You've given me a staggering task, ruling this mob of people. Yes, give me wisdom and knowledge as I come and go among this people—for who on his own is capable of leading these, your glorious people? —2 Chronicles 1:9–10 MSG
I had planned this morning to blog about why we ended up with twelve kids. And in my inbox this morning was a message from Women of Faith with an article by Sandi Patti who had the above scripture as her introduction. She is the mom of a blended family of eight kids and felt that the words from Chronicles fit her situation. I see how it fits! ;-)
People often ask me if we always planned to have twelve kids or why we chose to get to twelve or even why we have stopped at twelve (or if we have stopped!). They also wonder if we can have children biologically but certainly don't want to ask that question! So for those of you who are new blog readers, this blogs for you. (I found out yesterday that some of the folks from the new church have been reading it (scary) without my knowledge).
No, we never planned on having twelve children. In fact, on our wedding day, which will be sixteen years ago on June 15, we planned on the traditional route of making babies. We did know that we wanted to do foster care, but didn't even know about adoption of waiting children.
The whole story can be found in our book "Out of Many One Family: How Two Adults Claimed Twelve Children through Adoption." But let me finish answering the question for those of you who don't feel like buying the book either on the Kindle, the Nook, through Amazon, through us.... ok, I'll stop with the book promotion.
We started doing foster care 3 months after the wedding and during the first few years of our marriage we had several friends who were going through infertility treatment. We saw how emotionally exhausting it was and made the decision quickly that we would not spend one penny nor one ounce of emotional energy trying to get pregnant when there were so many children out there needing families. We then found out that there were older kids available for adoptoin and started adopting and by the time we had been married 5 years we had nine kids under 15. At that point we became too busy and too to tired to make any and had no desire to do so.
Once we go to that point it was very difficult to say "no more" when we had an empty bed and knew just how many kids out there needed a family. And in a way we got good at this -- and so we wanted to keep doing it. We recognized that some kids from the child welfare system do better in large families and wanted to provide a home for them.
Yesterday when we were meeting with Cheryl, the church's office manager, we were talking about my blog. It was then that I realized just how much I have changed in the past several years. I realized that a few years ago the things that caused me so much stress that I blogged paragraphs about them are now only a sentence. Someone goes to jail. The police come to the door. Someone is pregnant ... it just doesn't hold the emotional weight that it used to.
And so I think that is part of it as well. Once you can train yourself to relax in the midst of the stuff -- or at least not to go crazy with the anxiety of it all -- it gets easier. I can sleep now when my teenagers aren't home yet, can go back to sleep after the police have been at the door, not feel super guilty if I don't see a child in jail for a few weeks... it's all manageable.
And once you get to that point, it's pretty hard to stop when there is such a great need.
Which leads to my conclusion. There are so many kids out there that desperately need someone to love them before they age out of foster care and are left to drift alone for the rest of their lives. They need permanency and a family that will always be there. This happens to approximately 20,000 kids a year... that's about 58 a day. And knowing that, I just can't make a final decision that we will be done helping those kids. The way it looks might change -- we might be done legally adopting (or we may not) -- but we can't ignore those kids. In a dream world there would be enough families that we could each do our part and adopt one. In fact, if every church had ONE family that would adopt ONE child from foster care there would be a waiting list of families and no more children waiting.
So, when people ask me why I have twelve kids, I would love to respond, "because eleven other families wouldn't take one."
And I'd like to end my post there, but I have to put a disclaimer that I know that everyone isn't capable or able to do this and that I really don't expect it of everyone, but it would have been a powerful ending without that disclaimer, huh?