Should I Have Babies? A Single Person’s Hopes and Fears
Last Friday Andrew posted about whether or not he and his wife should have children. As I thought about the issues raised – Is it best to wait? When’s the right time? – I tried to think about the issues from the only perspective I can: singleness.
Allow me to be candid for a moment. I always wanted to be a young father. As it stands I may be able to be relatively young when I get married and start having kids, but not as young as I originally had hoped. If I was to get married soon – which is incredibly unlikely – I’d definitely be having the baby question at an early stage. I love kids and I would love to have several of them—I want to make forts and read Harry Potter by flashlight with my kids! I am jealous of the married couples I see at church with their cute little babies. All I can say is that I’m really looking forward to being a daddy.
One thing I’ve realized is that I’ve never considered the risks involved and have only recently been confronted with some of them: What if either my wife or myself is infertile? What if there is a miscarriage? What if my child has developmental problems? What about the growing rates of Autism? Are these risks enough to make me second guess having children? It is a little daunting to consider all the potential problems that could come from pregnancy. Two of my good friends out here at St Andrews just had their first child and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about some of these issues throughout the pregnancy.
I think that where these questions really provoke me is when I think about them in a 21st century context; an age filled with all sorts of technological advances. Yet the sad thing is that when certain abnormalities with the growing baby are detected – such as down syndrome – the majority of such pregnancies are terminated. It is estimated that in the UK, Europe, and America, upwards of 90% (and sometimes higher) of women who discover that their child has down syndrome terminate the pregnancy. As a single person who is not married and is not planning on having children anytime soon, I can only imagine what it would be like to receive news from the doctor that my child has a severe disability. The prospect of that sounds absolutely crushing. However, if a doctor gave me advice on abortion I would frankly have to restrain myself from getting physical. My child will have met its first bully.
In college I took a Theology of Suffering class. We had several guests come to our class with severe disabilities for us to interact with and get to know. We also spent time working with Joni Eareckson Tada and the people involved with her ministry. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I saw how lovely, kind, and gracious these people were. Every life is precious and is a gift from God. So as a single person, one with no prospect of having children soon and one who is nervous about various aspects of the developmental process, I look at the opportunity to have children someday – even with all the risks involved – and see it as totally worth it.