The Bad News: Australia has done something quite shameful...very bad. If I was Australian, I'd be very embarrassed. Hell, I'm embarrassed being an American obsessed with Australia. I'm thinking I should lay low and/or change this blog name to The Girl Who Wished she Was Swedish. You know, until this all blows over.
What happened? Immigration officials denied the Moeller family's application for permanent residency because their son has Down Syndrome. They said the medical costs will be a drain on society.
If I strip away all my humanity and compassion, and look upon the matter in a pure financial and practical matter, I can kind of take the viewpoint of the bad guys. I'm not an expert on Down Syndrome, but I do know that it can involve intensive medical treatments and surgeries. I'm sure it can be expensive to the taxpayers.
Here's the thing though. You can let a perfectly healthy family into your country, one that does not need intense medical treatments. And guess what? They can get severely injured or suddenly discover they have cancer.
My parents had three relatively healthy children. They were blessed. One of my sisters was a preemie and had some very mild birth defects. I had some minor issues and needed a little physical and occupational therapy. My older sister was healthy. Easy. No major medical bills from that one.
Then she got hit by a drunk driver. She was in a coma for about six weeks. Hospital stays cost a LOT of money. If I remember correctly, most of those six weeks were spent in an ICU.
I'm sure the ICU aint cheap.
She had a broken leg, a broken pelvis, and facial injuries. All of these needed surgery.
Worst of all, she had extensive brain damage.
We had to use the services of a neurosurgeon--at least twice. I'm sure that's not cheap either.
She had to have physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other stuff.
She's doing very well now, but she still has to take medicine that costs a lot of money.
I see blogs sometimes where parents talk about how blessed they are for having healthy children.
They read stories of children who are severely ill or handicapped, look at their own healthy children, and feel blessed. The terrifying thing though is that tomorrow we might be the one people are feeling sympathy for. I guess this is why we feel blessed. We know it can be taken away at any moment.
I think the thing that really upsets me about this particular story in Australia is that the Moeller family lived in Australia already for two years! They're happy there. The father works as a much-needed doctor in the community. You know if you're going to be rude and reject someone, do it before they even come. Don't let them get all settled and feel comfortable.
The Good News-Outside a few villains who made this decision, it seems a LOT of Australians are fighting in defense of this family.
Who are the bad guys? Some people in immigration-- although they said they're following the laws.
Just doing our jobs people. Move along.
The thing is I did a lot of looking at the Australia's Government immigration website; and I don't remember anything that said you can't live here if you have a disability.
But maybe I missed that. Maybe I didn't pay enough attention.
I'm going to go look now.
Well, I guess I didn't pay enough attention. There ARE health requirements.
I'm guessing America has them too.
Yikes. I find the American immigration website much harder to navigate then the Australian, but here's what I've found.
It's sad. I wish we could all just live where we want. I wish moving to a different country was as easy as moving to a new state. I mean not that moving is easy. You have to pack and unpack. You have to move heavy furniture. But....you know what I mean. Immigration is a pain.
You know what I think they should have? Trading Visas. Okay, let' say a medical condition is draining on a country's financial resources. But what if they found a family in Australia who had a child with a disability, and that family wanted to move to the country that the new family wants to exit? They could just trade places!
AND.... I think it would be cool if I could move to Australia simply by finding an Australian who wants to become American. Our families could just trade. You live here and we'll live there.
Oh! Back to the good news thing. It seems Australians (both the general public and many politicians) are against the immigration policy that has denied the family permanent residency.
I think this is important. It's bad enough to be rejected from a country because your son has Down Syndrome. But how much worse would it be if it seemed most of the country supported the decision?
That doesn't seem to be the case here at all.
Labor Premier John Brumby spoke out against the decision. Brumby is the current Premier of Victoria, the state where the family lives. If I was part of the Moeller family, I think it would make me feel much better knowing that the state's premier was behind me.
The federal health minister, Nicole Roxon also supports granting the Moeller family permanent residency. I'm guessing that's a pretty good person to have behind you!
Various newspapers have had editorials and letters in support of the Moeller family.
1. Melbourne Herald Sun
2. The Age
3. Bendigo Newspaper
4. Wimmera Mail Times (small town where family lived)
Petitiononline.com already has 1104 signatures regarding the Moellers.
I've seen Aussie blogs bitching about the situation. Actually, that's where I heard about the whole thing in the first place.
I am betting in the end, they let the family stay.
And I think the best thing is maybe this incident will bring more attention to such ridiculous laws.
Maybe Australia will change their laws. Maybe America will too.
America has some horrific stories regarding immigrants as well. One that bothered me a lot was the one about the family who had recently immigrated from Peru. They took a nostalgic photograph of their one-year-old breastfeeding. Despite the fact that our culture has been brainwashed by formula companies and the over-sexualization of breasts, breastfeeding a toddler IS healthy and NOT sexual abuse.
A family took an innocent photo, brought it to the drugstore to get it developed, and then had their children taken away from them.
Taking a child away from their loving and decent parents because you are ignorant IS abuse.
This thing didn't just happen in my country. It happened in my state--while I was breastfeeding my own toddler.
Like in Australia, people didn't sit quietly over the story. There was a lot of protest. But even with the outrage and protesting, it took six months for the family to get their children back. That's a long time for a baby to be without its mother.
People really need to get their heads on straight.
We really all need to be better, and we need policies that protect families; not hurt them.
You know why? Because there aint enough room in Sweden for all of us.
P.S-I was joking way above. I still totally love Australia. I wish I could hug it right now and give it a kiss on its forehead. Maybe I can just go and kiss a map. Or I can kiss our bottle of Vegemite.