Experience of a Deaf Adoptee
Cynthia opens up about being a Deaf adoptee, sharing some experiences she had that are common among adoptees.
Deaf Parents Started with Being Foster Parents
Hi, I’m Cynthia. I’ve watched the recent video series on adoption, which has featured parents who have adopted children. Now I’d like to share my story as an adoptee. I’ll start with my Deaf parents. Since they couldn’t have children themselves, they started out by applying to become foster parents for the state. They did care for one Deaf boy. Later, however, they found out that he was not eligible for adoption because it seems that the family who had originally adopted him had decided not to keep him, instead, abandoning him with the state, which didn’t have a file on him and only knew his name and birth date. Some time later, there was a Deaf girl, but the Catholic Church was required to give permission for the adoption and they denied this. The Deaf boy grew up, graduated, and left the foster home, while the girl went back to her biological family.
Biological Mother Didn’t Sign the Parental Rights Waiver for the Deaf Adoptee
I came into my parents’ lives when I was 18 months old. When my parents were informed that they could adopt me, they were thrilled because they had wanted to adopt their own child. They soon learned, to their dismay, that only my father had signed a waiver of his parental rights, while my mother had not. Two detectives then began searching for my biological mother, Janet. Her name showed up in the police database as she had just been arrested. The detectives went to see her in jail and informed her that she needed to sign a waiver of parental rights. My mother was thrown off guard because she thought my biological father was taking care of me, while my brother had gone through a private lawyer for a placement. She refused to sign the waiver. The detectives strategized by coming to my home and taking pictures of me with my toys and dolls and other things, then they brought the pictures to show my biological mother. Most importantly, they asked her if she could communicate with me like my Deaf parents could. My biological mother paused for a moment, then went ahead and signed the papers. At that point, I was eligible to be adopted.
The Possibility of Judge Not Approving Adoption by Deaf Parents
Although my parents were thrilled, the lawyer cautioned them that a Deaf couple adopting a Deaf child might not go over well with a conservative judge. They had to hope for a less conservative judge to take the case. On the final day of the adoption case, they went into the courtroom and found that the judge was Chinese. The judge reviewed the file, then asked me – I was four years old at the time – some questions through the interpreter. The judge saw that I was able to answer the questions directly, which showed that there were no communication issues to be concerned about. The judge then asked my parents some questions, noted that they had stable lives, held jobs, and had a house. Seeing that there was no reason to rule against them, the judge approved the adoption. My parents were elated that the adoption was finalized!
Time for The Deaf Adoptee Talk
When I was seven years old, I told my parents that my classmate looked just like the mother, which made me wonder why I didn’t resemble either of my parents. My mom and dad realized that it was time for The Talk. We all sat down and they told me that I was adopted. When I learned this, I was so upset that I ran out of the house, my head full of all kinds of thoughts. I remember on that day wondering what had happened, why I wasn’t wanted, and what was wrong with me. This is a typical reaction for many adoptees. When I went back inside and asked my mother why I was given away for adoption, my mother explained that my parents had been teenagers when I was born and they weren’t ready to raise a child. I replied that I had seen teen parents before and they were fine, but my mother told me that each situation was different. It took a while to process all of this information, but my upset feelings eventually subsided.
Feeling Grounded After Meeting Biological Father
When I was a teenager though, I found myself looking around and thinking about how it was possible for a teenager to raise a child. I couldn’t imagine giving away my own child. These thoughts went through my mind for a while, then faded. When I was 35, I finally met my biological father, Bob. He and I shared the exact same personality and sense of humor. He showed me picture of Janet, my biological mother, whose face looked just like mine. What happened then was that I finally felt grounded. Up until then, I had always felt a sense of disconnect, because I didn’t know where I came from. This is another common experience of adoptees. This doesn’t mean that all of a sudden my life centered around my biological parents. My adoptive parents are the ones who raised me, made me who I am today, loved me, and all of that. My biological parents only gave me my genes. I call my adoptive parents, my parents. I gave my father’s name, Rue, to my son, who also gave the name to his daughter, so my father’s name lives on. Thank you for watching!
Video: Cynthia is outside on a windy day, with a tree and hilly view in the background. She is wearing a sleeveless top and signing.