To 4 Or Not To 4 – XP

original here.
family of 6
Party of 6?

Our social worker stopped by for a quarterly home visit yesterday and mentioned that our foster licence will be up for renewal in a few short months.  As he started handing over the stacks of paperwork that would need to be completed for renewal, he stopped himself and asked, “Wait, do you want to renew?”

That answer was an easy ‘yes’, but the real question it gets at isn’t quite so easy…Do we want a 4th child?  That is a question we’ve been wrestling with since we welcomed our youngest 2 1/2 years ago.

I’m so jealous of my friends who describe the feeling of knowing their family is complete.  They have their first, or second, or third and just *feel* done.  I’ve never had that feeling.  In fact, I have powerful moments in which I distinctly feel like I have a child I haven’t met yet (a son, while we’re being honest).  As the magical mama would describe it, I feel the pull of a spirit baby present in my life.

And, yet, despite the feeling that there may be someone missing, my family is so beautifully full.  I have to disagree with the recent Today survey…3 is a wonderful number of kids to have.  Active, bustling, never a dull moment, and always someone to spend time with, a family of 5 is all the wonderfulness of a larger family while still being manageable (except, of course, for the f*$%ing laundry!!).

With my kids at the ages of 7, 3, and 2, we are really hitting a sweet spot of enjoying each other’s company and taking advantage of the fun of childhood without it being too much work.  So, a big question is whether a 4th would add to the fun, or throw off the balance entirely.  My wife was out of town this weekend and I brought the kids solo to Lake Compounce.  I’m happy to report that we had a fantastic time and everything went smoothly!  Throughout the day my mind drifted to the question, “Could I do this with 1 more?”

Of course, there is so much more to consider in adding another child, especially when it tips the scales officially into the “large family” category.  Finances, space, scheduling, non-tangible resources (individual attention, love, patience), and support from extended family and friends.  That last one is a biggie.  Large families don’t seem to be the norm these days and though I don’t believe family size should be determined by outsiders’ thoughts or opinions, the size of our family inevitably has an impact on those around us.  There are the minor ways like a more crowded dinner table for the holidays – and bigger ways, like appointing a guardian who would be comfortable managing 4 children in the unlikely event something were to happen to my wife and I.

Three children was an easy decision for us, our goal, really, from the beginning.  Now this question about a 4th is anything but.

Anyone else struggle with the decision of adding a 3rd, 4th, or more? What were the biggest factors on your pro/con list?  How much weight do you give to support from family and friends?

On the other hand, have any of you decided not to have any more children despite lacking that feeling of “done” in your heart?

A part of me wonders if it simply is not in my nature to feel done…perhaps I’ll always feel the pull of the many beautiful children in the world who need safe and loving homes?

ps – It would be remiss of me not to mention that May is Foster Care Awareness Month.

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7 Comments to “To 4 Or Not To 4 – XP”

  1. As I am currently awaiting my first foster placement, I have NO idea how to make this decision. However, I *think* if I were in your shoes I would first and foremost how it could affect your children (to have a new addition — to whom they won’t be related by DNA) and let that be your guide.

  2. i have 2 boys.. ages 3.5 and almost 2 and really want to add one more (hopefully a girl) and i have that question too about her not being related to her brothers by DNA. but they are not related to their 2 moms by DNA either so i think that she would be just fine… now i just have to convince the wife! 🙂

  3. I have only one right now. I know in my heart that I want one more. My head however screams at me on a regular basis that it is just nor feasible right now, possibly ever. I will never feel my family is complete without a second, but I may have to get used to that incomplete feeling.

  4. I feel ridiculous saying that I totally understand but these are the same feelings I’m having and I’m only trying to go from 1 to 2 kids! I adopted my daughter and often times feel that there is just one more who needs me. Yet some days I can barely handle the one I have. I’m a single mom and between a toddler, working full time, home upkeep, tumbling classes, swimming classes, friends, errands, bills, etc, I just think YOU HAVE GOT TO BE OUT OF YOUR MIND! But it tugs at my heart. Then I “settle” with myself that I should focus in finding a partner to do this with and then I’ll open up for another little one. Then I remember I’m a single mom of a toddler who works full time, had tumbling and swimming, the effort to stay connected to the friends I still have, the bills, the house upkeep and then then think DATING! WHEN? So I can’t answer the extra baby question OR the finding someone to join in this crazy ride with me!
    I think your family would be perfect with #4 🙂

  5. I’m a HUGE sucker for great big families (totally want four myself one day!) so I’m sorry, I can’t be of any rational help here – I say dooo it! Like the above poster, I totally think your family would be perfect with a #4! 🙂

    Plus, I’m also a firm believer that if you feel there’s a kid waiting for you out there…there likely is! Do it.

    Doooo iiiit! 🙂

  6. Your family is beautiful! I, like you, wonder if I will ever NOT feel that pull to have another. I think you just become used to that crazy and amazing feeling you get when you see a baby. Whatever you decide will be the right decision.

  7. I apologize if this is too personal but is it possible that your kids’ first mom will have another baby at some point? One answer might be to keep your foster license just in case there are any siblings to take in, but otherwise keep your family as is.

    Wishing you peace in knowing when you are done. We are in a bit of the opposite situation over here–my wife and I both want kids but don’t know how to start. She’s willing to try to get pregnant, but would it be better to foster? adopt a waiting child/sibling group (there is a 13 year old listed who has somehow really struck me)? domestic infant adoption? wait for someone to leave a baby on our doorstep? So I guess I wish all of us grace and discernment.

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