I’ve been recording the important parts of Gigi’s adoption as they happen in ‘drafts’ of blog posts here at The Full Plate. I’ve just hit publish on all of them now so that the third member of our little tri-ette can see just how much we loved her before we even knew her.
Part of loving Gigi for who she is involves accepting, and loving, the fact that Gigi is deaf. Her hearing test (Audiogram) in China shows her hearing to fall into the “profoundly deaf” category. We have no idea whether or not this is correct, how much, or if, hearing aides will help her, if she is a candidate for a Cochlear Implant, or if we want her to have one. We just don’t know.
From not knowing in the past, we’ve learned a lot. There was so much we didn’t know when we adopted Tess. During her adoption, I took a leap of faith that involved burying my head in the sand when it came to Tess’s heart. When she came home and was declared “inoperable,” we were shattered. I knew this was a possibility in my head, but I never prepared my heart for it. We’ve looked over Gigi’s medical file from China, prepared for the possibilities with her heart, and her eye sight, which we did better with when we brought Cate home (who also has a visual impairment in her left eye).
When we adopted Bo, he was older, and spoke fluent Mandarin. We prepared for his adoption by learning as much Mandarin as we could. Joe, aka FullPlateDad, did the very best at it. He had several semesters of Mandarin in college, and since he was going to bring Bo home, it worked perfectly. I attribute part of Bo’s amazing transition to Joe’s language skills.
We also prepared for Bo’s arrival by making connections within the Dwarfism community. There is a cultural connection that needs to happen when you have a visible difference. You have to know that you’re not alone. Otherwise, operating in this world is extremely isolating, and I would imagine, incredibly depressing. Bo needs to know he’s not alone in this world. One of the first things we did for him when he came was buy a lifetime membership to the Little People of America in his name. He gets to decide for himself how much, or how little, he wants to be involved. But, through this membership, he always has the option to connect. Having the membership removes a barrier to connecting.
We’re slowly figuring out how to make connections for Gigi as well. We’ve reached out to our state’s deaf school. We joined an organization called Hands & Voices. And, about a month and a half ago, I took my first ASL class. There are no words for how nervous that class made me. On Wednesday, I’ll start ASL 2, with a completely deaf instructor, taught all in sign. I’m stepping completely out of my comfort zone here. I don’t like this kind of stuff. New things, where I might look stupid, and I often do, make me nuts. My type A personality can’t take it.
There is also nothing more important we can do for our girl though. She currently has no language. She uses rudimentary gestures and pointing to tell her caregivers what she wants. They do the best they can. She seems well cared for. She seems to be snuggled a whole lot, but she has never had anyone be able to tell her they love her. She doesn’t know that she has a name. She has no way to communicate her likes and dislikes. She can’t enjoy a story. She can’t tell anyone her favorite color.
The very best way we can bond with our girl is to give her the ability to understand that she is safe, and that we love her.
–FullPlateMom, who can’t wait to tell her girl that, with both her heart, and her hands.