Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Another reason I'm not politically correct

Isn't she cute? This is Shelby, a darling little 2 year old girl in China who is listed and available again for adoption on Reece's Rainbow. Here's her info:

Girl, Born June 26, 2008
Shelby is a beautiful little girl who is in the excellent care of a foster home. She can now stand along holding onto objects, walk quickly in the baby walker, and is potty trained during the day. Shelby has a bright smile and is in need of a loving family.
What on earth could Shelby have to do with me and political correctness?

I wish I didn't have an answer, but I do. Shelby had a family who committed to her adoption. I spoke with the kind, extremely well-educated and bright mom on the phone one day, trying to talk through some concerns they had. As the conversation went on, she asked a question about "Down syndrome children." She quickly corrected herself and said, "I meant children with Down syndrome." Just as quickly, I laughed and told her it was no big deal.
She then relayed that she had already received ugly private emails from the People First brigade in response to her VERY FIRST POST on the Reece's Rainbow Yahoo group where she had made the apparently fatal mistake of asking a question and not using People First-approved terminology.
A wonderful family, who did not already have a child with Down syndrome, committed to adopting Shelby and had some questions as a result of inaccurate information given to them by a social worker. Rather than surrounding this family with love, support and accurate information, she was shot down for not using the right jargon.
As parents of children with Down syndrome (see, I can use it properly), we must be willing to show some grace to those who don't have access to our preferred way of speaking about our children. As my wise friend Ashley always reminds us, nothing will shut down a person's interest in our kids, in adoption, in whatever arcane place we hang our hat, than being censured for speech.
If you don't believe me, just ask Shelby.


Lisa said...

This is great reminder that we can do more harm than good sometimes by HOW and WHERE we are trying to advcocate. People First Language is is TACT and consideration in how we help others understand it.

Charissa said...

Oh that makes me sad. I always cringe when those conversations are going on. No better way to turn people against 'our' kids and our families than by correcting them for innocent mistakes. Who knew people would be so passionate about this? If we're going to be fair about it shouldn't we include everybody in the people first rule? For example, my computer geek husband would have to be my husband who is a computer geek. My athletic son should be referred to as my son who is athletic, my smart daughter as my daughter who is smart, my son who is musical, etc. etc. And I would be a housewife who is disorganized rather than a disorganized housewife. Right?

Waitingfaithfully said...

Oh Jill, how heartbreaking for Shelby.

Death and life are indeed, in the power of the tongue.

Lord, help us always to guard our tongues-- and please bring a new family for Shelby. We know that you have a plan and a purpose for her life.

Sarah said...


Did Shelby find another family? I couldn't find her on the RR site.