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It took a village, but local 3-year-old is finally learning to hear again

Posted at 6:12 PM, Sep 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-11 18:51:02-04

CINCINNATI — When Brooklyn Ballein entered the foster care system as a baby, she was completely deaf in one ear and rapidly losing her hearing in the other.

But luckily, she won the lottery for foster parents -- who would later become her adopted parents.

"As soon as we laid our eyes on Brooklyn and we knew her, we would have moved mountains for her," said Megan Ballein, Brooklyn's adopted mother.

The now-three-year-old is well on her way to regaining her hearing, and learning to interpret the sounds she can hear.

Brookylin had a cochlear implant, and wears special devices that funnel sound to the brain. Her parents drive her 45 minutes one way to Ohio Valley Voices (OVV) for classes, to learn to adapt to this new, noisy world.

"Ohio Valley Voices teaches children who are deaf and hard of hearing how to listen and talk," said Maria Sentelik, executive director of OVV.

Regular hospital visits helped Brooklyn jump the initial hurdles of her procedure, and now the teachers at OVV help to guide her along through the rest.

"Every time I put the cochlear implants on every morning...I make sure to tell her I love her," said Ben Ballein, Brooklyn's adopted father.

Brooklyn may not have had access to the cochlear implants had her situation turned out differently, but the Ballein family have been determined to ensure she'll have the equalizers she needs to be a healthy and happy.

"She has her smirk on her face, and she says 'I love you,'" said Ben.

OVV also works to help families with financial restrictions, raising scholarships for their students who may need a little extra help. A Sept. 19 fashion show partnered with University of Cincinnati DAAP students will help raise money for these scholarships -- featuring Brooklyn as a model on the runway.