In chapter 7 we learned about what happens after Doctor Neil calls Child Protective services on the Lee’s for their lack of treatment of their daughters’ condition. Lia ends up in a nice foster family lead by a woman named Dee Korda where she ends up staying for six months. Despite the change in environment and caregiver, Lia’s seizures still worsen. In addition, Lia was separated from her family only confirming the generalizations and fears that the Hmong people have about Americans wanting to essentially corrupt and impose their ways of life on the Hmong people. On a positive note, Dee and Lia’s parents formed a good relationship symbolizing that Americans and Hmong people can still coexist while keeping their identities. In chapter 8 the notion that Americans and Hmong people can get along continues as we learn about how the author, Anne Fadiman, and the Lee’s meet and become very close. To me, this chapter was a crucial point in the book so far as there was finally effort from both “Americans” and “the Hmong” to understand one another and learn from one another. This effort and curiosity are something that has been missing in the book so far and is what I believe has led to the disconnect between the Lee’s and Lia’s doctors.
At the beginning of this chapter, the motives behind Neil’s decision to call child protective services is questioned as well as the effort he has put into Lia’s case. Is Neil treating the case of Lia and the Lee family like he would any patient and family that walks through the door of MCMC or does the Hmong culture influence his belief in Nao Kao and Foua’s ability to care for their child? I think that this question connects a lot to what we have been discussing in class. The race that society perceives you of being often influences the standard of care that you receive when it comes to health services. This may not be directly because doctors are purposely treating minorities differently, but because of the way society is set up and the opportunities that are offered to white people vs. minority groups. In the case of Neil and Lia I personally think he could have done more to work with Nao Kao and Foua and presented and tailored the treatment in a way that better aligned with the Hmong culture. However, in hindsight in most-all situations people feel as though they could have done something differently or something more. What I believe was Neil’s main fault in the situation was making a correlation between Lia’s continued and worsening seizures to her parent’s ability to care for her (ultimately because their way of life was obstructing their judgement and actions). I can see why he did this, but there could have been more tests or a less drastic way for him to determine if Lia was in a safe environment. As chapter 7 reveals, even when Lia was in foster care and was given all the correct medications her health continued to decline. With this information and through this perspective on Neil’s decisions I am reminding again how making assumptions about someone’s character because of a characteristic or trait about them can be detrimental. I am, however, excited to see how the mutual effort between the Lee’s and Anne to understand one another influence Lia’s health and the happiness of everyone involved.