Since Coral is my first & only child so far, I have some questions for you guys.

When did your children start to recognize that you are hearing, Deaf or hard of hearing? What questions did they ask? Are they proud that you are hearing, Deaf or hard of hearing?

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17 Discussion to this post

  1. Shann Eva says:

    I think it’s awesome that your daughter is bilingual at such a young age.

  2. Laura says:

    I came across your blog from Facebook – as a hearing person, this was fascinating to read. While I’ve taken ASL before (I am hearing), I haven’t stopped and thought about what it must be like to raise a hearing child – your daughter is lucky to have you.

  3. Olivia says:

    This story is very inspiring! It’s so wonderful to learn about how you interact with your daughter, despite the differences in communication. Thank you for sharing this! I look forward to following your story.

  4. This is a wonderful post. As a hearing person, I feel so ignorant. Thank you for this highly personal view into your world!

  5. Sarah says:

    Love your blog! (Found you on Instagram)
    I’m hearing but took 3 years of ASL in high school and then kept my books. We have used ASL with all of our kids (we’ve just started with our 5 month old) and it has helped us immensely. It was great for us to already have in place when one of my children had a speech delay.

    I think as time passes you’ll know when to let her know. Trust you’re gut and keep doing what you’re doing. 🙂

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thank you! I love it when babies sign! Yes, I’m sure it’s easier on your family to stay connected even when a child had a speech delay.

      Thank you for commenting.

  6. Lynda says:

    Elizabeth, I am so happy to have seen this via Grow Your Blog. Bravo to you for being so clever and smart with raising your daughter. I love this post, I am loving your family. She is going to be so well rounded and will have a leg up on most. I am staying and following because I can’t wait to read more. 🙂

  7. […] really loved this post from a new blogger, who has a unique situation at home, and how they make it work in their […]

  8. Pam says:

    Hi Elizabeth, we just started following each other on Instagram. I’m glad I checked out your blog. What an inspiring post! Thank you for sharing a little bit of you and your family with the rest of us. Your daughter is already proud of her parents, even if she can’t really say it yet.
    Looking forward to following your blog 🙂

  9. […] She does not know that she has Deaf parents because that is her normal. […]

  10. Zainab says:

    I love this story. Heartbreaking yet inspiring. Your little girl, family and yourself all seem like troopers! My family and myself first realized I was deaf when we came to America (I was 8) and every time they would put the phone to my left ear I would switch it to my working ear which is my right. Strangers and other people I don’t know just think I’m ignoring them which I sometimes do(hehe). But the hardest part now is being married and having to have my husband repeat things so many times before I can hear/understand what he’s saying (especially when there is background noise). I will have to figure out how to make things work specially once we start having kids as well as learning asl and reading lips in case my hearing gets worse or I become fully deaf
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    • Janeen White says:

      Oh I know this so much! My left ear is also worse than my right, I cannot use it on the phone at all even with a hearing aid. I now have hearing aids in both ears. My husband still after 13 years of marriage, does not remember to look at me when he talks. It can be so frustrating for me to have to remind him to look at me or not have something going on the TV while I’m trying to talk to him. I have him repeat things a lot, my kids too sometimes because they don’t look at me either.

      I don’t know ASL. I was diagnosed as being hard of hearing at almost five. I took many years of speech therapy but never learned sign language. It was not an option in high school or college which is sad because I can’t get through other foreign languages. I can’t lip read well enough and I miss a lot of what people say if I don’t lip read.

      I don’t really know when my kids would have picked up on it. I know I was nervous about them when they had their hearing tests as newborns. They still get the occasional hearing test because we don’t know what caused my hearing loss, only that I was diagnosed so late after failing a regular hearing test through the county. So far, both seem to have normal hearing.

      The last question I have a harder time with. I’ll be honest, my hearing loss has been something I haven’t been proud of. I spent a lot of my life wanting to be normal and have normal hearing. Many people in my life have also either tried to push aside my hard of hearing or make a larger deal about it. It has left me very confused about this part of my identity. It even had me thinking my hearing loss wasn’t that bad, maybe no different than someone who wears glasses. But the reality is is that there are a lot of unknowns about my condition. My hearing worsened at some point. I’m not sure when. Maybe it was during pregnancy. It meant I needed a hearing aid for my right ear for the first time. I was 27. I’m 35 now and I’ve adjusted but it hasn’t always been easy. I’m sometimes very self-conscious about how I sound when I talk. I try not to think about it but if I have to do a video recording of myself, it’s hard for me. People will ask me where I’m from (or worse, why do I talk funny?). In some ways I have more or less accepted it (can’t really not accept it) but at the same time, there are ways I haven’t. I don’t feel comfortable using technology I’ve never used before such as light sensors and what not. At the same time, I am fascinated by all the technology that is out for hard of hearing people now. It’s been a lot for me to take in and it seems to be something I’m having to work more to accept as I’ve gotten older.

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