Answers: When Is Your Family Complete?


It has taken me several days to get back to this, but there were so many great answers to the question. Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences and wisdom.

How do you know when your family is complete? I suppose another side of that question is: How do you know when your family is ready to add another child?

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Blogger Laurel said…

Great questions!

The biggest things in this area that I share with couples are …

#1 God’s Word says that Children are a Blessing!

#2 Don’t limit God.

#3 Don’t do anything permanent.

#4 Don’t nag your spouse. God can change hearts if and when he chooses.

#5 Pray about it, and really listen for God’s clear answer. (NOT a quick answer based on your emotions.)

While many people assume that, with our large family, we do not believe in birth control … that is not the case. I have known too many mothers of large families that had absolutely no joy in their parenting, because they only had a large family because they didn’t believe in birth control. So, motherhood was just one big chore (a curse), rather than a blessing.

When we got married, Jim and I both wanted to have 6 children. Everyone told us we would change our minds after we realized how difficult parenting was. Well, we changed our minds … we now have 13 children.

After 5 babies in 4 years … Jim was DONE.

Less than a year later, I unexpectedly got pregnant, but God changed Jim’s heart before we even found out. So, we had 6 kids in 6 years.

Then we lost a baby in pregnancy … and Jim was REALLY DONE.

That time, it took several years to change Jim’s heart. But, after Baby #7 he said, “7 is God’s perfect number.”

God changed his heart a few years later, and Jim said, “Okay, Lord, as many as you want us to have.”

When I had my 10th baby the day before I turned 40 (and the year our oldest became an “adult”), we both thought, “We’re done.” A year later, I began working full-time (while homeschooling all of the children). So, I really thought we were done.

However, the Lord began to stir my heart. (For 2 years, while Jim said, “No.”) Then, in June 2007, Jim saw a picture of 3 siblings in Africa and the Lord told him immediately that, “Those are your children.”

We are back to trusting the Lord for our family size … and not using any type of birth control.

We are so thankful that we didn’t take permanent measures when we really felt that we were done. Rather, we took non-permanent measures, said, “Not now Lord, please.”, knowing that He could over-ride any non-permanent measures that we were taking (which He did, twice).

Children ARE a blessing …

1/17/2009 10:50 AM

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Anonymous Laura said…

While I agree with the comments above, I also think that the Lord can have us not add to our family when it is small. As Lisa’s sister, I admire her for having so many children–either by birth or adoption–but three is enough for us. I gave birth to three children in 4 1/2 years and felt that our family was complete. Now, when my youngest is 15, I still feel that way. We enjoy playing with neices and nephews and I love the little ones I teach at preschool. Perhaps the Lord was calling me to have a positive impact on lots of little ones through my work. I don’t know since Gods’ ways of working through us are not always clear to us, but I do know that I do not regret our only have three wonderful children.

1/17/2009 11:29 AM

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Blogger Lisa H. said…

Our family is really trying to figure this out right now. We currently have 7 children, 3 bio and 4 adopted. With each of our adopted children, it seems that God would just sort of touch our hearts and let us know that this was our child….Of course, if I hadn’t been looking, I don’t know if God would have spoken! :o)

The issues to me are “Can I give all of my children what they need if I adopt another child?” “Can I adopt this child and still do all we need to be a healthy family?” “Is God calling us to adopt this child?” and “Are we in agreement on another adoption?”. Right now my husband is feeling maxed out (and me too, at times!), so we’re just waiting to see how God moves….I’m interested to hear others comments on this relevant topic!

Lisa H.

1/17/2009 12:01 PM

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Blogger Laurel said…

I hope my comments weren’t misunderstood. I do NOT believe that everyone should have a large family. I have just known too many people that have made permanent decisions and later regretted it, and others that got so caught up in “what do WE want?” without asking “what does the LORD want?”

I hope that couples can be open to what the Lord wants for them, rather than to be set in their box of “this is exactly what our family is supposed to look like”. For some … the Lord will change their hearts later on (as He did for my husband). For others … the Lord will show them that “3 is the perfect number”.

As for Lisa H. … keep seeking the Lord for answers to your questions. His answers are different for every family. His answer for your family may be …”Yes, adopt another child.” or “No, 7 is the perfect number for you.” or “Wait. I will tell you, in My time, whether to add to your family or not.”

We did NOT set out to have 13 children. If someone had told us when we got married 26 years ago that we were going to have 13 children, we probably would have run away from each other. 🙂 But, we are excited that we have continued to seek the Lord, and that he has blessed us beyond belief.

1/17/2009 1:02 PM

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Blogger Sandee said…

Big enough?

Wheny my heart stops tugging, or when the means of support is maxed out and God does not provide more.

Time to expand?
When my heart starts tugging and won’t quit, and with prayer and surrender to God’s will, I feel his peace.

I had two sons, became a single mom, and my heart tugged for my daughter from China. After she joined us, I thought there, I am done, I have my girl.

Two years later my heart tugged for my daughter from Ethiopia….as we await a court date, I say, there two and two …good..

We fail court and wait for the next court date, I am approved for two…my heart is tugging….
I accept a second referral from Ethiopia.

Five, 2 boys, 3 girls, full house, as my oldest son says….

Am I done?

I have no clue. I think yes. Still I would not bet on it, if I was a betting momma.

The older I get, the harder the paperwork is. What I would LOVE is to now enable and encourage OTHER families to increase their boundaries!

1/17/2009 7:55 PM

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Blogger Amy Rankin said…

I have 6 kids now…2 bio and 4 adopted through international special needs programs. My last two were significantly delayed from institutionalization and neglect/abuse. So our rule has become “don’t add another until the last one is fully attached and caught up.” It would just be too hard otherwise. Getting this child on track becomes the priority…it takes a lot of time/therapies/nutrition/attachment work/help from the medical community. I wouldn’t be able to manage 2 at a time. One at a time is hard enough! I hope our youngest can get there before we “age out” of international adoption…so far it isn’t looking good!
Amy

1/18/2009 11:58 AM

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Blogger Farmboy and Buttercup said…

For us, it was ALL God. We thought that someday, think ~years from now~ we might foster older kids, or something like that, but after adopting our 4 yr old twins last April, we were sure we were done for now. Then, our agency called 4 months after we brought the twins home, informing us their birth mother had died, and asking us to consider adopting their 2 yr old sister with special needs. This was a wrestling match with God for 6 weeks. When we finally completely opened our hands in surrender to this, God filled our hearts with AMAZING peace, and we are now on the journey to bring this little one home. So for us, it is all about what God is leading us to, being OPEN and never saying “we’re done”.

1/18/2009 6:51 PM

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Blogger Bonnie said…

I think that the key is to be open to what God says in each season. When we got married my husband was adamant we would have 2 kids (I wanted a big family – maybe 3 or 4). After we had 2 bio kids and adopted 1 more we thought we were done. But then God had other thoughts and we had 2 more – well 5 was a big family and for years we were done. Then God clearly said I have more for you – and we have another one from ET – and are back in process for 1 or 2 more – maybe we will be done, but we will wait on God to speak. I never thought we’d have such a big family but we have grown in ways I never would have expected when we began our marriage! God is good!!

1/19/2009 7:30 AM

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Blogger Ann said…

I was sure I would feel “done” once we adopted Vu but strangely, I actually feel like God has TWO more kids in store for us.

My husband, on the other hand, felt we were “done” with three. He negotiates contracts for a living and he says I should go work for the company instead of him!

At the same time tho, he is so thankful that I kept praying and we kept adding more. It took seven years of prayers this last time tho so we might be too old by the time I pray enough for another two!

One thing I would say tho, as tempting as it was at times, I never really pressured my husband into adding another. I used to bring it up tho and then I received good advice from Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies magazine. She said that as long as he knew my heart, don’t bring up the subject, just pray, pray, pray.

About the time I accepted the fact we wouldn’t have any more kids, despite years of prayer, my husband brought up the subject one day! I gave him the legal three days to back out–then HE put the call into our social worker! 🙂

I’ll keep praying!

1/21/2009 11:17 PM

This response came via email from Julie:

I really do not know how God directs other families about adopting/adding children. I am sure He has many ways. For us, He has prompted us to consider many things:

Our fear is not an accurate indicator of God’s will for us.

Finances (or rather, lack of) can be overcome by God. (Do not read: God will send all funds; read: God will enable us to make all sacrifices necessary.)

God is okay with weak, unlikely vessels of service.

Do our concerns in this issue reflect God’s concerns (as stated in His Word), or do they reflect concerns of the world around us?

It is okay for others to disagree with us.

Just because I cannot handle more today, does not mean I will not be able to handle more tomorrow.

Hard is not wrong!

Risk-taking and hardship are often the shortest route to GREAT BLESSING!

Now it is my turn.

We always knew that we wanted a big family, but we had no idea we would have eleven children or even that we would adopt. Our first five babies were 22-25 months apart, which was good, and we were happy. My pregnancies, however, were becoming increasingly medically complicated. After Noah was born, the perinatologist told Russ that unless he wanted to raise three children alone, we had better stop having babies. We did pause and consider this, but we did not feel that the doctor was right. The statistics weren’t in our favor, but God was, and we knew we weren’t done having babies.

After Samuel’s pregnancy I had a medical crisis, and we were worried, but I came through it and life settled back in. God blessed us with another baby and “Rusty” was born 22 months later. His pregnancy was the most complicated and I developed a blood clot requiring an extended hospitalization and twice daily injections for the remainder of my pregnancy. After he was born we thought we were done having babies – much to my parents’ relief.

As strange as it may sound, I grieved over the loss of having more children. I didn’t feel done and my heart was not at rest. When Rusty was three, after much prayer and many hopes, we talked with my hematologist and asked her if she would help me through one more pregnancy. I’m sure she thought I was insane, but she was also a mother and wonderful woman, and she said she would stand by us. I began that pregnancy with daily injections (as well as other treatment) and had a great pregnancy. I felt wonderful and was very joyful when Ladybug was born.

I hoped that I would “feel done” now that I had six children, and that I would find contentment that I hadn’t felt before. Truthfully, the longing wasn’t gone, but I was embarrassed to admit it. I had six incredible children, three of them born after a doctor advised us never to have another baby. Through those years we had wanted what God wanted for us, and He had not taken the desire for children from us, so we followed Him and prayed for health and protection for me and the babies I carried.

We moved to a new home, new state, and new life. We were content in so many ways. I yearned for another baby to hold, nurse, and love, but I was thankful to God for all that He had given me. Then when Ladybug was three (this is a theme in my life), the Lord abundantly blessed us with another baby. Again, I had a great pregnancy – joy carried me through – even the injections were easier this time. When Boo was born I knew that she was a sweet blessing for us. She arrived a week before my 39th birthday and my heart was overflowing with joy for her.

Russ was definitely done having babies and I knew that I had been blessed more than I deserved. I was content. I had never felt it before, but I had peace and as far as I knew, my family was complete.

Then when Boo was three (you see, this keeps happening to me), my friend Emily called to tell me that they were adopting two little boys from Ethiopia and that call opened our hearts to the possibility of adopting children. You can read about it HERE. It didn’t take much for us to know that God was calling us to expand our family through adoption. I have written in the past about our decision to adopt two little boys, then adding Dimples to the family at the same time. I’ve also written about meeting Honeybee and having a great burden for her. I came home determined to find a family for her and months later God told us we were the family we had been praying for.

Our experience has been that we have always been open to children and believe with all our hearts that children are a blessing from God. Our greatest joy is our family. God has always shown us when a child was meant to be added to our family whether by birth, or now through adoption. Although it wa
s a leap of faith, we were confident that we were meant to add our little boys to our family. Again, when we realized it was possible to adopt Dimples, God made it clear that we were meant to bring her home. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment when I realized Honeybee was meant to be our daughter.

As far as we know our family is complete. Although I have the greatest admiration for families who adopt dozens of children, that is not where I believe the Lord is leading us. The needs of our children are significant and God has given us a strong sense that our cup is full, at least for now. I have learned enough, through my years of following Christ, that I would be a fool to say I know for certain we will never add another child to our family. Who knows what God has in store for us?

For today, my work is set before me. These are challenging times for us – but we have each other, our family, our friends, our Lord, and we are pressing on in the work that we have been called to do.

Thank you so much for reading this long post. Keep sending questions my way and I’ll be sure to share them in a future post.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Humbly,

~Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

0 Comments

  1. Tisha
    January 23, 2009

    What a blessing and encouragement to hear these words! Thank you Lisa for opening up your blog to allow such wisdom to be shared by so many. As always, you have told your own beautiful story so honestly and graciously. I am sincerely glad you take the time to write!

    Reply
  2. oneblessedlife
    January 23, 2009

    I loved reading all the comments, and your story, Lisa! Thanks so much for sharing; I’ve been looking forward to this post. You seem to have a wonderful and beautiful family. 🙂
    Kelli

    Reply
  3. Laurel
    January 23, 2009

    Lisa,

    What fun to hear your story.

    What I didn’t share, was that we were told that I needed a hysterectomy, when I was 21 and we had no children. I got a 2nd opinion, the doctor said he would wait a bit to do the surgery, but that we had a 2% chance to ever have children.

    Then, after 7 children, I went into the hospital for a hysterectomy, the doctor opened me up, and the Lord had healed me of my 12 year battle with endometriosis.

    When it is God’s plan to fill our families with children … He WILL make a way.

    Our stories are so similar. Our ages, our years of marriage, our children’s ages … it is such a blessing to have you as a blogging friend. I do hope we can meet sometime. (We spend time on “your side of the state” every summer, so maybe we can get our families together.

    Blessings,

    Laurel 🙂

    Reply
  4. blessedfamily
    January 23, 2009

    wow! Thanks for all the great commentary, yet again! I enjoyed this Q and A session!

    Reply
  5. jen
    January 25, 2009

    Loved this one too!

    Reply
  6. Melinda
    January 25, 2009

    Thanks so much for sharing this Lisa. I have loved the wisdom shared by everyone’s answer including yours. I truly regret the decision we made 5 years ago to prevent me from having any more babies, but I am also very thankful as well because I don’t know if adoption would have been considered otherwise. So while I can’t birth any more kids I can still enjoy parenting more through adoption. I heard an excellent message today about submitting to God’s will no matter what. It is my prayer that my husband and I will always do that no matter what and to be honest with you, it is my secret prayer that God will show us who our next child or children are when we pick up our daughter A. hopefully next month. I have loved your posts with the questions lately and hope you are able to continue. I have been blessed!

    Reply

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