Monday, March 10, 2008

Parents choose plastic surgery for child with Down syndrome

The parents of a child with Down syndrome in the UK have "forced plastic surgery" on their child , according to this Fox News article.
Georgia Bussey underwent "radical and painful" cosmetic surgery three times by age 5 so she could "fit in" with her peers, the U.K.'s Daily Mail reported Sunday.

Parents of another girl with Down syndrome told the paper that they were also considering altering her appearance in the future so she could be more "accepted.”

Critics in the U.K. slammed the parents, with some even claiming the procedures were tantamount to child abuse. However, the parents hit back, saying that no one complained when "normal" children had their ears pinned back.

Uh, there's that word 'normal' again.

Well we could get into a debate about teenagers who have their noses done or kids who have their ears pinned back- but let's look at the real issue here. It was done to alter the child's appearance because she had Down syndrome, causing her pain with three surgeries - so she can 'fit in'?

This 'normal' and 'fitting in' discussion is what we need to focus on. How about practicing inclusion by celebrating our differences and diversity?

This BBC article on this story is quite interesting as well.

[Update: Thanks to a comment, I found a number of posts on this topic over at Patricia Bauer's blog which are of interest. In fact, to date, her blog contains 196 posts tagged on the topic of Down syndrome.]

[I saw a post the other day celebrating the beauty of children with Down syndrome and am saddened to discover I don't have the link, but if anyone else has it, please post it. Thanks.]


Ettina said...

I think pinning kids ears' back is wrong too.

Ruth said...

Ettina, thanks for your comment and yeah, I'd agree with that.

Linda Edwards said...

patricia bauer posted some stories celebrating their beauty. you might go to her blogspot and check out her archives on Down syndrome.

i also want to draw attention to the gendered aspects. both of the children are girls. when a boy has ears that stick out a little bit, some people find it quirky. i wonder if, in the long run, whether the gender of the child was what turned them to surgery. its been argued by feminist disability activists that it is more difficult for a woman with a disability to fit in.

also, i think we can learn something from the parents ambivalence about surgery. its reported they deliberated for a year about whether to go ahead with it or not. this is an important aspect, i think. it points to paradox and complexity with regard to their decision. what, i wonder, compelled them to go the surgical route, in the end? and at the same time, what turned them against the alternative. in any case, it shows they considered alternatives. at a different time, in a different place, they may have decided against it. how can we as a society create the conditions that might enable others to decide against it in the future?

Ruth said...

Thanks for your comment and the information. I checked Patricia's blog and found some interesting posts on point for this topic that discuss the parents' decision offering various points of view.

Courageous Grace said...

I first saw this story on another blog (but I'd rather comment on yours ^_^).

I am dumbfounded by the ...pardonmyfrench... balls of these parents who would subject a child to unnecessary painful surgery just because their kid doesn't look 'normal'.

My husband has a cousin born with FAS, she is just the sweetest little thing. She has only had cosmetic surgery to create a pallate and correct a cleft lip in addition to other surgeries such as to fix a hole in her heart. She still doesn't look 'normal' (I dislike that word too) because of the prenatal alcohol and drug abuse of her mother, with squinty little eyes and a tiny elfish upturned nose and pointy ears...but I think she's absolutely gorgeous.

I personally believe it is these distinguishing features of some of God's most precious children that makes them recognizable as super special.

I think DS kids are beautiful and usually full of love and vibrant with life...I'd be honored to be the mother of a DS child, whether biological or adopted (especially if I could handle it financially). I don't know if God will ever bless me with such a child but if he does I'd welcome him or her with open arms.

Ruth said...

CG - thanks for your comment. Hope things are going well for you - I visited your blog and saw all the great pictures you have up :)

Bobblehead said...

My mom taugh disabled while I was growing up and DS kids were "normal" to me. Funny, my wife and I were just having a similar conversation tonight over dinner.
DS people ARE DS people. Period. No amount of surgery, teaching, clothing, whatever will change the facts. And the facts are they are who they are, just like I and you are who we are. It is cruel and naive for the parents to put a 5 year old through purely cosmetic surgery to make an already beautiful child "fit in." Am I being judgmental? darn right. Personally I would much rather have seen the money used to cut their child put to better use, such as DS research or medical care for parents of DS children that are not as fortunate. Heck, even spending it on Cheetohs is a better use.
Oh well, any bets on what surgery the kid will be put through next?