I've been thinking a lot about family lately. Specifically, what does it mean to raise a family? My kids are so little - they're 4 & 2 and so I've only been doing this "raising a family" thing for a few short years. But I feel like so many of my conversations with other moms center around this very thing: How do we raise our families? What is important? How do we do it right? And what does that even mean!?!
I've noticed we often think of raising a family in terms of what we're providing to our kids: stuff we buy for them or activities that we engage them in. We research the best educational, developmental, environmentally-friendly toys. We search out the "perfect" preschools. We sign them up for the Little Gym, Kindermusic, t-ball, soccer... I admit I've done all those things.
The more I pray about what it means to raise a family, I realize that God hasn't been talking to me about any of those things. Not that any of that is bad. Those are all great things. But when it comes to raising a child, or creating family, none of those are essential.
I joke a lot about how I am already planning for our NEXT adoption. My biggest reservation is about how would we pay to raise four children. What I really mean by that is, how could we afford to raise four children who get a million toys for Christmas, get to participate in every activity, and graduate from college without school loans? Last time I checked, none of those things are required in order to follow Jesus. And all I REALLY want for my children is that they would fall in love with Him.
When it comes down to it, I already have to give a lot of those things up in order for us to have three kids. Will I one day look at one of my children and think "well, if we'd only not had you, your brother could have done soccer AND karate." Of course not! I would rather raise children in a home where they are loved and cared for, regardless of how many luxuries they get to enjoy. I'd love for them to value others above themselves. That's part of why I went to Swaziland this summer. I want my children to know that there are suffering children around the world who are so important to God that Mommy & Daddy have to travel and leave them for a little while to go help. It is okay to sacrifice our own personal comfort for someone else's benefit.
Will we adopt another child after this one? I don't know. But I can't let go of the idea yet. Would I rather provide a loving home for another child who would otherwise be an orphan or would I rather be able to buy my kids cars for their 16th birthdays? What a dumb question.
Soooooo... if any of you have been thinking about/praying about/considering adoption and are concerned about the "sacrifice," let me tell you I'm right there with you.
But time and again I am learning that every time I make the choice that honors God, it is the right one.