Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Genetics: Deaf By Design

This is kind of old news...but an interesting one, nonetheless. I am sure many of you have heard about Designer Babies. In a nutshell, it is about choosing which genes to use in order to create a perfect child. Let's explore this topic a bit deeper....what's about a Deaf baby? 

In 2008, a Deaf couple was denied by a fertility treatment center, not because they were seeking for an IVF treatment to become pregnant, but because this couple specifically requested for a fertilized embyro that will result in a Deaf baby. This led to a Government Fertilization and Embryology Bill to be passed through the Parliament with an order to ban any request requesting a baby to be born with any form of disability...including Deafness. 

In not so many words, any flawed embryos that were donated to the fertility centers were immediately discarded without a consideration. 

This couple grew enraged, and exclaimed, "If hearing people were to have the right to throw away a Deaf embryo, then we as Deaf people should have the right to throw away a hearing embryo". 

 In our culture, it is a blessing to receive a Deaf child, because it is an opportunity to pass our culture down to them, to preserve our culture, and to maintain Deafhood. Being Deaf is NOT a disability. It is our way of life. To some Deaf parents, they feel that they can't create a bond with their hearing children, because of lack of communication, lack of understanding of what it is like to be Deaf, and not being able to relate to them. 

To hearing people, this concept is beyond astonishing. They question why anyone would want to intentionally cause a disability on a child. Any decent parents would have wanted the best for their children, and for them to lead better lives than they did. Deafness, to hearing people and some deaf people, is an obstacle from having a full access to life. To have a disability certainly will take away any quality of life. There will be issues in living in the hearing world such as isolation, social barriers, fighting for an equality, finding a job, getting an education, getting a right to have an interpreter, obtaining accommodations, and having to deal with ignorance on a  daily basis. 

It is difficult to be a Deaf person surviving in the hearing world. I do face obstacles, frustrations, and occasional social barriers. At the same time, I am well equipped to adjust and accommodate my Deafness to overcome most of the difficulties that I face in my life. It is not something I want my unborn son to have to deal with. I do not view my Deafness as a disability. I never have, and I never will. At the same time, I am cognizant enough to realize that my Deafness IS a disability in the hearing world.  My hope is that my son will be an ally to the Deaf world, and to help us bridge both worlds together. 

I am not a believer or an advocate of creating designer babies including screening to increase a likelihood of getting traits parents want for their child. I see nothing wrong with conceiving (whether through the old fashioned way or IVF treatment) a baby as what there is present to create a life. At the same time, I would not go that far of calling Deaf parents selfish or arrogant for wanting a Deaf child. 

1 comment :

  1. I am really glad to have discovered this post. I had heard before that many Deaf parents desired Deaf children, but never really understood it. After all, as you've said, what parent wouldn't want a better life, and better opportunities, for their child than they had. But I never considered it from the angle that you presented, in terms of how parent-child communication and a sense of bonding might be affected if a hearing child is born to a Deaf parent or parents. So very insightful, I am tearing up a little thinking about it.