We all know about China’s one-child policy.
Vietnam is revisiting implementing a two-child policy.
India is also proposing a two-child policy even in the wake of India’s decreasing population and a huge gender discrepancy due to female infanticide and sex selected abortion eliminating females.
I am the mother of 7 children. When people ask me how many children I have, they gasp. Why do they gasp? They respond this way because large families in America do not represent the ideal. Why are they not ideal? Why has the concept of family size over 2.5 children become less than ideal? What is the ‘ideal’ family size?
My journey into motherhood has been extra-ordinary. At the age of 18 I had an abortion. After years of healing and getting over the significant guilt and regret in my life through counseling and therapy, I realized that my decision to abort was very much influenced by some external influence that was difficult to identify. Was it just the media? Or was there some other form of manipulation pushing me into an unwanted choice (see Planned Parenthood/Margaret Sanger's quotes)? I knew that my situation as a single young woman was not ‘ideal.’ Years later after I was married I was blessed with a more ‘ideal’ situation and gave birth to my daughter and a few years after that, a son. With the perfect family, a boy and a girl, the idea of expanding my family just didn’t make sense in the world I lived in at the time. Everyone I knew had less than 2 children. I somehow believed that the ideal family size was 2 children (a boy and a girl). Still, somehow I miraculously was drawn to grow my family even more, this time via adoption.
In 2005, our quest took us to Guatemala. Our daughter Matea was not born in the most ‘ideal’ situation. Her mother was 14 years old and lived in a very impoverished area of Guatemala and decided to relinquish her rights as her mother. Then we were a family with three children hovering slightly beyond the ideal but still acceptable to most outsiders. In 2007, while performing at a fundraising concert for Zimbabwe we were made aware of the millions of children orphaned globally. Indignant, I proclaimed “The statistics that show by 2010 there will be 150 million orphans is just an incorrect figure.” I would discover that week after doing some research that the number was only incorrect due to the fact that it was an underestimated projection. . When we announced our intentions to adopt 3 children to friends and extended family, there was obvious concern and resistance. I believe all of my friends would admit there was a sense of disbelief that anyone in their ‘right’ American minds would volunteer to double the size of their family. In spite of resistance we headed to Ethiopia in 2008 and completed the adoption of a sibling group of 3 who had been orphaned due to AIDS. As a family of 6 children, we turned heads and often drew comments such as ‘better you then me’…followed by a laugh. This year we adopted our youngest child (age 5) from Ukraine. Our son, Alec is HIV positive and had spent his entire life in an orphanage. We considered this a far from ideal life for him and brought him into something he had never experienced in his young life …a family. We now are considered by most to be way beyond the norm with 7 children in our family.
This past week two worlds that I advocate in collided in front of my eyes. I believe up until today I was one of the few people hovering in these two circles of pro-life and orphan advocacy to notice this collision.
First, my dear friend, Carolyn Twietmeyer from PROJECT HOPEFUL, was invited to the White House to discuss concerns related to HIV orphans and restrictions of family size for people wanting to adopt via foster care and internationally. In my home state of Illinois, where Carolyn currently lives, families who want to adopt internationally must receive approval from the Department of Children and Family Services. This is not the case in every state. Most states like NC, where I reside with my family, the only requirement for international adoption is an approval by a certified state approved social worker. There is no family size restriction for international adoption. In Illinois however, in addition to DCFS approval, the family has to have a foster care license to adopt through social services. However, Illinois families are not permitted to adopt internationally in countries that offer guardianship only. Most states permit families to adopt under these circumstance and re-adopt within the state they reside. The restrictions also do not allow a family to have more than 8 children in the household. AND each special needs child counts as two in the eyes of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. (article in CHICAGO TRIBUNE)
In North Carolina, we do have restrictions on family size to adopt via the foster care system. We have approximately 10,000 children in our foster care system in NC, many available for adoption. Families with more than 5 children in the household are not permitted to adopt (via the state) or foster. The states have determined what the ideal family size would be. This has nothing to do with families being economically equipped, mentally stable and spiritually sound. It is simply about the perception of our inability to parent properly with more than a predetermined state mandated acceptable number of children. This obviously limits the number of qualified foster parents as well for the 10,000 children waiting in NC for families. There are currently 4 other states in addition to NC and Illinois in the US with similar restrictions. They are Alabama, Mississippi, Colorado and South Carolina.
Secondly, this week Abby Johnson who was the director of a Planned Parenthood in TX and is now a strong pro-life advocate, released a memorandum that she claims was a memo that Planned Parenthood often refers to as the ideal goal in reducing population globally. The memorandum is called the Jaffe Memo and was written to Bernard Berelson (President, Population Council) and found in “Activities Relevant to the Study of Population Policy for the U.S.” in March/1969. What was riveting to me in light of what Carolyn and other potential adoptive parents are experiencing is that not only have de-population measures impacted the unborn but it is now officially impacting the viable orphaned children (many who are in their teens) from finding families. There are several items in this memo that are disturbing but let me point out a few that will illustrate my point:
Social Constraints (Jaffe Memo)
a) Postpone or avoid marriage
b) Alter image of ideal family size
Educate for family limitation
Fertility control agents in water supply
Encourage women to work
One of the goals of the Jaffe Memo is to restructure family. The ultimate goal is to depopulate the world by convincing individuals as to what the ideal image of family size is. More obvious is the desire of over population theorists to decrease the amount of children on the planet via means of abortion, payments toward voluntary sterilization, fertility control agents in water and even added economic pressure on larger families and stressful living conditions.
This memo and these concepts may come from 1969 but they have seeped their way into our psyche as secretly as the tainted water that many are unknowingly drinking to reduce their childbearing (see the memo again). I started this article with questioning WHY we have a number as to the ‘ideal’ family size. Why would I as an 18 year old girl be so convinced that I MUST abort my baby? And why are we stunned when we come across larger families. I think we all need to ask ourselves if we have been drinking from the well, polluted with falsehoods about what is ‘ideal.’ In other-words, do we think smaller families are ‘ideal’ because quite frankly we have been taught to believe this way based on a conscious plan by over-population theorists that simply believe people should not be procreating.
THE IMPACT LOCALLY
I have talked to many North Carolina families who are telling me horror stories of how they have tried to foster or adopt after going through training etc in North Carolina only to be told by their state appointed social workers that according to the NC laws they have too many children in their household.
One family had 4 children and wanted to adopt via NC Foster Care and were turned down because of family size. Another family with 5 children went through the required MAPPS training and were available to adopt HIV + children and were turned down. I inquired about a beautiful 16 year old girl on the ADOPT US KIDS website from NC named Aaliyah. Aaliyah had been in the system for many years and just wanted a permanent family to share her prom with and wanted a forever family before she was emancipated. I was told that there were too many children in my family. My friend is a strong adoption advocate here in the state with children from Uganda and by birth. She is an expert at raising adopted teens. I believe that she would also be turned away from adopting a teen from NC if she desired to adopt via the foster care system due to family size.
A common question that is asked to many of us adopting internationally is “Why don’t you adopt in your own country?” While there are many answers to that question, a very honest and sad truth is that many of us have tried but have been rejected due to US ‘ideals’ and restrictions on family size. It unfortunately is a very sad reality that children are left in foster care due to illogical policy.
***The Jaffe Memo also discusses intentionally adding financial pressure on families deciding to reproduce above the ‘ideal’. The plan is to discourage expansion of the family by not offering economic support to those families with children beyond the ideal number. This mindset is impacting adoptive families economically as well. With the new health care bill we are about to see a significant drop in adoption tax credits from approximately 13k to 5k in 2012. If we don’t see further legislation advocating for this tax credit to continue to increase, this amount will then revert to a pre-2001 credit figure.
Other types of financial pressure to manipulate choices against family and childbearing suggested in the memo have been implemented globally in countries like China, Vietnam, Phillipines and India:
Modify tax policies:
Tax married more than single
Remove parents tax exemption
Additional taxes on parents with more than I or 2 children in school
Reduce/eliminate paid maternity leave or benefits
*****Reduce/eliminate children's or family allowances ( as in adoption credits reducing)
Ultimately, there is much evidence to suggest that the idea of over population is a fallacy. According to the Population Research Institute:
Q: What is the future birthrate and population of the world likely to be?
The UN Population Division makes three versions of each of its projections: low, medium, and high. In recent history, the low projections have usually been correct because the UN prefers to overstate population growth. But I will use the medium projections so that I cannot be accused of exaggerating based on my perspective. The UNPD projects that world fertility rate will drop to 2.05 children per woman by 2050. That means human beings will cease to have enough children to reproduce themselves. In other words, the continued existence of the human race will be threatened. "Fertility levels in the 44 developed countries, which account for 19 per cent of the world population, are currently very low," says the UNPD's 2004 World Population Prospects report. "All except Albania have fertility below replacement level and 15, mostly located in Southern and Eastern Europe, have reached levels of fertility unprecedented in human history (below 1.3 children per woman). Since 1990-1995, fertility decline has been the rule among most developed countries. The few increases recorded, such as those in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States, have been small."
I have spent the past few years frustrated with the division between the two worlds of advocacy that I live in. The pro-life advocates are not necessarily orphan advocates. I refer to orphans as the pro-life missing link. Orphans need to be remembered in pro-life advocacy because they have been impacted greatly by policies with conscious efforts aimed at reducing and eliminating life. The adoption community as well needs to acknowledge that policies aimed at reducing the population via abortion are impacting their ability to parent the children they long to adopt.
The ‘ideal’ for an orphaned or abandoned child is a stable capable loving family…no size requirements. Let’s keep our radar up and get active in changing or battling any law that mandates the size of our families. My hope is that we will remember that oftentimes we develop beliefs and conclusions based on misinformation and false information. Policies and laws are sometimes implemented due to agendas that are anti-family and anti-life. These agendas are based on unfounded concepts that are often accepted as the truth (ie…small families are “ideal’). In the meantime, there are teenagers in NC who need families, there are available families being refused, special needs children who will die without being adopted. I am believing it is time for those of us who are advocating for orphans to place our attentions on some pro-life advocacy as well or we will all be told one day in the future that we are only approved for 2 children by birth zero via adoption. Leaving the outrageous growing number of orphans to increase…..
Deanna jones is the #1 best selling author of the adoption memoir TO BE A MOTHER and contributor to InCulture Parent Magazine. She is also the host of THE MOMCAST PODCAST and proud mother of 7 children from many countries. Deanna and her husband own DJO PRODUCTIONS, INC. a production company providing live music for events as well as video production services. Deanna is a prolife and pro adoption speaker and has been blessed to discuss orphan care to many prolife conferences. She can be reached at email@example.com
copyright 2011Written by Deanna Jones from DJO PRODUCTIONS, INC (dba Mother The World). Online reposting in its entirety with credit back to author at http://www.mothertheworld.org. Inquire for hard copy publication