It’s been a while since the piece appeared, but it seemed like I should comment on the article “I hoped our baby would be deaf“.
I began it expecting that I’d disagree strongly with them. Having a deaf child is hard work. It’s not just all the books you have to read. It’s the constant appointments: social services (who are helpful), the hospital’s audiology appointment (fortnightly, but really needs to be weekly because infant ears grow so quickly), the cochlear implant team (for assessments that seem to go on for ever). And it’s all slightly more complex in terms of thinking what you have to do than with a hearing child.
“When I was pregnant I did hope the baby would be deaf. Obviously, I would have loved a hearing baby equally, but inside, I really hoped she would be deaf like me.”
So I started it feeling more than a little sceptical. But actually it’s a great piece (tribute to Rebecca Atkinson, who wrote it, and got inside all the ins and outs of the deaf community. Well, at least as far as I understand it.) And they make their point. If you’re a deaf parent and you have a deaf child, then you understand what the challenges are; you can bring them up on equal terms.
Being deaf is not about being disabled, or medically incomplete – it’s about being part of a linguistic minority. We’re proud, not of the medical aspect of deafness, but of the language we use and the community we live in.
At this point I was going to come up with all sorts of very bad similes; about what if we all had X-ray vision but some children were born without it. You’d say “But isn’t it awful not being able to see what’s through that brick wall?” and they’d reply “It’s fine as it is.” But it doesn’t quite work. The simile isn’t precise.
However I finished it agreeing with them. They’ve got their position and they’re happy with it, and their baby seems pretty happy too. (Tomato – great name.)