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She alone among Lia's caregivers thought to ask Foua and Nao Kao about their beliefs about Lia's epilepsy and to learn about their customs.
Most importantly for the Lees, they were no longer considered the ultimate decision makers for their children. Doctors have the power to call the police and to access state power which Hmong parents do not have" (84).
A Minnesota physician summarized this view: "Once the police are called and court orders are obtained… reveals that Western doctors' knowledge is considered superior to Hmong beliefs.
They believe that most disease has a spiritual cause and can be alleviated through traditional forms of healing such as rubbing the skin with coins, creating a vacuum by igniting cotton soaked in alcohol under a tiny cup, or drawing disease out with an egg.
A tvix neeb, or shaman, could conduct more powerful healing; such a figure is thought to be able to get rid of evil spirits called dabs and retrieve lost souls.
They place great importance on the clan; for instance, one reason that Foua and Nao Kao accepted Fadiman and her interpreter, May Ying, is that May Ying's husband belonged to the Lee's clan.
Fadiman notes that family obligations sometimes put enormous demands on people, such as Jonas Vangay, a community leader who lived with his wife, his three children, his two brothers and their wives, and his brothers' ten children.
Such illnesses require spiritual healing, which can be rendered less effective by medication.
Foua felt that the doctors wouldn't let them give just a little medication because they didn't understand about the soul.
Vangay explains that for a Hmong, unlike an American, "it is never everyone for himself" (247).
Clearly, Foua and Nao Kao loved their daughter Lia very much, and it may be their love (and subsequent care for her) that prolonged Lia's life. Jeanine Hilt, the social worker assigned to Lia when she was placed in foster care, grew to love the family, and in return, they loved her too.