Should we Prevent Devastating Pregnancies? What’s Your Opinion?

            Adopting foster children can be an unending series of trials and tribulations. Maggie Jones’s “The Meaningful Life of a Supersize Family,” in the November 17, 2013 New York Times Magazine, makes the case in spades. The article profiles two families that have sacrificed the niceties of life in order to provide hearth and home for kids who most need it.  

            Misty and Jon already had four biological children. Even so, they discussed the adoption option and realized the $20,000 it would take to complete the process would overstretch their budget. But an ad on a Christian radio station about a new organization that was helping Christians to adopt foster kids helped change their minds. It opened the door for the Misty-Jon family (they didn’t want their last names used) to take in Denver County foster children, with the intention of adopting them. They were able to receive financial help including Medicaid and payment of therapy expenses.

            Their first foster children were brothers, Shon and Cory. They were told that the boys’ mother had dropped them off with a man who couldn’t care for them, and she never returned.

            Of the two, Shon had the worst time adjusting to his new family. He would lie in bed at night, head in hands, staring straight ahead until Misty left the room. He’d wake up in the same position in the morning “as if he were on guard all night.”

            Eight months later, as the adoption process was inching along, a caseworker informed Misty and Jon that Corey and Shon’s mother had just given birth to twins, a boy and a girl. They were dangerously premature at 24 weeks old. Each infant weighed one pound, and the county was asking for foster parents to

Premature ababy and mother.

10-week premature baby being held by her mother (this is not drug-related). Photo courtesy Polihale, Wikimedia Commons

cuddle the babies in the hospital. The boy died days before Misty and Jon’s first “holding” hospital visit, but his sister Olivia survived. Having severe heart problems, she was hooked up to a ventilator. After six months of driving 45 minutes every other night to the hospital to hold Olivia, Misty brought the little girl home, with a tracheostomy tube to help her breathe, a feeding tube, and full-time nursing care paid for by Medicaid.

            Another girl, Raena, was supposed to be a short-term placement. Her mother was on track to regain custody of the four-month-old, who weighed only 11 pounds. A relative’s boyfriend had shaken the child and thrown her into a bassinet, which resulted in two permanent brain injuries. When Raena’s mother lost her parental rights due to drug problems, Misty and Jon, who were caring for this special-needs child, “eagerly” began the adoption process.

            Maureen and her husband Christian heard the same religious radio ad as had Misty and Jon. They also had four birth children, and believed they had a calling to adopt foster children. The result was they adopted two boys. David and Ernesto’s birthmother was 16 when she had David. Thirteen months later, she gave birth to Ernesto, even though she tested positive for methamphetamine. Ernesto struggled with sensory issues: In one instance, he wrapped his torso in duct tape and in another, covered his head in Vaseline. He had screaming fits, hit his adoptive mother, and “grabbed her hair with both hands so that she couldn’t move.” Maureen rightly suspected that he had been exposed to drugs in utero.

             These stories lead us to ask the big question: Is it time to consider laws that prohibit unfit parents (drug addicts and child abusers) from repeating their traumatic, inhumane, and costly mistakes?  Progeny from parents who have no capacity to “think twice before making children,” frequently suffer sad and dysfunctional lives. The families who take in and take care of these children suffer too, both financially and emotionally. Society suffers by paying for services to dysfunctional parents and the children they sire. Citizens witness the cruelty to these offspring with horror, unable to stop the injustice. Why do our laws allow it? Can lawmakers and voters set boundaries that will actually save the yet unborn from a terrible fate?

          What do you think? We’d love to start some dialogue in this topic.


  1. melpenguin says:

    I’m glad someone’s brave enough to raise this controversial topic. I don’t get people who think procreation is some sort of inalienable right.

    Surely the difficulty would be enforcing this and there’s risks of going too far. However, if we cannot do this, why do we even bother having laws against murder, theft, etc? Surely those laws have helped keep civilisation together. And a law against irresponsible breeding by irresponsible people would surely prevent some harm as well.

    Of course, first society needs to shift from the mindset that “having a child is the most wonderful and fulfilling experience in life”.

  2. Hmmm….this is a thorny topic. Are you dancing around forced sterilization for birth mothers who cannot care for their children, expose them to physical/emotional trauma, or take drugs like meth that damage the unborn? I would not approve of this for teenagers, who have the capacity to recover from their problems and be effective mothers ten years later, for example.

    Were we to instead, for example, imprison such birth mothers, the outcome would not be good, given our deplorable prison systems and the general over-criminalization of people in our society.

    We could simply prohibit these women from conceiving for the next x number of years, but what would be the practicality and cost of enforcement?

    I don’t have answers, but agree with you that the topic is important

  3. I agree that this truly is an important topic, albeit controversial! But I must say I have little faith in the U.S. to do much if anything about this situation. At least not for probably a DECADE or more from now! Seeing this country’s intense and relentless turning back of the clock on BC and a Woman’s Right to Choose, any laws that tried to stop women/girls from reproducing for ANY reason, would be fought against by Conservatives with the ‘Wrath of GOD’! Pathetic isn’t it.

  4. How true. Just think of the burdens these unfortunate kids have to live with, as well as the burdens on society.
    Thanks to all for your input.

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