“When the doctors told me she was deaf, I began to cry. The realization of the challenges she would have and my inability to communicate with her was overwhelming,” Eliza’s mom told me during our second home visit with her family. “But when Eliza looked up from her play and noticed I was crying she stopped and came to comfort me. It was in that moment that I realized if she was happy the way she was, why shouldn’t I be? I just want her to be happy and know I love her.” As she told me the story she began crying again and I felt as though I was taken back to that moment 6 years ago, and now 10-year-old Eliza put down her coloring book to put her hand on her moms arm, looking intently into her eyes. She looked back at me as if to say, “what’s wrong?” I signed “Your mama loves you so much.” A big grin covered her face, and she went back to coloring.
I saw her mother’s love for her displayed that day through her desire to teach and learn her daughter’s language. She went and got the dictionary we had left with her the last time, and opened it up to the alphabet signing “A-B…” giving Eliza the cue to finish the rest of it on her own. When Eliza got to “Z” the same smile of pride came across both their faces! She proceeded to show us page after page in the blue dictionary of all the words she herself had learned and taught Eliza. Family participation like this is rare here. That day we got to encourage her on the beginning of this communication journey from our own experience: That the parents that were more involved and tried to learn sign language, ended up with more successful, confident, and flourishing young adults! I smiled with the hope of thinking how this mother that hadn’t even completed her own high school education, but was doing everything possible to communicate with her daughter. That she was loving her daughter the best way she could love her right now!