NPR's Scott Simon is a former colleague (going back a decade now, yeesh) and I've been touched to hear the emotion in his voice as he talks about the emotional choice of adopting children that he and his wife have taken. But Lisa Hymas of Grist has actually read Scott's book (I haven't had a chance yet), and the following passage stood out to her:
Adopting a child to prove something is not a healthy motivation. I would seriously consider alerting the authorities if I heard a prospective parent say, "We want to adopt because it's the most environmentally responsible thing to do. Don't want to increase our carbon footprint, after all!"
Heck, it would stand out to me too. I don't know if anyone on earth has ever said those words. But the discussion she had with Scott Simon about his book - which you can read in full on Grist.org - touches on a larger converation I've heard brewing about population growth and the burden it places on the planet - an intersection of health, environment, political issues and economic ones that is one of those fundamental, hiding-in-plain-sight kind of questions - like campaign finance reform, in a way.
Hymas' entries about whether to have a child, about overpopulation, and this book, are thoughtful - and so are her questions. It doesn't surprise me their transcript seems more conversational and less confrontational.
Q. Anyway, I got some requests from people who are concerned about environmental issues and wanted to hear about adoption as a potential option -- people who want to be parents but are concerned about leaving the world in a livable condition for the next generation. So that passage in your book struck me as really judgmental and unfair to people who are concerned about environmental issues and who might want to consider adoption.
A. I'm sorry if it sounded judgmental. There's a thin line in a book like this where you reach conclusions out of your own experience. Obviously they should make their own judgments. Having children is a profoundly personal decision and personal experience, and I can't put myself in the position of judging. I keep getting back to the fact that I think for all kinds of different reasons, [adoption is] a very good thing to do.
That being said, anybody who has children should do it out of a sense of joy, not out of a sense of duty. That doesn't come to the exclusion of also wanting to be a responsible citizen of the planet.
Reading on, you'll see her come to an understanding with Simon - something some of the best radio interviews accomplish. I wish I could have listened in while it was happening!