Is it selfish to want a big family if you are adopting or in fertility treatment?
Is it selfish to want a big family if you are adopting or in fertility treatment? Are you tempting fate to try again?

If you’ve been blessed to have had a child either through infertility treatment, the “old fashioned way”, or through adoption, is it selfish to want another one or two or three?  Are you tempting fate?  No one questions your desire when you’re trying for your first.  In fact, most folks assume you’re somewhat suspect if you don’t want at least one.  The decision to go to two is also usually beyond reproach.  After all, our society frowns on only children.   But, speaking for myself, when I started to crave a third, people’s responses changed.  This is what I heard (perhaps said more politely), either from others or from that little voice in the back of my head:

  • You have two healthy kids, why push your luck.
  • Why run the risk that this next child will have big problems or will disrupt the happy balance in your family.
  • Is it fair to the two children you already have to add another child to the family that will take time, energy and money.
  • It’s environmentally irresponsible to have more than two children.  (This was said even though we were planning to adopt internationally because they reasoned that a child raised in the US will use so many more resources than a child raised almost anywhere else.)
  • Isn’t your life busy enough (read: chaotic) without adding another child.
  • You’ll be taking even more time away from your husband, and marriages need attention to flourish.
  • The financial cost of raising a child will add a burden on you and your husband for the rest of your life.
  • It’s selfish for you to take a child when you already have two since there are people wanting to adopt who don’t have any. (This said even though there was almost no wait to adopt a special needs child.)

By the time we got around to adding a fourth child, people just thought we were nuts and didn’t bother to give much advice. Of course, we made that more likely since we didn’t tell anyone until it was a done deal, and she would be arriving in a few months.

Knowing When Your Family is Complete

Knowing when your family is complete is such an individual decision and is influenced by so many factors.  How much we enjoy the early stages of parenting?  How much chaos can we tolerate or enjoy?  What did we dreamed of when we were little?  How we view our primary identity?  How important is our career?  How much money do we make, and how much do we need to live comfortably? And on and on.

For me, it came down to the fact that I loved being a mom. I wanted a big raucous family, not only when they were little, but also when they were grown.  When I looked into my future, I saw my Thanksgiving table loaded to the max with people of all ages.  Notice that all of the above statements contained the word “I”.  Humm, that’s beginning to sound pretty darn selfish.

Is it Selfish?

Is it selfish to want more when you’ve already been blessed beyond belief?  Well, yes I guess it is. But I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.  Isn’t it inherently selfish to want the first or the second child?  Isn’t it inherently selfish to want to get married?  Most of the big decision I’ve made have been because they felt right for me.  When I got married and started having children, I also factored in what was right for them, but let’s face it, sometimes you simply don’t know how things are going to turn out.  Parenting, regardless of which child we’re talking about, is a leap of faith and on some level a little bit selfish.

Did you ever question if you should have more kids? Did you ever hear any of the objections I mentioned either from others or the little voice in your head?

Image credit: Nathan Rupert