On another topic, I noticed in a previous post when you visited the temple
you discussed the people begging. My daughter, from Guangxi, has limb
difference. From her history we know she was very embarrassed in China and
was told to feel ashamed (from strangers, not her foster family). We also
saw so many people with different physical differences resorting to lives on
the streets. Now that you are living there, could you provide insight on
what type of lives most people have with physical differences, is it really
the only way to survive--begging? If possible, could you find out the
opinions of the younger people on how they view people, who although totally
brilliant of mind, but have physical differences are treated in society and
the futures they would have? We have always wanted to live in China temp. as
Madeline was growing up, but with what I have heard here and in other blogs
it might not be a good idea.
It's funny you should mention that -- we actually talked about this in my Women & Law class the other day (How is it relevant? We were discussing the difference between formal equality, as evidenced by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and substantive equality, as evidenced by the Americans with Disabilities Act.).
Students told me that it was only "ignorant" (their word) "country people" who continued to stigmatize people with physical differences. They agreed that there was a traditional view that people with disabilities were somehow to blame for their disabilities, and that many people wished to avoid them for fear that the bad luck that cursed them would rub off on them. That means they cannot find jobs, often have difficulty finding places to live, and cannot even get service in restaurants. But they said in urban areas, that attitude was no longer prevalent. But when I asked them if they knew people -- students, working people, family members -- with physical disabilities, none could think of any.
But I think they are right that there is a gradual change in people's attitude going on. We've seen several public service ads on Chinese TV that seem to be about equal rights for those with physical disabilities (hard to say exactly what they were about since they were in Chinese!). I've seen several students on campus who appear to have some physical limitations but who are students nonetheless, which I think is encouraging.
It was also interesting at Nanputuo to see one little boy with hearing aids playing with his parents -- a good reminder to those of us in the China adoption community who see so many special needs children available for adoption that some Chinese do choose to parent their children with disabilities.
What I've told the kids about why the people are begging is exactly what you describe as the Chinese attitude toward disabilities. Zoe wants us to give them money, but I tell her no. As much as I'd like to help, I'm concerned that we are simply too memorable (being one of the few caucasians and practically the only with Chinese kids) and would be easily targeted by all the beggers. Though we could afford to give a few kwai to all, their persistence has really been a problem for Maya.
The other day, though, I heard the girls playing in their room: Zoe said to Maya, "Pretend you are a begger and this is your bowl . . . ." Hmm, I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or not.