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Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Injustice of it

Back in June the publication Indy's Child, "Central Indiana's Only Parenting Magazine," did a cover shoot through the Indiana Down Syndrome Foundation.

Photo came out great huh? Kids having some summer fun at a water park. The boy in the front is Nash, his mom is Jan.

The July issue is now out. This is their "Speical Maternity Issue." The tagline above these precious children's heads reads, "Understanding the Results is Key for Prenatal Screening Tests." Yeah we all know where this is going.

This article (scroll down under features until you get to the prenatal screening tests) is about the writer receiving the phone call that her screening test came back as 1 in 42 for her risk of having a child with Down syndrome. She has an ultrasound which measures her dates as off by 1 week which then changes her results to be 1 in 648.

The rest of the article goes on to talk about all the different screening tests available to pregnant women, what trimester to get them done, what it involves, what the accuracy rate is etc.

Then the last line of the article is this, "I was fortunate. My daughter was born May 12 and shows no signs of Down syndrome. That's reassuring."

I don't begrudge this woman her feelings. I'm sure there's no doubt she did feel that - as probably countless of other mother's do. And to be honest, I probably would have felt the same way had Kayla been born with 46 chromosomes; although I doubt I would have used the word "fortunate." Because I didn't know any better, because I was scared of the unknown. Now I do know better.

But the problem is this. You don't use a quote like that in an article where you feature 3 children with Down syndrome on the cover of the same magazine! What is that telling not just parents of kids with Down syndrome everywhere, but more specifically the parents to those 3 kids who are featured! That we were not so "fortunate?" That, thank goodness, your child didn't turn out like this?

Why did this publication use models who are chidren with Down syndrome, for this particular issue? Where is the article about these children's families? They had the opportunity to do a wonderful article on families who are raising children with Down syndrome - an article that could, and should, have been positive, uplifting, and educational. An article that should have shown "real families" and how typical they are. Where is the article on the Indiana Down Syndrome Foundation as someplace to go to get information and support? They aren't mentioned anywhere.

But instead this turned out to be the most hurtful thing they could have done.

I was fortunate. My daughter was born on July 15 and has Down syndrome.

You can bet I'm writing a letter to this editor as many others are doing. Even if you're not the parent of a child with Down syndrome, I ask that you consider sending the editor a letter as well. S/he dropped the ball big time on this one. editor@indyschild.com

Here are other bloggers who have posted on this as well:

Mauzy's Musings
Emma Sage
Disability Studies, Temple U
Praying for Parker
All For My Gals
Bump on the Road
Till My Head Falls Off
Not That You Asked
BLogs on top of Blogs
Always Chaos Around Here
Bits of Betsy
John Camden

Edited to add: Jeff, Nash's dad, has explained how the photo shoot came about: "Indy's Child did not contact us to do this cover shot. The Indiana Down Syndrome Foundation bought a cover shot at a fundraiser here in Indianapolis and our Executive Director worked with them on this. We did not pick the month though Indy's Child did pick the month and we were not given much time to organize people for the shoot."

Even if they did not intentionally put that particular photo on the cover with the article that was inside it was still a gross oversight on this publication...I hope they do the right thing and make a public apology.


AMH said...

WOW I am shocked, and appaulled. So very sad that they would choose to portray Downs in such a manner. Even worse that they went ahead and put real live children on the cover to put a face to the "less fortunate"....


Tracey said...

I agree. It's discounting the many joys that parents feel, no matter what their number of chromosones may be. I would love my children because they're my CHILDREN, not because they're "normal," or attractive, or healthy, or funny, or etc. etc.

Sorry you had to read a crappy article, when expecting something else.

Beck said...

That makes me want to cry. I am so sorry about that.

chelle said...

Ok that is so tasteless and terrible! I am so sorry people have no brains.

Sandra said...

I'm shocked and I don't even know what to say to that. I'm so sorry that they would do that, it's really in poor taste.

Nisa said...

This is sad. I agree with Tracy up there who said she loves her children because they are her children and not because... etc etc. I just don't know what to say. You're right- this article could've been something wonderful and it got turned into something terrible.
Ignorance is not an excuse.

Jennifer said...

What a peice of crap article. Who ever wrote that obviously doesn't have a clue about kids.

Catch said...

People are so thoughtless....and totally ignorant. My nephew has a son with Downs...he is in his 20s now. He is the most lovable fun person to be around. He enjoys his life and we all enjoy being around him so much. I would not consider him less fortunate at all. The magazine used poor taste. Im sorry they hurt you.

PEA said...

I can imagine how many letters and emails the editor will be recieving....derserving each one of them!!! That article was certainly in very bad taste and will have affected many parents that have children with DS. Children are children and we as parents love them...no matter what!!

Anonymous said...

I agree that is a very hurtful artical.Children are a blessing no matter what.That artical really makes me mad. I don't understand how some people could feel like that. You shouldn't write something like that unless you have spent time with a child with downs. When you do you find that the are a joy and a parents little miracle.

Jennifer said...

I would be very upset as well. Please let us know how they respond to your letter...

Kari said...

That's awful! Poor Jan she must be so angry and dissappointed! I will be writing them a letter with my feelings and will be sure to mention that I am Fortunate My son was born January 30th 2006 and has Down Syndrome.

Christina said...

It is sad how they put it, but I very muck like how you have written about it.

K.T. says peace said...

I am angry-and tend to not keep my mouth shut....LOL

Anonymous said...

Wow Michelle, you had quite a few comments on this post...I am glad so many people have brought attention to this.

Overwhelmed! said...

I have to agree with you on this one Michelle.

Have you sent your letter to the editor yet? Can I take a peek at it so I can get an idea of what to write when I send one of my own?!

Lisa W. said...

I notice, not surprisingly, that the article is no longer available via the link you provided. My child doesn't have Down Syndrome; however, she does have CHARGE Syndrome and I would be just as furious as you guys...
Wow...gross ignorance or what...