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Adoption of Deaf/HOH Children

Building a Deaf Family

By

Updated April 26, 2009

Right after leaving college, I started thinking about someday adopting a deaf child so that I could give the child the kind of deaf childhood I did not have. I didn't have to wait long. One day in 1993 I saw a message on a Prodigy message board that, to use a corny phrase, "changed my life." The message was from someone who had just returned from an international adoption. In the same children's home that her children came from, there were other children waiting. One of the children was a deaf boy.

We emailed that person, and one thing led to another and we ended up adopting that child. Shortly after our return, I had the thought that if the computer had helped our child to find a family, wouldn't it help other deaf children? I began to seek out other waiting deaf and severely hard of hearing children to put on a list. After I started putting the word out about these children, someone suggested that I start a private e-mail list. Thus the Deaf Adoption News Service was established, around March 1994.

Most of the children who were listed on DANS were harder to place. Some children from the DANS list have found families more quickly than others. The majority were foreign, though DANS had assisted in advocating for families for domestic deaf and severely hard of hearing children. As with the foreign children, most of the domestic children who were listed with DANS were harder to place.

DANS proved to be remarkably effective in its task of finding families for children. At least 25 foreign and domestic children are known to have found families with the help of DANS. There may actually be more, as in 1995 DANS moved to the web while continuing the private e-mail list. As the deaf adoption community grew, I saw the need to expand DANS by adding a public deafhoh-adoption discussion list.

At one time DANS was a special interest group of the World Federation of the Deaf, as "the DANS network." It has become a true network, with people sharing information on how to adopt, on raising adopted deaf children, and spreading the word about deaf children who arewaiting for forever families.

DANS has been replaced by the website DeafAdoption.org and another site, deafadoptionnetwork.com, although the Yahoo discussion list continues.

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