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Mom Whose Daughter Is Blind Says, 'A Child Knows When You Are Ashamed Of Her'
PHOTO BY Courtesy of Linda Choy
  • What do you do when the baby you have longed for is not “perfect” by society’s standards? No parent would wish for their children to have a disability. When this happens, many parents grapple for answers and, often, blame themselves.

    In my previous job working with children with disabilities and their parents, my eyes were opened to a world that is full of compassion and love. Parents of children with disabilities exude selflessness and hope, and most of all, strength and kindness. They do what they can to make this world a better place for the kids that need them the most.

    I met Linda Choy when I worked with several organizations helping parents cope with children with visual impairment. Linda’s blind daughter, Kara, was born prematurely at 28.5 weeks. She weighed only 1.2 kilograms at birth, and as a result of her challenging survival course, she contracted Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP).

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    Kara Choy with parents Francis and Linda, and brother, Timms
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Linda Choy

    An eye disorder that causes blindness

    According to the National Eye Institute, ROP is an eye disorder that usually affects both eyes and can cause blindness. It primarily affects premature infants who weighed about 2.75 pounds (1250 grams) or less and are born earlier than 31 weeks of gestation. The smaller an infant is at birth, the more likely it is for the baby is to develop ROP.

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    First diagnosed in 1942, ROP is one of the most common causes of visual loss in childhood and can lead to lifelong vision impairment and blindness.

    Because of Kara’s condition, neonatal pediatricians monitored her continuously. One month after birth, she was referred to an ophthalmologist. When Linda learned that her daughter was going blind, she shared, “I felt like I was at the end of the world, and my question was what have I done, that I deserved to have a blind child. All my life, I never knew anyone who is blind. How could I raise her?”

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    Finding acceptance

    In the beginning, Linda struggled to accept Kara’s condition. She shopped for doctors, desperate to find someone who can give her daughter her sight. She was determined not to give up, but then she got frustrated and disappointed because even after a series of surgeries, Kara would still eventually become totally blind.

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    Hope replaced frustration when the pediatrician opthalmologist explained her daughter’s condition. These words brought her back to sanity, and further along, paved her acceptance of Kara’s condition.

    “Mrs. Choy, Imagine a house being constantly repaired or refurbished. The structure will become weak. That is what is happening to Kara’s eyes when we're doing all those eye checks. If I were you, I would concentrate on her rehabilitation,” the doctor said.

    Linda started to talk about her daughter a lot, asking people how to give her blind daughter the best life she could have. Like any mother, she was determined to provide Kara everything.

    When Kara was 4 months, Linda found her lifeline with Resources for the Blind, Inc. (RBI). RBI referred her to therapists and doctors who have helped her cope with her ordeal. But meetings with other parents whose children are also visually impaired were the most helpful. Their journey had taught Linda that she could raise Kara in an environment that made her feel “normal.”

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    Kara during the Foundation Day of P. Gomez Elementary School
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Linda CHoy
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    Embracing handicaps

    Linda is now at the forefront of a movement raising awareness for ROP and providing support for parents who are still finding light in a dark world.

    “A child, however young she is, knows whether you are proud or ashamed of her," Linda said. “We embrace her handicaps, and from there, we do what we can for her.

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    “But we love her and accept her for who she is, and everything else has followed.”

    Kara, playing “Buttercup,” her favorite piece, on the piano, is severely handicapped, with mild cerebral palsy coupled with global developmental delays. 
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Linda Choy

    Today, at ag 21, Kara sings, plays the piano, swims, and goes to school. Despite her visual impairment, Kara is the light to the life of the people who surround her.

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    “Because of Kara, I am a better person. I became more patient. I am bolder because I need to fend for my child. She opened my eyes to the other side of the world," Linda said. "I see people beaming despite their challenges, I see brave people despite having no legs, no arms. I get to know the real priorities and the importance of life.”

    Balot Del Rosario, a member of the Smart Parenting Mom Network 2020, is a NAHA-registered, Certified Level 2 professional aromatherapist. She is also the author of the book, Lost but Found, and the mom-of-two behind the blog Chronicles of The Happy APAS Mama (www.callmebalot.com.)

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