Thursday, March 13, 2014

rock and hard place

What I have learned in the 2+ years that I have been an adoptive parent and 8ish months I have parented a child with special needs is that sometimes there isn't a good choice to be made. Sometimes you find yourself here:

We have had numerous discussions between Afua's audiologists (school and private), specialists, teachers, pediatrician and therapists. Each has a different opinion about Afua's hearing loss and how we should address it. And with each strong opposing opinion, my Mommy guilt goes up a notch. The truth is, there is no perfect solution to this. 

Afua has the choice of keeping her hearing aids turned up as they are, which causes a lot of squealing and very little benefit hearing wise. We can continue to work on modified sign language or move to other communication devices (that she can't hear but could possibly learn to  make connections without hearing). The other choice is to move to the process of getting a cochlear implant (one side or both) which could give her the ability to hear us speak to her, but that wouldn't guarantee that her communication issue would resolve. She may still need ASL or a communication device to make her needs known. 

I have read opinions that children should get cochlear implants as soon as possible so that they can have the best chance of speaking. So it feels like an invisible clock is ticking. On the other hand, there is an opinion  that children should not receive a cochlear implant but they should make that decision as adults. I look at both sides of the argument and I feel the pressure. I am caught in between the proverbial rock and hard place. 

Where we are today, is that Afua has no real way to communicate with us other than crying and other behaviors that are not positive. Many of these she has outgrown but some remain. She can sign "more" while she eats and with help, she can sign "eat". Other than that, she is often a passive participant in life and I long for her to take initiative so often. 

This decision is one of many that parents of children with special needs struggle with. We look to modern medicine to help our children and remove barriers standing in their way. But we also know there is a price to pay when making these decision. Every surgery carries a risk, every procedure is costly in more ways than one. 

If you are wondering how to support a mom like me, my advice is: just listen. Friends, acquaintances, medical professionals, gentle. We are so hard on ourselves and second guess every decision. I know the passion is there and you can see exactly what we should do. But  let us explore every choice, let us allow the information to sink in and let us pause the process for a while. Because we are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the outcome of the decision. This is one of the hardest parts of parenting a child with special needs. 


  1. Oh Jenni....SO TRUE!!! I'm always here as your sounding board. I love you and your precious family. As always I'm in constant prayer for Eve Afua and the miracles that I believe God will perform. I also pray for you and Eric often as you two make decisions and you will have peace!!!!

  2. This is such a great post. I know that sometimes, there's no right decision, sinc eeach decision carries its drawbacks. I face this challenge in planning for my living situation. I could wait for the most suitable place for years, but this means longer on a treatment unit. I could go to a mediocre place with a less lengthy waiting list, but such a place does not have the supports I need.

    Anyway, I wish you good luck on the communication-related decisions you're making for Afua.