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 ten 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.  (on that note, I only have three or four pairs of shoes and some women have hundreds…maybe I value children more than shoes!)

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 four 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.  As Michelle Duggar says “saying there are too many children is like saying there are too many flowers”.

“The Bible calls debt a curse and children a blessing.  But our culture applies for curses and rejects blessings” – Doug Phillips

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”!

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33 responses to this post.

  1. My word that’s well written! Good on you Sharla. Have as many kids as God leads you to have! If he’s the author of your life’s plan, it’s going to be one incredible journey!

    Blessings,

    Ruth xo

    Reply

  2. Amen, Sista!

    Children are not “possessions” where we get a magical number of them and then we have “enough”. Most people do not understand how large families work because they have witnessed very few. Years ago, before children were deemed as inconveniences and not blessings, people had big families… and it wasn’t just because of a lack of birth control. Children were more important than material things. We could all live fine with a lot LESS materialism and then we could actually afford to change lives and help orphans. We don’t have a car that fits everyone, and I have a painted plywood floor in my living room that cleans up very nicely. When God grants us a van and enough money for flooring, we’ll do it! And then it will all be to His glory (and if it never happens, I’ll still feel like the most blessed woman on earth!!!)

    Thank you for such an inspiring and thought provoking post.

    Reply

  3. Posted by L Galloway on December 14, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Sharla you write with the wisdom of someone much older than you are. Your faith shines through in your words and your actions. It’s people like you, who inspire people like me, to do more. God bless

    Reply

  4. Ya! You go girl. I LOVE this post. Another one well written.

    k

    Reply

  5. Posted by charleine on December 14, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Yeah!!! And leave her alone, this is a woman about God’s business, doing as we are commanded to take care of the orphans!!! I think when people say ugly things about homeschooling and adopting they are realizing a shortcoming in themselves, possibly they are too selfish to undertake such a task! Praise God there are people like you who will adopt and love children without families, after all aren’t we adopted by God into His loving family…..

    Reply

  6. Posted by Victoria on December 15, 2010 at 8:36 am

    I think what you are doing is fantastic. If people continue to put possessions before love, kindness, and fullfillment, we will continue into moral decline. I could spend hours, days even, telling you how much I agree with and applaud you, but that is not necessary. You know in your heart you are doing something amazing. I stand in AWE! I admire and respect you. Keep doing what is right for you!
    Love and Blessings.

    Reply

  7. Amen, Amen, Amen. Do you mind if I link to this from Facebook etc….I love how you have been able to explain what I feel so deeply. I have people who comment on how ‘LARGE’ my family is, and we have ‘only’ 4 children….all brought to us by Adoption…I see it no other way and do not feel like life would have been better without ANY of them. Will we adopt again??? For now, no…in the future…God only knows that answer!
    LeAnne K
    The Haiti Lady

    Reply

  8. I’m always amazed at people’s shock at the cost of international adoption – yet they have no problem spending that much on a new car…you are absolutely correct. Our society values material things more than people. You are always an inspiration to me, Sharla

    Reply

  9. Posted by Kris on December 15, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Well said!

    Amen. Amen. Amen.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Michelle Drost on December 15, 2010 at 9:20 am

    AMEN!!!

    Boy did I ever need that! Dealing with similar things here and not knowing what to say or how to respond. Eyes are welling up with tears right now. Can’t see the screen!
    God’s leading in your family has blessed so many around you…including our growing family! Thank you for doing what you do and doing it with grace and humility.
    Your heart is beautiful!

    Reply

  11. Posted by Bonnie on December 15, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Bravo!

    Reply

  12. Posted by Richelle Fox on December 15, 2010 at 10:11 am

    WOW!!! It was so great…. I burst out laughing!!!!! You go girl!!! Another GREAT article :)))

    Reply

  13. I was ready for three, and approved for three, but as it turns out in my case, two “feel like” enough in a way that one never did. I’m feeling very content with two, and my heart overflows. It’s a feeling that overtook me in the moment I first met my youngest. Every family is different, and that’s such a beautiful thing, Sharla. At 43, I haven’t ruled out the possibility of future adoptions, but now is not the time. I am following recent stories on “extreme adoptions” with great interest.

    Reply

  14. Posted by Sandi on December 15, 2010 at 11:08 am

    amen to that sister!!!!!!!! Couldn’t have written this better and it’s exactly how I feel. Don’t tell me I’m crazy for having 6 kids and don’t assume we are surely done. It’s rude. I don’t ask why you only have 2 kids. Ugh come on people. Some comments we get are so hurtful. Thanks for this post. Cani link it from my blog?????

    Reply

  15. Posted by Sue Dohnim on December 15, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Another viewpoint:
    The people who imply that you have “enough” children are likely betraying their own limitations, in an inappropriate way, rather than giving a true reflection of your parenting choices.

    There are people who, though they love children dearly, do have “enough.” I am one of those. It has nothing to do with materialism or loving possessions more than people.

    I placed my firstborne child for adoption. I was very young when I gave birth to her. I was not equipped in any way to be her mother; she would have had no father; none of the grandparents were willing to help. Did I love her? Absolutely, with all my heart. Did I consider her to be a blessing, a gift from God? Certainly — but not a gift I was able to keep; God made that very clear to me. Was I right in placing her with a family that had the resources to raise her? No question in my mind; it was the right choice.

    I went on to have three more children with my husband. Then he chose to leave. I was so poorly equipped to raise those three alone. No job or job skills; welfare was my only income. Few emotional resources; my mental illness got in the way often and in huge ways. My children turned out well mostly in spite of me; it was God’s mercy that they were able to find people who could be surrogate parents, teaching the things I was incapable of teaching them (how can we teach something we don’t know ourselves?)

    I bless those of you who can and do have many children, whether that be through birth or adoption. I could not and should not do it. Is it selfish of me to say so? Does it mean I do not have a heart for homeless children?

    Nobody can do everything. We are gifted in different ways, be that a desire to adopt, the ability to give finances to missions, baking cookies for a shut-in, or whatever the case may be.

    You are gifted in being able to raise large families. I am gifted otherwise. We all should remember that we are one body. We need people who can raise “more” kids. We need people who raise “enough” kids. We need people who raise no children at all. We cannot know all the ways someone else is fulfilling their role in the body of Christ, and none of us has the right to judge another. God knows; God does the judging. Kind of reminds you of I Corinthians 12, eh?

    On behalf of those who have made rude and inappropriate comments about the size of your family, I apologize. Please forgive them, and know that they speak from some limitation within themselves.

    Reply

    • Posted by Elizabeth on December 17, 2010 at 12:34 pm

      Bless your heart Sue for sharing that!
      (((HUGS))) and Christs’ Love from a “almost enough kids” momma :o)
      Elizabeth in MN

      Reply

  16. Posted by Heather Blake on December 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    ….and people dont even realize that we have more children despite the fact we are no longer invited into their homes, etc etc etc. I get tired of the whole unspoken “OOOOOOHHH you are bring ALL of your kids????” They never say it, they just never invite us……
    They’ll get their just desserts when we have many adult children to share the load of taking care of us in our old age.
    Thanks……I now feel better!
    Heather

    Reply

  17. AMEN!! You have such a wonderful gift for writing!! Surprisingly, we haven’t been questioned too much yet, but I’m waiting, and when we do, I will be asking you if I can post your words on my blog.

    Blessings, my friend, and thank you for sharing your heart.

    Deborah

    Reply

  18. Posted by Justine on December 15, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Well said, Sharla!! I am one of the fortunate ones where everyone says wonderful things to me. I am thankful to God for that! I do make sure to make it clear what a blessing they are. Just the other day while at the wholesale store an employee said, “Are they all yours?” And I laughed inside and said, “No, there’s three more!” Then I said to him, “I love saying that!” And he laughed with me. So I am sorry you have had such ignorant comments!

    Reply

  19. Posted by Sarah on December 16, 2010 at 12:28 am

    You speak of my heart as well, Sharla. I am tired of trying to explain to people that we are not done at two. That our perfectly paired, boy/girl twins are not a finished family. My daughter asks already if she can be a big sister like her friends and I reply yes with a smile. I have been hurt too many times by the people I trusted most to understand. I am now at a place where I will simply keep quiet about the adoption until our dreams have nearly come true for the addition of our future family members.

    Reply

  20. As a mom of seven children (four adopted blessings) PREACH IT!!! 🙂 As parents that brought our twins home from Ethiopia less than six months ago and God is moving again…PREACH IT! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing this. I hope you don’t mind, but I will place a link on our blog to this post.

    I’ve written on “Should Everyone Adopt?” lately and just tackled a few questions that we’ve received when the twins came home. One was the question, “Will you adopt/have anymore?” or a little less kindly, “Are you done YET?!”. One of my bloggy friends pointed me here. Sorry for the “book” :), but I just wanted to give you a big, “AMEN!!!!”

    Reply

  21. Posted by Peaches on December 17, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I admire what you and your husband are doing. I have no children myself, by birth, but many “adopted” ones from my work in my community and in my life. I love kids. I am not called to have any, even by adoption (at this point in my life, perhaps never). I so agree with your values; it is our culture that is backwards, not us. I have had hurtful things said (or implied) because I do not have children, so I understand your anger and frustration. And not getting angry can be difficult, yet we are called not to judge or condemn, but to love (and, as scripture says, to love the difficult people; those who are easy to love, what reward is there in that? My paraphrase, I can’t recall exactly where it is/what it says).

    Here’s an interesting thought, does God have too many children? (And how many is too many?)

    May the Lord continue to bless you and your family in your particular ministry.

    Reply

  22. Posted by Elizabeth on December 17, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    We live in an upside down world! Good thing it’s not our home! I hate to say this but the insults get worse as you age. We are 53 & 56 and our friends gasped at our decision to adopt “again”. We hadn’t adopted for 7 years, we already had 15, I think they felt we were done? Well we’re not dead yet! he-he! If it is God’s will, two more come home this spring, and 3 more come home in 2012. Retirement is not in the bible! And the Lord does not look at our ages when He sends us to do His work. The only thing I fight with is His timing! LOL!! I think it should be faster! But then His time is not like our time! ;o) He is a good God!

    Reply

  23. Can I repost this on http://www.wearegraftedin.com? Email me and let me know –
    Kelly

    Reply

  24. Posted by Tamara Ashway on December 20, 2010 at 9:48 am

    I have a friend with 23 children. Nine natural born and the rest adopted. Several have spina bifida, one has downs syndrome and one has emotional/behavioral issues. I love visiting their home because there is so much love floating around. Do they ever have problems? Yes. Sometimes the children argue or get into trouble but there is always forgiveness and love. These friends also see adoption as a ministry to give children who would otherwise live in an orphanage or, in the case of the two youngest, would have died because of the severity of their spina bifida and other issues, a home where they are loved and cared for. Keep up the good work and if I ever meet you in person, I will tell you what agreat job you are doing.

    Reply

  25. Yes! You said it soooo well! I have wanted to say these same things to those in my life. Thank you…bless you…

    Reply

  26. I love this post! We only have four kids and I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “well, you can’t save them all” or “why do you have to make things so hard”! I am so, so blessed to have my children!

    If you get a chance, please visit my blog, we are hoping to adopt two special needs girls.

    Reply

  27. I saw this post on the WAGI site, and had to hop over and check out your blog! We just brought home #4 (our first adoption) and boy can I relate! I can only imagine how the comments increase with each addition! I just want to encourage you…you have followed God down the “narrow” path, and although it is harder it will reap more blessings and make more of an impact for His kingdom. Hold tightly to the cross, and follow HIM on the wonderful adventure He has chosen for your family! It will be worth listening to every snide remark when you hear our Lord say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

    Reply

  28. I was glad to read this!!! We are in the process of #12 and 13 and we have certainly heard that statement before. It’s good to find other families who understand!

    Reply

  29. Posted by donna on January 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Love the post, read on Kelly site! GREAT GREAT GREAT!

    Reply

  30. Posted by Martha on January 8, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Heartfelt post! I encourage you to keep an open heart to those who have questioned your choices. Ours is also a large family that chose to homeschool…it’s a choice that people have trouble with. Add to that that we are not very religious, and it becomes a puzzle to friends and family members. Why would we keep adding children, and how on earth could be teach all of these different ages at home?? However, now that our children are in their teens and even 20s, these same people have openly shown their joy, support, and humility. Perhaps they judged too quickly our different path…but they did so out of love and concern, and along the way came to celebrate with us the beautiful family that grew from those choices. You are the living example to others of a life well lived. Enjoy it!

    Reply

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