Taking Away or Really Giving More?

How many times over the years have we heard someone say, 
“I don’t want to have more kids because I don’t want to
 ‘take away’ from the ones I have.”
Clearly implying that to bring another home 
would be a negative
 thing in their existing children’s lives, 
rather than a positive thing.
This Mom of Many thought it was time to offer some thoughts 
on the whole ‘taking’ away….
and maybe shed some truth into it all
from our perspective.
First let me say though,
that if you recently or long ago decided that you didn’t want a large family,
this post is not for you.
This is written for those wondering about adding more
or those who are in the midst of adding more…
It is not intended to make anyone defensive….
rather offer my thoughts on having a large family
and encourage others that it really is okay to long for a large family,
pursue a large family and live in a large family.
No doubt, over the years, we have heard people say that they didn’t want 
more than one or two or at the very most three because they didn’t want 
to ‘take away’ from the kids they have.
In our early years, every now and then, we ourselves wondered, 
“would we be taking away” to have a large family?
Now, with 11 treasures gathered from all over the world
{not to mention the extra one who lives with us most of the time,
the one still waiting 
and of course, our grown kids in Africa}…
we have a very large family by every standard…
And here’s what we’ve come to understand over the years…
Each treasure brought home adds a component to all our lives
 that cannot be replicated, duplicated or learned
 by any other means than growing and living together as family.
I look back over the years and the treasures…
If we had stopped with the ‘boy and girl’ that has long been 
popular we would have stopped with our Abigail and Tyler. 
And granted our two oldest are beautiful treasures who continue to bring us an
abundance of joy!
boy-oh-boy would 
we would have missed out on our: 
crazy-fun Autumn, 
orphan-driven Emma, 
worship-lovin’ Graham, 
wise beyond her years Liberty,
my little shadow Jubilee, 
miracle-believing Isaiah, 
joyful Elizabeth,
our little Elijah {who is becoming quite the prayer warrior},
and the miracle of Ruby.
And that thought is what would be more properly termed ‘taking away’!! 

Abi and Elizabeth – 23 years apart in age yet buddies at heart

I dare propose that at this moment
I am ‘taking back’ the term ‘taking away’ 
and re-gifting it to it’s intended purpose….
and asking 
“Why would anyone want to take away from their child’s life by
 limiting their life long learning to one other sibling
and why would they not want to give more to their existing children by adding
more treasures to your home?” 
Those who have the joy of living in a large family are really being given so much more!
There is nothing, absolutely nothing being taken away!
Those who have a large family know what I’m talking about!
Our kids get hands-on experience every single day with:
conflict resolution
working together
loving one another
And they get it from all types of personalities to boot!
Living in a large family allows each child the opportunity to learn more often 
how to serve others, wait their turn, forgive, seek forgiveness, share with many, 
let many others go first, appreciate the little things,
laugh together, help others and love all.
I was unable to snap a picture quick enough yesterday…
but into the kitchen came Elijah and Elizabeth carrying Isaiah between them.
Isaiah had hurt his foot and for most of the afternoon these two Ugandan treasures
 carried their Chinese brother everywhere he needed to go….
Their love for one another is apparent, sacrificial and heart-warming. 
From our vantage point, large families are being given so much more in life experience
 that cannot be replicated, duplicated or learned from 
a ballet lesson, a music lesson or a craft class
{not that there is anything wrong in any of those and yes, over the years we have had someone take ballet, music and craft classes}….but that is not where real life is learned.
It is learned living, baking, cooking, forgiving, struggling, talking, 
sharing, snuggling, and even carrying each other – but always together.  
As a large family.  
Why would anyone want to take away from that?

69 thoughts on “Taking Away or Really Giving More?

  1. Oh Linny, I so want to piggy back on this post. I agree and my heart aches at the thought of what we would have missed. The fear of adding to, for our family, not does not exist (now)… which it funny because at 3 (when we found out #4 was on the way) I was scared to death. Now it makes me CrAzY to think of all that we would have missed without 4,5 and 6!!!!! Our kids are NEVER bored, lonely, "needing" me to find playdates….. the list goes on and on.

  2. Thank you – this is lovely! I wonder if you might be able to comment on what I think some people are concerned about with large families – that the "taking away" has to do with parents being stretched between so many children, and the children being ripped off in some way from the degree of quantity and quality, direct time/relationship/etc. with their parents. I love, love the idea of large families. I grew up in a family with 4 kids (large by the standards of most, but not large at all to me). We have three now, and I picture a few more in the mix, potentially! But other than "feeling" like kids can do just fine in terms of parental relationships in a large family, I don't really know how I would put that feeling into words to help others think it through from the large family perspective…

  3. Well said!! We currently have 5 beautiful blessings and in time would love to foster and/or adopt (God does not currently have us in a place to do so yet). πŸ™‚

  4. Oh, how true! I don't know what kind of magic happens in a large, happy family, but it is there. My kids(all 10 of them)fight and argue and annoy each other like any siblings. But, there are relationships between them unlike the ones I see in smaller families or even that I had in my own family. The older kids are so proud of their "littles" as we call them. They love to show off the younger kids,they have been so excited by little sister's progress in speech therapy and baby brother's first step, that they posted it on their facebooks. The middle kids skipped the middle-child syndrome altogether and just thrive on being the youngest sometimes and the oldest sometimes. I could go on and on about all the ways being part of a large family has benefitted my children.

  5. Thank you Linny for this post. We have 3 precious children and really desire a large family. It is a great encouragement to read this and a good reminder that relationships are more important than stuff! When I share my desire for more children I am often told I won't be able to afford it, the toys, the holidays etc. and how will I ever have time for myself etc. It is a delight to read your blog and see a large family that is clearly NOT missing out on anything important. Thank you

  6. Great post! It makes me think of a line from a dc talk song "Wanna Be Loved": I've never heard a mama say, should've never had that baby!

    Can I just say how it warms my heart to see Ruby's pudgy little legs? I just smile every time I see a picture of them!

  7. Thank you Linny! It is the dream of my heart. I have not one yet. But in my heart and mind there is already a boatload. I trust the Lord!

    I love every word of your post x

  8. Amen and amen and amen. We are currently renewing our foster-parenting license and considering buying a bigger house because we dream of adding more kids to our family (we have 3 by birth and 3 by adoption; as the kids reach 18 — as they are rapidly doing — our department of children and family services will allow us to foster more). We have been amazed by the people in our lives who have been poo-pooing that idea. Add to that the fact that one of our children has walked us down a pretty tough road, and you can see how we were starting to doubt the wisdom of our plan. Thank you for speaking the words I needed to hear this morning.

  9. I love this post! We are down to only 7 of us right now but it is so much fun having a big family. I will admit that some days are hard but I had hard days when I just had one baby. W would be missing out on soooooo many giggles, so much love, sooooo many hugs and soooo many blessings if we didn't have our large family. It's even more fun not know how big our family will be from day to day, lol.

    It is also fun to watch people faces when you go places with so many kids close to the same age πŸ™‚

  10. Thank you so much for this. I really needed to read it. I have been struggling with the decisions of adding more children. I have 8 kids right now four are birth children and the other four I like to call it are heart children and of course all are from GOD.
    I hear it all the time how do you give of yourself to all the children and I do what I can and when I can. I do work full time. I don't really have the funds to do the extra stuff but you put it into perspective. The extra stuff does not matter as much as the love for each child and that each child know that GOD created them for a purpose and they are each truly special.

  11. I love this! Alhtough we aren't big compared to most – we are for our area and families – like gasp – who would have 6 kids LOL! But truly our new little ones have been the biggest blessing to our children. How do I know this – my 5 year old asked
    "Mom, you know we are Christians"

    yep, why

    "Cuz, we followed God's want."

    We try to buddy but what want did we follow?

    "We got Cav & Fei even though it's hard"

    The same little guy who insists on pushing Cav in his wheelchair even though he can barely see over. Those are the lessons I never could have taught from a book. Those are the lessons that will make him a man of character.

  12. I'm the oldest of 12 kids, and grew up in a home where my mom stayed home with us so we lived on just my dad's income. I will admit that at times when I was growing up I was envious of all the things my friends from small sized families got to do/have – big vacations, activities & classes, new name brand clothes, etc. However, even then, and especially now as an adult, I wouldn't trade a single one of my siblings for any of those things. My brothers and sisters are the best gifts my parents could have ever given me, and they enrich my life more than any of those things ever would.

  13. As the oldest of 7, I can truly testify to all of the above. I cannot imagine life without any one of my precious siblings. I only hope and pray that God will bless me with a large family too.

  14. Hi Linny, I loved reading the piece about how real life is learned by struggling and forgiving. I am a mommy to 4 little ones…ages 6, 5, 4 and 3. Life is so busy for me and often I feel terrible for my children seeing my struggles and my failures. BUT, your post reminds me that this is how they learn. When mommy messes up and is grumpy or short with the patience…they see a mommy crouch down and ask THEM for forgiveness. Just as I expect them to apologize to me or their daddy or their siblings…I will do the same. So, as much as I hate it when I fail…I am teaching them that mommy's and daddy's aren't perfect…we may be bigger, but we aren't better. We all need Jesus…big and small.

  15. Beautiful. God has used your family to change my heart about adoption AND big families. Now if I could just find a husband to start one with! :o)

  16. AMEN AND AMEN AGAIN sweet friend…..you GO girl!

    You are such a great example of how having a big family is a blessing! Some day I am going to hug on these little ones of yours….and you! Thanks for this post.

  17. Well written, Linny! Thank youbfornthe encouragement…..we have already had a few people imply this question….and we are only adding #5!! πŸ˜‰ I agree wholeheartedly, though our culture works against it and at times can make me question if we are being "foolish". Sweet refreshing words for me today!!

  18. Amen! We are such a materialistic society, that many don't realize that less is really more in most cases. And just think of how the world would be different if they had one different colored, and one handicapped person in each family.

    One thing I missed in the post was concerning the idea of "is there enough mom/dad to go around", that is also a huge stumbling block when thinking about a large family. Maybe you could touch on that idea at some point. πŸ™‚

  19. Both Peter and myself grew up as the only child. For me it was awful!!!!!!

    When we were married we both wanted a big family , having one or two children was never going to be enough. I wanted a house full, forever!

    I have no desire for an "empty nest" either. I think the silence would kill me, lol

    I agree with you totally!!!!

  20. Amen Sister! πŸ˜€ I grew up in a large family and I can't imagine growing up any other way! Just like you said, there are so many life lessons that you just can't learn otherwise! My husband grew up an only child, and he really truly desires to have only one or two children. It makes me sad to think of all the potential blessings we could miss out on by limiting what God might want for us before we even get started! (I'm praying that once we have one or two kids he will keep wanting more!)

    The good news is that I have beeen praying for God to give my hubby a heart for the orphan, and recently we decided to pursue being foster parents in our state! It's a small start but I am praising Him for it. There is no way my husband would have even considered being foster parents a year ago. I put that as my prayer request every time we do a fast together, so I figured I would thank you all for the prayers!

  21. Great post! I think large families are awesome! Is it for me? Well…. That I don't know. I LOVE the idea of a large family (the learning, the sharing, the love,) but in practicality I think I have to realize my limitations and admit that a large family is something I could not handle. I thrive under quiet, calm & alone time. The THOUGHT of a large family sounds great; the REALITY of a large family, I think, is not for me. I think your family is awesome, though!!!

  22. Love this !!! We have been blessed with 6 great kids: 3 biological and 3 adopted.Our kids even ask if we can adopt again. We are praying God will open the doors( financially) for us to adopt again. I pray VERY soon!

  23. Thanks so much for posting this!! I have been reluctant to add to our nest of two children because I grew up in a family of 7 kids and being at the end of the line, often felt "neglected" for my parents attention. I was so encouraged to read your post and you're so right-I wouldn't trade my siblings for anything! Anyway, this helped me see things a wee bit differently.

  24. That was so well put. I never struggle with that thought. I agree with you that we are actually giving more better things to our children by giving them more people to grow up with…For all of the same reasons you gave.
    HOWEVER… We have yet to bring our 2 treasures from China home yet and my eldest of 4 (he's 13) is a bit scared that he'll get lost in the shuffle once the girls get here. He's very happy to be adding them to our family, but he does communicate concern. I am going to share this post with him. Thank you Linny!

  25. Cannot thank you enough for this post! I have dreamed of a large (multicultural) family since i was young. God has used you to encourage and confirm me- and my hubby so much! Thank you! If you don't mind i might possibly link this post on our blog in the near (or not so near) future — depending on where our blogging takes us. Ether way, thank you. As young parents of 1 we are faced with more opposition than encouragement when we talk about our one day large family made with children from different places of the world- It is amazing to get encouragement from you!

  26. Love, love, love, love, love! I can't love this post enough! I grew up the oldest of four. I have twin brothers who are just 14 months younger than me, so we were almost triplets growing up. I loved it! I wouldn't trade my childhood with my three brothers for anything in the world (though a sister would have been nice, just sayin) πŸ˜‰ I just gave birth to our third child a few months a go, and I was met often with comments like, "This is your last one, I'm sure!" "Three kids? That's so many!" "I bet this one was an accident, who would want three kids?" and even "You better be done, three is too much". SERIOUSLY. And most of that was from family members! I try and laugh it off because man oh man if they had any idea what we had planned! If they are shaking their heads at three kids, what are they going to do when we start fostering and adopting? I always try to meet those comments with positivity, telling them how blessed we are, and how much joy resonates from our home! I bet they'd WANT three kids then, if they knew how fun it was! πŸ™‚ (or maybe 4 or 5 or…or…or…)

  27. What a beautiful post and a great encouragement to those of us still adding to our families! We are expecting our seventh baby in Feb and my oldest will be eleven. I want to add to their lives by giving them more siblings:)

  28. Oh my gravy, Linny! No need to convince us! We've 4 children going on 7! Going to be a bit crazy these first few months but so looking forward to it!

  29. Having a large family is such a blessing. I'm one of seven and I loved it. I dream about having a big family someday. πŸ™‚


  30. Thank you for this post! I want to have a big family someday, but have always wondered if it would be difficult to give each child the individual, personal attention they need from their parents. How do you handle that?

    As a side note, I absolutely love and adore how chubby sweet little Ruby is getting! πŸ˜€

  31. Thanks for this post. One question that I would love for you to answer is how to have one-on-one time (pastoral time and fun time) with each of your children. We really value having this kind of time with each of our children, but with 5 kids (soon 6), we feel that we will probably be at our max for being able to have that kind of time. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions of what you do?
    Thanks so much!

  32. Love this, Linny! The other day I was in a conversation where a friend was expressing that I couldn't provide for each of my kids needs with so many to care for. I shared that I feel like we are doing our children a disservice if we teach them we can meet all their needs, but I'd love to hear your response to this.

  33. I keep wondering if we can add more. Then we went to meet with our new attachment therapist, our second meeting, the whole family there. My daughter was out of control, really showing her stuff. Afterward, while my kids were in the playroom winding down, I asked the therapist what level of severity she thought my daughter was compared to others she has worked with, and she said she is probably the most difficult case that she has ever dealt with – and she has worked with many adopted, traumatized kids. I was really hopeful that she would be able to make a big difference for us, but now I'm afraid that even this therapist won't be able to help.

  34. love this. I was so worried when we added our second. As soon as he was born I realized that love multiplies and adding more will continue to do that!

  35. Oh, how I love this post! Your words speak such truth of what we have experienced yet do not always seem to be able to say with your eloquence. We *adore* having a large family and though it does add complexity it adds so much dimension and love! We have often realized that why we have continued to add to our family through birth and adoption is that we actually truly did consider that we "had enough"….and then we added one more….and then we couldn't possibly imagine if we had not added this child of God to our family!
    Thank you for your gentle encouragement to others who are pondering…it isn't the easiest life but I am convinced that it is the best *and* what pleases our Heavenly Father.

  36. What a beautiful post. Your words here will sow love and peace wherever they are read. We have been pressured against a large family, but we see how well they work. We must just be in our growing years, with all 4 under 7. We are adopting a little boy from EE this year (our first adoption), and we are facing all the issues of "taking away." You have spoken from experience what we feel as a hunch. Thank you for your beautiful post!

  37. I LOVE this and long for a big family. We have 3 and 1 foster baby right now but I know God has more intended for us!!!

  38. Amen, Linny. As my grandma used to ask, "Who wouldn't I have had?" And now that I have nine, I know exactly what she means. Who would we have missed out on if we had closed the door to more children once we had our first two JP and Kezia (our million dollar family!) I like to say now we have the four and half million dollar family, but who can put a price tag on preciousness.
    Keep up the God work.

  39. Thank you for this. We have two biological sons and adopted our daughter from South Korea last year. We thought we were "done", that 3 kids was all we could handle or needed. But the Lord has other plans and has again put the calling to adopt in our hearts. Thank you for the reminder that more is always better!!

  40. Love this. Thank you for sharing. I know in my heart all this to be so true, but still question it at times because of the majority of families around us being of the 2 – 3 mindset. I so love your family and what you represent. We are growing and feel we might only be at the beginning of it all πŸ™‚ We have 5 treasures, 2 through adoption. Thank you for being so faithful to writing and sharing and praying and loving and just being who God has called you to be. You are appreciated.

  41. I love you and your family, Linny! Agree with this whole-heartedly & am so thankful for what He is teaching & giving our kids everyday. (and us!) As we wait expectantly on the girls to join our family and make us nine, our kids are already anticipating & praying for who God has in store for our family next. They LOVE this big family.

  42. Thank you! I only have 6 and at that only 3 at home right now. But, my dh and I are always saying that we need siblings to learn from; and he feels sorry for the only child in a family they have to learn things in the world-not in a family.

  43. Thank you for this post. We have 3 children and are adopting and bringing home 3 more in a couple of months…a sibling group. We will go from a family of 5 to 8 nearly overnight. We are so excited, blessed, and scared to death at times. Your post encouraged me. Thank you and God bless your wonderful family!

  44. Dear Linny~ I have found it near impossible to find godly mentorship in the large family category. As we expand from 8 to 10, I'm thankful for blogs like yours where I can be encouraged. Thank you for your loving example and for writing so other families can glean.

  45. Linny:
    I SO agree! Also, I believe that the world is so full of entitled people and living in a large family creates humble people who have had to learn how to share and respect others. Also, kids from large families don't generally get a Mercedes for their 16th birthday and consequently don't grow up thinking and believing that the world owes them "things"….instead they can focus on loving others. There are SO many great things that can be learned in a large family as you well know….humility, love, trust, hard work…etc, etc, etc. I may not be able to provide each of my kids with everything they desire, BUT I can certainly encourage them to achieve it for themselves.
    Great post and I so wish I had had a husband who shared this philosophy!

  46. Loved this post, Linny! We have four (and counting), and we always get snide comments or sideways glances which are not fun. Thank you for the encouragement!

  47. Thank you…. As I am moving from 2 to 3 as a single mother… I have met resistance as every turn by those around me that I thought would have been supportive. Taking away from my first 2 has been one of the main arguments, especially due to my Bulgarian daughter's special needs. I appreciate your words… and your post was the encouragement I needed today as I work toward court to bring my little guy home.

  48. We have 7 kids ages 8 and under. It's crazy, it's often chaos but it's always blessed. Yes I'm exhausted, yes we are stretched daily but we know this is what God designed for us.

    Thank you saying it perfectly.

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