You Have Enough Kids
Over the years, starting even when we had just two kids, I have heard statements (from friends, family, and strangers alike) such as “you don’t need any more kids,” “you have enough kids,” “well, surely now you have enough kids” and “why would you adopt again? You have enough kids already!”
These types of statements used to make me feel like I had to explain our decisions or they used to make me feel like I needed to be a better parent because maybe if they saw that I was the best parent in the universe, they would think that I could “handle” more kids.
I have tried (in vain) to explain to people that we are adopting children WHO DO NOT HAVE A FAMILY, kids who NEED A HOME, but this does not seem to matter to those who continue to make this statement after or before each addition we have made to our growing family. I know that some of it has been said by those who are concerned because they do not want to see us overwhelmed or having a harder life than we could have if we chose the easier path, but this is the path we have chosen, and all we need need is support. We are not demanding that others open their homes and adopt. (I do encourage adoption, but I never ask my friends and family directly why they are not doing more to help the plight of orphans in the world!)
Recently, a family member said to me again, “you have enough kids” and for the first time, instead of feeling like I needed to justify our decisions and make excuses and explanations, I felt angry. I thought about all the other times that people have said to me similar things and I realized that many of those things were said before the addition of some of our kids, kids who those same people now love and adore. Kids who now have a home and a family. Kids who are no longer orphans. Kids who I could not be more proud to call my children. Kids who have made our lives richer, not harder. Kids who have taught me more than I have taught them. Kids who have given me more than I have given them. Kids who we would not know had we thought of our family in terms of “enough.” And, I was angry.
We have been on the adoption journey for more than 10 years now, and it is one that has had its share of heartache, and I am well aware that some of that heartache has been shared by our close friends and family, even though they did not get any say in our decision to choose this path. But, they have also had the opportunity to get to know and love tiny humans who are so precious and have so much to give. I have listened to well-meaning friends or family members over the years say things that have hurt, badly, and for the most part, I have remained silent. I have talked to Mark about my feelings about certain things that have been said. I have cried about some of the more hurtful comments. I have tried to understand where the person is coming from and for the most part, I have not gotten angry.
But, suddenly, when this last comment was made, all those other hurts came bubbling up to the surface and I felt ready to attack! I held my tongue, but have given a lot of thought as to why that one comment has upset me so much. I think part of it is because of the implications. Some people said this when we only had two kids or three or four, if four was “enough kids,” then what does that say about the last three?
Another reason it has me so upset is that we are talking about human beings here, precious children, not possessions. To say that one can ever have “enough” children sort of sounds like they are shoes or something. Another is that I have never seen how it is deemed okay for people to question our personal decisions and give unsolicited advise and judgments, but it is not okay for us to do the same to them. What I mean is that when it comes to things that go against the norm, things like adoption, having a large family, and homeschooling, it seems that everyone and their neighbour thinks it’s somehow acceptable to tell us what a terrible thing we are doing. (Honestly, a family member told me when the boys were little that if I chose to homeschool, I would RUIN my children and they would never be normal – I have seen “normal” and believe me…I will be so glad if my kids are not “normal”!) Can you imagine how inappropriate it would be for me to say to a friend that I thought it was a selfish decision to go back to work full time when their baby was 4 months old because they wanted to pay for a nicer vacation or to say to a family member that it sickens me to think of all the starving children who could be fed for the cost of one of the brand new vehicles they buy for themselves every year? People judge it wrong that we went into debt to pay for an adoption of two children, but think nothing of going into debt themselves for a newer car, a bigger house, or even the latest computers, gadgets, and fashions!
I do not walk around telling people that they should not move because the house they have is “enough” or that they should not get another TV because the two they already own are “enough” or that they should not buy the latest iPhone because they just bought the last version and that should be “enough.” And, if you are shaking your head thinking, “yeah, but those are things, not children” then you are starting to get the point here! It is actually pretty uninformed to say “you have enough kids” as though they were objects. If there were ever anything I would want “too many” of, it would be children. Children are a blessing.
In response to the inevitable question, “are we going to adopt more kids?”, the answer is this: I don’t know. If you look only at logic, then the answer is…probably not. Logic dictates that seven children is nowadays, in North America, a huge family. Logic dictates that seven children is a huge expense. Logic dictates that I have a husband who is much more rational than I am and is less apt to make decisions based purely on emotion. Logic dictates a lot, but it does not dictate the size of our family. For now, we are done. That could mean forever. Or it could mean that tomorrow we will start the process for another adoption. Because God trumps all logic in my mind and in my heart. Our family size will be determined by God. He has called us to adopt, and I know that He is still working in our family. That does not necessarily mean that He will add children to it though. But, if God did lead us to add more children to our family through adoption, they would be as much of a blessing as each of our other seven are. Our lives would not be as rich or as fun or as crazy or as full of love as they are were it not for each one of our SEVEN children, each one.
As a message to our friends and family and to the friends and families of others who choose paths that are less socially acceptable…
Please support and love us where we are at, on the path that we have chosen. Pray for us, because the path that we have chosen is not an easy one. We know that you did not choose this path and we are not asking you to homeschool yourself or adopt yourself or have a large family yourself. We are not even asking you to understand or like the path we have chosen. If you choose to come and visit us on this journey once in awhile and ask how we are or offer your help, we would appreciate it greatly, but if you can only offer judgment and harsh words, please heed the wise advise of Thumper in “Bambi”…”if you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all”!
Sharla and her husband Mark are the parents of seven children, two gifted to them through birth and five gifted to them through adoption. They adopted three of their children through the foster-to-adopt program and, in 2009, brought home siblings from Ethiopia. You can follow their story of faith, homeschooling, adoption, and special needs parenting at Pockets of Change.