Children aren’t shoes. But they are still a choice.

Why is it when I read Miranda Devine’s latest article about the ‘commodification of children’ (and more on that later) do I get the feeling that she doesn’t really care about children. Not about unborn children. Not about living children. What she’s more concerned about is making her choices the only option available. Actually, it is probably even less than that: she’s just happy heaping scorn and judgement on those not lucky enough to have her life.

Infertile? Poor? Caring for a disabled child? Bad luck you fuckers!

It’s telling that during her despicable rant she never mentions support for disabled children once they’re born. She never mentions that poor Maia Comas’ parents received NO help. They were isolated. From family. From friends. When they uttered the words to child services that Miranda uses to condemned them, the simple words of “I can’t cope” and asked for help and potential options, including euthanasia, does Miranda detail the social worker’s response? No – because the social worker did nothing. Nothing. The social worker walked away and left them by themselves. Why doesn’t Miranda mention this fact? Because she isn’t interested in helping these people, only vilifying them.

As for my take, perhaps it’s not that the social worker didn’t want to ring bells, it was more that there were no bells to ring. As with parents, social workers have no choices when it comes to disabled children – there is nothing they can do to help. No foster parents. No adoptive parents. No temporary accommodation. No assistance whatsoever.

Miranda Devine considers parents with disabled children to not be worthy of assistance. To her they are simply guilty of not considering the full horror of what Rett Syndrome might mean to their lives before deciding to have a child. She sneers at their hopes for a healthy child. Got a disabled child? Bad fucking luck, hippies. Want support? Not with my tax dollars, she cries. School? Well, there’s the school chaplain!

Miranda is against gender selection. She’s against abortion. She’s against IVF. But not against adoption? Talk about children as commodities. You can pick the gender, race, eye colour of children. You can insist on no genetic defects. If you don’t think the child IS GOOD ENOUGH LOOKING, you can back out. It’s just like… like buying a pair of shoes! If Miranda really thought this stuff was immoral, adoption would be blind choice – boy, girl, healthy, disabled, from any race, attractive, unattractive – you put your hand up and get the next in line because that is the kid who needs it the most and been waiting the longest.

See, Miranda isn’t really worried about the commodification of children or a buyer’s market – what she cares about that the market is created by methods that agree with her sensibilities. Simply, if you don’t want to give birth to a baby, don’t have sex. It doesn’t matter what happens to the child afterwards – adoption, poverty, abuse, whatever – as long as the woman is forced to have a child. If the ‘market options’ involve a women exercising control over their fertility – that is immoral. Double standards don’t exist for Miranda.

Hell, she’s even despises childcare. Women: sex means you have that baby and stay at home!

Come on, Miranda – let’s hear it – put your hand up and say “I’ll foster a disabled kid” or “I’ll adopt a disabled newborn”. What’s that? What IS that sound? BIRDS FUCKING TWEETING, that’s what that noise is.

Though, I can’t say I blame you. Nobody starts out to create a new life hoping for a disabled child as a result. Yeah, that’s fucking cold to say it out loud, but what does the sentence “I don’t care what I have, as long as it’s healthy” really mean if not that?

So news flash, Miranda: life ain’t a fucking rainbow of joy. Not everyone is capable of caring for a disabled child. Some parents, at some point, might prefer a child of a particular gender over another. Some couples, at some point, might not be able to afford a child and decide on abortion. Some parents might discover genetic defects and not want a child to live that life. Some women, once they have children, will want to return to work. Some will stay at home. Sometimes, contraception isn’t perfect. Some couples have a hard time falling pregnant, but are still driven to want children. Some of them chose adoption. Some chose assisted reproduction technologies like IVF or surrogacy. And yes, some just move on.

There isn’t one – right – choice. There isn’t one – right – way to want children. Or raise them.

And if you don’t agree with child euthanasia, tell me what are you doing to prevent the scenario. No, no, besides sneering I mean.

Parents want the best for their child. Parents are entitled to decide what quality of life they are happy for their child to have and sometimes, the quality of life that is even possible is less than the parents can accept. What then?

If they can’t cope and you won’t help, where does that leave the child? But I forget, you don’t actually care about the child. Not the way parents do.

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21 thoughts on “Children aren’t shoes. But they are still a choice.

  1. Hey Idledad,
    I just found out you had a blog!
    This is the first entry I’ve read and it doesn’t disappoint.
    I’ve always really enjoyed your contributions to Mamamia, it is because of you that I have the joy or knowing Lambuel.
    I’m so glad there is someone out there with a brain and such a way with words.
    (Hope I’m being complimentary rather than sycophantic!)
    Yay!

  2. I have just read the Miranda Devine article.

    What I don’t like is the phrase “this outsourcing process will lead to the commodification of children”. I also don’t like that she has mixed surrogacy with disability and IVF and same-sex adoption and “baby concierges” and so on. The issues are so much more complex and as Ms Devine knows, media reporting of what celebrities do and say is chosen to excite comment and titillation.

    There are some things I don’t feel personally comfortable about (i.e. I disagree) – one example is gender-selection where there is no medical reason for that choice. However, I think that writing this kind of catch-all article serves merely as journalistic hyperbole and risks offending people who have lived in or around some of the issues Ms Devine writes about.

    And I certainly don’t think “All our technological prowess has brought us to this point, where a baby is the last frontier in material gluttony.”

    And finally, my sister-in-law was born with profound intellectual disability – her parents fight every week to get a decent level of service and quality of life for her. Whilst I love my sister in law as one of the family, I thank my lucky stars that our children were born in perfect health and wonder if I would rise to the challenge of parenting a child with a disability in the selfless, loving way my parents in law do now.

    Ms Devine is right that so often bringing a child into the world is not all “rattles and rompers” so what I would like to see is Ms Devine writing about the shocking lack of support for parents of children with disabilities. This article in the Guardian about a mother who felt forced to give her child up to the State could be a good place to start. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jan/19/mother-disabled-daughter-care It’s much the same in Australia.

    1. I’ve been thinking about your comment Yvette and I want to just run this by you.

      You’re uncomfortable with gender selection as a parental choice. Miranda is uncomfortable with abortion. Catholics are uncomfortable with IVF.

      Should uncomfortableness mean illegal? Can we support something being a legal choice without feeling comfortable about it? I was certainly uncomfortable with the Melbourne couple’s decision to abort their twin boys because they were hoping for a girl, but I wouldn’t legally stop them.

      Your thoughts? Is gender selection a bridge too far?

  3. Reading Miranda Devine makes me want to stick needles in my eyes. Her profound misunderstanding or any deviance from her box and her purposefully, blatant dis-empathy for anyone else gets me every time. I only wish that everyone who reads that article, reads this blog post.

  4. While I don’t like Miranda Devine’s article or stance I also don’t like the suggestion that my children are commodities because I adopted them. For some people having a baby takes less thought & consideration than buying a pair of shoes. That’s not those who adopt.

    1. I think you’ve misunderstood my point. Neither parents who adopt nor parents who have used ART to conceive are buying commodities with a checklist.
      Miranda disagrees with ART because it hurts her sensibilities, while ignoring that fact that the same arguments can be made against things she agrees with.
      Both adopting parents and ART parents are parents of children they love. I can see it, Miranda can’t.
      Apologies if you took offense.

  5. I literally CAN’T read Miranda Devine – she makes me want to hurl or hurl something. My Mum used to care for adults who were severely intellectually and physically disabled and the families of the people for whom she cared were involved in their lives to varying degrees. When I was old enough, she took me with her to work so I could go on day outings with them and see with my own eyes the difficult life they had. One of the men for whom she cared passed away and at the funeral I remember his Mum coming over to my Mum and thanking her for all the care she displayed and gave and asking for her forgiveness that she wasn’t able to take on the task on her own. Mum cried more at that than at any part of the funeral. This mother’s guilt over not being able to take care of her own child was awful to witness. I have no judgement and really, really feel that Atticus Finch’s “Walk a mile in their shoes” applies here in bucketloads! So, until people know what it’s like to be desperate for a baby and not be able to have one “naturally” or how it is to care for a child with a disability they should NOT judge or talk such complete crapola as if they were an expert. I know I would struggle to care for a child with such significant disabilities – I find it hard enough with my gorgeously precocious 2 year old.

    ps. Sorry, long and ranty first comment! 🙂

  6. Great post! Why haven’t I found your blog earlier?

    Thought I’d better check out/follow everyone who is attending the AusBlogCon. Pop over to bigwords if you get a moment x

  7. Mr. Dad, Can I call you Idle?
    Idle, spiffing article, pity we have to read that person’s trash to get motivated to talk about these things though.
    I walked ms5 to school today for the first time. Now, I’ve felt like a Dad before, but today I felt like a dad for the first time all over again.
    People like Madranda will never ever get that feeling, and they’ll also miss the pain points in between.
    Love you work, as always
    (not)Frank

  8. How do I express how much I love this post? I want to have your babies? No, I’ve got two and I love my husband – so, yeah, that does express how much I love this post!
    Thank you for emphasising that there is so little support for people with a disability and their parents. Bring on the disability insurance scheme.

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