We chose cochlear implants for our infant son against our community's beliefs.
My Bio: My husband and I met working at a mental health group home for the deaf and hard of hearing. We are considered CODAs (Child of Deaf Adult) in the deaf world which meant that we are hearing children raised by deaf parents and fluent in sign language. Fast forward 6 years to the day our son Elijah was introduced to the world. We expected him to pass his newborn hearing screening just like all of our nieces, nephews and older sister before him... but he didn't pass. We were stunned and heartbroken, yes heartbroken. You would think that this news wouldn't be so bad for a couple who were raised by deaf parents but it wasn't that simple. We have first hand seen the struggles our parents faced with in unemployment, communication barriers and the fight for education standards among the deaf children. Don't get me wrong...I take pride in my parents and my unusual upbringing. The thought of my son facing those barriers was too much for my heart to bare. We initially ruled out cochlear implants as an option because we grew up thinking that it didn't work very well and the sound quality was sub par. Not to mention, we were also well aware of the strong opposition to cochlear implants, especially on children. It didn't take long for us to learn that there was a lot of misconceptions about cochlear implants within the deaf community. We ultimately made the decision to pursue cochlear implants after doing endless hours of research and talking to other families. We announced announced to our family and friends that we would be exploring cochlear implants for our infant son. That sparked a lot of anger within our family. Half of our family members did not speak to us for about 6 months. Two of my husbands siblings have deaf spouses and our news caused a firestorm on his side of the family. My son was implanted at 9 months old and activated at 10 months old. Our family members ended up working through their differences with us after my son received his surgery. They chose to put aside their difference for the sake of Elijahs happiness. I think Elijah has definitely changed a lot of lives with his journey.
Elijah is 2 1/2 now and he is doing amazing with his implants. He's has a fairly large vocabulary in spoken English and ASL. I still get anxious when deaf strangers see us out in public with our son. There are a lot of neutral/supportive Deaf folks out there but not very many are forthcoming about their support. My parents seem to be skeptical (but are supportive) about how well it works. They cannot hear him speak and so they tend to assume he's unable to hear speech.
One interesting piece worth mentioning is that my sons hearing aid video went viral a couple years ago. That's a whole other can of worms we opened in the deaf community.