Developing Empathy: It's easy to judge when we have the power and resources to change our circumstances
This story showed up on my facebook feed yesterday and it's been on my mind ever since. It's the story of Adam; a baby that was born with facial deformities at a Christian hospital in India. It claims that his parents rejected him at birth and threatened to kill him should they take him home. Instead, a couple working at the hospital adopted him and took him home to America where he is now receiving treatment. On the face of it this sounds like a heart-warming story. A child taken in by a warm and caring family and given the chance of life. The headline is, however, rather provocative and invites us to condemn Adam's parents for abandoning him. It is this that I find most upsetting and tragic about the story. I wonder whether Adam's parents were offered support in getting the treatment his affluent, western adopters have been able to secure for him. I wonder whether they were heartbroken upon seeing their child, not through their inability to love a disabled child, but because they knew they were unable to help him. It's easy to judge when we have to power and resources to change our circumstances. I try to remember this in my practice and try to empower people to help themselves. It deeply saddens me that Adam's birth parents were probably never given this opportunity. A parent should not have to make the choice between euthanising her child or watching him die because they can not afford the healthcare he needs. Some of you may be reading this post and believe me to be overly idealistic. The world isn't fair after all. People born into poverty around the world are not in the same privileged position as I am. However, it is when we accept these inequalities without challenge and outrage that humanity will truly suffer.
I'm a Qualified Children's Social Worker with a passion for safeguarding and family support in the UK.