If I had a nickel for every time I have heard that, I would have, well, at least three dollars worth of nickels. While I like to believe people’s comments refer to my husband’s rugged good looks and my voluptuous figure, I have a sinking suspicion that people are talking about the passel of brown and white children that we travel with and who call us mom and dad.
What is about large families that cause strangers to have verbal diarrhea? For the record, I do have my hands full and I do know what birth control is. Also, I am busy and no, I am not a saint. I am still the same sarcastic person I have been since the moment I was born.
So my husband and I have eight children, three bio kids and five children from Ethiopia. Our oldest is eight and our youngest is fifteen months. We didn’t start off thinking that our family would be large. In fact, five years ago, we only had two children. Somewhere along the line, our feelings about family size changed. I think it started on our first trip to Ethiopia. We were adopting a beautiful baby boy and while I ADORE babies, big kids are more entertaining. Big kids can play and talk and take care of their own toileting needs so we hung out with the big kids A LOT. I had read Oliver Twist so I knew what orphanage life was all about, right? What I found instead of poor wretches begging for a bowl of gruel were KIDS playing and arguing and being kids. These children had really crappy things happen to them because no child ends up in an orphanage without some major losses, but at the end of the day, children are children.
My husband and I talked about adopting an older child if we adopted again. I semi-stalked our agency’s waiting children list and time after time, toddler age boys were showing up. I called about one and was told to wait. We had four children aged 3 1/2 and younger, but we persisted and had our social worker advocate for us. That little 3 year old boy who had been waiting since April was referred to us in August. My mom and I traveled to Ethiopia in December of 2006 to pick him up.
After we bought him home, my daughter age 3 began campaigning hard for a sister. “Oh, Daddy. Last night I had a beautiful dream. Someone knocked on my door and when she came in, she said, ‘I’m your sister. Let’s play ponies and be best friends.’” The child can lay it on thick, and soon Daddy’s little girl got her way. (Okay, and I really wanted another daughter too.) We adopted our almost four year old daughter in April of 2008.
While we were in Ethiopia, we met a gorgeous little six year old boy. He came up to us and asked my husband to give him some numbers. After doing three different math equations in his head, he said goodbye in Spanish and wandered off. A little boy who could talk smack in two foreign languages. He was destined to be our son. While in the adoption process for him, I received an email from our agency asking if we would be interested in a baby boy who was waiting. The answer is YES! ALWAYS! In September of 2009, I picked up our sons.
So that’s how we became a large family. Let me tell you a little secret about having a lot of kids. I call it the work/joy factor. With my first child, the work was about 80 % and the joy was about 20%. The joy was so overwhelming wonderful that it made up for the work, but first babies are a LOT of work. The second child is 70%/30% and the third is 50%/50%. After the third, the work/joy ratio goes way in the other direction. Adding a child brings 95% more joy and 5% more work. Although every child has changed our life and our family, adding a child no longer changes our lifestyle. I already do a lot of laundry and make a lot of food. Adding a child does not change that.
This is probably more information than the average stranger who tells me that my hands are full wants to know, but it is our story.