A friend once said to me: Don’t you think the most eco-friendly thing you could do would be to not produce another person?
I looked down at my pregnant belly. Before I had children, I knew that I would adopt. I was so sure of myself.
Lately, I’ve felt stretched to the bone. I have no time to sit and rest. I’ve given up running. I work, take care of my family, chat with friends and work again. I can’t imagine taking another child into our home.
I feel disappointed in myself, and I can’t help but question my drive to have biologic children. Why? Why did I insist on beginning a family with my own children?
Don’t get me wrong. I love my children very much. And I clearly wanted a biologic child; otherwise, I would’ve used birth control. We were in classes for foster-to-adopt when I found out I was pregnant with my youngest. But we entered the class because we had been trying to get pregnant for 6 months without success, and I thought that perhaps we were supposed to adopt now. We withdrew from the class the day we found out I was pregnant because bringing two children into our home at once seemed too much.
The plan was to adopt later but in having another biologic child, Scott and I wonder if we’ve maxed out our parenting abilities. (He’s vigorously nodding.)
But finding myself here, makes me think: What if we all adopted instead of made babies? What would our world look like?
In the United States, there are 423,773 in foster care and 34% or 134,976 children have adoption or long term foster care as a goal.
Worldwide statistics are more difficult to come by since orphanages are not the best documented places, but a figure I came by that was attributed to Save the Children was 8 million with the caveat that it’s probably more. 8 million children were in orphanages in 2009. (Now, it should be noted that in some countries, a high percentage of these children have at least one biologic parent who cannot afford to feed and clothe the child, but I will count all 8 million since I solved poverty last week but no government has realized it. And before I get accused of swooping to save children with my first world homes and airplanes, I will contend that, although studies have shown that growing up with your biologic family is best (even when they are not the best), growing up in ANY family is well ahead of growing up in orphanages and group homes.)
Now, back to the United States. Women in the U.S. birthed over 4.1 million babies in 2009.
If, for just over 2 years, everyone in the United States stopped making babies and chose to adopted a child, no one would be left in an orphanage or foster care in the world.
If less than a 1/3 of the U.S. mamas planning planning to give birth has instead adopted of an American child, we would have a permanent home for every American child after 1 year.
Yet, families in the U.S. adopted only 12,753 children in 2009, and at the same time, 1.3 million patients received infertility advice or treatment in the United States.
So why aren’t we adopting more?
Do people want tiny babies (since most children available to adopt aren’t less than a year old)? Do we just want to see ourselves in their faces? Are we afraid of “problems”?
I concede that 47% of births being unplanned plays a huge role. But then do we not understand how birth control works? And, honestly, would those mamas have adopted instead?
My friend, who originally called this green mama out on making babies, went on to concede 1 or 2 children to replace the baby-makers might be okay. But I kept thinking: With as long as we live these days, Scott and I won’t be replaced until my kids are at least 65 years old. (Yes, now I’m arguing with myself. Welcome to my world.)
Our population growth is putting pressure on our environment and infrastructure for feeding and caring for one another. It may be contributing to the number of children in orphanages around the world. Of course, I don’t want to get into population control and environmental impact — I’m going to try to get accused of being a Communist every other Thursday post — so let’s not go down the one child limit rules here.
But why don’t we take more children in who aren’t our own?
Why is creating new life so important to us?
I know that people argue for genetic and the desire to propagate one’s genes. Is that it? Just some animal instinct? But infertility clinics were a $3.8 billion industry in 2009. How can that much money merely be based on a drive to survive?
Here I sit, with my beautiful biologic children and my fear that I will never adopt a child, and I have no idea why I chose this road to children.
Because we could afford to adopt.
But for us, making babies is easier.
So perhaps, the fault lays at the my feet. For choosing the easier way. For choosing the impulsive way. For assuming I had limitless energy and resources and time.
For choosing my children over those children.
One day, I hope to reread this with our third child who is ours through an adoption.
But hoping and doing are not the same thing.
I feel like I should apologize to someone. I just don’t know who.
Updated: Many people site cost as a reason so here’s some numbers. A child costs an average of $11,000/year. A domestic adoption costs between $7000 and $25,000. So adopting a 3 year old is actually CHEAPER than having a biological child.