To help in telling it, I have been capturing photos and mementos here and there as we go along. I plan to capture photos at next Thursday's embryo transfer, keep the pictures of the embryos themselves and of the petri dish. And God-willing, I will document all of the aspects and joys of the pregnancy. I plan to compile all of this into a child-appropriate book that we can read to our baby(ies) from the very beginning. I will make another book later on to document their life as they grow and as their personal story unfolds. The story of their life and their origins will always be celebrated and be portrayed as joyful and full of love.
I have been doing a lot of thinking about this book and the topic of their emotional adjustment lately. I’ve been pondering how it must feel from a child’s perspective. And I recently had an interesting realization. I feel I can somewhat relate, at least to the notion of having a “different” upbringing, yet embracing that it was part of my normal. I was raised in a family with a blind father. My dad has a degenerative retinal disorder called Retinitis Pigmentosa and went legally blind when I was very, very little. I don’t have memories of him being sighted. I also never remember the time when I was told “Your dad is blind.” We always knew he was. We had regular conversations about what his disease was. Not many little kids can pronounce “Retinitis Pigmentosa” but we could. It easily rolled off of our tongues.
It was our normal.
Because of this disease, my dad couldn't drive. He never picked us up from school, took us to the supermarket, or drove me to my piano lessons. He couldn't play catch or kick a soccer ball around with my brothers like other dads did. It had its perks too. He couldn’t see us sneak a piece of candy from right under his nose and my brothers and I could roughhouse right in front of him as long as we were quiet about it. And as teenagers, it wasn’t too hard to sneak out of the house if my mom was gone. But the bottom line is that this was our family, and this is how our dad was. I had to remind myself sometimes that other dads weren't blind because it seemed so normal that mine was.
During my life, when I tell people that I was raised by a blind father, I generally get well-intentioned sad looks or even words of pity. “I’m so sorry to hear that.” But you know what’s funny? I’m not. I don’t feel sad or sorry about it at all. I’m proud. I love my dad, I love who he is inside, and I am truly grateful for the lessons he taught us. I have nothing but fond memories of him being a father to us and I don’t feel like I missed out on anything whatsoever.
It’s love that makes a family – not my dad’s ability to see, or a genetic relationship between parents to their child.
Now as an adult, I can appreciate how hard it must have been for my dad from his perspective. But as a child, he was just my dad. And I am very proud that this is a part of my story.
I hope our future children feel the same way.