My parents had five grandkids born in just under five years. Two belonged to my brother. Three belonged to me.
Rachel, Joel, Nathan, Micah and Julia. Three boys, two girls. A trio of blonds with a couple of brown-headed ones.
The “Fabulous Five” we called them. And they were such fabulous little people.
But the last time there was only five was December 19, 2008.
My sister married the following day, instantly gaining step-mother status. Madison made number six, and we loved her just as if she had always belonged to us.
Eleven months later, my sister gave birth to a baby girl she named Sage. Number seven had arrived.
When I remarried on the last day of 2010, I received into my life two new daughters, aged nine and twelve. Megan and Maddie, numbers eight and nine.
And then, in the late spring of 2011, my brother and his wife brought Eli home, all the way from Taiwan, bringing the grand total of grandchildren up to ten.
In less than three years, The Fabulous Five had grown to The Terrific Ten. Five new grandkids, joining our family in different ways: marriage, birth, adoption.
My parents love them all. Each one belonged. It didn’t matter how they came into our family; it only mattered that they were there.
Sure, now there were more Christmas stockings to hang and more birthday gifts to buy. But there were also more hugs and more kisses. More laughter in the house. More cousins to play with on holidays and summer breaks. The house might burst to overflowing, but who among us would have it any other way?
Of the Terrific Ten, I have the blessing of being Mom (or GiGi) to five. My own little group of fabulous people.
After three years of marriage, Jon and I have grown accustomed to the strange looks we receive when we take our family out. There are seven of us. The children are close in age. Julia, the baby, is ten. Maddie, the oldest, is fifteen. Life at my house is never boring. It’s always loud. It’s always active. Most of the time, I love it.
Yet there are moments when I want to run away from the ruckus and the chaos.
But in those moments, I always stop and think, “Which one would I want to give away? Which child would I not want to belong to me? Would I really want to go back to only three? Would I want to go back to when there was just me?”
Of course not! It might not be easy, but at the end of each day I am more blessed by these five children than I am by any other part of my life. God reveals Himself to me through them. And I cannot imagine no longer being their mother.
Today Jon took me to a Focus on the Family event called Wait No More. It’s intention was to awaken Christian families to the more than 100,000 American children in foster care waiting to be adopted, and the approximate 143 million orphans worldwide. Children who have endured so much pain, grief, sorrow and abuse in their young lives. They didn’t ask for or deserve to live the life handed to them. More than anything, they need a family. They are all waiting for someone to open their arms and welcome them home.
I sat and listened, taking in stories shared by adults who told of their childhoods growing up in foster homes, parents who had fostered and adopted children into their families, biological children of foster/adoptive parents who loved their new siblings, and social workers.
I laughed. I cried. Mostly I cried.
Where is the church in this crisis? Why are Christians not answering the call of Christ to to care for the orphan and the widow in their distress? (James 1:27)
I spent the day talking to adoptive and foster families, as well as adoption agencies. As we left, Jon and I spoke to one last lady, who looked me in the eye and said, “Find the path that God has put you on and that’s where you need to be.” On the ride home, Jon and I talked and prayed and talked some more, our hearts and minds full of emotions and questions and prayers. Aware of the problem and aware of the calling, all we could ask was, “Lord, what is it you want us to do?”
It is not lost on me all this happened on Mother’s Day weekend, which brings me back to thinking of my own family and my fabulous five children … and what all of this might mean for Jon and for me and for our kids. I honestly don’t know. Maybe we will foster. Maybe we will adopt. Maybe we will foster to adopt. God hasn’t set before us a clear path yet.
But I do know this:
Already I am looking forward to the day
when I can look back to the time when there were only five.