I know what you’re thinking. Whatever happened to birth control? How could a 22 year old woman already have 6 kids? How old was this woman when she had her first baby?
Then, if you know she lives on Pine Ridge Reservation, you may get even more snide. How irresponsible to have so many kids when you have no job and no way to support them. Are my taxes feeding those kids? It’s just like poor folk to have so many kids and not be able to take care of them.
Questions and judgment – it seems like the world is full of those two negative qualities.
Allow me to be the voice of reason and enlightenment.
Okay, I’m sounding rather pompous and arrogant, I admit it. It’s just that I know what you don’t know. I know this woman’s story.
This young mom actually got pregnant at 17. She dropped out of high school to have her first baby. She is in the company of many young women in all social strata in that, isn’t she?
She had that first baby when she was 18. She had her second baby 13 months later. That’s been done before, too. Our mom is from a large family (the oldest of 9 children), so she likely had some experience with babies from a young age. Her third child was born a little over a year ago, when she was 21.
I know you can all count and you’re about to ask if she had triplets in the past year, since that is the only way you can imagine she could go from 3 children to 6 children in a single year.
I’m here to tell you she did it even more quickly than that!
Within 3 days in October this young woman found out she was having 3 more children, got the children and became the mother of 6. It has to do with family values, you see. And generosity. And love.
One day in October 2010, this young woman heard from her own mother that she needed to place the young mom’s 3 youngest siblings in another home. (I did not delve into the reason for that at this time. There will be time for that.) Her 3 siblings could not be placed with their grandma because grandma’s health was not good . . . and besides, she had someone with a felony record living in the household. If this young woman could not take care of her siblings, they would have to enter the foster care system.
Although overwhelmed by the thought of 3 more children in the house instantly, I doubt that this woman took any time to really consider it. They were family – her brothers and sister – how could she possibly say no?! She loved them. So she agreed. Several days later they arrived, bringing with them little more than the clothes on their backs.
It’s a new picture, isn’t it? And you feel badly because you judged her without all the facts.
I think she is a heroine, a true Lakota woman – strong, loving, generous. I never cease to be amazed by the Lakota women I have the privilege to encounter.
But the reality is that her 3 siblings – 6 yr old and 2 yr old twins – really are a challenge when added to her own family. This young woman was enrolled in a program to work on her GED. She understands that education is important. She is bright. But 6 children keep you really busy! They live in a small, 2 bedroom house with a single bathroom.
I recall that, when I was pregnant with my second child, I wasn’t worried about the extra work. I was an experienced mom – how much more work could another baby be? I was shocked to discover it was like having 10, never mind 2. I had forgotten the amount of laundry one baby can generate. I had forgotten how much diapers cost in the beginning. I had forgotten sleepless nights.
How was this young woman going to clothe, feed, supervise, clean up and clean after 6 children in addition to working on her own future and caring for her spouse? How was she going to do all that with no income? Where would they sleep as they got older?
That’s where I come in. I enrolled the family with One Spirit so that I can try to locate sponsors for the children. I can offer moral support right now and put them on the OKINI list for the clothing they need until they get sponsors. I confess, I connected with this young woman in a way I don’t usually and when I unintentionally came across a fantastic sale at JC Penney last weekend, I bought the all the kids new winter coats. It’s a darn good thing my “stash” money (savings from my weekly household money) had been adding up!! Even though I ended up buying the items at one third of the retail price, it was still pricey – it could never have been done by someone with no income!
So now I am looking for sponsors for the 6 children. I am praying that I find a rich person who can take on all 6 – the whole family – instead of taking care of the children one at a time. That isn’t likely, but as the old saying goes, hope springs eternal.
I have lots of hope!!
I hope you will share the facts about life on Pine Ridge Reservation with others!
I hope you will consider donating to the food and heat programs at One Spirit!
I hope you will think about this mom and consider becoming a sponsor!
There are plenty of other children (almost 400 in Pine Ridge, about 250 in Oglala) who need sponsors, as well as about 100 elders. Actually, there are more, but they have not enrolled with us – yet. So don’t think that someone else will take care of this young family and there will be no one for you. It will not happened until there is a miracle of change on Pine Ridge Reservation.
So step up and, especially if you are a parent, think about this family. THEN DO SOMETHING!!!!! DON’T JUST SIT THERE AND SAY, “WOW, THAT’S TOO BAD.” GET OFF YOUR WALLET AND HELP! (If you do, you might even get to speak with me – now that would be a treat for you!)