My daughter was only a few days over 13 months old when we found out that we were going to adopt again. We were asked to adopt again rather and did not know what to do. While we knew in our heart of hearts the answer would be yes, we really struggled with trying to figure the “how” of it all. We were already four children in, only one of those children by adoption. When I married my husband, we had only planned on having two children. Now here we were, contemplating number five. It seemed insane at the time. Not only did it seem insane to us, but to those around us. People inserted their opinions much more this time than they had prior. “You can’t adopt a child every time someone asks. You can’t help everyone.”
While these assertions were rather rude, there was a slight truth to some of them. Could we do this? Were we crazy for having five children? Did we have enough of everything that you would need? For us, we relied on a lot of prayer. We had to determine what was truly needed for a new child to come to our home. We knew we had enough room in our hearts. That was clear. It was also clear that we wanted our child to have their biological sibling in our home. When we really searched ourselves, we were truly excited about adding another child to our family. However, that does not mean it was easy nor were the opinions of others kind or supportive.
There were many factors to consider when it came to adopting again. Our large family meant that we were short on many things such as time and money. However, we quickly found that those are things you can typically find more of or manage better when you really try. We also had to ensure that the emotional health of our large family would not be negatively impacted by adding another child. There was a lot of planning and sacrifices that had to be made, but adopting with a large family is certainly achievable in many situations.
One of the first questions my husband and I had when we were asked to adopt again was, could we afford it? We were at a place where we were paying our bills monthly but there was not much left over. Adoption is historically expensive. How would we raise the funds? How would we afford another child? Even though in our heart of hearts we knew that we would be happy to adopt another child, there is a time where you must be realistic about your finances. If you are struggling to make ends meet, adopting a child simply may not be in the cards. For us, we had to take a hard look at our budget and see if there were areas we could shift around to go without. We also realized that we could sacrifice in some areas in order to afford the payments on a very low-interest loan for our adoption.
With this, we were able to sacrifice enough that taking on another child would not be detrimental to us or our family. Even though the cost of the adoption was large, we were able to address it through a loan. It was very much like taking on a loan for something large like a vehicle. If you are in this space and have a large family and are struggling to make ends meet, adopting may not be right for you. You have to take a long hard look at your finances and be honest with yourself. Many people find that they’re spending their money on things that they do not need to spend money on. We realized that we had a gym membership we were not using. We had memberships to various streaming services that we did not use. We also dined out a considerable amount. By getting rid of those things, we were able to afford the payments for the loan without having to sacrifice anything else.
When we were asked to adopt the second time, we were living in a three-bedroom townhome. This was a three-bedroom townhome with four children already. We had three boys in the same room and one girl in her own room. How were we going to manage a fifth child? Would they even approve us for the adoption with another child? Luckily, we had planned to buy a new home soon. We knew from experience that for the first year of the child’s life they would likely be in our room in a bassinet or crib. Our adoption agency approved the setup, and we were good to go. However, we knew as the children grew that we would need more space. When our son was 6 months old, we moved into a four-bedroom home. We were able to make sure that our plan was to move into a larger space before it got too cramped in our townhome. Space is definitely something you have to consider when deciding whether or not to adopt a child into a large family. There are a few homes that are affordable and over four bedrooms. However, there are a lot of spaces that can be changed to become a livable space.
I remember staying with my best friend when I was younger and her family had six children. However, they were also the house that had multiple children staying there at any given time including myself. While the house was not gigantic, there was always enough room. Spaces like the basement were utilized. Walls were knocked down to make sure that their rooms were large enough. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you are planning to adopt into your large family and realize that you do not have space, it may be time to think of how you might upgrade your current home or move to a new one in order to accommodate more children.
My husband and I want to do foster care down the line and know that we will eventually need to move into a larger home. We cannot do foster care in our current setup. Our five-year plan is to fix up the home we are currently in to sell it for a higher price so that we can have more room. You also have to think about space in a vehicle. When we were adopting our fifth child, we had luckily just bought a minivan. There was one more open space in our vehicle for him. However, as the kids grow, our minivan is getting very cramped. That is something else you have to think about in regards to space: the fact that little kids will soon become big kids. We are at a point where we either need to get a bus or the queen of all minivans, a Ford Transit.
Take some time to take inventory of the space you have available. See what you can do with it and what rooms you might be able to turn into more living space. If you need to get into a new home, think about how best to do that and if that is possible for you. If you are in a small vehicle, see what you can do about upgrading. There are many options that may be affordable for your family and may see you paying less than you are currently. Home loans, such as ones from USDA and FHA, provide very affordable rates and down payments for families who need more space but could not normally afford to take the leap into home ownership.
Balance is a myth. It’s nice to think that you can do it all, but in reality, in a large family, you really can’t. However, you do try to do your best to give everyone the attention that they need. Yet there are often times where you just don’t feel like you can fully give everyone everything they need. In the end, that is okay. However, before you grow your family through adoption, think about the time that you have. Are you working incredibly hard at work and feel like you are burning the candle at both ends? Do you have a child who requires a ton of attention right now? These are all things that we had to think about before adopting an additional child and adding to our already large family. I was at a time in life where I had three very small children and a child who is struggling in school. I also had multiple medical appointments for one child and felt a bit of a struggle when it came down to it. However, I was able to shift focus at work and shift to working from home so that I could buy more time with my family.
Things really aligned for me to be able to find a schedule that worked for my family and for the addition of another child. My husband’s work was very understanding and was able to give him the schedule that would also give us more time. In this case, we were lucky. However, you really have to look at the time that you have to see if adding a child to your family will negatively impact the rest of your family. If you already feel like you do not give your other children enough attention, it might be wise to say no to adoption for the time being. As your children grow and need less of your time, adoption may be better in the future. However, if you feel like you can shift work or shift time in other areas, you may be able to create more balance.
Everything will be about finding time or money and sacrificing in certain areas. Just don’t sacrifice other members of your family to achieve adoption. If you’re not able to find time with the children that you have, you may need to shift your focus for the time being away from adoption and onto managing your current load better so that adoption may be an option in the future.
Large families are like unicorns in the sense that people are shocked when they see them. For some reason, people also feel very opinionated about large families. Some people even act downright angry. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but you will definitely find that people have an opinion about you adding to your family. It would seem that unless they’re paying your bills that they shouldn’t vocalize this opinion but people will. You have to learn to have a thick skin about adding children to your family. In the end, it really only matters about your ability to handle the size of your family and to take care of your children.
You learn quickly to ignore the opinions of others and do you. However, when people have these opinions they may not lend their support to your quest to adopt. Others also sometimes feel that you do not have the right to adopt children when you already have multiple children in your home, as if you are stealing from those who are in line to adopt children. It sounds ridiculous, but these are all comments that we have gotten during our adoption journeys. While I won’t address those specific issues, just know that opinions will happen. Everyone has opinions. You have to do you and be confident in your decision to adopt and understand that you might not have the support of everyone.
Should you adopt even if you have a large family? That really depends. However, in the end, it is your own decision. A lot of people will have an opinion about it. Yet, you have to reflect on your own life to make sure that you have the qualifications needed for an adoption agency but also the necessities needed to make your family function the way it should. Take some time to self-reflect and be confident in your decision. Let the opinions roll off your back and know that adoption is a beautiful thing. Ignore the opinions of others and just trust in your ability to know what is best for your own family and your own life.
Lita Jordan is a master of all things “home.” A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the “other Michael Jordan” and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on www.facebook.com/halfemptymom/.