I brought Heath to Washington DC while on a work trip so he could stay the weekend with his best friend. His family moved recently from Fremont, CA to Washington, DC so his mother could pursue her PHD. They are such an amazing family who live on campus at Gallaudet University and we miss them tremendously. I dropped him off on Friday morning to a quiet campus that looked like your average college campus, but what I experienced the next day after the homecoming game was truly an emotional experience. There were so many Deaf people and so many people signing! We are fortunate to live in the Bay Area where there are many Deaf people and so going to events with many people signing is not foreign to us. However, the energy on that campus and the diversity of all the people was just so overwhelming. All different colors of people coming together for a common goal; see the football team win! Which they did not, ha!
Coming to the other side of the country and meeting all new Deaf people who are just as welcoming as those are at home continues to solidify that we have made the right decision. I met amazing Deaf people this weekend and again I continued to be wowed by the diversity in professions. I met a Deaf lawyer… so cool! I also me the woman who created the world wide viral campaign of why I sign. It was like meeting a celebrity. Oh and after four long years, I finally received a name sign from this amazing woman!
It is definitely not easy for us to learn ASL and we struggle daily with communication but we know, for our family this has been the right choice. The growth and confidence he receives by being a part of this Deaf community far surpasses any clinical outcomes that would be positive. Many people have told me that the Deaf do not welcome outsiders into their circle, they are exclusive rather than inclusive and they have strong opinions about how to raise Deaf children. People tell me we are making a mistake by choosing this path for Heath and we are limiting his abilities. I believe we are doing the exact opposite. While the Deaf do have strong opinions about how to raise a Deaf child it comes from a place of knowing, what it IS LIKE to be Deaf children themselves. While no parent appreciates other people telling them how to raise their children, in this case it would behoove hearing parents to listen to Deaf people on this subject. It only builds a stronger bond between you the hearing parent and your Deaf child. I feel that those parents who do not give the Deaf community a chance are limiting THEIR opportunities and by forcing a child to take a path because it is convenient for you as a parent is wrong. My firm belief is that we need to just let the child be a child. We are along for their ride not vice versa.
And that is my perspective.