My husband and I have been thinking about adopting a kitten for a while now. Nazanin, our cat of nearly a year, seems a bit lonely, and we feel ready to expand our family. After months of deliberation, we finally decided to commit and headed to the local ASPCA.
The staff was cheerful and accommodating, but after finding our feline, we hit a roadblock. There was an application and an interview, and it would take at least an hour to complete the process. We would have to confirm that Nazanin was up-to-date on all her shots. We would have to describe our full history of pet ownership. And we would have to assure that we had the proper means to provide for our new pet.
Unsure about Nazanin's shots and taken aback by the high bar, we went home empty-handed. To boost our chances, we took Nazanin to the vet. We double-checked our previous pets' medical records. And we brought documentation regarding our financial stability. Happily, we were approved.
Were we to choose childbearing instead of pet adoption, however, we'd have been all set from the get-go. No forms. No background checks. No interviews. The whole approval process could easily take less than ten minutes.
Considering roughly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, it makes you wonder: Why don't people give nearly as much consideration to childbearing as they do to pet adoption?
I expect it's a combination of factors.
There's the fact that it's significantly harder to access effective and affordable birth control than it is to conceive a child -- not to mention much less fun. Then there are societal norms. People are expected to have children. Deliberately choosing to opt out invites suspicion, even scorn.
Whatever the case, many Americans just don't give biological parenthood that much thought. At least not before it's inevitable.
Despite the fact that neither of us wants children, my husband and I have given more thought to parenthood than most parents I know. Our conclusion? We prefer travel over teddy bears. Peace over pacifiers. Freedom over Fisher Price.
Still, we've received tons of encouragement to reproduce -- from friends, parents, siblings and even strangers. We've been called selfish for our decision. And we've even been told we're too genetically gifted not to reproduce.
Unconvinced after nearly a decade of such insults and flattery, we remain resolute. We're happy childfree and intend to remain so. And we're not alone. Wednesday, unbeknownst to most Americans, marks Non-Parents Day -- as it has for over 30 years now. And perhaps a day to take a lesson from the ASPCA. Bringing children into this world is a huge decision, and kids deserve as much consideration as pets -- dare I say, more. They deserve to be wanted and provided for. They deserve to be a deliberate choice, not an accident.