From another article “Lesbians: We made our baby deaf on purpose

“After their daughter’s first hearing test, the couple wrote happily in her baby book: “Oct 11, 1996 – no response at 95 decibels – DEAF!” Their daughter attends a special kindergarten for children with hearing problems.

After tests on their baby son showed he also had severe problems, they decided against giving him a deaf aid in the one ear that still has some hearing, saying they will leave the decision to him when he is older.””

What parent doesn’t (secretly or not) hope their child will be just like them? Except when there’s a familial genetic defect involved – one that causes disease or a physical disability. Most people don’t want their children to be similarly afflicted. Sure, it might be easier for them raise these kids, helping them to deal with their deafness more easily because they are deaf. But forcing your child to accept deafness as a culture by selectively breeding a physical disability? How absolutely selfish. What are these women going to tell their children when they are teenagers and learn their parents intentionally made them deaf?

Maybe I’m wrong, but my expectation is that when a hearing couple has a deaf child that they would provide the appropriate learning environment for that child and adapt as a family however necessary. Why wouldn’t a deaf couple do the same if they had a hearing child? When I said this to Mel, she cited isolation as the major reason for her understanding of why the deaf couple would want a deaf child. Isolation caused by lack of common experience that would prevent bonding and truly feeling that you are a family. Not feeling accepted by your parents or their main society because you are different. By way of example, Mel says she would have wanted her parents to be gay. I really think that’s a completely different situation. I don’t consider being gay to be a disability and her parents certainly couldn’t control her being gay. I guess they might have tried to control it if they could… I wonder if these women want their kids to be gay too?

I guess what bothers me most about this situation is that they decided their children don’t need to be a part of society as whole – by physically limiting them to deaf society – eliminating many other types of cultural opportunities outside of deaf society in the process.

Read the whole story in A World of Their Own. Admittedly, the article cited above took much from this story, some of it out of context, making it sound harsher than it should.


  1. Devil’s advocate: But then should Amish people have kids? Cuz they’ll be isolated from most of society. And being Amish has health risks [from intermarriage] that being deaf does not. <br><br>I guess it comes down to whether one defines being deaf as a disability. Many deaf people see it as different and equal to hearing, rather than as a disability. They don’t want to hear. They see cochlear implants like I see reparative therapy. <br><br>All I can do as a hearing person is take their word for their experience.

  2. having lived with a profoundly deaf woman for over two years as my lover (i put myself through college interpreting), i can understand their isolation. i myself became isolated as i became this woman’s "ears"… the deaf are socialized differently than the hearing. that’s about the best i can come up with. they react to things completely differently than we would, and sometimes their reactions will appear quite contrary to us. this isn’t to say that they aren’t as "normal" as the rest of us. they are. i can say however, after seeing her struggle for identity, inclusion and acceptance in a hearing world, that being deaf is absolutely a disability. we hearing folks make it so — whether we intend to or not. maybe these women are trying to make their own little deaf world?

  3. And as an side story, Dr. Oliver Sacks, a noted neurologist and such writes about a guy in one of his books (the title escapes me at the moment). The man had been blind since early childhood with some kind or cataract disease. When he was in his 50’s he had surgery to remove the cataracts. And while the man had vision, he was not able to "see" because seeing is a learned response. He could not make any connections between what was in his vision and the object. I would think a hearing child of deaf parents might have the same chasm of understanding to attempt to hurdle.

  4. Fascinating and controversial topic. I guess I’m stuck on the idea that there are surely deaf children in great need of adoption. I guess it’s just sad to me that this couple felt they needed a deaf child who was genetically related to one of them.

  5. I’m with you on this, Grey Bird… it frightens me to think that someone would have the audacity to FORCE a disability on someone, let alone their own child!

  6. Recently posted to my site by someone, I thought it was worthy of being posted here to Birdie… hope you don’t mind:<br>"I think its a sad case of denial and pride.<br><br>Sure, you’ve made a rich life despite lacking one of your senses — that is an achievement, however, it doesn’t make a case for choosing to be functionally deficient.<br><br>I can’t fly a jet, but I’m not overly sensitive about that. I don’t resent pilots and I will not prevent my children from being pilots if it turns out their born with a natural talent — or wings."

  7. continued…<br><br>"…I mean, music is a prime cultural mover.<br><br>Could it be that hearing people are only into music purely to annoy those who are deaf?<br><br>Could there be something to people spending thousands of dollars in a lifetime on stereo equipment, recordings, concert tickets, etc.?<br><br>They’re suggesting that somehow the Deaf Life has something that Hearing Life does not?<br><br>If they feel that way, great. They had to take it to the next level and force this on someone who has no choice.<br><br>They’ve had a massive failure of the imagination and used their functional defiency to define themselves.<br><br>I am not Me because I can walk, or run or hear or see. If I am suddenly paralyzed from the waist down, I am still the Same Person. I just Don’t Happen To Be Able To Walk.<br><br>I’m no better or worse a person than a Walker, and if I could choose to walk about, would I not choose that? If I were bitter about it, and assumed everyone who *could* walk thought themselves better than me, I’d defend myself with denial and somehow rationalize "I am better off without my legs."<br><br>Basically "screw you, I didn’t want to come to your party anyway." Pro-active self defense. Pathetic.<br><br>I’m not suddenly R The Guy In A Wheelchair — who is compelled to make others believe there is Something To Being In A Wheelchair that they do not appreciate … and I would certainly not make that choice for someone else."

  8. and just for the record… seeing that i appeared somewhat ambivalent in my previous comment… i think it sucks that they did that to their kid(s).

  9. The Amish analogy fails because at age 15 or so each Amish child is allowed to live outside the community for a period of time and then decides to return or not. It bothers me when people try to compare deafness to other disabilities or make analogies in an attempt to prove their point. Deafness is unique as a disability in that its exclusive use of a language has created its own culture. That doesn’t bestow it with any special privileges, it just makes it harder to understand. One thing that cuts through the crap about the deaf child issue is to look at it as a medical ethics issue. Clearly a violation has occured with regard to these children’s personal medical rights. We don’t know how the children will react when they learn that their parents made this decision regarding their deafness, but the issue goes deeper than that. As a result, these children will have a decreased likelihood of having hearing children themselves. I also wonder, since this was not done through a medical facility, what other congenital defects the father may have carried. Deafness is linked to several syndromes, as an extension of this decision, wouldn’t these syndromes begin to express themselves more frequently down through generations? I’m amazed that the couple did not think this through more thoroughly, if Deaf people can do this, why wouldn’t hearing people be allowed to as well? I wonder, if Deaf people having all the Deaf children and hearing people having none, does this bring our two cultures closer, or further apart? To me, the most appauling thing is that the mother majored in medical ethics and interned in bioethics and NIH, she is clearly in a position to be knowledgable about the dynamics of this issue and yet she fails to address them effectively in the WP Magazine article. I get the impression that she isn’t stupid so I can only assume that she played the reporter like ony a fine concert violinist can.

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