Mudblood, Retard and Foster Kids
We’re in chapter 7 of Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets, and our family is not enjoying Draco Malfoy at all. At this point he is just so easy to dislike. In this chapter our adoptive family spent time talking about the instance where he calls Hermione a mudblood.
If you haven’t read the book, a mudblood is a name that witches and wizards in the world of Harry Potter use to describe someone that has non-magical blood in their family line. Mudblood has a very negative meaning though. It’s a title that means that someone is dirty and no-good. People in the books only use this term when they are wanting to be nasty to another person.
My oldest son told our family that he can identify with Hermione. He was born with a cognitive disability. When people want to be mean to him, they call him a retard. It’s a word that carries a stereotype. What’s a stereotype? A stereotype is a general characteristic that people place on a person or group of people. Make sense? No?! Well, when you hear that someone is a retard, what do you think about that person?
- Can’t do anything right
Are these things true of everyone with a cognitive disability? No. Our oldest son is not clumsy; he’s actually quite good at dancing. He is able to help take care of a household – doing some of the cooking and cleaning. A far cry from someone that cannot doing anything right or someone who is stupid.
Our son’s school and class are very big into putting on an event at their school called, Spread the Word to End the Word. Students from all through the school wear t-shirts with the phrase on it to let the community know that they wish the use of the word and stereotype to end.
Unfortunately foster children have stereotypes placed on them as well. Do you know of any? Here are ways my foster/adoptive children feel kids could get hurt:
- Bad kids
Sometimes people think that foster kids are just bad. People think that just because you have seen bad things or have been in place where bad things happen that you too will do things that are bad. One of us (Fink kids) had an adult at school talk to mom and dad it seemed like everyday about the bad things they were doing. All the other kids were acting the same way but they weren’t foster kids.
It’s possible that your biological home was absolutely filthy. Not like the house was cluttered but there was literally dirt on everything. It was unsafe dirty. Some people seem to believe that because some foster kids come from a dirty home that they will be dirty all the time.
You might see that other kids or adults think you’re dangerous. They hear scary stories about foster kids hurting people by hitting or biting them. People then think that all foster kids are dangerous kids. Some people might even stop being your family’s friend because they think you’re dangerous. That doesn’t feel good. Our little brother even had a mom push him away from her son while they were playing. They were just playing but she didn’t want him near her son. She let other kids play with her son but not our little brother.
What Should You Do When This Happens?
These are hard situations and the hurt from them is real. However, there is simply no way to get everyone to like you or get everyone to stop believing the stereotypes. Even in the book no one could force Malfoy to stop believing that non-magical people were good. Wait! This seems sad and hopeless then.
Well, in the book Ron, Harry and Hermione went to a trusted and safe adult to help with the problem. Hermione got a chance to talk about how hurt she was about the name. We think that you need to trust your family then. Your foster-adoptive family can be a safe place to tell others about what is happening and how you feel. Will that fix others? No. However, families are a place to share hurts and families protect each other. In the end Hagrid helped to remind Hermione about how she was wonderfully talented and clever. He reminded her about who she REALLY was.
Now It’s Your Turn:
- What do you think of when someone says that a kid is adopted? a foster kid?
- Do you feel embarrassed at school about being adopted? a foster kid?
- Do your foster/adoptive mom and/or dad ever get stereotyped? Ask them.
- How do your foster/adoptive parents feel when that happens?
- What is true about you? What are you talented at? What are you good at? If you can’t think of anything ask your family for help.