A Family Story: Vision Impairment Adoptions
We get this question about Lola quite frequently. Blindness is a funny thing. It has many varying degrees. I've found the average person, myself included before bringing Lola home, thinks blindness equals darkness and fumbling around. That type of blindness does exist, but blindness in general comes in many forms. People who are considered blind under definition of the law can often see certain colors, light, outlines etc. Lola specifically can see all colors, light and outlines. Because her corneas are opaque, light cannot fully pass through to allow full vision. She sees life through a giant cloud. Nothing is remotely clear but she uses her light and color sensing ability to navigate in a way that astounds me. Blind children are strong, capable and able to do everything sighted children do.
Is there anything we can do to improve her vision? Not really. There is a very risky option, a cornea transplant, that we are not going to pursue. After consulting with two wonderful eye institutes we felt that the risk of losing her vision completely was not something we felt even remotely comfortable with. Also reading countless online testimonies of parents who attempted this surgery with little success made our decision even easier to make.
Lola is adjusting quite well, even with her vision needs. She navigates incredibly well in familiar settings. However, unfamiliar places and experiences present challenges for her and she often falls or bumps her legs into things. After working with an orientation and mobility specialist at school she is doing much better with navigation, her white cane is her new best friend. And guess what? Lola attends school with her siblings and peers. All of her services and needs are accommodated within her regular classroom setting. We don't do anything out of the ordinary to support her education. She has a braille teacher and we advocate for her needs and support her services just as we would with our sighted children.
When we are home, I often forget that she is visually impaired. She runs around the house like a crazy person. She is quite the little smarty pants. Her knowledge base has gone from zero to a grade level first grader in the 2 years she has been home. It's amazing to watch her soak up and speak English. She now listens to books and answers meaningful questions. It's astounding. When the days are hard and emotions are high I find myself retracing the last 2 years of progress. It's amazing, mind boggling, and super-natural the way God is healing her brain and heart. Lola rides a bike, jumps on the trampoline and walks to her classroom independently. I once wrote that I believed God would work a miracle for Lola. We are living that miracle.
I cannot imagine not saying yes to the scared 5-year old girl we saw in a picture. I can't imagine not making Lola our daughter. I can't imagine letting the fear of blindness keep us from experiencing a true miracle of healing and growth in our own home.
- by Erica Ho
America World Mom