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Always room for more

Our family tree already grows a bit differently than other family trees do.

My wife and I both have large and complicated families. For example, I have four natural brothers, three step-brothers from my father’s second marriage, a step-sister from my mother’s second marriage, and two sort-of-step-sisters from my mother’s second husband, who is now divorced from my mother but still a part of the family and remarried again.

Factor in that we remain in various degrees of contact with the birth families and foster families of our two adopted children, that at least one and often more of our extended family usually live with us, that we almost always have exchange students as well, and that we have tenants in the basement, and you start to see how differently the tree of our family really grows.

This is probably why we got so little surprise when we began the adoption process again three years ago, deciding that we needed to add a little girl to our family. Sure, eyebrows got raised when we were looking at a sibling group of three children whose ages matched ours pretty closely. Sure, they got raised again when we were considering a girl much older than our children’s current ages. But people have mostly come to understand that our tree is a bit different. They almost expect it now.

When my middle kid tells his teacher that he has three fathers, she doesn’t even blink anymore. When my family come to visit at our place, they’re almost disappointed when there’ are no new housemates to meet. My neighbours joke that we must belong to a family exchange program.

It’s not a family tree that would work for everyone, of course, but it’s one that very much works for us.  Despite the noise and the craziness, even despite the regular bickering and disagreement that all families have, we’re never happier than in our gnarly old family tree.

And if the two little girls we’re now looking to adopt really do become part of our family, well, there’s always room for a couple more branches.

Luke Hill is a stay-at-home father of three boys, aged 10, 8, and 4.  He has fathered, fostered, adopted, or provided a temporary home for kids anywhere between birth and university.  He has taught college courses, adoption seminars, camp groups, Sunday School classes, rugby teams, not to mention his own homeschooled kids.