Dear Deaf Community,
My son is deaf, I'm not. I chose to have him implanted with a cochlear implant at 21 months old because I wanted him to be able to communicate through spoken language. I don't hate the Deaf culture or want to keep my son from his deaf identity. In fact, I spend a good deal of time trying to find opportunities to learn more about Deaf culture. I've exposed my son to sign language from infancy and he is able to sign a few words. He's by no means fluent in sign, nor am I. He has significantly more spoken English than signs. You see, my son is also visually impaired. Does that make him less deaf? Deaf Awareness Week is fast approaching and I would like to take my son to some Deaf Awareness activities. When I look at various sites I find silent suppers. I can sign eat and so can Noah. We also know banana, cereal, thank you, and more. Does that mean we can come? Or will I be shunned because I don't know enough sign language? Will my son be shunned because of the magnet in his head? I think that it would be a beautiful thing to go to a Deaf theater production. Would I be lost because I can't sign enough? Would people glare at me if I spoke to my husband during intermission? I have also read about protests planned at places that support Auditory Verbal Therapy or AG Bell. My son goes to AVT every Monday. If I protest in front of his therapy center will that make me a better parent of a deaf child? Will it help my son to better understand what it means to be deaf? You see, my son will always be deaf. Even with a cochlear implant and spoken language. You understand what that is like, I don't. I wish that the Deaf community would embrace hearing parents of deaf children. I want someone to help me explain to my son that it's ok to be different. He might believe you because you know what it's like to be different too. Unfortunately all too often I find the Deaf community judgemental of hearing parents. We're bad parents because we want our children to hear and speak. Is that an unfair statement? Is it wrong to want my son to be like me? You teach your hearing children to sign, don't you? I don't want my son to be unkind to people who make different choices than what he would make. Does he have to be like that to fit in with Deaf culture? Please help me to understand.
The hearing mother of a deaf child