Where is “The Village”?

An African proverb informs that it takes a village to raise a child.  Long ago we in the United States lost the meaning and the practice of this by in large.

The photo above, for those who may not know, is an incubator in some NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).  Some years ago I was rewarded to be the lead electrical engineer in the design of a NICU expansion at a major hospital in San Antonio, Texas.  It was technically challenging for a number of reasons, but resulted in a very functional, modern space for the NICU nurses and parents to nurture and care for tiny, tiny babies.  This project did not compare in size or dollars to many other large jobs I did in my career, but it truly was rewarding.  I had done many hospital projects before and after, but none compared to the sense of purpose in this project.  I did not actually go into a “live NICU” during our design and construction phases, as NICU’s are very guarded of course, but I sat in many meetings with the head NICU nurse and other staff, and I realized then just how committed they are to assuring those little guys and girls go home when the time is right.  Caring for a child that will fit into your hand and seeing that human being go home as a functioning baby must be an extraordinary experience indeed.

What concerns me, however, is the blatant dichotomy between the reasons why many babies start their lives in a NICU versus the resources, means and methods made legally available to girls and women of child-bearing age, before and after pregnancy, and certainly after the baby is taken home (where ever home may physically be, which many times is not in a good space or location).

There are those who would overturn and effectively wipe out the Roe versus Wade decision, in their collective mindset, to save human lives from “the A-word.”  These same factions also have for years up to right now, done their best to shut down women’s clinics that offer so much more than abortion, giving young girls and women without means or wanting privacy, the information and treatments to care for their bodies and to avoid pregnancy.

So what happens if these people win and their is no legal access to abortion in many states, mostly the poorer states?  Well, yes, many may choose to have the baby then give it up for adoption.  I cannot take issue with this if this were a choice made by the mother not under duress.  Of course, many such babies of color will wind up never being adopted and living lives shuttled from one foster home to another, never feeling like they belong; others may be adopted of course, but often by white families of means, and this opens up another whole can of “stuff.”  Abortion will continue, as those who can somehow raise the money will travel to other states to have it done, but for those who have no financial means to do so, they will do as done in our past dark history, going to back-alley abortionists who will do anything for the money.  As a result, many of these poorer girls and women risk dying, risk major medical complications the rest of their days, and very well may not be able to conceive again or carry a fetus to term.

Let me now say I have very personal experience with the “old days,” for when in college my girlfriend (and future wife) became pregnant by me, and we at the time saw no way out that would not turn both our own budding young adult lives upside down, so she had an abortion in a non-medical “place.”  We got pregnant again in college, and she miscarried.  If there is blame, it is mine, and believe me I have lived with it all my life, as a man, but in no way able to feel what my wife felt.  We never were able to conceive after our college years, so were left childless. 

America spends so much money and resources to care for these NICU infants (one reason is that the healthcare system is an industry with lots of money), but what do we do for them after they go home, if they live in dire circumstances?  Very little, and it is getting worse under the present politics.  Many of these fresh little ones will be raised up in situations that are in many ways, 2nd or 3rd world, quite frankly.  Some will be caught up in family situations where the parents are young, ill prepared, and totally without the resources to be proper parents.  As these children grow, and are subjected to very poor parenting, and likely witness or experience neglect and abuse of all kinds, they soon began to act out, and what you wind up with in a few more years are trauma rooms full of gunshot victims as we hear about daily.  (Oh, is it maybe more revenue for the “system”?)

So where is the village?  Save a tiny baby only to cast the sweet bundle to the wolves?

America, we truly are a backward society.