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On Nonhuman Animals and Human Babies

37242_1371592048309_1186981479_30895926_1983862_nSurprise!

On Friday, June 25, I received a call from an attorney who said a little girl was born the evening prior, her adoption fell through and she needed a family.

And on Sunday, June 27, we brought her home! We named her Skylar and she's adorable and sweet and has a very punk hairdo. Her daddy is madly in love with her and I practically have to pry her out of his arms to get a moment with her.

Because we planned to adopt I had been researching eco-friendly, vegan nursery items but had yet to purchase a thing. Instead, in 24 hours (Saturday the 26th), I collected secondhand everything locally, and then friends brought clothing and other supplies from when their little girls and boys were newborns. By the time we brought her home on Sunday all I needed was formula (Earth's Best Organic-Soy).

I did go to Babies-R-Us for some odds and ends and here's the Animal Person-related experience. Animals are all over the place at Babies-R-Us. As long as the animals aren't on a farm or otherwise being used by humans, I love the idea of animals in the lives of babies. Much of the baby clothing has animals on it, and animals are of course the focus of stuffies and other toys. I chose a cow for Sky's first stuffed animal, and I hope that she will grow up to honor and respect the lives of cows the same way she will honor and respect the lives of greyhounds.

And speaking of the other creatures of the household, Violet is indifferent, as usual. She sniffed Sky up and down and walked away. Charles, on the other hand, loves her. He's always been a baby magnet and baby lover, lightly touching them with his cool, wet nose, and allowing kids of all ages to hug and kiss him. Emily has taken to sleeping right next to wherever Sky is. And when Sky's in the bassinet, Emily sleeps in the storage area underneath it. It's very cute.

I've chosen cloth diapers (bumGenius), and I'm working my way through a box of disposables I was given as a gift while waiting I wait for the cloth ones to arrive. There are so many decisions to be made and we're excited to raise our little girl with intention. We want her to be aware of what the rest of the world does, but also know that she can always choose nonviolence. She can always choose justice and respect. Human animals and nonhuman animals share many characteristics, but one trumps the rest:  the capacity to feel pleasure and pain, boredom and frustration. And of course, the desire to live their lives without being viewed as–or turned into–food, clothing or entertainment.

The message Sky gets at Babies-R-Us is largely that animals are her friends. At least at this stage. Our job is to make sure that her respect for animals doesn't turn into insult and betrayal. I doubt any parent creates an environment of betrayal intentionally. Instead, they simply raise their children with the values of the dominant culture. But we're going to intentionally create an environment of respect, justice and nonviolence. And we hope that Sky chooses to continue living those values later in life.

Only time will tell.

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. Congratulations to you both! She looks adorable.

    (You may enjoy reading this post from the "Our Vegan Pregnancy" blog about misrepresentations of nonhuman animals on baby products: http://ourveganpregnancy.blogspot.com/2009/11/another-daddy-postmisrepresentations-of.html)

    July 6, 2010
  2. Thanks, Mylene!

    July 6, 2010
  3. Congratulations Mary! I'm sure you will raise a lovely, respectful girl.

    July 6, 2010
  4. Congratulations on your new addition – I hope you will have many years of happiness together!

    July 6, 2010
  5. semi-anon for this purpose #

    Congratulations! Hope all goes well finalizing the adoption. She's adorable!
    I, too, and adopting! Here's my blog http://ourfosteradoptionjourney.blogspot.com/ if you're curious πŸ™‚

    July 6, 2010
  6. Porphyry #

    WOOT!

    I’m too happy for right now that I won’t bother getting into the very interesting topic of animal imagery and babies.

    CONGRATULATIONS!

    July 6, 2010
  7. Wow! What amazing news! You must be so thrilled…
    Congratulations!

    July 6, 2010
  8. Eileen #

    Congratulations, Mary and family!

    July 6, 2010
  9. Mike Grieco #

    Wonderful new, Mary! Skylar is a Animal Angel:) πŸ™‚

    Congratulations! XXX's

    July 7, 2010
  10. Oh this is the best news I've heard in a long, long time! Because your household lives it's values – Skylar will be taught to as well. This truly is a celebration for us all! Congratulations till the "cows come home"… And are finally free! xox

    July 7, 2010
  11. Lisa #

    Congratulations to you and your family! As a mom-to-be, I'm looking forward to reading more about your journey – if you're planning to share, that is! Best wishes, and enjoy your little girl.

    July 7, 2010
  12. Olivia #

    What happy news this is, Mary, and what a precious picture of you and Skylar. I'm going to share your post right now with a friend whose daughter's name is Skylar (same spelling).

    Enjoy your new little sister, Charles and Emily. Hey, Violet, you'll come 'round once Skylar reaches her little hand out to you for a kiss. πŸ™‚

    July 8, 2010
  13. Angus #

    Congratulations to Skylar for picking the right parents!

    July 9, 2010
  14. This is wonderful news, Mary! So happy for all of you. What a lucky girl to have parents who will raise her to love and cherish her fellow creatures. There's no greater gift.

    July 12, 2010
  15. First Name #

    You should really look into sourcing human breast milk, breast is best. Allergies to soy and other food may occur by exposure at such a young age. Congrats!

    July 14, 2010
  16. Thanks so much everyone! We all appreciate your well wishes.

    And First Name, I have looked into inducing lactation and also human breast milk, which is $4.50/oz (and at least $90/day at this point, though there are ways to get discounts). Though Sky's arrival was a surprise, I've been researching nutrition for babies and toddlers for quite some time and am confident in the information I have.

    July 15, 2010
  17. I just read about your new addition. Congratulations, Mary!

    July 19, 2010
  18. Congratulations! She looks adorable, and what a lovely name! πŸ™‚

    July 21, 2010
  19. mom of 7 year old (who is now a 10 year old) #

    Congratulations! How very exciting; I hope you are settling nicely into motherhood. It's an adventure that I've found both empowering and humbling. I wish you all the best. What a very lucky baby.

    July 28, 2010
  20. Congratulations!

    August 5, 2010
  21. Wow, congrats!!! I think it's wonderful in every way that you adopted her and that you'll be raising her as a compassionate human being. πŸ˜€

    August 5, 2010

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