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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Shann Eva
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Shann Eva

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

Laura
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Laura

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.

Olivia
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Olivia

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.

Michelle Amsler
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Michelle Amsler

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

Sarah
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Sarah

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. 🙂

Lynda
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Lynda

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. 🙂

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Pam
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Pam

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 🙂

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Zainab
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Zainab

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… Read more »

Janeen White
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Janeen White

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… Read more »

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