My Daughter Doesn’t Know She Is A Child of Deaf Adults

My Daughter Doesn't Know She Is A Child Of Deaf Adults #coda #childofdeafadults #deafawareness | mommygonetropical.com

My daughter, Coral doesn’t know she is a child of deaf adults (CODA).

We have been pretending to be hearing for a bit 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 and replied back in gibberish. 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 Coral that she is a child of deaf adults?

I am considering maybe once she turns 18, so we do not have to pay for her therapy sessions.

Just kidding!! 😉

Why do I say a child of deaf adults rather than deaf parents?

The term, Child of Deaf Adult/s (CODA) is commonly used in the deaf community to describe hearing children born to deaf parents. When I chat with deaf people, I tell them I have a CODA. With hearing people, I say I have a hearing child. She is a part of the CODA community jumping between the deaf and the hearing worlds.

There are two acronyms, CODA and KODA (kids of deaf adults). People would use CODA to describe older children and KODA for younger children.

Coral is only two-years-old. She knows she has parents just like everybody else, but she has no idea that we are different from most parents. Having Deaf parents is normal for her because she doesn’t know of another way of life. She is hearing, but we are raising her in a Deaf environment.

What does my Deaf household look like?

We have conversations in American Sign Language, have closed captioning on TV always, possibly have the TV volume on really loud or on mute, rely on waving our arms in the air, flashing lights or stomping our feet on the floor to get someone’s attention, have that annoying chirping sound coming from the fire alarm (low battery, don’t ask me how often this happen), write on papers or texting on phones to communicate with non-signers, and we make calls through a video phone company.

Coral was exposed to the deaf culture when she was born because we signed to her right away. It was strange for us to sign to a newborn because she barely looked at us. She seldom paid attention to our signs as she grew. Imagine my surprise when at hardly six-months-old, she signed her first word, NO. She waved her index finger at people like the image above, our dogs or objects and signed, “NO!”

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 signs just like we do. Don’t assume that deaf households are quiet because trust me… they are not. deaf people are loud!

From there, her sign language and spoken language flourished. She grew into her bilingual and bicultural identity.

Wait a minute! How did she learn to speak if we don’t speak at all?

We live in a hearing world. There is noise everywhere. She listened, surprisingly paid attention and learned to speak on her own. We may have watched a bit too much Youtube shows, listened to audible books and countless songs, however, they helped her to learn. We are also surrounded by hearing family and friends. So, she is ALWAYS exposed to the hearing world.

My Daughter Doesn't Know She Is A Child Of Deaf Adults #coda #childofdeafadults #deafawareness | mommygonetropical.com

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

She knows to tap on my leg or shoulder to get my attention. She started doing that when she was an infant. 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-years-old nowadays so she ignores people on purpose.

Coral truly 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. She gets puzzled when she signs to non-signers and they don’t understand her. When she is around family, she prefers to sign even though they all are hearing and can speak.

When she gets older, she will realize that her parents cannot hear nor talk with their voices.

I hope when that day comes, Coral will be proud of her Deaf parents and of her bilingual & bicultural identity as a CODA.

It has been a grand adventure after finding out that my daughter was hearing navigating through life raising a hearing bilingual & bicultural toddler.


UPDATE (as of November 2018): I now have two CODAs (hearing children of deaf adults). Coral is 5 years old and Ocean is 1 year old. Coral knows we are deaf and is soooooo proud to be a child of Deaf adults. She enjoys growing up with deaf parents and still prefers to sign rather than speak. I will never forget the beginning of when she started to realize that I didn’t hear her behind me. Since Ocean is only 1, he has no clue about deafness. However, he has started signing and tapping on me to get my attention. He loves to watch and dance when his big sister sign songs.

My Daughter Doesn't Know She Is A Child Of Deaf Adults #coda #childofdeafadults #deafawareness | mommygonetropical.com

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. 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 🙂

  8. 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
    Zainab recently posted…Weekly Inspiration #2My Profile

    • 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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