Parenting Month: Homemade or Store Bought?

February 29, 2012

This is it, the last big parenting topic before I close out this series on Friday.

See, everyone likes “homemade” things.

Home cooked dinners, cookies, cards, gifts, everyone likes those things.  Eating out of a takeout box every night is unhealthy or depressing.  And a handmade card conveys so much more feeling than Hallmark…

But then again, store bought stuff is pretty good too.  No one likes watching home movies.  And who wants a homemade bicycle or a homemade PlayStation?  No thanks.  Sometimes, pre-packaged, store bought things are okay.

So while my wife and I continue to wait for the stork to show up, there are plenty of people loading up with ready-made kids.

So I ask: should we just go shopping instead of doing things the old-fashioned way?

Adopting: Why Not?

Adoption seems to be one of those things that all the cool people are doing.  I wonder if there’s really a huge wave of adoptions happening.  A huge part of me just wants to go out and find a kid.  After all, we could get pregnant and have a severely disabled child, (which that handy genetic testing would indicate) which scares me to death.  On the other hand, we could adopt a child who also turns out to be seriously broken, physically, mentally or spiritually.  As a prospective first time dad, I just don’t know how to handle that.

“As you work through whether or not adoption is for you, don’t ask yourself why you should adopt.  Ask yourself why you shouldn’t.

I totally understand your fears regarding non-infant adoption.  We have only adopted once, and she was eight months.  It allows for an experience as close as possible to the parenting experience of biological parents. That being said, there is definitely a bigger need for parents of older children, exactly because most parents want babies.  Each year that child gets older, the likelihood of he or she being adopted shrinks.”

David Nilsen – “The Screaming Kettle”

The More the Merrier

I’ll be honest.  Living just with my wife, I cannot imagine it filled with children.  The noise, the cleaning…the thought petrifies me.  But I never met any parent with lots of children who regretted it.  I’ve heard plenty of them say they wish they had more.  And plenty of them even decide to do some “temp” work as parents.

“We’ve got four kids, twelve years apart.  None were planned, but all were embraced.  My wife and I laugh at the small print on birth control commercials that say they are 99% effective.  We are the 1%.

But we also decided to foster children, six of them.  We took in kids for short term stuff too, i.e. parents in jail awaiting trial, or in rehab programs.  Our last one was a three-year-old that was going to eventually be available for adoption.  She was a cute kid, bright, but with the anxious damage that comes from being taken away from her mom.  Her mother had lost three other children to adoption.  She stayed with us for three months, and then one day, she went home, which is awesome.  It fractured our family plans.  She used sit on my lap, giving me kisses saying, “I love you Daddy J.”  It wasn’t a negative, but it was heartbreaking.”

David Johndrow – “Fire and Grace” 

Not My Life

I guess what I just can’t imagine is just how busy parents are.  I come home from work and I’m wiped out.  In the Old Testament, children were considered a blessing…but having servants to take care of the kids was also a blessing I don’t have.  I would love to hear how you parents do simple things like get everyone out the door in the mornings.  No one ever said parenting was a part-time gig.

“Whatever your family plans are, just do what every big family does: take it one child at a time…unless you have twins.  

Is there a grave reason that you should not be actively trying to have a children right now?  If you have such a reason, and you are in clear conscience before God with that, than go with natural family planning.  It definitely requires a lot of good communication skills…and uh, that’s actually a good thing in a marriage.

We decided to adopt because I began volunteering for a Christian ministry called Reece’s Rainbow, which advocates for Down’s Syndrome and special needs orphans in other countries. 

Honestly, when we had our fourth, we realized in a concrete way that our lives were not our own.  So we are busy all the time.  We’re at that phase in our lives, and there are many joys that come with it too.  In the end, parenting is a vocation.”

Susan W. – “The Ironic Catholic”

Time to talk to me.  Help me figure this out.  Should we be pursuing adoption?  Foster care?  Tell me your adoption stories, or just tell me how you manage with a big family (or a small family!)  I really have no idea where to begin on pursuing adoption, since adopting a kid isn’t really at all like going to the store.

26 responses to Parenting Month: Homemade or Store Bought?

  1. I absolutely love being pregnant. Having just had my second child, I’ve noticed a trend that I am ready to be pregnant again long before I’m ready to have another child. I’ve considered being a surrogate for that reason!

    I can’t speak to the foster or adoption thing (maybe one day), but as to the busyness of life with kids, it is indeed crazy. For us, at least. For this season. It really does feel like you can’t get anything done while the kids are awake. I feel guilty wanting my in-laws to babysit not so we can go out but just so I can do random things around the house that need doing! (I think the post that will come up in “comment luv” for me is actually about that very busyness, so it might give a glimpse!)

  2. A wise pastor once told me that life has seasons. Having small children at home is one season. It doesn’t last forever. You put other commitments and activities on hold so you can focus on being great parents.

    But then they go to school, learn to drive, leave for college, and get married and move out of state. Suddenly you have all this empty space, and it’s time to figure out what God wants you to do next.

    We didn’t adopt, so I can’t compare, but I suspect that it really doesn’t matter how you get the kids. Once you have them, they’re yours.

    And bt the way, here in Colorado adoptions are definitely up, especially of older kids. The churches came together with the goal of eliminating the social services adoption waiting list in the state. As a result, several hundred kids now have families.

  3. I will say that you do not have to worry too much about “defective” babies. You are a teacher, so you know you can handle kids. This past year I started working in an autistic program in an elementery school. It was scary at first, for like one day. Now, I do not want to leave these little ones or have them move to other classrooms! It can be tough, but it is so rewarding!

    Also, my wife and I are not yet parents, and we, too, want some. We feel ya.

    • I did the special ed room for a year. It was a trial but a rewarding one. But I also can’t imagine taking those kids home with me. A whole different ball game.

      • You get used to it – I’ve got 4 children, all born within 4.5 years of each other. My middle two boys are on the autism spectrum – PDD-NOS, high functioning, one in second grade and one in first grade. Both have full-time 1-on-1s. You don’t get a guarantee when you have kids – you just don’t. There was no test, no family history, no nothing to indicate that 50% of my children were going to have a disability – but we’ve learned to deal with it. Do some of our coping skills look weird to people outside our family? Sure – but they make life work for us. And when people ask me “How can you possibly do this?” or comment that we must be super parents, I just smile and tell them that you do what you have to do – after all it’s not like I can give the kids back. ;o)

  4. I confess, I am sad reading my own comment.

    I wish adoption was either easier, or cheaper. The state of Massachusetts doesn’t want us to adopt a child older than the one we have at home. They spend the rest of their time trying to keep the younger ones with their bio parents causing situations like the one we had. It’s not easy. But for $30K we can ship off to another country and get one as easy as can be.

    Matt, what you want to do is trust God. Life is too difficult. Some days you don’t need to pray for anything but for Him to be real in your life. It sounds so trite, but that is all there is.

    My prayers for a family are with you.

  5. There is a huge need for foster parents all over the country. It can be a painful experience, to be sure, but there are many blessings and ecstasies ahead of you as well if you choose that route. Those challenging kids can be intimidating to think about, but there are resources available to equip you to handle them. If you think about the tens of thousands of dollars people spend on IVF and/or international adoption, it would take a fraction of that investment for you to read up on books and talk to child care and psychology professionals and learn the tools you have available. Think also about those families with young children that cannot take the risk of bringing a traumatized child into their home for the harm it could bring to their young ones. Looking back, my wife and I are grateful that our barren-ness allowed us to say yes so freely and so often. We adopted one of our kids last October, and already our risk tolerance has diminished. If I could be so bold, I sometimes wish that all Christian childless couples would foster. It’s that big of a need, and the barren couple that longs for children is so well positioned to to great things.

    Adoption is a big need as well, but anyone that asks me about it (and you did, sort of) is going to hear about foster care first. I watched an adoption advocacy video last year claimed there were 400,000 children in the foster care system around the country with 100,000 waiting to be adopted. I watched this and still I thought about the 300,000 children that were left needing a safe place to stay until the adults in their lives picked up the pieces.

    This is not to say you wouldn’t adopt. We did. And we continue to foster. It’s a family commitment now, and I see my son grow in his capacity to be generous and kind with the children that come through.

    If you have other specific questions, I could really talk all day about this. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Jonathan

  6. My advice, for what it’s worth, would be to seek to do God’s will in your life. Having kids (by whatever means) is a blessing….not a necessity. And they’re a blessing that God will bring in His time and in His way. Don’t avoid one option or another out of fear, but don’t wrap your life up in seeking after one option over another either. Be open to His leading and prompting. Keep your eyes open for children in need in your circles (and I don’t just mean locally, either….I believe the circles of your church include Sudan, do they not?). If an opportunity to foster comes your way (and it is God’s will), take it! If an opportunity to adopt comes your way (and it is God’s will), take it! If y’all get pregnant naturally or with medical intervention, awesome! But ultimately, don’t spend your life and your livelihood seeking after _children_. Seek God. Seek God’s will. And He will bless the effort. Children may well be one of those blessings.

  7. It’s difficult for me to truly weigh in on this, since my husband and I neither had biological children, nor adopted. It was more of a hijacking, really. Of us, to be totally honest.

    My husband and I tried for over six years to have biological children, and then had our lives turned upside down and inside out by taking in my nieces (not quite three and 18-month-old twins, at the time) when their parents were splitting (quelle surprise), and ultimately ended up having to move to protect the girls from their own parents by filing suit for full custody of the children. (Long and involved story.)

    Not quite a year after the girls moved in with us, I had surgery to remove uterine fibroid tumors (they’re benign, but bothersome), which was the likely culprit for us not conceiving. Not knowing at that point that we would be filing suit in three months for custody, we decided to give me a good year to heal from the surgery (c-section incision) before trying again, since we knew it was possible to get pregnant after removing the problem. Almost exactly a year after the surgery, I landed in the hospital again…this time, due to pneumonia complicated by a massive pulmonary embolism. That required a year of prescription bloodthinners to treat. Couldn’t get pregnant then.

    By the time I finished up the treatment for the PE, and we could contemplate biological children again, we had won custody of the girls and were looking at the long haul of parenting. Did we really need more children? Would it be fair to our three girls if we had a “real” child of our own? We sure love these little girls just as much, if not more, as if we’d given them life. Six little words helped seal our decision: “We could have another girl, honey.” Not that we don’t love the girls, but Hubby is already feeling the strain of being the lone man in the house (he says the two boy cats don’t count, since they’re fixed).

    So we made our decision. We’ll stick with the three we have. The fact that a scant 16 months separates the oldest from the twins makes life an adventure! It’s not how I imagined getting my children, but in retrospect, my mother fully believes this was the way God determined we would be having children. It’s a prime example of God taking unwise choices and helpless consequences, and using it for his own good. (I kind of like that.)

    It’s been a heckuva ride.

    Adoption has always been close to my heart, and I had always lobbied for that when it came to having kids, because I am a wimp of the first order and didn’t want to go through labor.

    Labor is the easy part, I tell you, and I daresay any mom would agree.

    While we have decided that we’re done with having kids, since we now have three, I have friends who are in the process of an international adoption of two children…before even having biological children (which they do intend to do).

    Since that’s the opposite of the way it usually works, they get a lot of questions.

    But I love their reasoning.

    They’re adopting from Ethiopia, and they’re both Caucasian. They want to be able to focus on their adopted kids and getting them through the culture shock and language hurdles that will come with that, even though their kids are 3 and 14 months old. They don’t want to shortchange biological children because the newly-adopted ones need more of their time. They want it to be completely normal for their biological kids to have Ethiopian siblings. They feel this is what God has called them to do. I love that! I am so thrilled for them that they’re in the final stages of the process, and it should be a matter of weeks now before they can finally bring their children home. I think it’s so cool that they want their blond-haired, blue-eyed kids to think nothing of the fact that their big sister and brother are chocolate-skinned and -eyed.

    I can’t tell you what’s the best way to go.

    What I can tell you: letting someone else’s biological child into your heart inevitably means that they will run away with it. Loving a child that is not of your genes is an indefinable experience. There’s something about the kind of love that adoptive/foster/hijacked parents have for their kids that is beyond fierce and is almost greater than the love of a parent for a biological child. Love is a choice, a verb, after all, and loving your own biological kid sometimes has that “you’re mine; I have to love you” tag attached. When it’s not “your” kid, you’re reminded every time they drive you bonkers: “You are mine, not because I birthed you, but because I chose to make you mine. You’re driving me insane (a short trip for me), but you’re mine still. And you’ll always be mine, because I’ll always choose to keep you mine.”

  8. I’m watching a family at my church right now foster five nieces / nephews because of a drug issue with the biological parents.

    Three kids stay with their aunt and uncle, and two more stay with the uncle’s parents (who aren’t related to them by blood).

    It’s the most remarkable picture of grace I’ve ever seen, these people (who have already raised two sons and still have a son and daughter in the home) caring for children that are distant in-laws, simply because they’re small and helpless and…need it.

    So Laura and I have semi-facetiously batted around the idea of adoption, once our youngest is at school. And all of this discussion has been much food for thought. So thanks.

  9. My husband and I have gone back and forth on this. With four kids, we feel that our quiver is full, so to speak. We started a family later in life, so any adoption at this point would mean we would have kids in the house until we were 70. I also feel that God would need to change me and make me a calmer person under stress before I could handle another child, either to foster or adopt. Having said that, every time our church has an adoption conference or I hear something on Focus on the Family about the need for foster care and adoption or I read Jonathon’s comments, I keep being reminded about those passages in the Bible about God requiring us to take care of widows and orphans. However, the track record my husband and I have usually involves God giving us His walking orders via a whack upside the head with His Heavenly 2×4 after He has tried the gentle whispers and shouts. I have a feeling on this subject, we will need the same form of “encouragement.”

  10. I grew up with only one younger brother, but over the years we had over 12 different foster brothers and sisters (God cut off my folks after 2 natural born kids). I’d would have liked to have more siblings and as my wife and I try for a 3rd we’ve considered adoption as well.

    We have close friends who adopted a little girl after having her as a foster child since she was a newborn. Sort of a “lease to own” scenario. I know that is a terrible thing to say about a child, but that’s the simplest description I could come up with.

    Kids do change everything. You can’t afford to be selfish once you become a parent. No jumping in the car or on a plane at a moments notice with no preparation to destinations unknown. No more naked Saturdays.

    But there is nothing like coming home after a long day at work and hearing “Daddy!” as your kids come running to give you a hug.

    I’ll be praying for you and your wife. Just because you may not be able to have natural born kids doesn’t mean there isn’t a child (or two) out there God has for you to love.

    P.S. I’m also a stepdad so I’ve sort of adopted my stepson when he was 4 (now 10 yrs old).

  11. Matt, as for getting kids out the door…you begin to plan to “get ready” to leave 20-30 minutes earlier. It’s a doable thing. Once they get older, they can do most of it themselves. The first few months with a baby are crazy for getting out the door, but you get used to it, have a prepacked diaper bag with a change of clothes, etc.

    And there have been a lot of posts on the challenges of adoption and fostering. NO question, I’m sure this all happens, in fact I KNOW it happens. But to be fair, there are adoption processes which are pretty darn smooth too, both domestic and international. I’m thinking of two friends (not married to each other) who adopted domestically–one couple waited forever (seriously, 7 years) and the birth parents dragged their feet on signing papers for weeks (nervewracking!). But smooth sailing ever since. Another couple, which was more open to any race, adopted three infants as well, and fairly quickly. Once again, no major problems. And there are foster placements that are fairly simple as well (most organizations are so happy to have you, they will let you say what type of foster placements you’d accept). I have had friends adopt from China with very little trouble. I think it is important to share the great stories about adoption and fostering as quickly as we contemplate the most challenging scenarios. Good luck to you! And thanks for this month…interesting reading all round!

  12. My youngest sister was adopted (South Korea). I was 10 at the time so my recollections of the technical aspects of the experience are a bit fuzzy.

  13. Wow…you’ve got some choices in front of you. Tons of commenters here have already given you great advice, so I’ll just add this: count the cost. Count the cost in dollars, emotional reserves, sleep, and time. My wife and I have had two the old fashioned way, and we are beginning the process of international adoption (from Bulgaria). The adoption is far scarier, even though we’re likely 2-3 years away. It’s scarier, because it’s our choice…or it feels like it more than the old fashioned way. We’ve had to stop and ask ourselves, even this early in the process, and ask ourselves, “Is this really something we want to do?” Each time we count the cost, we say, “yes.”

    The nice thing about parenting is that our lives really aren’t our own…but having kids makes us all the more aware of that fact.

  14. I know a family where all the kids are adopted, and I’ve never met a more pleasant bunch. It’s a big family, and you can tell that each child is loved and well cared for.

  15. Well…as a mother of 8…one homemade and 7 adopted…
    I ‘d strongly encourage you to seek the Holy Spirit on what he is asking you in regards to adoption. He loves adoption, actually it was his idea first…he commands each of us to care for orphans (that may mean adoption)?

    We ‘d be happy to encourage you…like all good things it requires hard work…an underpaid job, but many surprising benefits.

    Kimmie
    Mama to 8
    One homemade and 7 adopted