couple holding handsLocal couples find closeness, satisfaction with decision not to have kids.

First comes love, then comes marriage, Then comes baby in a baby carriage.

For centuries, that’s been the normal progression, but the times they are a-changing.

Many couples are postponing parenthood or choosing to forego it altogether. They’ve even coined a new term for their condition: childfree as opposed to childless, which implies their life is missing something.

Michael Hildebrandt, 35, and Jessica Camp, 33, of Fenton are among them. They’ve never wanted to be parents and are very happy with their childfree life.

Having children “was never on my agenda,” said Hildebrandt, a nurse at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor. “It’s just not something I want to do. It doesn’t fit into the lifestyle I want to live. I could never see myself with kids.”

His wife agrees, though her medical history contributed to her decision. She’s an only child; her late mother had numerous miscarriages before she was born and suffered clinical depression. Camp has health concerns of her own that would likely have made it difficult to conceive and carry a child, and she didn’t want to repeat her mother’s experience.

“I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to have kids,” said Camp, an associate professor of social work at University of Michigan-Flint.

Discussing one’s intention to be childfree is a delicate subject when dating.

“I would always bring it up early in a relationship,” Camp said. “It’s a tough topic of conversation. Some guys I dated just expected I would have kids and stay home.”

For some, the decision to be childfree includes concerns about overpopulation.

“I feel there are enough people in the world and too many of them are having kids that shouldn’t,” said Miles Stearn, 39, a ceramics artist who lives and works in Berkley.

“I didn’t feel it would be responsible bringing a life into this world, not knowing for sure if they would end up happy.”

Stearn feels many people have children to accomplish what they themselves cannot.

“I really don’t feel it’s fair to have kids reach for the stars when most people are too scared to do it themselves,” he said. “Unless you can accomplish something, you get lost to time.”

He and his wife, he says, “are living our dreams, not trying to rear a child to live theirs.”

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By Barbara Lewis, Contributing Writer

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