I always wanted a big family. When I was twelve, I read 19 Steps Up the Mountain, about a family with many adopted children who had a wide variety of special needs: a couple Korean boys with polio, an African-American girl with no arms or legs, a little Chinese girl with Down’s Syndrome, etc. I wanted to be like them. Big family. Lots of kids. Biological kid or two, but many adoptions. Special needs.
I followed through on my dream, to some degree. As it was painfully obvious Mr. or Ms. Right was not going to come along as quickly as I liked, and I was cash-poor in my first ministry job with gobs of student loan debt, I decided to go the foster-to-adopt route to welcome home my first child.
E was never meant to be an only. I actually had hoped for a sibling pair to start.
As I continued to half-heartedly try to date after becoming a single mom of a pre-teen, I kept my online dating profile answer to “how many kids do you want” the same: “5+,” I acknowledged not many people would be up for that, but I’d been around the internet and blog world enough to know that there were, indeed, people out there who wanted big, adoptive, special-needs families like I did (or at least were open to go along for the ride with a partner who wanted those things).
Then I met Dude, out of the blue, an unexpected gift. He is more than I ever hoped to dream of in a partner. He is funny and sexy and intelligent and helpful and kind. I fall more in love with him every day. (Today, it was when I was having an emotional stress-out moment and he looked me in the eyes and said, “You do not have to face this stuff all alone anymore. The short people [his kids] and I have your back.”).
Yeah, Dude has two kids. And wasn’t planning on having more. Mine plus his made three, the max he ever even maybe wanted.
He has a little flexibility on this–a tiny bit. He knows I want a baby, to experience pregnancy, to have that biological connection, to raise a child from birth. He is hesitant but open to this.
But that’s it. And he’s very unsure about how he’d feel about that baby having special needs (he’d love him or her, obviously, but it would take major adjustment of thought for him, whereas I’m like, “I’m ready if that’s what happens.”).
I still look at Reece’s Rainbow. I still browse through AdoptUSKids. My heart broke recently at a Facebook post from MARE of a Wednesday’s child, a three-year-old who looked like he’d fit right into our family. I still dream. I wonder if I could convince Dude to fill in the gap between a baby and C–ten years is a big age difference!–with an adopted child or two (or three…). I consider whether he might be more open down the road, when we are not working so much and the older kids are moved out but we’re still pretty young. To be completely honest, I pray that somehow, God will make a way, change his heart…something. And yeah, I believe that if this type of mothering is where God is calling me, She will create a path (and if not, I’ll listen).
I’m not quite ready to release my dream of a big family and harder-to-place kids, but I’m holding it a little more loosely. Given the choice between Dude and my dream, I choose Dude. Finding a life partner was another dream that I’d just about set free, and Dude goes beyond any dream I’d had.
God’s funny like that sometimes, I think. Going beyond our wildest expectations and best laid plans as if to say, “Ha! Think that’s great? You don’t even know!”
So maybe putting aside this dream, someday, will make room for something even bigger that God has in store. I’m not ready yet, but I know She’ll be waiting when I am.