The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two CulturesBMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7181.471 (Published 13 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:471
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I am an R.N. and a foster parent specializing in medically fragile kids. My family and I have an ongoing relationship with a child who was in a very similar circumstance. However, the outcome was almost directly opposite. The child in question remained in foster care for the duration of treatment although this was extremely complicated to acheive. I recently attended the college graduation of this child. This child has a positive relationship with her Hmong family and also with our family. We argued bitterly with professionals who wanted to abandon efforts to protect the child from the damage that would occur if treatment via foster placement was not continued. They, arguing that the child would not become paralyzed but at the cost of losing ties to Hmong culture. I argued that dead people don't have culture! In the end we were able to keep this child long enough to complete the crucial portions of treatment. This child does have and enjoy Hmong culture and family ties and also has us as people who love, advocate for and cherish this little survior.
I would love for readers of "The Spirit Catches You" to know that we don't have to have sacrificial lambs on the altar of "Cultural Competence". It doesn't have to be an either or situation. Instead, the best of both worlds can be combined to the safety and benefit of the child. The child I described is a beautiful example of this and is enjoying a full, healthy and happy life.
I would love to hear from others who have had similar experiences of who have opinions on this subject.
Competing interests: No competing interests