Let’s talk. Eleven weeks from now, give or take, and God willing, we will welcome our fourth/second/eighth little one into the Family Daniels. I have not written in quite some time but I wondered if it might be helpful to shed a little light on this situation, due to comments, questions, and (I would assume) assumptions surrounding this whole thing, since I know all y’all do is sit around musing about our lives all day long.
Do we plan on fostering again? The fact is, we are still currently licensed and decided to maintain our license from last December when Boochie left until closer to when the baby comes, to offer our home for respite for other foster parents in our agency. Only one respite situation has worked out so far, but that’s about all we can do at this point. They don’t want to place [a] new child[ren] with us right before a fairly major life change, it’s not really the best idea for anybody involved, or so goes conventional wisdom.
As far as afterwards? Definitely not for some time, and after that we will have to…revisit. I want more kiddos, I think. Dane is possibly less sure or possibly fairly sure but in a different direction, and we have decided that it’s pointless to discuss right now, since any number of things could change between now and then. So, tabled.
Did we plan this? No, not really. We have kept that “door open” so to speak for about 7 years now. I don’t want to get into too much detail, but with a few various factors, a pregnancy was never remotely ruled out but it’s also not THAT super crazy that it didn’t happen for so long. We always made sure we were healthy and fine, and then we didn’t (usually) stress it too much*.
This is very important to me that people understand, even though I don’t know if it’s that important to other people: We have always been excited about children. Period. Biologically related to us, foster, or adopted. We have certainly had a preference for at least a couple of them to be ultimately permanent, rather than only eternally fostering, but our desire and our love is for children, of any origin. We had the chance at any number of times along the way to pursue any number of methods of assisting the process of conception of biological children, and continually chose not to. This is not a value judgment in any form, these are the decisions that we made, for our family.
This is my first pregnancy, and there are a lot of ways that that is very exciting, for sure. It’s fun to celebrate permanency, for us. That might not be a thing that people always consider when they’re getting ready for a new baby, but to us THAT is reason for celebration – a Daniels that will stay, God willing. Permanent teeth and prom and grandkids and such. It was different but also not different when we celebrated adoption – the permanency.
I don’t know, guys. You have to understand. “Always seek to neither offend nor to take offense” — who said that? [If I can’t google it in about 10 seconds, too bad. Sorry.] Here’s the deal. People talk, people ask, people celebrate with us and I love that, all of the time. People assume things about our story and our life because of their experiences and it makes sense and I get it and it’s very, very rare that anything offends me or makes me upset.
But at the same time, my son is listening. The son that I have and that I know and that I share the vast majority of my life with and that I made a covenant to three years ago, and THAT is the most important thing to me. A distant second is the belief that I hold very, very dear that there is no hierarchy of worth in humans of any kind, and not in children. I will preach this to you and argue it with you till the day I die, but I don’t actually care about changing your mind nearly as much as I care about what my son hears. Because I want him to hear truth.
I hear stories often about people who adopt because they “can’t” have biological children and I totally get it, but I want the world and WAY most importantly my son to know that actually, he’s not my Plan B. [Actually, I am his. The best life for him and for any child is to not have a broken home and a broken relationship with their biological parents, and through absolutely no imaginable fault of his own he ended up there, and we are absolutely his Plan B. God redeems; I don’t want to be negative or fatalistic; he can and will have life to the full just like everyone and anyone else… but it’s so important to me that people know this. We chose this, he did not. We are lucky, we are blessed.] If we had conceived early on, we very likely still would have adopted.
I’m not saying they’re the same, or interchangeable. There are very hard things about fostering and adoption. I have certainly shared a few of them here. Not making any kind of comparison, but simply an observation from my perspective: there are also hard things about *this* current method, says the girl who has been puking sick for about 5 months off and on (mostly on), and hasn’t even gotten to the massive-hobbling-back-breaking stage, or the summer-in-Houston stage, or the LABOR, hello. In foster care and adoption, the process can suck, and the trauma can suck, and the effects of the trauma can suck; certainly the most for the actual sufferer of the trauma. But all I know is the children I have had, somehow it’s just not the same thing. Let’s not confuse the process, or the trauma, with the KIDS. The kids are worth it: every second, every penny, every appointment, just like any other kid would be including your own.
To me, including our Original Little Man, our first forever son, and our little Boochie that we kept and loved and attached to for nearly a year, this squirmy little nugget in my belly is my fourth child. If you have sensed hesitancy with me in conversation, it is possibly because I am quite prickly and careful about language. First pregnancy, yes. Not my first baby, NOT my first or even my second child.
Well-meaning and utterly beloved friends have talked with me about how they prayed for this for years, for us. For which I am grateful. How can you not be grateful for people praying for you and wishing you well? But again, in my mind, I prayed for children. They did not have to come from my womb. I HAD and HAVE children. It’s my hope that friends and family who prayed for us consider that they were praying for ALL of my babies.
This might seem semantical, but it doesn’t to me, because of those humans who were and are in my family, who did and do call me “Mommy.” They’re not semantics to me. They’re not distant memories, or code names on blog posts, or emoji-covered faces on social media.
Those of you darling women and families who struggle[d] mightily with infertility, I feel you. It hit me hard a lot of the time too — the hope and the cost of hope, and the disappointment, the chaotic soup of emotions, the uncertainty. Our story might be a little different because for us it was just always both/either, with adoption or biological. But I get you and if our story’s not you, YOU BE YOU.
I hope this doesn’t sound defensive or insufficiently celebratory, it’s just important to me to get it out there.