There are many things from my childhood that I thought I wanted: a spouse, a college degree, a job. With age, I’ve realized I don't want them anymore (though my bills insist otherwise!). One of the few things that have persisted and even grown over the years is my desire to have kids.
In recent years, I’ve committed myself to the idea of having as many as six kids, with the hopes of adopting the majority of them. But two – if the Lord had allowed me – I would physically birth myself. I’ve dreamt of a house full of bustling noise that only a mother can be endeared by, in between spurts of annoyance. I’ve dreamt of recitals and soccer practices and a chorus of laughter and cuddles. I’ve longed for the days when tiny hands would grasp for me while trying to form the word “mom” in its fledgling mouth.
So it broke my heart recently when I realized that that dream might never come to fruition. With the recent news that the Supreme Court of the United States intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, it brought attention to all the other reproductive injustices that continue to rage on in this country. From the recent baby formula shortage to the ongoing maternity death rates that disproportionately impact Black women, to gun violence and climate change and state-sanctioned violence and and and…
I’m not alone. When I asked on Twitter how many people who were once interested in having kids considered no longer pursuing parenthood because of systemic factors, I was overwhelmed with the immediate and strong responses that poured into my DMs. Many people echoed my sentiments about fearing the death rates for pregnant Black women, the pandemic, and other societal issues. One respondent, a 29-year-old woman, said that she was apathetic about the idea of having kids. “The older I get and look at the blazing dumpster fire that is our planet,” she says, “the idea of bringing children into it is more and more repelling.”
Another respondent, a 41-year-old woman, says that while she already has kids, she doesn’t want anymore because “this world is WILD…I have two already and the way these last two years and a half years have drug me through the mud and made me struggle is incalculable,” she says. “From homeschooling to having to live in various states of constant quarantine because my youngest is unable to be vaccinated because he's a whole baby and then the rise of openly racist and terrified white fantasists,” are all reasons she’s uninterested in bringing any more children into the world.
Despite not wanting to have their own children, others expressed their desires to still be a part of a community or a village that’s committed to raising the children in their lives. “I’m a full spectrum doula, so being able to bring life into this world is still a possibility for me just from a different lens,” says 27-year-old Rach Junard, who said they are on the fence about having their own kids. “I’ll do everything I can to make sure everyone in my community is taken care of. Having kids just may look a little different for me.”
Whether I’ll have kids is still a decision I haven’t completely landed on. And it’s a decision I broach delicately, especially since these conversations can veer quickly into eugenics or ecofascist logic about population control and who “deserves” to have kids and who shouldn’t. So, I want to be precise: there’s zero shame in anyone who decides to bring a child into this world. Starting a family can be a treasured joy for many people to experience. But because of the compounding systems of oppression that continue to rage on, that joy is often sullied into something ugly and traumatic for many marginalized people– including me.
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