Monday, November 15, 2010

Anna's family portrait

My oldest daughter Anna came to me several weeks ago.  It was a few days after we'd announced to our children that T. and M. would be joining our family.  She had the above piece of paper in her hand, and said that she'd drawn everyone in our family and that she loves us all so very much.  And I about burst into tears when I saw that both T. and M. were included in Anna's family portrait.

I know that sometimes children are less than thrilled to add another child to the family.  I know that people shake their heads and wonder about kids in larger-than-average families.  Will they still receive enough attention?  Do they even WANT more siblings?  And, what about siblings with medical needs?  Isn't that too much of a burden to place on kids who didn't get to choose? 

We are so blessed to be able to say that (so far) this has never, ever, EVER been an issue for us. time we have added to our family--either through birth OR child has been THRILLED.  Over-the-moon excited.  If you ask any of them how many siblings they want, you'll generally get an answer between 100-500.  No joke.  I always tell them that we won't have THAT many children, but it makes my heart so glad that they are so welcoming and excited about new life in our family.  Yes our children will eventually grow up and have all sorts of therapy bills opinions about their family of origin, but I pray that, at the very least, God preserves their openness to life and that they continue to embrace love and relationships and God's values which, if you are a Christian, are markedly different from the world's.  (And if your values and life don't look different from the world's, well, something is probably wrong.)

So.  Once our adoption training and homestudy were complete, and therefore we could move forward with these sweet girls, we sat our kids down and said we had a fun announcement.  We told them about T. and M., and made a big deal about it, as the kids jumped up and down.  We showed them a picture of each of our new daughters, and then later that evening showed them some video of one of our girls. 

I don't remember who it was, but one of our kids had the idea to go kiss their soon-to-be-sister on the TV screen.  Then they all did it. 

We also talked to them, just a little bit, about Down syndrome (which Anna later pronounced "Jerusalem"--SO funny!).  We explained about the extra chromosome and that our new girls will do everything the other kids do, it may just take them a little longer to reach that point.  Or not.  We don't know.

Suffice it to say that the dinner table that night was abuzz with...NOISE.  :)  Talking and laughing and squealing and questions...lots and lots of where would the girls sleep, and when will they come home, and I can't wait to teach them how to ride a bike so can I do that, Mom?  Anna asked if they'd be home by her (February) birthday, because, "That would be the best birthday present EVER."

I'm not sharing any of this because I think my kids are unique, or because I think we've done anything in particular to instill these values in them.  It's just come naturally.  By God's grace.  They LOVE babies.  They LOVE kids.  They know how to rejoice and delight in relationships.  And so we may try to nurture that, but it's not contrived or forced upon them.  It can't be.

So I feel incredibly blessed that my children already adore their future sisters.  That even though my kids aren't perfect, their default is to love and to welcome children into our home.  Ultimately I believe it is a combination of the work of God, the miracle of life, and God's very design for family. 

And lest you be fooled and think otherwise (aka people who don't know us, because if you do, then you are under no illusions), we are so not the Cleaver family.  Probably closer to the Adams family, actually.  (You should have heard what one of my kids said to one of my other kids in the car last week.  And my kids are still young...they don't understand yet about what having a large-ish family vs. a small-ish family means, or what it's like to have a sibling with developmental and/or cognitive delays. 

But I have big faith in an even bigger God who has begun a good work in each of my children. 

And I know, I know,  that He will carry that on to completion. 


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