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We started today's show with the story of Stephanie Akins. She and her husband Dave — and their six children — became homeless for 14 months following a litany of woes: their house burned down, they were swindled by a con-man, and Dave lost his job after nearly losing his foot from a diabetes-related infection. For our commenter Cedar, Stephanie's story brought up tough questions of family planning:
I do not want to sound insensitive, and I understand that some circumstances are out of some people's control, but I can't figure out why your guest would continue to produce so many children if she cannot afford them? I hear about this time and time again...I can understand it happening once or twice, but to keep having children when you know that you will have to depend on the state to support them baffles me.
My husband and I have one child whom we struggle to raise by working alternate shifts, etc. The thought of bringing another child into this world is not even an option for us because we know that we could not afford it...
I called the Akinses this afternoon to get their response to Cedar's comment. Dave answered, and was quick to point out that they had their last child a year before they became homeless.
"I made enough to support six kids, get them into school, feed them, and live in a nice house," he said. "The plan was that when our youngest went to school, Steph would go back to work. And then with two incomes we could think about college."
I asked about their choice to have such a large family. "We're Christians, so birth control for us is a hard decision," he explained. They saw the pill as performing "a kind of abortion each month."
Dave told me that they wouldn't choose to have another child now — and in fact Stephanie had her tubes tied after their sixth was born — but mentioned at the end of our conversation that if and when their finances improve, they'd like to adopt.
This all got me wondering: Has this recession changed your approach to planning the growth of your family? Then there's the separate — but related — question, from the radio producer in me: How might we turn these very personal decisions into a publicly resonant hour of radio? And would you listen?
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