Much can be said about the birth rate in developing world countries. There are multiple systemic and cultural issues at play. It doesn't take more than a couple comments on any given Haiti news story to see someone commenting something along the lines of, "Why don't they just stop having so many babies".
The answer to that is completely and totally complicated and nuanced, of course. There are far too many things at play to quickly answer those questions. It is much more difficult to truly learn and understand the nuances of a culture of poverty, than it is to criticize and judge. Bummer fact, the world is overflowing with people sitting in high places casting down the oh-so-simple-answers and the quick judgment.
Today I'm sharing a couple photos for the sake of changing paradigms - my own paradigm included.
The first photo in this post is of a brand new first time Mom, Mikerlange, that delivered her little one with us after many months attending Prenatal classes. She lives in what would most likely be described as "abject" poverty and is fairly cognitively delayed/challenged.
To be utterly honest with you, I really thought "that baby probably won't live" as we drove them home after weeks of postpartum care and snapped this picture one day in May 2013.
The second photo is from Tuesday of this week. Pictured here is that same Mom. She is (with help of her community) raising her daughter. Her daughter appears to be well cared for and healthy. She will turn two in May.
Most of us that are economically more secure tend to think that we automatically (because bank account) have a better skill set for raising children.
At times we have seen this play out in really sad ways. It is a quick hop, skip, and jump from "Wow, she is poor and raising children" to, "I could raise them better than her". We watch people make those leaps frequently. Sometimes it leads to abuse of power and heartbreaking treatment and marginalization of people. Orphanages are filled with kids with living mothers who believe they are too poor to raise their child well. I recognize now that technically speaking, when we showed up here to adopt, we unknowingly reinforced that idea.
Multiple years working directly with new ("poor") mothers has proven to me that material poverty doesn't disqualify anyone from being a good, and even excellent parent. There might be reasons some women don't do as well as mothers or struggle to bond, but it is not necessarily tied to one's material wealth.
Today I say congratulations to Mikerlange for proving me wrong. She nursed this baby girl for many, many months. She cared for her daughter well and she deserves our prayers and all the props available to her - for a job well started.
Go, Mikerlange, go.