Deaf advocate and author Brandi Rarus shared her personal story and her family’s journey through adoption with University of Mary Hardin-Baylor students during chapel Wednesday.
It was her second time to speak at chapel services and Rarus said it was “so good to be back again.” She spoke to her audiences in sign language through an interpreter.
Rarus is the vice president of public relations, engagement and policy for Communication Services for the Deaf, the largest non-profit organization for deaf people in the world.
She said through her job she is working to challenge the misconceptions about deaf people, developing and encouraging the deaf community to become successful, and to spotlight deaf success stories to change those misconceptions.
Rarus is also the author of “Finding Zoe,” the story of her family’s journey in adopting a deaf baby girl. She spoke to students about her personal experiences and the events that led her to write about the adoption experience.
She began with her own story.
“I was born hearing, and I became deaf at the age of six from spinal meningitis,” Rarus said. “I became very ill. I spent two weeks in the hospital and I was asleep most of the time.”
She said when she finally woke up, the first real memory she had was of her father coming in to tell her about all the people who had been by to visit.
“I was following him,” she said. “I was understanding him until he got to my cousin Doris. He said, ‘Doris,’ and I said, ‘Who?’ and he repeated it and I asked again. I said, ‘Who?’ And I realized in that moment that my world was silent.”
Rarus said when she lost her hearing she wasn’t angry or even confused.
“I began to realize, oh, there are deaf people… deafness was a new thing to me,” she said. “And at that time I was much more interested in getting on with my life.”
But as time went on, Rarus said dealing with her circumstances became an increasing struggle.
He’s half-deaf and partly blind, but there’s nothing wrong with his mind, and the chatty optometrist is laying a trap.
Dr. E. Robert Libby is 98. He expects the cornball question, but when it doesn’t come soon enough, Libby prompts me to ask it, and I do:
“What is your secret of longevity?” The trap snaps shut.
“I just didn’t die!” he says, laughing. Libby is on his recliner, holding court in his home in a quiet corner of Bala Cynwyd. He’s lived there for 50 years, the last seven alone since the death of his wife, Mira, to whom he was wed for 57 years.