Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Waltzing Bear

I was showing someone some of the stories about people with Down syndrome who succeed in pursuing a normal life in spite of the odds, and he said, "This is like the Waltzing Bear.  It's not that he dances so well, but that he dances at all."

This is actually not that unlike what most people think of children and adults with Down syndrome, I suspect.  Sadly, they are viewed as little more than animals, properly kept in cages or protected areas.... or killed if they are in the way.  They are seen as "trainable", but somehow not fully human.

But what if it turned out that bears were far more capable and intelligent than we give them credit for?  What if it turned out that with the proper care and assistive technology, they could learn to talk, read, write, and function in society? And that some bears could in fact learn to waltz, as well as pursue music, sports, arts, etc?  That they could have meaningful relationships with both people and other bears?  How would we then feel about seeing bears kept in cages at the zoo, deprived of the opportunity to fulfill their potential?  Would we not want to shout far and wide for these bears to be released, adopted into homes where they could get the care and assistance they need to blossom, and accorded a proper place in society?  Would we not want to see a world where a dancing bear is appreciated for his joy and creativity, rather than dismissed as an oddity?

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