I'm so busy now, how in the world am I going to fit in another child to pay attention to, without having the other children feeling left out?
Someone I really respect expressed reluctance at my news that we were having our third child, Cade.
“It may not be fair to the other two. You may not be able to give sufficient attention to your boys, and they’ll feel left out,” was the response. My response was, “It’s a little too late for that.”
Now I have seven kids. So if this person was concerned then, I’m sure they’ve thrown their arms in the air many times behind my back.
My Adéye has a good answer for this one. “You just work it out,” she says. That answer made me throw my arms in the air. What? You’re a lot of help, I thought. But she was right.
You see, I harbored a vision of me on my deathbed, thinking back in sadness that I didn’t give more time to my three bio boys because of whoever we would adopt. Now that we’ve adopted four, I know that vision will not be a reality. And I also realize that because I was so afraid of an unfair life to my other children, I gravitate toward compensating for it.
I know that our family is so enriched with the girls we adopted, even with—and perhaps, especially because of—their special needs. And though this crosses over with another question I will address on a later post—How will my other children accept them, or will they?—let me just tell you now that we have seen the hearts of our boys be very drawn in love toward their new sisters.
I would lie if I said that spreading out my attention to all seven children was a cinch. It can be challenging sometimes. But I have made an effort to be proactive. Last year, I committed to spending every Thursday evening with a different child. It’s our “date” if I take a daughter. The boys don’t like the idea of a “date” with Dad, so we call it our “hang out time.” That’s a more cool way of putting it.
Or because Haven doesn’t speak, she naturally does not engage as much as the other children do with us. That’s why I’ll make a point to draw her into my arms while sitting on the couch and love on her.
I know I can speak for Adéye when I say that we both are wired to naturally be aware of someone not getting sufficient attention. When both of us were young grade schoolers (during different generations, of course!), we had antennae for any classmate who was left alone on the playground, and we’d be their friend. But today, although our intentions are good, life can get busy. That’s why being proactive is a good idea.
This may sound like a chore, but it’s really not. Your love will grow so much for your adopted child(ren) that you’ll want to spread the love. It’s really no different than if you were to have a large family with all bio kids. As the wife says, “You just work it out.”
Wise counsel to any family of any size is this: Make memories with all of your children. Get off the Busy Express and onto the Family Choo Choo. Life is so, so short. Children grow up so fast. SO fast. You WILL be a great dad to all of your children—biological and adopted. Don’t be afraid, and just “work it out.”
“It doesn’t matter where the train’s taking you. What matters is that you get on.”
-The conductor at the end of Polar Express