This month, we got to connect with C3 and Maya, the couple being The Ariel Series (@thearielseries).
The Ariel Series is a contemporary love story about a Deaf queer couple learning, growing, and creating the meaning of family together.
Here’s a bit about them:
Five summers ago, C3 and Maya attended a wedding in the Adirondacks in New York, not knowing of one another’s existence. Maya went as the guest of the bride. C3 went as a “plus-one” date with a guest of the groom. The evening before the wedding, C3 was lounging by the shoreline of a lake when she turned around to see Maya for the first time. She was prancing down the hill in a floral, summer dress, with a relaxed grin on her face. Almost instantly, C3 was intrigued by her earthy, spirited essence. They felt a sense of excitement as they noticed Maya coming toward them. Confidently, Maya stuck out her hand and introduced herself in sign language, “Hi! I’m Maya. And you’re C3, yes? Someone told me about you so I was eager to meet you.”
Needless to say, C3 was gripped right there and then. That night, they exchanged phone numbers and three days later, C3 moved to the midwest for graduate school. After nearly a year of getting to know one another and Maya visiting C3 multiple times, C3 travelled to Washington, D.C. for a visit. The night C3 arrived, they signed a song in American Sign Language by Jason Mraz, “I’m Yours” to Maya. From that moment on, they entered an exclusive relationship.
For the next year and a half, they enjoyed seeing one once a month throughout long distance until C3 graduated. A month later, C3 moved to the District. Since then, the couple got hitched during the pandemic, moved to a suburban neighborhood along the outskirts of the city as first-time homeowners, got pregnant, and brought their lil CODA, Peri Scott, into the world!
“We don’t know who is on the other side or what you are thinking but we’re sure you’re a lovely stranger (or friend, hello!). As relationship enthusiasts, we create content with advice, stories, and discoveries for you to enjoy. Our stories have been illustrating our journey of building a securing relationship but we’re now expanding our content to include our journey as queer and Deaf parents! If you’re here because you’re hoping to find content to learn from, we hope we can provide you with a few useful takeaways. If you are here because you can relate, here’s a high five and we’re glad you’re here. If you’re here because you know us, we’re so glad to know you and have your support.”
During the pandemic, the couple conceived via artificial insemination and now have themselves a lil CODA (Child of Deaf Adults)!
Can you tell me about your unique journey to becoming parents? When did you decide you were ready for that step and did you have any concerns or specific things you were looking forward to?
My partner, Maya, and I, are both Deaf, queer parents to a 9 month old CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) with whom we’re raising gender creatively. In itself, our intersectionality of identities in disability, sexual orientation, and gender, we are parents different from the mainstream. And yet, that’s what we embrace and celebrate about ourselves as a family. As long as our child is safe, understood, and happy, we must be doing okay! We decided to become parents during the onset of the pandemic. Since it was just the two of us cooped up in our rental home, we had plenty of time to explore about our future. Soon thereafter, we married and starting trying for a child via Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) via a fertility center. Similiar to other families who try to conceive via fertility treatment at a fertility center, we were concerned how people would view our family. That quickly disappeared once we became pregnant with our firstborn. While pregnant, and aside from meeting our child, we were most excited to enter THEIR world. Who are they? What will we learn from them? What will we learn about ourselves and each other while parenting? It’s been an exhausting blessing, to say the least.
I saw a video you posted answering the question “but how will your child learn to speak” and I love how you pointed out that they are learning to speak through ASL the same way hearing families learn their vocal language. It was a simple point, but also really powerful to show people that your little one IS learning to communicate. Is this a common question you get from other families? How do you typically share your unique experience with others who might not understand?
An all too common question we receive regarding our choice to only use American Sign Language with our child is “But how will your child learn to speak?” If this question is asked out of the blue, we don’t have the bandwidth to address such a question. Sometimes it comes across as accusatory or ableist. However, when one approaches the question in relevant context or someone we have a trusting relationship with, we talk about our experiences and views regarding this decision. First and foremost, we do not use American Sign Language because of choice. It is a necessity as a family with two Deaf parents. For us to be the best parents we can be, our child needs access to us and we need access to them. With full immersion in ASL, we are able to access each other. Next, we tell people that adult folks who are CODAs like Peri Scott, demonstrate that even when they’re raised with a Deaf parent(s) using ASL (not all do), they are still able to develop speech just fine. Adult CODAs today model how speech comes along normally even in a household that signs. Furthermore, the mainstream environment outside any Deaf household is audio and speech based. Everywhere we go outside our home, our child is exposed to spoken language. Through accidental learning and exposure, our child will pick up on the mainstream’s way of communicating. Eventually, our child will likely attain their education via such an environment. All in all, our child will be bilingual. They will be a strong communicator. At the end of the day, it does not matter what language a child acquires, as long as they have access to communication and the ability to acquire ways of communicating.
What has been the most surprising thing about becoming parents?
The most surprising thing about becoming parents is level of love we feel. We thought we knew all about love until we met our child. That was an AMAZING surprise! On top of that, we realized that with raising a child, we won’t even know when it’s the last time. We won’t know when it is the last time we bathe with them. We won’t know when its the last time they nap on our chest while resting on the recliner. We won’t know when its the last time they hold our hand before they can walk on their own. That is an especially tender feeling in raising an ever-changing human being.
How has babywearing impacted your parenting journey?
Oh gosh! Let us tell you about babywearing! From the time our child was born, we had a “shirt” that was designed to allow us to press our child against our chest, inside the shirt, skin to skin. Feeling their heart beat 150 times per minute, made our chests flicker warmly. Soon thereafter, as our child grew bigger, we went on daily walks together with them in a pack, facing our chest. Just recently, at the size our child is at, we’ve been babywearing them in a front facing pack. That change has been so much fun! They kick their legs excitedly because they can be engaged with the world right in front of them. Babywearing is the most fun ride we’ve experienced!