On Nonhuman Animals and Human Babies
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.