On Veganism and Adoption
I've been under the radar for a bit, anxiously awaiting the adoption finalization of Baby Sky. But now that she's officially ours, I feel like I can write about a topic that means a lot to me without the fear that my words might somehow jeopardize the adoption.
As someone who was very, very late to the wanting-a-baby party (my desire didn't kick in until almost 40), and who did attempt to have a biological child, I'm particularly qualified to say what I'm about to say.
Marriage/coupleship is composed of two individuals. Adding a child to that partnership is an idea that is so important that I tend to say that people who know that they want kids shouldn't even date people who know that they don't want kids. Such pairings usually don't end well, though they do have a predictable trajectory, with each person either "waiting out" the other person or actively trying to change their mind . . . to no avail.
I don't, for the record, consider this issue analogous to omnivores dating vegans, as my husband went vegan overnight three years ago this month. I think vegans dating omnivores is a great idea as it's an opportunity to support someone in a way that you really can't support anyone else. I do the shopping, cooking and baking, and I find vegan accessories for him to choose from. When he travels or goes out with clients, I make suggestions or arrangements for him. This isn't to say he couldn't do all of that himself; it's easy for me and doesn't take much effort or time. The point is that I'm here, paying attention and anticipating needs. In three years my husband hasn't had one episode of backsliding or even the inclination. I can't say what would've happened if his veganization wasn't made so easy–all I can say for certain is that it was successful.
Back to kids, though. Each person in the couple brings their own beliefs about children and parenting, and any therapist will tell you that men have a more difficult time warming up to the idea of adoption than women. For some reason, they have a deep desire to duplicate themselves. They want to see some of themselves in the face of another.
I understand that desire, and though I might have had it for five minutes, I've also always been fond of the idea of providing a loving home to someone who needs one. And this is where I think about veganism. I wouldn't dream of paying someone to create a dog or cat–of intentionally bringing a dog or cat into this world–when there are so many who need homes.
It's common for men–and women–to be wary about adoption, and in particular about the bonding process. There's this suspicion that maybe because the child isn't yours biologically, you might not bond, or you bond in a qualitatively differently (read: not optimal) way with the child. Adoptive parents will tell you that there's nothing they can say to you to convince you of this, but it's simply not true. And though I have no human to compare Sky to (but I do have Emily, Violet and Charles!), I can confidently say that I cannot imagine loving Baby Sky any more than I do.
My message for today is that I think that vegans should be promoting adoption of humans more than we do. The adoption process isn't easy for vegans, and it's less easy for atheist vegans who don't think the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks in the developed world in 2010. But obviously it's possible.
Please know that I am not against anyone having a biological child. I not only understand the desire, but I also understand that you aren't the only person in your relationship, and sometimes it takes someone a while to warm up to the idea of the timing of having children, and to demand that they get on board with adoption in addition to timing is a bit much. However, as a vegan and environmentalist, I see a connection between the adoption of human children and the adoption of sentient nonhumans. I see a connection between veganism (and environmentalism) and the concept of adoption, in general.