Is Eight Enough?
For the past couple of weeks, the blogosphere has been captivated with Nadya Suleman, the single mother who gave birth to octuplets on January 26. Since the births, Nadya has been the subject of numerous inquires by the press and the public as to why a single mother, with six children already, would willingly choose to undergo in vitro fertilization and carry eight babies to term. Nadya has blasted reports (some by her own family members) that she will be unable to care for all fourteen of her children, telling NBC’s Ann Curry that she is “loving them unconditionally” and that is all any child needs or could ask for.
Not to jump on the bandwagon, but I find this irreprehensible. This woman, unfortunately, is unemployed, without a partner or caretaker, and already has six other children. Frankly, the Medical Board of California is absolutely correct to investigate the physician who agreed to impregnate her with eight embryos. And I will be interested to see how long it takes before Child & Family Services gets involves as well.
While following this story with great interest, I found it incredibly interesting that the octuplets’ birth was nearly always, unintentionally, juxtaposed with stories about Brad Pitt’s and Angelina Jolie’s brood. It is awards season, after all, and since the happy couple have received their fair share of nominations, the paparazzi has hit overdrive and jumped at the opportunity to see them publicly on an almost daily basis. And this, of course, includes plenty of photos of Brad and Angelina’s children.
In six years, Brad and Angelina have adopted or given birth to six children. But rather than commenting on their ability to take care of their ever-growing family (OK! Magazine reports Angelina wants to get pregnant again very soon), they are universally praised by the press and the public for the mini-UN that follows them from location to location. And few would bat an eye if the couple traveled to South America tomorrow and picked up a few more kids.
I recognize that the financial situations between the Jolie-Pitt family and Nadya Suleman are vastly different. Brangelina are fortunate enough to not have to take care of their children on their own and can hire as much help as is needed. But I can’t help but wonder, adopted or not, is there a point when it is unethical for one or two people to have so many children? We live in an age when overpopulation is the root of so many of our problems that it seems unnecessary and morally questionable for a couple – or single parent – to have more than three or four children, max. Especially those parents fortunate enough to live in Westernized parts of the world and plenty of access to contraception.
I would be more commendable of Brad and Angelina, in particular, if all of their children were adopted (and perhaps if they didn’t parade them out and about in front of the cameras so much). But since they are currently at a 50-50 split between adopted and biological, how are they any nobler than Nadya Suleman?