November is . . . Awareness Month
My inbox this month has informed me that November is Vegan Awareness Month!
And Diabetes Awareness Month.
And Adoption Awareness Month.
Who knew November was such a potentially-informative month?
Here's my attempt to bring it all together in an Animal Person post.
I am a vegan who has adopted a diabetic greyhound who eats vegan food (Natural Balance), and who is adopting a boy from Russia.
As a vegan, part of what I believe is that bringing animals onto this planet to use them as food or as pets isn't ethical. Many vegans also believe that bringing people onto this planet isn't ethical, but I'm more of the school that says that if you have the urge to parent, having a biological child isn't in opposition to veganism. Not everyone is able to adopt for financial reasons (or have a child for biological reasons), and I don't think it's unethical to desire and create a biological child.
The concept of creating when you can adopt is the same with people and animals, yes, but desiring and creating an animal as a pet isn't exactly the same when you unpack it all. Having a biological child isn't supporting an exploitation industry and at odds with the goal of the cessation of animal use the way buying from a breeder or pet store is.
As far as the origin of the child goes, everyone who begins the adoption journey quickly discovers the many details that become important–and even decisive–to the process. Such details include: If you're going to be 43 in a month and you're a vegan atheist, what are the odds that a young birth mother (who likely didn't consider pregnancy termination as a viable option, and probably for religious reasons) is going to choose you as an adoptive parent? Also, some countries that allow international adoptions have age cut-offs for prospective adoptive prents. Some don't allow people over 40 to adopt. In some scenarios, the birth parents are "in play" (legally) until even after the adoptive parent has custody. Some people want a relationship with the birth parents. Some don't.
There are oodles of variables regarding available children, as well. Some countries have infants (under one-year old) available for adoption. Others don't. China has more girls available and Russia has more boys. Haiti doesn't allow people from the Church of the Latter-Day Saints to adopt. Or childless, homosexual females (heterosexuals can, but not male ones). As far as I know, if you are interested in "a healthy infant" you should pursue domestic adoption, as children in orphanages all have some kind of diagnosis. And what that really means is that due to poverty, lack of prenatal care and other factors, the child you will adopt internationally is probably a bit behind on some or all developmental factors. Now, that is not to say that those minor or major issues aren't resolved with time or even with minor surgery that isn't available to children in orphanages. In fact, all of the adoptive parents I spoke with raved about their child's health, development and intelligence.
Then there are the travel requirements. My better half and I both have to go to Russia 2-3 times for short trips (3-7 days). Ukrainian adoption requires two medium or one long (31 day) trips. As interested as we were in adopting a Ukrainian child, the travel requirement made it impossible. Several countries, such as Korea, don't require any travel and instead "escort" the child to the United States.
With domestic adoption, the question of how hard you tried to have a biological child is a significant issue. I found that very strange. It was as if you had to prove how far you'd go and how much money you'd spend and that adoption was your Plan B and I think that's weird. Plus the constant bombarding with the idea that each child is a "miracle" made me uncomfortable. The agencies I consulted with claimed to be able to give me my "miracle." Miracles aren't what I'm looking for, though. I just want to give a child a couple of parents.
There are compromises with every option, and most take at least as long as it would to conceive and give birth to a biological child. Nothing's happening in a month or two so adoption isn't for the impatient. Then there's the carbon footprint issue, particularly important with international adoptions. Mine's about to go from very respectable to abysmal. But as with many things in life, we must ask ourselves, which is more important? Is raising a good citizen of the planet more important than the carbon footprints of two vegans who live relatively modest lives?
Another "which is more important?" question arises when it comes to adopting special needs animals, like Violet Rays, our rescue greyhound. She is one individual whose care could easily fund a small animal sanctuary for at least a year, or start untold TNR efforts, or provide clean water to thousands of people. And the production of her insulin (Vetsulin) involves the use of animal products (derived from pigs). As a vegan, having a diabetic dog involves making decisions that make me uncomfortable. At least she eats vegan food, I tell myself. And that food has led to a decrease in her insulin dose (as also happens with humans), so I know it's improving her health (she'll be ten in a couple of weeks!).
Awareness Month is half over, but if anyone has any vegan/canine diabetes/adoption questions, ask away and I'll do my best to answer them or direct you to someone who can!