As I'm trying to get back into the habit of blogging, I am trying to figure out how to catch everyone up on what is going on in all of the kids lives without being too specific and it ain't easy. Part of the reason is that there are so many extra people involved now who can easily google this and read through the blog that I'm hesitant to mention people by name.
In retrospect, I had really stupid expectations in regard to what was going to happen to all of our kids when they "grew up" and reached eighteen. I never really thought beyond that, except that I had this preconceived idea that our parenting would be done. They would be adults. I assumed they would do what I did... go off to college, stay there, finish, get a job so they could support themselves, and stay moved out.
But as some of my other friends with neurotypical kids are finding this isn't true yet. With the unemployment rate at around 25% for adults 18-25, there just aren't jobs out there for them. Those who aren't college material have an even harder time, and even those with college degrees are ending up having nowhere to go but home after incurring all that debt. These friends and I have been passing around the quote, "the only day that is more sad than the day your child moves out is the day they move back in." :-)
So they don't move out... or if they do they come back. Subsidies end and they stay (or, if they are college material, subsidies end and you have college to pay for). Financially we are more strapped than we ever have been before and the demands from them are high. I'm sure that if you haven't been in this place yet you have all kinds of ideas about how you would say no, but each situation is unique and it's more difficult to say no that you might think.
The other challenge is that they multiply. They meet someone. They have a baby with that someone. They get connected with their kids' other grandparents, and so do we. And now we are in a phase of getting to know birth families who we are also connected to.
So I'm learning what most people probably anticipated before... kids don't disappear and go away when they become adults, they actually multiply.
I wouldn't want another life and I don't regret adopting as many children as we did. I just think I would have been more prepared when I realized just how many relationships we would be juggling when I'm reaching an age where there is no room for any more facts in my head. We are now connected to a long list of folks whose relationships we are attempting to maintain when I can barely remember where I put my keys.
During a stage of life when people my age were expecting to have their nests empty and lots of time to do things alone together, our lives are more packed than ever. In the last month we have seen all of our grandchildren and their parents, and 11 of our twelve children. We have met three birthparents. We have gotten to know a new girlfriend and met a boyfriend's parents for the first time. We have gone from 3 kids at dinner one night to 9 expecting to eat the next night. Add all of that to my full time job and I'm tired.
But the depth and the power of those relationships, the meaning they bring to our lives, isn't anything I would trade for something more simple. It is an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and get closer to my kids and what's his name... oh yeah, Bart. :-)
So if you are in the process of adopting several younger children, I guess I'm giving you a heads up. Think about whether or not you will be able to afford to support them all when subsidies end. Think about your emotional capacity to take care of them, and their children, when they become adults.
If you can do it, go for it.... it's a wild and wonderful ride. But do it with eyes wide open and be prepared for a VERY full life fifteen years from now!