When people see my large family in a public place, it is pretty obvious that we are an adoptive family. And for some reason, people often feel that it is okay to ask direct questions about our family makeup or offer comments- not all of which I particularly want to answer or hear when I am out trying to maneuver around with six children! Sometimes these questions feel a bit intrusive, and cross the line between polite inquiry and mind-your-own-damn-business (“Are they really brothers and sisters?”) But often what people really want to know, is why we decided to grow our family through adoption when we already had three kids?
So since you might be wondering as well (and thank you for being too polite to ask!)– here's what I have to say.
Generally speaking, I think that people adopt children for all kinds of reasons, just as people choose to become pregnant and have babies for all kinds of reasons. Some people are led to adoption by the way of infertility, and others because adoption had already touched their life in some other way- perhaps they or a sibling were adopted. I’ve read about other families who became interested in adoption through work they were doing through their church.
For my husband Steve and I, having children through adoption was just always something that was part of our discussion about having a family- way back when we were just dating in our early 30's.
That tug of starting a family clearly existed inside both of our hearts, and we knew that if we ever intended to have children, we had better get started or our ages would eventually make the decision for us. And so we decided to try to get pregnant first, and if that didn’t “work out”, then we would start to explore adoption.
First our son Kyle was born, and we loved everything about being parents- the middle of the night feedings, the diaper changes, the lack of sleep, and endless laundry- all of it. And we knew we wanted more children- and we wanted them to be close in age, so they could grow up together as friends and playmates (hopefully!).
So seven months after Kyle was born, we became pregnant with Spencer. And having two babies just really felt like double the wonder and double the excitement to us. It didn’t make us feel over-worked or stressed, it made us feel blessed.
So sixteen months after Spencer’s birth, Jack was born. Now we had three children under three years of age. And again, what we mostly felt was awe and wonder. Not to say that we weren’t extremely busy- we were, but we really relished the joy of being a family.
And at the risk of sounding too self-confident- we thought that we were pretty good at this parenting thing!
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Steve and I often explain to other people, that once you move from having two kids to having three kids- at least one parent is always “juggling” multiple children.
And once you’ve got that whole thing figured out- it just isn’t hard to imagine going from three kids to four.
And when we thought about having another child, we just knew in our hearts that this child would join our family through adoption. It felt right. In the same way that people know that they want to have a baby through birth, it’s how they feel, they know they are ready, they just know it.
And for us, there was a bit more- we knew we wanted to parent a child that might not otherwise have an opportunity to be in a family, and we knew we were totally okay with that child being from another race and culture than the one we were born into.
And knowing all of that, led us to another “truth” for us, that if we were going to adopt one child from another race or culture, then we eventually wanted to adopt two children from that same race or culture. So that they each would grow up with a sibling who looked like them, and joined our family through similar sets of circumstances.
Of course, it all turned out slightly different than we planned- because instead of having two children through adoption, we ultimately decided to have three! And then, for us, our family felt complete.
The decision to have kids or not, how many kids to have, and whether or not you still want more… these are all decisions of both the heart and the head.
To those who question why someone would want to adopt a child that is not “their own” (a phrase that I passionately despise), I say,
“Think about it. You fell in love with your spouse/significant other- and love them so very deeply- yet they are not of your blood.”
It is the same thing with a child. Biology really has nothing to do with it. It is the love, the bond, the life-long commitment between a parent and a child.
This is how we became a family. And I know just how blessed I am.
Looking for more posts on Adoption Parenting?
- Why We Decided to Grow Our Family Through Adoption
- How to Explain Adoption to Your Friends and Family
- 8 Great Books on Adoption Parenting
- Finding the Right Adoption Language for Your Family
- Things I Wish People Didn't Feel Compelled to Ask