"When are you going to have another?"
After "Are you the guy from 'Game of Thrones'?” it’s the question I get asked most and the question I like least. Because more often than not it comes with judgment, as if having an only child is in some way cheating the system or taking the easy way out.
The plan was always to have two children. But then our son Max was born and the idea of two kids became less important to us, and in some ways, less appealing. No, not because raising a kid is hard (though it certainly is) and not because we’re always exhausted (though we certainly are), but because we feel like we hit the jackpot with Max.
We have this little sweet, healthy, intelligent, funny, adorable 4-year-old boy that we get to spend all of our time with and who gets our full attention. The thought of adopting another child makes us feel like we’re being … well, for lack of a better word, greedy. We’ve already found one golden ticket. Why not quit now?
Fact is, whether children come to you through adoption, surrogacy or natural birth, sometimes things go wrong. Things that are out of our control. We’re very aware of all the sacrifices parents have to make for their children, but we can only speak to the obvious sacrifices — financial, physical, emotional. What about the other ones, the ones you don’t expect? The ones people don’t usually talk about?
Most of our friends have children. Some of those children have special needs, some are sick, and some require round-the-clock assistance and care. We look at these parents and think to ourselves, “They are angels here on earth.” They’ve dedicated their entire lives and finances to finding solutions to improve the quality of their children’s lives. That’s the true highest definition of selflessness and unconditional love. While some of these parents confess that this isn’t what they signed up for, all of these parents tell us: “These are the cards we were dealt. We do what we have to do,” and they continue to do so.
The fear of what can go wrong weighs heavy on us, and it’s one of the reasons we feel content with the blessings we were given. Putting it bluntly, we don’t know if we’d be able to handle those types of sacrifices. I don’t think it makes us bad people for thinking this way; we’re just being honest with ourselves. The fear of the unknown is one of the big reasons we’ve become less interested in adding to our family.
We also give serious consideration to our relationship. Alex (photo above, right) and I are lucky enough to have a special kinship, a true connection. But would our happy marriage stay happy with the added responsibilities of a second child? Because right now, as connected and in love as we are, oftentimes we’re mentally and emotionally tapped out. We have less patience and there’s a constant feeling of being overwhelmed that’s ingrained in our day-to-day lives. We worry that a second child might push our stress level or finances over the edge, which could bring a negative energy to our household and, to a greater extent, our marriage.
On the flip side, we totally understand the value in giving Max a sibling. It would give him someone to play with, someone to learn from, and someone to lean on when times get tough. Fortunately Max gets to experience these things with his six cousins, two of which live locally and are similar in age. He sees them all the time and they’ve formed an inseparable bond.
But still. There are those internal questions we can’t seem to quiet. Would giving Max a sibling help create a richer environment for him to thrive in? Would it be the relationship that better prepares him for the real world? Would it teach him the art of compromise and cooperation? And just when we think we have it all, could a second child make Alex and me realize just how expandable the human heart really is? Clearly, there are many great advantages of having a second child, which makes our decision all the more difficult.
And so back to the question at hand. Will we have another?
We’ve come to accept that there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. Every family is unique. The decision to raise one child or a house full of kids is what’s right for you and your family. For the past few years our answer to the aforementioned question was, “We’re definitely open to it.” But we’re ready to come out to the world (again) and be honest with ourselves and with you.
Mom, Dad, you might want to cover your eyes for this.
We’re not having another child. Unless Max’s birthparents have a second child they generously want to place with us. We couldn’t and wouldn’t turn down that special opportunity for Max to grow up with his biological sibling. But the chances of that happening are about as slim as Whitney Houston at the Michael Jackson Anniversary concert (Google Image it). So for all intents and purposes, we’ve decided not to have another child.
We’re cashing in our chips because we already have enough winnings to last a lifetime.