This is our neighbor, Mati. She is pregnant with baby #5. I think her oldest is between nine and eleven, but they don’t know how old any of their kids are. He is only about as tall as Everett, which can be deceiving. Next in line are two more boys, around 7 and 4. Then a girl who is 2 (I actually know her age because she was brand new when we moved here two years ago.) That’s 3 boys and a girl, in case you weren’t counting.
I was chatting with Mati the other day about the baby, and asked her whether she hoped for a girl or a boy this time. She, not surprisingly, said she hoped for another girl. I told her that I understood, since my family is the opposite of hers. Then she told me she didn’t want to keep it if it was boy because she had too many boys already. She was laughing, so I was pretty sure she was joking. At least half joking–I think. At first I didn’t even consider the fact that she could be serious. In my suburban, Christian, college-educated, upper-middle-class, American world, married women do not talk about not keeping a baby. In my world, hinting at not wanting one because you already have too many of one gender would OF COURSE be a joke. So I first heard her saying she didn’t want to keep it as a joke about how many boys she has. Then it occurred to me that she might be serious. It is a very common practice here to give away a baby. At least two of our closest neighbors are raising children that aren’t biologically their own. Many of the babies given away are born to married parents who have other children. So Mati could have been serious. Maybe she will give away her baby if its a boy. It wouldn’t be unusual. But, like I said, she was laughing, so she was probably joking.