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.
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?
I honestly don’t have an answer for you because I can’t believe we aren’t already there! How can society be so blind? I do think we’re witnessing an awakening, though, and I can only hope it continues and spreads to all so it quickly outweighs the “not good enough” mentality.
Another thing that blows my mind is that there are still institutions for children who honestly have an unknown potential at that point (which will never be discovered in an institution). Yet institutions for mentally ill have been closed or limited, despite the rise in need for those services.
I saw a few clients who were forgotten by their families, but I also saw several who weren’t. The latter is so much better for everyone.
I think we win the war by our willingness to put our lives out there. To educate people that having a special need/disability/insert issue here does not mean you have less of a life. That all lives matter and have impact. Keep up the fight my friend
Thank you Kerri. Yes, we must keep telling our truths to drown out the myths. 🙂
Thank you Mardra for this great commentary.
Thanks to you, Mike.
I know several families who have happily adopted children with Down syndrome. Those children are loved and flourish in that love, returning it abundantly. Giving a baby you can’t love or care for up is not being a monster, its acknowleging your limits. Aborting it is for it denies anyone else the chance to love your child. It denies their own personal destiny and it calls them ‘unlovable’.
Yes, Thank you for stopping by and sharing.
It does actually surprise me. And makes me deeply sad and full of anger. I wasn’t aware this is a question they would ask. And seeing in Lisa’s comment that they’d ask it at a 2 week appointment, as well, makes it that much worse. How many parents neglect and abuse their children? How many parents have children they can’t handle or don’t want? If they’re going to ask anyone that question, I guess they should be asking every single new parent.
Yes, Shannon. I was shocked at Lisa’s note, too. I’m thankful that times have changed, *enough* that children aren’t just snatched away, (in our country), but there’s still a long way to go.
Whoops, I guess I should add that the “Lisa’s comment” I was referring to was a comment on the Facebook share of this post.