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 our 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.