It Happens Here

Would it surprise you to know that right here, in Middle America, the hospital’s social worker asked, “Will you be taking the baby home?” You see, the child was born with Down syndrome. I suppose things were different then. It was, after all, 1990.

baby2 rs1990!

Only 25 years ago, this question was presented about my child as a legitimate and reasonable option. Although my son’s first father and I were not married, the social worker never came into the room to ask me this question. (In fact, I didn’t even know this question came up until a few years later.)

I am disgusted still that this question was not asked to me, only “the mother” of “the baby.” And, of course, even more disgusted that it was asked AT ALL.

I’ve often fantasized about the verbal lashing that would have erupted from my lips had she dared to ask me if I was taking my child home. I’ve never publicly shared this before because I am still so filled with, well, rage, that my thoughts tend to get all balled up and wrapped around my fingers and the words stick instead of flow. You can tell, I’m sure.

However, as the news travels the world about “Baby Leo,” it all comes back to me. (A story that keeps unfolding, as it were.)

What kind of world do we live in?

We get to choose if we bring our own child home? Oh, right, planet earth. Where, even in Western Society, children must still be “good enough,” or “normal enough.” Where words like, “burden” are used to describe an infant with unknown potential.

We still live in a world where institutions are used to stash away children. Do you know –  

“Across the globe 8 million children are living in institutions that deny them individual love and care. More than 80% are not orphans. They are separated from their families because they are poor, disabled or from an ethnic minority. As a result, many suffer lifelong physical and emotional harm.”

Lumos is one organization working to help these children. Their website has a tab that all non-profit websites should have: The Solution. If you want to help, this is where to start.

Although I don’t understand, I have come to accept that there are parents who don’t *want* their child and that there are parents that don’t feel that they *can* take care of their child. In the USA, when it comes to Down syndrome, there is the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network which can place children into families, instead of institutions.

Then there’s the media: the simultaneous mirror and driver of social attitudes. SO complex the way this story has potentially harmed the work families and organizations do to promote accepting and inclusive societies. Mostly, each new facet of the story serves as “click bait,” and we can only hope, in the end, that baby Leo will get the support he needs to reach his potential. For example, I am glad that organization like Saving Downs exist and commit to helping families, even under fire.

As we balance the fear, hope and hypocrisy that this whole situation has unveiled…sigh. I’ve really let myself wander today, huh? I guess what I’m wondering now is: How can we use the media to teach and learn? How to we win the Google war on this one? What do you think?