Chapter 9 focused on the extent to which Lia’s parents were not irresponsible but rather selective in their caregiving strategies. Nao Kao chose to drive for days with Lia to find her a treatment options that has traditionally worked for the Hmong despite her condition not being considered a ‘problem’ but an illness to be revered. This chapter also introduces the one social worker who worked according to how the author thought that the staff of MCMC should have; incessantly requesting for information and demanding that she be told of the medication and instructions given to Lia’s parents.
Chapter 10 finally gave us context for all the distrust in the American system; the Hmong were torn from their homeland, forced to fight in exchange for a fraction of their diet and, then left behind when the war was over. The loss of the US also meant that Hmong had to lose their footing on their own land in order to survive as the opposing party may not want prisoners.
I am inclined to agree with Dr. Nick about the persistent social worker; the hospital had to deal with many Hmong families with similar language issues and could not devote all their time to the singular case that the author feels strongly about. It seems like the only solution to the whole conundrum that the author is driving towards is ‘understanding’ the conditions of the parents and where they come from, but there is an extent after which it is important to choose proper healthcare over emotions and blackmail. Had Lia been of age or if the parents could give informed consent, perhaps such harshness would not be necessary, but neither was possible in this case.
I understand the author’s motive behind providing a historical context to how much the Hmong had been wronged and how that manifests in the family we are talking about. But the situation that Lia’s family is in is different from that; they are given asylum, they are given free healthcare, housing and welfare, they are given the choice not to take any of these benefits. At no point does that author indicate that Lia or her family was not given the same treatment options that the other families were and at no point was it indicated that the doctors did not care about Lia’s well being; if the Lees wanted, they could choose to not consult the doctors at all. In fact, it has been indicated that the parents chose not to understand the instructions on purpose, as they did not feel that it was the proper care and they did not have to comply to it.
Laos was in jeopardy to begin with, it could not have stayed conflict free for long due to its location. The US recruitment and treatment is not unique to the Hmong but the asylum concept is. While I do not think that absolute irrevocable gratitude is warranted from the Hmong for the US, adaptability should have been, and seeing their nomadic past, I would think that the Hmong would have been more open to the idea.
I realize that it is easy for me to comment as such, since my own upbringing has been varied enough that I am flexible to my changing surroundings. But when I see people of my own culture who cling so tightly to theirs, I have the same thought process. I appreciate and celebrate the idea of holding on and being culturally aware, but assimilation of some sort is also a necessity.