Octuplets and all children deserve betterBy Jim Wooten | Friday, February 6, 2009, 08:20 PMThe Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionThe octuplets born to an unmarried woman in California are consequences of self-centeredness gone awry.The woman, Nadya Suleman, had six children, all conceived with the help of a sperm-donor friend. The eight born last month grew from six implanted embryos, life created with friend-donated sperm.She told NBC’s ‘Today’ show that she wanted a large family because she felt alone as an only child. ‘All I wanted was children,’ she said. ‘I wanted to be a mom. That’s all I ever wanted in my life. I love my children.’At a minimum, the cost to a single mother of raising one child to age 18 is between $118,590 and $250,260, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The woman, injured while working at Metropolitan State Hospital in 1999, collected $165,000 in disability payments between 2002 and 2008. She told a workers’ comp judge in 2001 that she spent most of the day in bed and had been unable to care for her first child. But none of these financial details, regardless of how they affect her ability to provide for the needs of 14 children, are the concern here.The outrage is that a narcissistic adult, for her own pleasure, intentionally brought 14 children into the world, children who will never know their father.It was a conscious, medically assisted choice to have multiple births ‘” a decision suggesting an impaired mental state that should have raised questions about her fitness as the primary adult female in the children’s lives.The octuplets should be a wake-up call to the nation. It is child cruelty to inflict the suffering on human life that Suleman visits upon these 14 children.A nation that pretends to cherish children allows them to be abused in the worst possible way ‘” by casually denying them a mother and a father living together in marriage, each committed to the child’s welfare. Suleman has eight at once, but millions of children are coming into the world suffering the same fate.In 1960, 5.3 percent of children were born to unmarried women. By 1970, it had doubled to 10.7 percent. In another decade, it was 18.4. By 1990, it was up to 28 percent. By 2005, it was up to 36.8, highest ever.For whites, 25.4 percent of babies born in 2005 came into the world without married parents. For Hispanics, it’s 47.9. For blacks, it’s 69.5.As Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears has noted, children born to unmarried women and to those in cohabiting relationships ‘must often overcome increased risks of poverty, education failure, child abuse, delinquency, emotional distress and mental illness.’A single woman’s income is part of the reason, but the lack of a father’s guidance in children’s lives is a major cause of their suffering. ‘Marriage is the best child welfare, crime prevention, anti-poverty program we have,’ Sears said in that same speech. The focus of all law and public policies really should be reoriented to children. They desperately need protection from self-centered adults who casually create life for reasons that are frivolous and self-indulgent.Every child born to an unmarried woman should have a legal advocate appointed by the state to represent the child’s interest. A primary interest would be in holding both male and female adults financially liable.In the case of the children born to Suleman, the legal advocate would file suit against the fertility clinic or a physician who knowingly contributed to their abuse ‘” life in a multiple-child household headed by a single woman.The octuplets’ birth dramatically highlights the plight of children carelessly and frivolously conceived. It should be the spectacle that prompts ministers, educators, entertainers, politicians, aunts, uncles and other family members need to recognize the harm unmarried adults are causing to children.Life begins at conception. Anything adults do prior to that moment that doesn’t harm a third person is their business. At the moment of life, however, the wants and even the needs of the adults are incidental to those of the child.These 14 children need a protector.