For as long as I can remember, I have always dreamed of having a little girl. I also dreamed of adopting an Asian girl, but I wasn’t sure where she’d be from- China, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or the Philippines? In September of 2010, I stumbled on an advocacy blog for children waiting in China. I was immediately drawn to a little girl that was being advocated for by the name “Annie.” She was from China, she was adorable, and she was deaf. It was on that day that for the first time I thought, “I could adopt a child who is deaf. I could be her mom.”
While I was in the midst of filling out initial adoption paperwork, our caseworker called me and said that her China facilitator had found a child she thought was a good fit for our family! It didn’t take much time to realize that this was our daughter. Both of us said, “Let’s do it!”
A little over 11 months after we received our pre-approval, we were in China getting our daughter. Our time in China was not easy. Our 2.5 year old daughter was profoundly deaf and she had no language. Since no one at her orphanage knew how to communicate with her, she just pointed at everything she wanted. She had made up one or two signs of her own for when she was thirsty or hungry. Thankfully, she was the nannies favorite and so she had been loved and had a lot of one-on-one attention. We knew that would pay off in the long run. In China, she was very emotional, had melt-downs, and there were many highs and lows. We finally had our daughter and were now a family of eight! We brought some Signing Time DVDs and flashcards with us and started to teach our daughter some basic signs from day one. By the time we left China, she had a handful of signs down.
Today our daughter Lena, who was adopted at 2.5, is now 4. She has been home just about a year and a half. In this time, Lena has really grown and changed so much. She has learned a lot of sign language, and now she is actually using it all of the time and putting words and phrases together. Adopting a deaf child has not been a piece of cake, but it sure has changed our lives for the better and has introduced us to a beautiful new language and many wonderful new friends. Lena is a true joy! She has helped us grow as parents in so many ways this last year and a half. We have been blessed to watch her grow and change!
That’s our story, but I want to share a few more things with you. You do not need to have every resource available or be fluent in ASL to adopt a deaf child. Will those things help? Absolutely! But, it is not a necessity. For many deaf children in China, they have no language and no one who knows how to communicate with them. The lucky few attend a school for the deaf, where they learn Chinese Sign Language (CSL). That is different than American Sign Language, but a child who knows CSL will likely learn ASL much quicker. A family who knows some ASL and who is dedicated to learning more and to teaching their child is far better than growing up in an orphanage with no language and no family. With that being said, it is a good idea for anyone who is considering adopting an older deaf child or one who knows some CSL to know quite a bit of ASL.
Maybe you have been considering adopting a deaf child or maybe you never considered it, but think maybe it is something you could do. There are great resources out there. Here are a few places that may help:
A group for parents considering, adopting, or who have adopted a child who is deaf or hard of hearing from China.
National Association of the Deaf
American Society of Deaf Children
A great place for ASL resources, such as DVDs, flash cards, etc.
~Guest post By Brooke H
Quincy is a deaf child who was found abandoned at the approximate age of four years. He responds to his caretakers gestures or expressions and is a sensible and clever little boy with quick reactions. He is helpful with younger children. His favorite toys are cars, planes and dinosaurs. Quincy is a very smart boy; he will look to the nannies for direction and responds quickly to their gestures or facial expressions. He has not begun sign language training yet, but should be a fast learner! Quincy enjoys building with Legos and blocks and watching cartoons. He also enjoys picture books.
Chad takes part in the Half the Sky program. He has a right ear deformity and the right ear peripheral auditory path is severely damaged. He has a diagnosis of mental retardation however, the paperwork states that he is clever, lovely and talented and appears to have a language development delay. He expresses his needs and although he cannot speak the word correctly, the tone is accurate.
Riley can go up and down stairs without assistance, draw lines and circles, stand on one foot, knows the difference between big and small, and can button and unbutton. He is described as having a timid and quiet personality who is fond of playing with toys, especially the slide. He has a hearing impairment and both ears are deformed. He attends kindergarten and can comprehend his teachers through lip reading and facial expressions. He can speak.
Ernie lives at a boarding school. He is outgoing and happy. He gets along well with kids. He likes sharing. He likes to play soccer and run the most. He can take care of himself just like other children of his age do.
For more information about beginning the adoption journey contact the Advocacy Team.