Aidan & Emily Burke on Life and Communication!

Open Communication is the Key!

By Adan & Emily Burke – Minnesota Hands & Voices


There was a time when I convinced myself I would NEVER meet or marry a Deaf man according to my extreme list of standards. Adan knew he would meet his future wife at Gallaudet.

And I was absolutely wrong. Adan was definitely right.

I met my husband Adan when I was in graduate school at Gallaudet University. When we lived in different states during holidays and breaks, we texted one another excessively (Facebook did not exist at that time - unbelievable). That was one way we got to know each other! As of today, approximately a decade later, we are happily married with two amazing children. As we are raising a family, we manage our home, wisely steward our finances and resources, and network with the community. We’ve had frequent conversations about what it means to be Deaf (to have a healthy marriage, it is necessary to have conversations about various topics - and hearing loss happens to be one of them). We concur that having a solid family foundation and open communication is the key!

Speaking of communication, people are particularly attached to their smartphones at times – some people can talk to their insurance carriers or schedule an appointment via phone while picking up toys or changing diapers. For us, we MUST sit at a table among a strong wi-fi hotpsot to ensure reliable videophone communication. We invest in smartphones so we can have reliable access to videophone to contact whoever we needed to. Yes, it can be inconvenient to wait for the right time and make calls. Phone calls can be challenging to multitask. I see some mommies talk (voice) on the phone and cook at the same time. It is something one cannot master overnight – believe me, I’ve tried. My solution is to put the phone in the cupboard above the counter while prepping food to FaceTime with my husband at work. Some mommies can talk on the phone (stick the phone between your head and shoulder) and change a baby’s diaper. I can’t do that unless the person on the opposite end can tolerate a soiled diaper… I’d be embarrassed to face a VRS interpreter in my pajamas or towel – I must be fully dressed when I talk on the videophone. You get the picture… Those are the challenges. We have to schedule a block time to make calls.

Regarding communication within our family, we’re constantly turning on/off lights, banging our feet on the floor, texting, Gliding, or FaceTiming one another for attention (yes, I admit we do that!), sending a kid to get the other parent, and we do yell even though we cannot hear. Yes, sometimes it’s a lifesaver to have a smartphone with you in the bathroom – I’ve gotten occasional texts requesting toilet paper… Those are the things we do every day at home!

There are times when we ignore the smartphone – it would have been catastrophic, or should I say a Shakespearean moment? Adan came home earlier than expected one evening and did not have the house key. Tired of waiting and texting, he saw the light on in a bedroom window and started stacking up the trash and recycle bins… Yes, he was about to start climbing! So Romeo & Juliet. Luckily, I came downstairs before Adan could have gotten himself hurt. We learned that it is important to communicate our whereabouts, and to carry a house key at all times!

We often hear our hearing peers talk about listening to audiobooks while on the road. We both enjoy reading. Just like important phone calls, we need to make time to read books – because obviously audiobooks is no value to us. I learned of a popular radio show, but could not follow it so instead I follow that radio personality via Facebook and website.

We adapt. We identify our challenges and find solutions! These are solutions that work for our family. Adan campaigns about discipline – we have to be disciplined with our time management strategies so we can get things done with no excuses. We also have to practice self-control, so we can get our priorities straight – so that’s why we are able to move the mountain!

Anything is possible!