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On Being Finished Building Our Family, For Now

When I was a kid, I thought that I would want a lot of babies. I was under the impression that I would prefer fourteen, eight girls and six boys, and that I would build my dream family both by birth and adoption. Of course, at that time, I also thought that I would be married by the tender age of twenty-three. My parents were married quite young, and I had no reason to believe that it would be different for me; I just thought that I would graduate from college first, in order to be responsible.

When a husband didn’t magically appear in my 20s, and my career took a definite turn towards nurturing others’ children as a nanny, my family size plans began to change. By the time I married my husband at age thirty-one, I was definitely not up for a mega family. Two or three kids seemed fine to me, maybe four if everything lined up just right. Just as before, as time went by, my thoughts on family size changed again. Not only did we opt out of pursuing pregnancy, both Jarod and I have come to the conclusion that two kids is just about right for us.

Determining family size is such a personal issue. I read blog posts all the time arguing for fewer children or larger families, depending on that family’s makeup. But I don’t ever think it’s as simple as giving blanket statements about only children or overpopulation or enough attention for each child or the benefits of lots of siblings. Looking at my own family, more and more I feel like each family has members that are somehow meant to be in it, and many of us know when we’ve filled our nest with the babies we’re meant to have. This is definitely the case for me.

I have had a sense of knowing about each of my children’s existence, and knowing that we are done building our family has felt similar. I’m not sure if it’s a true gut instinct, or if it’s just a lot of things adding up to make our current family size make sense. What I do know, however, is that for now, the two children in our family are it for us. There is no one else waiting in the wings. I’m to focus on Zinashi and Elvie. For now.

Since we began researching adoption, we knew that we would adopt more than once. We simply wanted to give our children the gift of someone in the family with similar experience and heritage. We wondered for awhile if there would be more than two children, and I suppose that in some ways we are still wondering that, but not actively. After Zinashi’s adoption, I knew that there would be another, and I felt the lack of that family member keenly. I knew that another child was coming, and it made me restless. Now that Elvie is here, that restlessness has disappeared. There may be someone else for us in the future, but for now, we need to focus our energies and attention on the two who are here. To be honest, for me to parent effectively, I need to free up the space in my brain that’s taken up by wondering if we’ll need to go through the adoption process again.

I suppose in that regard I am similar to a woman who has had a difficult pregnancy and knows that she just can’t consider doing it again right away. Elvie’s adoption went so fast, and I honestly don’t think I have it in me to plan on doing another paper chase. It’s just too much. With Elvie’s unexpected hospital stay still playing out in follow up visits, coupled with Zinashi’s continued need for reassurance that what happened in her past won’t happen again, I don’t have the energy to even think about mothering another child. I am using up all I’ve got on actively mothering the two I have. I love them both to pieces, and I do everything I have to do gladly. I recognize that the two children I’ve been given need me in significant ways right now, and will for the foreseeable future, and it would be a disservice both to them and to any other child that might enter our family if we were to attempt another adoption.

From the time that we began researching adoption, we noted that the children who need families are either older or have severe special needs or both. It is still in my heart that we might be able to be a family to a child who is aging out or who seems to great of a responsibility for someone else to handle. But those thoughts and dreams need to be put away for the future. That possibility is too far off to take up residence in my heart or mind. For now, I have two fabulous girls. For now, we are a family of four. For now, our family is just perfect.

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