Community Baby

 

It takes a village…

“Provides a timeless reminder that children will only thrive if their families thrive and if the whole of their society cares enough to provide for them.” Hillary Rodham Clinton from It Takes a Village.

I was recently having brunch with my friend Chris. When talk of our single, though never dull, love lives came up Chris said nonchalantly, “You know, I’m not ready to get married. But, I’d have a baby today.”

tumblr_lzow2kqJWj1qgfu8eo1_250.jpg

Did I mention Chris is a guy?

My single girlfriends and I have talked for years now about having a baby sans a boyfriend or husband for a number of reasons. Mainly that it’s hard to find someone worth having a baby with or who’s ready to. We all agreed that if either of us was to find ourselves accidently pregnant that we would all help raise the baby, a kind of sisterhood of the traveling poopy pants. We joked about time-sharing the baby, teaching the baby about each of our cultures and how we’d help pay for the baby’s ballet or soccer. Three moms were better than one, right? In a sing-songy voice I started calling this our Community Baby.

Men and women today are finding themselves waiting longer and longer to enter into a serious relationship and prolonging having children. With excuses like fear of divorce, enormous student loan debt, a poor job economy, let alone the growing trend to be autonomous, we have a group of people still trying to figure their lives out. It’s hard to imagine paying your rent every month as a single person much less paying for a child on top of that. While all of this is happening women still feel their biological clock ticking away while men are allowed a longer bachelorhood. Women want to have a baby, but they don’t. Chris being the exception.

runaway-groom-sized-725x301.jpg

The idea of the family unit is changing rapidly and this is where the community baby idea comes in. Let’s just say for arguments sake, that three women and one man (gay, straight, pick your gender Facebook) decide to enter into a kind of modern relationship where one woman is the surrogate and one person donates the sperm (the man or an anonymous donor). Each of the four people sign a contract to act as a parent to this child, much like adoption. They will help raise, feed, tend to and monetarily care for this child for the rest of their lives. They can live in the same house together or in different houses nearby. Once the child is born the baby would stay with its maternal mother until it was able to travel. The baby would then travel from each of the parent’s houses. The child would grow up with four parents who equally love and care for this baby creating a whole new blended family.

  I started doing some research into what this might look like and it turns out, this isn’t so strange. The first thing that came to mind was stepfamilies. It doesn’t feel odd to have four parents all at once or to have brand new siblings. Or, adoption. We’ve embraced it.

The adorable baby from the documentary "Babies" from Africa  

The adorable baby from the documentary "Babies" from Africa

Or, in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s controversial book “It Takes a Village” she points out perfectly what the impact individuals and groups outside of the family have, for better or worse on a child’s well-being and how this idea could help raise children in America in reference to African communities. While, JC Niala states in her article, African Parenting: The Sane Way to Raise Children “It’s not just relatives and friends but anyone who interacts with a child that has a responsibility for them.”

Babies in Africa are strapped onto a persons stomach facing outward to see the world as it comes to them, not facing inward unaware of where they’re headed, like much of American babies are making them friendlier and more socially aware.

Babies in Africa are strapped onto a persons stomach facing outward to see the world as it comes to them, not facing inward unaware of where they’re headed, like much of American babies are making them friendlier and more socially aware.

Babies actually develop a better sense of community interacting with new and varied people. They’re more likely to share and to become socially comfortable with kids and adults for the rest of their lives when they’re brought into new environments. Babies in westernized countries learn a sense of independence very quickly. We teach babies that their world is all about them early on by attending to their every need and giving them plenty of “face time”.   This could account partially for the amount of social disconnect we're experiencing now in teens, 20-something and 30-something people.

Women feel the need to be able to “do it all”. But, raising a child can’t completely fall onto one, or even two people's shoulders.  It seems like women and men are getting a whole lot of help around the world raising their kids, so why can’t we?  Maybe this idea of the community baby doesn’t seem so foreign after all. If all we want is to raise our children to be happy, healthy and successful adults why couldn’t we bring on a team of parents to help aid in this? At the end of researching this article I came to realize that having a baby with a few of the people I love the most might be even better than just one. After all, it takes a village.