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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Deaf Identities in the Making: Local Lives, Transnational Connections

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of self-reflection that is quite extraordinary. Her understanding of difference as both self-evident and rewarding has made her aware of injustices. Regarding her own position as being adopted, she says:

My deaf friends and others in the deaf community know that I am adopted and do not make a great deal out of that. Many hearing persons don’t know about it. When I tell them they usually say, “Oh—so you are adopted. Have you really lived here all your life—but what about your foreign accent?" It is not so easy to make them understand that it is due to my deafness. Another funny incident happened when I celebrated Christmas together with my other “ethnic” Norwegian friends. I was the only one looking different. We went to a place with a lot of Latinos. They looked curiously at me and wondered why I was together with “them.” I just told them they were my friends.

Searching for her biological origins is thus not an acute concern, but she admits that she sometimes has wondered and been curious.

I really don’t think very much about my biological origin—as I know other adopted children do, because I feel that my family is here and I do not know anything about my biological parents and their culture. Earlier I thought I should find out who my parents were and then visit them, but the adoption papers told me nothing. I also thought about learning Spanish, but the last years my interest has faded. But, of course, it could be interesting to visit the country, but I have no interest now in searching for my biological parents. My father told me that he would support me if I really want to find them. That is good to know, but he puts no pressure on me.

The search for one’s identity and supposed roots can be an obsessive endeavor. This has not been so for Anita, and her appraisal of differences is thus of an anti-essential nature.

The Pressure to Pass or Fake Hearing

Anita is not very bombastic when it comes to conflicts within the Deaf milieu. In her pragmatic mode, she explains this:

Oh yes, there are a lot of conflicts in the Deaf community. The CI discussion is, for instance, a hot topic. I myself do not really know what the right answer is, even though I personally am not very in for it. Perhaps it can be helpful for some, but to be put under pressure for CI operation is wrong. I think parents try to do what is best for their children, and sometimes an operation can be the best thing. But you should in any case give the child a chance and accept it as it is.

This resonates well with her own experiences in childhood, when she and her family were subjected to pressure after doctors discovered that she was hard of hearing and could “benefit” from surgery. This clearly informs her decision to not accept CI unquestioningly:

There are examples of CI operated children who want to remove the implants later on because hearing is seldom restored and the person will anyway remain hearing impaired. The parents should know what they do, and not treat their children with hearing problems as if they can hear. For instance, to send their child to a regular school if there is an alternative, can be wrong. I think the whole question has to do with acceptance, and that the person (deaf or hard of hearing) is given the opportunity to accept his or her own situation.

Thus, if there is no initial acceptance of a child’s deafness, CI surgery will not help him or her. Anita’s own strategy toward the hearing world has, as we have seen, been rather relaxed. She is thus, through her position as a crossover, also at odds with some people and milieus in the Deaf world that exaggerate the difference between the hearing and the Deaf

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