Every family gets to the point where it stops growing. For some families this is a deliberate choice they make (I think we have enough kids now), and for some the choice is made for them (whether through infertility or other reasons), but there comes a time when there won’t be any more children.
This can be a really tough time for families. They might not have been able to have as many children as they wanted. They might not have been able to have the girl or the boy they wanted. Even if their family is was what they’d hoped, they might still feel saddened at ending a chapter of their lives. It can make them feel old or less virile. There can be quite a range of emotions.
In our house, because we adopt, there are some additional factors. For example, we don’t really get to decide whether we’ll have more children. Like people who struggle with infertility, we might wait forever and never have another child placed with us.
On the other hand, we do have to consciously make the decision to continue waiting when we have to update our homestudy every other year. We’ve made this choice seven times now, which means that every second year for the past 14 years we’ve had to get police checks, medical physicals, financial statements, home safety checks, reference letters, and interviews with the Children’s Aid Society. That’s not in order to have a child placed with us. That’s just to have the privilege of waiting and hoping that a child might be placed with us.
This time around, we decided that we wouldn’t renew our home study. And, because we can no longer have biological children (I’ve had a vasectomy, and my wife is on maintenance drugs for her cancer treatment), this means that we probably won’t have more children. We won’t have as large a family as my wife hoped. We won’t have the girl that we both wanted.
It’s been a big decision. We’ve had an emotional house these past few weeks. My wife is particularly struggling to confront the fact that we won’t have more kids, but it’s been surprisingly hard on me as well. Even our kids, who never seemed all that emotionally invested in more siblings, have been asking why we aren’t renewing our home study this time.
Despite how difficult it’s been, the process has also been an opportunity for us to take stock of who we are as a family. We’ve been talking a lot about how to grieve for the family we won’t have, while at the same time appreciating the family we do have. We may never have the daughter we hoped for, but we do have three pretty awesome boys. We may never again get to experience the joy of welcoming a new child into our home, but we can still look forward to the joys of seeing our three kids grow and mature and have families of their own, however those families might look.
Realizing that we’re finished having kids has become a chance to reevaluate who we are and will be. It’s allowed us to dream about our future, to set new goals, and to appreciate even more the things we have.
You may not be at a place where you’re making this decision, or you may have made it long ago, but I think this lesson applies to any of the major changes in our lives. These times can be difficult, true, but they can also be opportunities to know ourselves and our families better.
I’m looking forward to what comes next.