I found this photo in my memories today on FB. I remember vividly the day this picture was emailed to me, and all I could do was weep. Our sweet Chapel Xin was halfway around the world but she looked so healthy and cuddly and beautiful and I couldn’t wait to have her in our arms.
About 6 months would pass before we were able to finally hold her. A lot about her health changed in that timeline and we aren’t sure why. Most of her hair had fallen out, she had lost a large amount of weight, and she was so weak and malnourished upon finally adopting her at 2 years old that she weighed a mere 16 pounds. She could barely sit or hold up her head.
We’ve come a LONG way, baby! From gaining weight and growing tall, to receiving a cochlear implant (if you’re new here, Chapel is profoundly deaf) through a groundbreaking surgery. This surgery allowed her to receive sound for the first time although her nerve placement is not typical. She was actually the 11th person and the first child ever to receive a cochlear implant that was placed by going through the lining of her brain (the middle fossa approach). The surgery gave Chapel the gift of sound at three years old. We’ve since been in the process of learning to hear. It is quite the journey when your first sounds are heard at three years old. We’ve made huge strides. Chapel now prefers to wear her hearing device, and will repeat sounds. She also recognizes varying sounds in her day, which is huge. She still does not speak words, but we also incorporate signing into our routine. This chick is the smartest, funniest, sweetest- little sponge who soaks up everything before her. She has grown and is blossoming in every area and she amazes me each day with her strength!
Up until this point, Chapel’s speech therapist did not want us to be simultaneously teaching further signing to Chapel beyond the basics because they felt it was important for her to be dependent on learning to listen for the appropriate responses. They felt she should begin using her own voice for speech, and she would be dependent on signs. I had mixed feelings about this. Chapel is so incredibly intelligent. If Chapel’s verbal ability was not in place by the time she is six but she has the intelligence and learning capability of a ten year old, does that mean we have held her back from her full potential? Because of these feelings, we have continued to sign with her anyway but not with the drive we had originally worked towards.
At our last appointment for speech therapy, the therapist (whom we love dearly) had changed tunes. She said that they now felt it was important to give Chapel this visual language, alongside speech therapy, to help develop her verbally. sigh…I should have gone with my gut and kept the determination going in the signing arena.
Nonetheless, if you’ve followed along here you know that God miraculously placed a sweet lady in our church who serves in the church nursery. This lady just so happened to be an ASL interpreter and just so happened to begin working in the nursery right when Chapel started going. She teaches all of the kids signs. She is amazing. She was certainly a God-send to our family. So Chapel has progressed in ASL, and we are now fully joining her in that effort.
We do not know what the future holds but we know our amazing daughter is going somewhere good. 🙂 We as a family are walking that journey alongside her and we are kicking our signing education into full gear. <3