Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Why You Should Consider Having Another Child

If you are in a stable marriage and are physically and mentally healthy, now is a great time to consider having another child.

Don't have a child to make someone love you. Have a child because you have love to give. When two people are married, they do things for each other. They carry around pictures of each other. They write love letters to each other. A child is a physical expression of that love that a married couple has for one another. It is a concrete way of saying, "I love you and I want part of you to continue to live and grow as a sign of our love for one another."

A child is also a sign of sacrifice. Why would otherwise sane people bring another child into this world of economic crisis and instability? Because love sacrifices. Love endures hardship. New life is a sign of hope in a world desperately in need of hope. Children are a sign of contradiction to the world of grown-ups which says, "Don't trust. Don't risk. Don't run with scissors."

Children do all this and more. They teach us how to ask questions. They teach us how to trust. They teach us how to love unconditionally.

My youngest, DJ, has neurofibromatosis (NF), which is an incurable genetic disorder that causes him to have benign tumors throughout is body. He has had two surgeries in his first 6 years of life to try to "debulk" some of the tumors which were pushing on his eye and causing vision problems. He also struggles with some learning difficulties, which may be a result of the NF, or it may be a result of being in foster care in Guatemala for the first two years of his life with very little stimulation. Nevertheless, he is the most loving and affectionate child I have. He is constantly saying things like, "I love you, Mom!" at the most unexpected times. He takes special care to help his Grandma when we're at Mass by holding her hand while they cross the street and opening the door for her. He teaches me things about love and kindness that I need to know, since many days I just feel like a grumpy old grown-up.

If you are comfortable with your life and feel your love and life are complete, now is a great time to consider having another child.

When we make room for "just one more," God sees our generosity and will reward us beyond our expectations. I have met so many older moms (and some dads) who were surprised by a new baby later in life, after they thought their families were complete. Often times, these unexpected pregnancies bring new fears of being an "old" parent, having a child with a disability, or being ill-prepared for midnight feedings when planning for early tee-times. Yet I have never heard any of these parents complain after the child is born. They seem to be renewed with youthful vigor and hope, and speak of their late-in-life child as a special gift from God. They speak of being a more relaxed and thoughtful parent. They appreciate each first event in this child's life with even greater joy than they did with their first born children, perhaps because they realize that these children will all too soon be grown and gone.

If you have ever thought about adoption, and have love to give, now is a great time to act.

There are always children in need of loving homes. Don't discount adoption because of the paperwork, the cost or the intrusive social-workers. There are real children in need of real homes and someone to love them unconditionally. Adoption surveys show that many people consider adoption at some point in their lives, but very few go through with it. If you are considering it, pray about it. Talk to someone you know who has adopted. Sign up for an adoption seminar. Read books about adoption. Offer your love to a child in need.

But I don't have a big enough house, or enough money, or enough time...

When we come to the end of our lives, we will look back on the time we were given and we will probably not be thinking of our house, bank accounts, cars or jobs. We will probably be thinking of those we love and asking ourselves, "Did we show them enough love? Did we give them enough of our time? Did we appreciate them?" Having "just one more" child helps us to think about the most important things in life by keeping us just a little bit uncomfortable. We can't give our kids everything they want. We give them the necessities, and try to give them some luxuries, but mostly they don't have a lot of "things." My kids don't have IPods, cell phones or their own cars (unless they buy it themselves). Until their roommate leaves for college, they haven't had their own room.

Having "just one more" mouth to feed, means fewer outings to restaurants; more meals at home. When we were first married, I enjoyed dining out a lot. We lived in Naples, Italy, and the food there is some of the best in the world. I couldn't replicate it at home. But my husband seemed to enjoy my cooking and encouraged me to cook for him at home. Now, of course, there's no question that we primarily eat at home. But family meal times are not just about putting food into our bodies, but also about spending time with each other. This is the most important part of family meal time.

Having "just one more" person in your family may mean fewer expensive vacations; more family outings close to home. We've been very blessed in that we've had the chance to travel with the kids to some pretty exotic locations. But the things the little ones always remember about vacations are things like feeding the pigeons, walking on the beach, building sand castles, sleeping in a tent; things that don't generally cost a lot of money. Teenagers may think they need the European vacation or the cruise ship to the Caribbean, but after they leave home the things they seem to miss are bike rides with the family and ice cream at Dairy Queen.

Isn't there room for one more in your family?


Sharon said...

Hi, Debbie! First, let me say you have a beautiful family! I agree that many people hesitate to have more children is from fear. I think that's true for us, at least partly. We have three kids, and each time I was pregnant, my husband worried about us. Was the baby healthy? Was everything going to be OK? Was I going to be OK? Now that I'm over 40, I think we fear the risks of disabilities, and, like you said, not having the energy to keep up with them. But I would love to have more kids! :) God bless you.

Debbie said...

I understand fear! I have been there myself. I think that's one reason we chose to adopt, falsely thinking it's easier than pregnancy (not), or that you can better control the outcome (not). But adoption has been a blessing, despite our own naivete. Sometimes it's a battle not to let fear dictate what I do or how I live my life. Once the baby is born, fear seems to dissipate and the mother bear instinct kicks in.

The Bookworm said...

I can vouch for the joy of an unexpected, late in life baby ... though at 48 with a nursing 2yo I'm still waiting for the youthful vigour to kick in! She has been a wonderful bonus for our family in so many ways. Her older sisters adore her, and she them.

Anna said...

a lovely post!