I would assume that when you have a child, you'd want to do the best you can for that child. You want to make sure that they are not wanting for anything, that they eat well and stay healthy, that they get a good education and grow to be happy and well-adjusted. That's how I feel about my own children. I want them to have the best without spoiling them and without sending myself to the poorhouse.
There is a woman at the consignment shop with 3 girls. The oldest is 9, the middle one is 3 or 4 and a 6 month old baby. The oldest and youngest are deaf. They haven't done any testing to find out why they are deaf, but as far as she knows, there is no history of deafness in her or her husbands' families. The Oldest child has a cochlear implant. The youngest has been tested and found to have hearing loss but not profoundly deaf.
Keep in mind, her oldest is 9 years old. She has had 9 years to accept that her child cannot hear normally even with a cochlear implant and to this day, still cries when talking about her kids. I know this because my Boss introduced her to me, thinking that if she talked with someone else who is deaf might feel better about her own kids. I got the feeling after talking with her that I did no good and I was only telling her things she didn't want to hear.
Her kid is doing poorly in school and I asked if she got an interpreter for her to help in classes. She said they stopped signing because one of their counselors said it would hamper her language development. (insert swear words here towards so-called counselor!) Plus, she didn't want to pull any more attention to the fact that her kid is deaf by having an interpreter follow them around school. This poor kid cannot follow what is going on in her classes and gets left out of conversations among her peers because she does not know what they are talking about. By not knowing what is going on, she withdraws into her own little cocoon and loses her confidence in making friends and starting up conversation. I know this because I have been there.
When I mentioned this to the mother, that kids picked on me for my deafness and I had no friends, she started to cry again and sobbed that her daughter also had no friends. I asked if she looked around for mainstream programs or maybe checked out the deaf schools and she said she wanted her daughter to be "as normal as possible" and wanted to keep her at home (many deaf schools are residential meaning living in dorms from Sunday nights through Friday and going home on weekends). I told her that she lived close enough to a school that I knew had a day program, but she made the excuse that her baby was crying and never came back to me to talk some more.
I understand that from a hearing person's point of view, having a deaf child seems like such a horrible physical birth defect. From a deaf person's point of view, it's not all that bad if you don't make it out to be. So I cannot hear music or the birds twittering or hear that person whispering 5 rows down in the classroom. There are so many other things I can do to make up for it. I can still see, I can still laugh, I can still feel, I can still think. She is thinking of herself and not of her daughter. I mean, to stop signing because someone else says so is so stupid! She is now depriving her daughter of understanding what she is saying and what is going on around her. Who cares if the interpreter brings attention to her while in school-- what is more important, understanding the teacher or failing the class? Did it ever occur to her that if her kid could understand the lesson that she would feel more confident to join group discussions? Did it ever occur to her that her daughter's needs come first, even if that means letting her go to a residential deaf school?
I partly blame the doctor that she had 9 years ago when her first child was born and they discovered she was deaf. The doctor told them that she would never talk, never learn properly and would basically be a dumb child unless they performed a cochlear implant. Well, with words like that coming out of a doctor's mouth, that would scare me too! What saddens me is that they didn't go for a second opinion or do a little research and maybe visit a deaf school to see other deaf children and see that they are just as normal as hearing children. What saddens me is a professional counselor telling them to stop signing because it will hamper her language development, but then turn around and tell people to teach hearing babies to sign to enhance their language skills.
One of the questions the mother asked me, when she first met me, was how much hearing did I have. I felt like she was judging me and if I said I could hear then my opinions didn't count because I wasn't deaf like her kid was. Then she asked me if any of my kids were deaf, and again I felt like because I said no, then she could say that I don't know what she is going through as a parent. I told her that I was profoundly deaf, and with my hearing aid, I could hear some but not clearly. I told her that there is a chance my girls could lose their hearing some day, and if they did, that would be ok. It's just their hearing, they are not losing their selves. I might be a little sad for them because I know that they will have some struggles to adjust to being deaf and not being able to hear people and have to look for alternative ways to use the phone or hire interpreters, I've been there. But with all the technology of today, life gets easier for deaf people. It's not a death sentence.
I feel sorry for her and her family. I'm sorry that after 9 years, she cannot accept that her kids are deaf and then move on to do what is best for them to succeed in their lives. I hope that in spite of her mother, the 9 year old will one day break free and thrive on her own, whether she finds her identity with hearing people or deaf people. I wish her family all the best of luck, they're going to need it with an attitude like that.