Monday, March 9, 2009

Update on Willowbrook

I finished the documentary that I was talking about earlier, the film Unforgotten: Twenty-Five Years After Willowbrook. I highly recommend the film for people who are interested in this topic. It follows at least four families of individuals who were placed at Willowbrook during the time of Geraldo Rivera's investigative reporting. It shows what their lives are like now and family members reflect on the experience of having their child, brother, or sister at Willowbrook. One family really stood out. Guess why? I know you are saying, "Um I guess it would have to do with someone having Down syndrome, right?" I know it is shocking that I would be focused on that! Anyway, it was such a powerful story. Patty, the child who was placed at Willowbrook, had sisters who talked about their experience. They mentioned how Patty was such a beautiful baby and how they just loved her. Then came the day that she was placed at Willowbrook. They never really knew why and it wasn't until they saw a photo of a "mongoloid" child in a collection canister on a store counter that they recognized that their sister was similar to this child. That is what they used to call people with Down syndrome and the term still slips out here and there, although it is no longer accepted. They also shared that they road a bus with other families to visit children at Willowbrook, but nobody talked to one another - everything was so disconnected and the support wasn't there. Another powerful comment from the documentary was how when they would walk up to Willowbrook, they always saw a child in the window upstairs looking out calling for mommy or daddy. That just breaks my heart. Remember how I said that stuff like this is still going on today? Why don't you visit the button I have to the left side of the blog? It is for Reece's Rainbow. On the connecting page go to the bottom and click on Russia. Look at the girls with Down syndrome who are in an orphanage in Russia. That could have been Quinn at one time in our own country. I am thankful that I live in this period of time. I am thankful that I feel that I can talk to others and share my experiences with all of you. I am thankful that I don't have the shame. I am thankful that I am learning and growing every day.

But I would be more thankful if all children with Down syndrome throughout the world were accepted and loved in families and homes of their own. I would be more thankful if there wasn't a stigma attached to disabilities. I would be more thankful if the dreaded r-word was gone, vanished into thin air. And I would be more thankful if my daughter had easy access to services, and I didn't have to fight fight fight for stuff (and seem like a five letter word that starts with B and ends with h). But for right now, tonight, I am thankful for what I have. A daughter that doesn't have to see the inside of an institution, who has brothers who love her, is healthy and medically cared for, and who has the safety and security of a home.


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