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Over population, family planning, and adoption  RSS feed

 
R Ranson
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Nicole Alderman wrote:Erika, that was beautiful and thought-provoking. Thank you. It was also something I dearly needed today, and I will likely read it over and over. Thank you again.


I've read it three times so far. Usually my dyslexic mind rebels at so much text, but this was really good. Really nicely formatted to read easily on a screen, and the topics followed nicely. There's a lot of things I hadn't considered. Thank you Erika.
 
Len Ovens
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:
I believe we absolutely should have children, it is a sacred thing, and we must continue the species--however, I believe a huge reduction in numbers and huge increase in quality of life are in order. And I personally do not want to bring children into this world until there is a solid community ready to raise the children, and the community as a whole has full awareness of the responsibilities it is taking on and full choice in the matter.


Where does this "solid community" come from if everyone is waiting for that community before they have children? Creating a child automatically creates a community (of three at least) This small community can be very focused because the youngest members will thrive in the adventure of being led.

As a note:
I have three children I had the first in my 20s the second was adopted when I was 40 and the last was born in when I was 45. I was the best father to the first and second, I have had trouble keeping up with the last. There is no such thing as being ready to have children, one doesn't get more ready by waiting but less ready. Having each child is what makes one ready to have that child.

In fact this applies to almost anything that one does in life. One is never more ready than they are now to do just about anything. One learns more by doing than by schooling. (And no that is not a "put down" on schooling)
 
Jan White
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Destiny Hagest wrote:
Jan White wrote:The chances of IUD perforation is 1 in 1000. The chance of developing a life-threatening blood clot during pregnancy is also 1 in 1000.


I was aware of the IUD statistic, but not the blood clot one - I actually would have thought it would be much higher!

The chances me be relatively low, but for me that is just too high with the IUD, and that's not even including other complications, like copper toxicity, and typical birth control side effects like weight gain, and of course, a very much increased risk of blood clots, strokes, and migraines.

Personally, I'm transitioning to the fertility awareness method, and will be coupling that with a cervical cap until my husband and I can come to a consensus on this issue. We both at this point still feel quite strongly about having at least one more child, and as I said earlier, given the 'alternative' lifestyle we've chosen, adoption just doesn't seem practical for us, but either way, growing our family again is something that won't be happening for a little while longer at least.

I agree with what someone said earlier though, it's a nice thought, being able to make a difference by not reproducing, but in the end, I feel like it has little effect, and that true population control or restraint is virtually impossible, and that ultimately nature is judge and jury on the subject. Maybe it's just my own wishful thinking, but I feel like raising children and creating influence with permaculture within that belief system (because I think we all know, it is about so much more than plants and livestock) is one of the best ways to create a more mindful society.

But again, that could just be my own wishful thinking, obviously I very much want to have more children.


Thanks for the reply, Destiny, but I wasn't trying to debate the merits of birth control types, and I certainly wasn't looking for you to justify your choices to me. I was intending the statistics only to be used as a private thought experiment. I had hoped it might be a useful jumping off point for you (or others) in learning to figure out what your true opinions are - figuring out why certain risks are acceptable to you and why certain equal risks are not; determining when and how much emotion is having an effect on your choices and deciding whether to limit that effect or not; being aware of what information is being used in making the decision and what is being discarded and why; etc. There are many things you can learn about your mind and motivations by doing something like this. I'm not trying to sway you in any direction, just trying to give you a tool you may not have used for this situation yet.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Kitty Leith
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I just spent about four of the last seven years talking about adoption. So I'm pretty worn out on the topic. But at the same time, it would be irresponsible of me not to speak and represent here, as I am an intercountry adoptee.

I dated a guy once who was very proud of himself for having an early vasectomy because of his belief in population control. But what if you marry someone who wants children? He flippantly shot out, "it's okay - I'll just adopt!"

I think that represents a lot of people's attitudes about adoption - that it's an inherently good thing to do, and there isn't a lot of thought put into it.

I will put forth some things to consider:

When most people think of adoption, they think of infants and actually there are very few infants available.
The majority of babies available come from challenging circumstances and have special needs or come from foreign countries or both.
Very few adoptees have no living parents and are actual orphans.
You can't believe the social histories the adoption agencies write about the birth mothers. This is the truth. I've talked to many.
Unless the birth parents are dead, especially the mother, their existence will manifest itself in some way, shape, or form.

An adoptee grows up having to be a walking poster child for adoption.
An adoption story is often asked for and the adoptee must explain: biological need, charitable benevolence, replacement baby, project for bored mother, etc.,
There will always be differences that are ignored or celebrated but always present.
A transracial adoptee is always noticed and commented on.
Adoption must be addressed and acknowledged. When, how, and how much is a huge discussion.
Adoptees of all ages have lost their first parents and grieve in some ways.

I personally am mostly against adoption, because I've talked extensively with adoptees and first mothers here and abroad.

I am all for adoption under the following circumstances:
Intra-family adoption so a child can stay in a family they already know
Adoption within communities where the child knows, loves, trusts, and already has a relationship with the person adopting
Where identity is maintained and contact with the first mother is encouraged
Where cultural identity is not effectively severed
I am mostly in favor of foster-to-adopt. I feel the child should have the final say on if they want to be adopted or not.

I'll stop there, because I could go on for days and don't want to. I just wanted readers to think about how there is much more to it than saving the planet, or biological urges, or some momentary inconvenience or expense. There's a person there being tossed around.



 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Good question. A community is not simply a group of people, nor even a group of people who have bonds of blood or like one another. It is a deliberate choice, it is what I've heard referred to in permaculture language as "neighboring." It means sharing work, it means that (on the benefit side) you don't have to do nearly as many tasks during your day as you would alone. It means, on the responsibility side, that you put your work into helping others with those kinds oftasks. It means coordinating, it means having meetings and communicating. There is no waiting involved in creating community, it starts in this very moment.

Getting ready to have chiclren can be a lot more than simply "having the experience of having had another child" or "going into the adventure of the unknown." These are admirable qualities, and they are probably necessary; but I'm asking us to think outside the box we've been in entirely. The box of the nuclear family, the box of the definition of the human being we've been focused on for the past several thousand years.

A child who really has a village to raise her, whose parents have been given enough support before, during, and after the birth, will demonstrate a degree of stability, maturity, calm, and joy far beyond what we've experienced thus far. This is not an ethical question solely, it is simply a question of what is desirable. Everyone wants the best for their children, there is no disputing that, but we as a humans (esp. in America, but also I think around the world) haven't given a lot of thought to how the best for our children comes about, hw to give that. It's not simply a matter of what the child will need materially from the planet, it's also a matter of creating the kinds of connectedness among the adults that are truly beneficial.

A mature human can feed, clothe, shelter, govern, and educate himself, and communicate with others functionally. A mature community can do these things and the group far enhances the experience the individual would have alone. In America we've been sending our children to schools where they learn none of these skills, and they have to begin to develop them--foten while under stress and without good models of adulthood around them--once they are finally out of college or graduate school. But having examples of mature humans around one as one is growing up is extraordinarily important and beneficial.

In Burkina Faso, rural West Africa, where I saw the best example I've seen of at least a quantity of support and connection (although it was not fully deliberate, it was more the momentum of custom, and I'm not considering that the limits of what is possible), the children look happy, relaxed, clear-eyed. Their poise is far better than anyone I've seen in America with the exception of some dancers and Alexander Technique teachers and athletes. They can access latent abilities that are pretty much unknown to Americans.

If we hold the vision of really, really, really, really empowered, happy, nourished, nurtured, uplifted, cherished children, with a huge team on board sharing the responsibilities of getting the food and other tasks of the community, self-actualized spiritually and with a sense of inner authority, if we hold this vision and move toward it we have a very different picture of what "having kids" can mean.

The desire Destiny voiced in the original post, "to get right this time," is a really important desire. But the way of doing that doesn't have to be having another physical baby; there are so many other needs that can contribute to having someone's pregnancy and childrearing be more supported.

I realize this isn't even on the radar yet, but I want to put it out there.

These are not my ideas--they come from Robes by Penny Kelly. please read it,consider the viewpoint represented there.

Yes, it says there will be a 90% reduction in human population--mostly through infertility, through self-selection (some form of self-destruction..). That is inevitable, and it's not a part of the question. The question is how to do the giving birth the best way, for the community as a whole. Whoever that community is--and there always is one, we are always in relationship to someone.

I hope this is clear but fi not please read Robes, the context is important and I am doubtful I an really do it justice. I take this for granted as my world view and so I forget that it's not how most people see things--but I think it makes perfect sense and looks obvious in hindsight.






Len Ovens wrote:
Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:
I believe we absolutely should have children, it is a sacred thing, and we must continue the species--however, I believe a huge reduction in numbers and huge increase in quality of life are in order. And I personally do not want to bring children into this world until there is a solid community ready to raise the children, and the community as a whole has full awareness of the responsibilities it is taking on and full choice in the matter.


Where does this "solid community" come from if everyone is waiting for that community before they have children? Creating a child automatically creates a community (of three at least) This small community can be very focused because the youngest members will thrive in the adventure of being led.

As a note:
I have three children I had the first in my 20s the second was adopted when I was 40 and the last was born in when I was 45. I was the best father to the first and second, I have had trouble keeping up with the last. There is no such thing as being ready to have children, one doesn't get more ready by waiting but less ready. Having each child is what makes one ready to have that child.

In fact this applies to almost anything that one does in life. One is never more ready than they are now to do just about anything. One learns more by doing than by schooling. (And no that is not a "put down" on schooling)
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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PS I'm not saying anything in judgment of your family or your integrity as a father, I'm talking apples and oranges here. Wouldn't it have been a different ball of wax if your family had had a whole town meeting happen before the pregnancy even occurred with everyone agreeing to share in the responsibilities for the child's life, the material needs of the child and parents, assessing the health of the community's food supply and ecosystem to decide whether it was ready for another body to be brought into the world or, if not, making the necessary changes? wouldn't that be a hell of a lot easier?

This is not something we can force anyone to do, either, nor something we can even force ourselves to do. But it is the way the winds are blowing. As things move forward people will come to see that their ultimate goals are served best in this way, rather than everyone individual out for herself/himself. It's more hedonistic to come together. IT doesn't have to be onerous, it doesnt' have to eb a big project, it's just an extension of the building of community so many of us are already engaged in. A natural deepening of our relationships. It may be difficult at times, there may be some hard conversations to have, but it's not a gargantuan, utopian, end-gaining proposition either. If we can have a town hall meeting to discuss whether to change the zoning codes in Somerville, we're capable of having meetings where we plan the support of children.

It's also really a benefit to a family financially and physically to have a smaller number of children if you don't yet have that solid community around you.

Yes, that feeling of magic in seeing a newborn's eyes is real--but that's what we've got to find within the self first, not by bringing a new body into the world so that we can feel it. And we can give birth to ourselves, it's a real thing, not just an empty phrase, it is a real experience.
 
Amit Enventres
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This is one of the most civil discussions I've seen on this topic. So, my weigh in: I think Paul made a video a long time ago and Geoff's numbers correlate and my calculations too- somewhere around 1-5 acres intensely managed can sustain a small family. If we factor the acres of land on earth (just googled this) we get 36,794,240,000. Now, if we consider that each of those 1-5 acres is going to be managed permaculture style (i.e. letting all sorts of other creatures co-exist), we have a total fall out somewhere around a population of 36 billion people. Now, consider some people in this world live totally off the ocean. So, the whole idea of population control always throws red flags for me. Instead, as some people said earlier, I'm more on the idea of humans as tools, just like a knife: you can stab someone with a knife or slice bread and share it with them.

As for all the other factors, I think that varies with the generation and what is seen as important and part of that is local resource availability and use, and I don't feel that's worth arguing.

As for city potential, we all probably already know of the people in LA who are eating and living off of their land-mostly. I live in what's called a city in a northern climate, but yard size is 0.22 acres, so for arguments sake, we'll call it more of a suburb. I have had my first full season at the yard and am happy with the results. The potential to be nearly sustainable appears to be real, even in this northern climate (zone 6), without making the place look like a farm or taking up (once established) oogles of time. Now, I had to pull resources from outside my property boundaries, so I'm not a island onto myself. However, total and future resource use can be drastically reduced compared to what is currently used within a city, which is awesome for the life of the city folk and finances of the people and government that adopts this model: less money put into infrastructure while increasing local business, beauty, and real-estate value. In other words: even with our current quality of life, we could drastically lower our impact on earth.
 
Mick Fisch
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This comment covers lots of ground. 

The U.S. birthrate has been beneath maintenance levels since the early 70's.  Of course our national population keeps climbing, but that's because of massive immigration.  That is definitely contrary to what is generally pushed in the popular culture (even more in the 'green culture'), but it's true, according to the U.S census records.  Same is true with most of Europe, Japan, etc.  They are starting to call it the white plague (same end effect as the black plague, but slower and less stinky).  Now the population in Mexico is stabilizing.  The world wide population bomb may be fizzeling out.  Africa's population is starting to slow down some.  Our current western culture pushes selfishness and individual consumerism.  If you have kids, you loose most of your 'me' time and probably most of you discretionary spending.  As more and more people are 'civilized' a lot of people are opting out of having kids. 

I heard someone say once that we make our children human, and they make us human (the better side of human, I mean).  My interpretation of that is that we teach our children all those wonderful qualities like love, sharing, generosity, loyalty, sacrifice, joy and endurance that are the better parts of who we are.  Raising, sacrificing for them, and loving on them helps us learn those qualities to a greater degree than we usually otherwise learn them.  That's my observation anyway.  For this reason I think most normal people should have children.  I always felt that some people should have a dozen kids, some shouldn't have any.  I would mistrust any group that thought they should be allowed to choose who is which category.  Generally, I think it's a matter of personality and ability and some physical toughness (raising large families is a multi decade project, not for the faint of heart).  If I were really bold, I would say the minimal requirement might be, you need to be able to take care of yourself and any kids you have.  Generally speaking, the more adults involved the better.  It's not an accident that most traditional cultures have extended families/ villages (most villages are heavily interrelated) involved in child rearing.  A pair of adults, isolated, raising more than one kid is probably the second toughest method of raising a family.

Basic evolution theory says those who don't breed are deadends.  Those who do breed produce the future of the species.  On a more religious side, the first commandment in Genesis was to mulitiply and replenish the earth (I note it doesn't say go hogwild and completely cover the earth with with starving masses).

I am a proponant of larger families for those who want them and are willing to.  I have seen such wonderful personalities come out of large families. 

Of course there is a maximum # of people that can live on this rock, but I don't think we're there yet.  We obviously can't live the profligate lifestyle of most of western society, but with a more modest, permaculture culture I think the earth could handle easily many more, with room for wildlife, etc. 

It's funny, if someone talks about some minority reducing their population,the talking heads immediately start shouting genocide.  If it's the dominant population, well then the attitude is that it is obviously good.  Why?  Why would encouraging one couple to have children be a laudable thing and with another couple, equally capable, it's a sin. 

Adoption is a wonderful thing, and I would never say anything against it.  There seems to be an assumption that it is somehow morally superior than having children.  I'm don't necessarily see it that way because my own world view is that we are eternal beings (extending both past and future), and whether we are currently born or not, we still exist, so either way you are providing a home and family to a needy person.  With a different world view, you may see things differently.

Adoption in the U.S. is often very expensive and difficult because there are more people wanting to adopt than there are children.  In some cases it may be because of the money made in not letting them be adopted.  I had a coworker when I lived in Alaska whose wife was moving up the ladder in the private company that manages Alaska's Foster Child Program.  He came in very upset several times at work and told me that the company made quite a bit of money every month for each child.  Because of this, he claimed, once a child was in the system the company would do almost anything to keep them in, resisting fiercely any attempts at either adoption or returning them to their parents permanently.   According to him many people fostering a child wanted to adopt the child, but were not allowed because the company fought any attempts. There has to be a special place in hell for people who would think of, let alone deny a child a permanent home so they can make money.

Of course it's somewhat easier if you want to adopt a handicapped, older, or minority child, but in the U.S. it can still be very difficult.  Raising a child is both incredibly rewarding and heartbreaking.  Raising a handicapped child ups the reward and heartbreak even more.  If you're tough enough to do that, I truly admire you.
 
Destiny Hagest
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On adoption -

I just wanted to come back and say that since starting this thread, simply because we felt it was the right time for our family, my husband and I began to look into adopting through the state of Montana. It's a long process that can take years, but if you foster to adopt, it's a little more efficient, and it's free, the state covers everything.

That being said, we got our paperwork in the mail last week, and on the first page under required documentation, it said they needed our child's vaccine certificate. We don't vaccinate.

When I called the office to see what I could do to get a waiver, they said the law that I had heard about had changed a few years ago, and now in order to become a licensed foster parent through the state of Montana, your children had to be immunized - no exceptions. And that was a deal-breaker for us.

We're looking into alternative options now, but it seems that expanding our family with our own genes is going to be the only viable option, I'm not optimistic any other agencies will prove to be any different, and we can't afford a private adoption (costs at least $20k).

So there you have it, the broken system at work - where a child is better off in a child labor mill foster home or living with drug addict, abusive parents, than with a family that only wants more kids to love, but doesn't vaccinate. Feeling pretty morose today.
 
R Ranson
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Oh man Destiny, that's rough. 

If you had a religious reason for not vaccinating, you might be able to challenge it. 

Are there any agencies or charities that help fund refugee children that need a new home?  Would that be something you would consider?
 
Destiny Hagest
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R Ranson wrote:Oh man Destiny, that's rough. 

If you had a religious reason for not vaccinating, you might be able to challenge it. 

Are there any agencies or charities that help fund refugee children that need a new home?  Would that be something you would consider?


Actually, there aren't even exceptions for religious reasons in the state of Montana, it's pretty nuts. I'd be so happy to adopt a refugee child, but as I understand it, this is all handled through private agencies, and those adoptions are even more expensive than domestic ones (in the $45k range from what I've heard).

It's enough to make someone pretty damned cynical, that's for sure. Montana has one of the highest rates per capita for child abuse and neglect, alcoholism, and suicide. I cannot imagine why vaccines would even register on their radar when considering a safe place for these kids to live, it's asinine.
 
John Weiland
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@Destiny H.: "....on the first page under required documentation, it said they needed our child's vaccine certificate."

Yeah, I figured these type of measures would be coming along sooner or later.  We don't have kids, so we've been out of the loop of a lot of this kind of legislation.  Of course, we have chickens, pigs, dogs, and all other kinds of critters running through the open doors of the house, so no foster care official would give us a second notice anyway.  Somehow the carpet fumes and video input of your typical industrial day-care setting are supposed to be safer and more healthy than nature's offerings.  Hope you can find a work-around.

"Montana has one of the highest rates per capita for child abuse and neglect, alcoholism, and suicide. I cannot imagine why vaccines would even register on their radar when considering a safe place for these kids to live, it's asinine."

Montana won't be that different from other states I suspect.  It seems this discussion could segue into cider press territory, (.......wait, aren't we already in cider press territory?....) but the issue of what constitutes child abuse and neglect has been a thorny one in the US since the first boat hit shore. Having worked in a volunteer status in that field a few years back, the laws and the tenacity of those who wish to keep them as they are will hollow you out in a hurry.  The sacrosanct nature of the nuclear family and the walls that constitute its home can be a place where children can flourish.  It can also be a living hell from which escape seems an endless pipe dream.  Deciding how, when, and where to intervene can be an daunting decision.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Sorry to hear that, Destiny.

Here's my thinking.  Let's start with design.

The family is a design.  The nuclear family is a design.  Indigenous family design is more open, has multiple elements serving a single function (a gazillion parents for each child) and multiple functions for each element (each kid is a joy to many adults, each adult is aunt or uncle or grandmother or elder or leader in the political function in the community as well as healer and food-provider and art-maker, etc.). 

What we could design going forward can take the best of each of these and innovate going forward.  We in the West have tried some crazy things (BF Skinner) in pretending that bonds of blood of parents and child are non-existent--this hasn't worked here, because it never really was how things worked in indigeny either so far as I know--bonds of blood, ancestry, etc. are very important to the indigenous person AND bonds of large family and tribe as well.  It's not either/or, it's both/and, and modern Western thinking has tended to be very either/or-oriented.  So, we want to include both things.

The strong suggestion in Robes is that the entire community support the biological parents for a year before conception and two years after the birth--they are to have no stresses on them, have their meals prepared for them, be given space to develop themselves, meditate, exercise, and then nurture the new-born child. the bond of oneness with the biological parents is crucical--but/and it's in service to the whole community, and ultimately the whole human family and universal principles, not just that one family unit.  By the same token, the community as a whole has a voice in the decision of which couple will be the bio-parents of the new member of their community. 

This is a step beyond either nuclear family or ancient village; it's being more deliberate about the design. In hindsight I think it's total commonsense, but in advance it may look really weird or radical.  But the results they say will come of this are children who are calm and happy, well-adjusted, confident, require very little energy from the community to discipline them, contribute to the world, learn to be self-sufficient by age 12 in basic things (food, shelter, health, communication).  Rather than being bringers of strain and stress they are capable and have strengths far beyond what any human being, even the most exceptional, has displayed so far in history.  (Some may say, Where would the great geniuses of the past have gotten their strength if not from the abuse of their times?  but there's plenty of challenge in life without needing to add disruptive or short-sighted design of community to hte mix).

How does this apply in Montana in 2016?

The other work-around that comes to mind (thinking like a permie here) is single element serving multiple functions--find another family (or families) that wants to co-parent their kids with you and yours--and is willing to make a real commitment, a lifetime commitment. Has the same values (aka sanity) you have.  Someone who doesn't think a refusal of vaccinations more dangerous than alcoholism, abuse, etc., someone who has their hands in their soil and thinks for themselves.  Or a whole lot of someones.  You may say, We still wouldn't really be family, but if you give your heart to someone they become your family, I believe.  We're ALL family now, on this planet, dysfunctional family or slightly less dysfunctional, but we're all family.  And we're already up against a lot. 

Think, somewhat coldly, about why you want another child, as well as feeling into the question with warmth--both things are valuable.  A sibling for your first? an increase of joy? to be peopling the world with those who are awake? more voters? which of these things will really be served by bringing another body into the world, and which would be served better by joining wiht others who are already here in body?  Am I looking to give birth to another because I am still really wanting to give birth to myself in some way? what do my dreams tell me about the question? my intuitions?

The decision to bring a new body into the world is not a small one.  It is a decision for the whole community one lives in.  It impacts the whole community, it has the potential to bless the whole community or add more difficulty.  What you do with that is up to you, but you can't pretend the impact doesn't exist.

Who else is in your community? what is the village that your current child is growing up in? 

For me, I always, always wanted a brother growing up, or so I thought.  But it was really the absence of giving birth to myself that I was feeling.  I wanted brotherhood, I still want that very much, but I believe today there is a good reason my mother was unable to carry either of my siblings to term. Tragic as that was for her, it was better than the stress on her of having two children and little inner resources for nourishing them.  Better would have been if she had trusted herself more and sensed that neither of these children was going to come into the world fully.

I recognize I speak as a childless male here, and an only child, but I feel this so strongly, and Robes is written by a woman, mother of four, grandmother, greatgrandmother, farmer, seer, and wisewoman who has walked close to death to find herself.

Again, to be clear, I am not against having children--I am %100 for it in the way that will work at this time in history of great stresses and transition--being deliberate and abundant.

That's my 3 cents.

Destiny Hagest wrote:On adoption -

I just wanted to come back and say that since starting this thread, simply because we felt it was the right time for our family, my husband and I began to look into adopting through the state of Montana. It's a long process that can take years, but if you foster to adopt, it's a little more efficient, and it's free, the state covers everything.

That being said, we got our paperwork in the mail last week, and on the first page under required documentation, it said they needed our child's vaccine certificate. We don't vaccinate.

When I called the office to see what I could do to get a waiver, they said the law that I had heard about had changed a few years ago, and now in order to become a licensed foster parent through the state of Montana, your children had to be immunized - no exceptions. And that was a deal-breaker for us.

We're looking into alternative options now, but it seems that expanding our family with our own genes is going to be the only viable option, I'm not optimistic any other agencies will prove to be any different, and we can't afford a private adoption (costs at least $20k).

So there you have it, the broken system at work - where a child is better off in a child labor mill foster home or living with drug addict, abusive parents, than with a family that only wants more kids to love, but doesn't vaccinate. Feeling pretty morose today.
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