by Diane Christner
(Editor's note: This is reprinted from the Summer 1984 issue of Perceive, the newsletter of Parent Advocates for Visually Impaired Children of Colorado (PAVIC). Nancy was one of the winners in our Braille Readers Are Leaders contest last year.)
When Bill and Peg Prior decided to adopt a child, they chose the Luthern Social Services, which had, at the time, a Philippine adoption service. During one of the interviews with the social worker, Bill asked her what type of child was hardest to place. She told them a blind child. Bill was very surprised by this answer. As a teacher, he had experienced blind students in his classroom. In addtition, he volunteered as a reader for the blind. Bill considered blindness simply an inconvenience, not a major handicap. It was then that Bill and Peg began to get acquainted with Nancy.
Nancy was almost four years old. She had lived in the orphangage, she was so malnourished she could not hold up her head. It was the malnourishment or possibly tracoma that caused Nancy to have cloudy corneas. No one is certain what the exact cause of her blindness is. A woman from the orphanage knew Nancy and had become very attached to her. She brought Bill and Peg pictures of the little girl. From the pictures, the Priors began to fall in love with Nancy and soon decided she was their child. Things began to move very rapidly. Paperwork that normally takes months, took days. Peg and Bill first saw a picture of Nancy at the end of March, she came home at the end of July. During this exciting period, the Priors had an added surprise. They found out Peg was pregnant. Their daughter, Jennifer, who is now seven, was followed by another baby, David, who is five.
The first few days after Nancy's arrival were stormy. Though Nancy was sweet and very affectionate, she chose to communicate with her new parents by throwing temper tantrums. The Priors had learned her native language, Tagalog, but she would not talk to them. Finally one day, Peg told her daughter that no matter how bad she acted, she was their child now and was going to stay. That worked. A few days later Peg heard Nancy talking to Bill, in English. She had known how to speak English all along.
Nancy has always been a very curious and independent child. It took her only two days to learn her way around her new home. A month after arriving, Nancy started in a Headstart program in Boulder. The program was very receptive to having a blind child and Nancy learned good socialization skills. This helped in moving her into a regular public school kindergarten. She has always been mainstreamed and done very well with it. Nancy has had two cornea transplants that failed, but does have some light perception. She has used a cane since she was six years old, and often amazes people with her mobility.
Today Nancy is eleven years old and is in the sixth grade. She has been in Girl Scouts for three years. She is a member of both the school and church choirs, as well as being an occasional skier. She has taken several courses from the Boulder Recreation District, which have included pottery and the rope jumping Skippettes. Like Girl Scouts of America, Boulder Recreation District, makes every effort to mainstream special needs children into their regular programs. Nancy has a normal sibling relationship with her brother and sister. She is particularly close to Jennifer, who is closest to her in age.
Peg describes Nancy as just a regular kid. She states, "People have difficulties, when they see a child with problems and only see the problem, not the child." It's this philosphy that helps the Priors remain just an average happy family. When they see Nancy, they see a child, definitely not a problem.
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