Along with all of the logistics of our adoption, I have been doing a lot of introspection and praying about and for our family. We are very blessed that most everyone we know is supportive and encouraging about our adoption, but I also realize there are people who wonder how we are going to make this huge adjustment. Perhaps Mark and I seem a little cavalier about what we are about to do. On the one hand, I don't think anyone can know what they don't know. I am sure many confident women have gone into labor certain of just how they were going to parent, and then through the daily lessons of motherhood, they relearn how to navigate that tenuous balance of expectation and reality. Yes. Mark and I are about to parent outside of our experience with a 12 year old girl. On the other hand, we have the blessing of already having a relationship with our girl, and although it is certain to change and evolve, I already know how deep our commitment to her runs. When I tell you she is fantastic, I am so not kidding.
I suppose like any expectant mother, I am wondering about the new family dynamics, the new challenges, and how I will balance everything. But instead of scaring me, I find that it's terribly comforting to ponder these questions - not because I have all the answers, but because I have asked these questions before. When I was pregnant with Calvin, I wondered if I would love this child as much as I loved Jude. Would I be able to balance their physical and emotional needs? Would I be able to handle two children? Once Calvin arrived, I learned some very important things about motherhood. For instance, I learned that PBS Kids for the toddler is conducive to establishing a good breast feeding relationship with the baby. I learned that concurrent nap times are a divine blessing from God Himself. I learned that some days I would handle two children well, and others days it would leave me frazzled and exhausted.
The greatest thing I learned through all of that, and what I cling to as we enter into this new life with three children, is actually a math lesson. (Those of you who know me or are aware of my Pre-Calculus grades junior year of high school are certainly scratching your heads at that!) Like most every mom preparing for a second child, I too had the moments of wondering how I could possibly love another child as much as I loved Jude. I felt truly filled up with affection and joy with our first - could I possibly manage to feel that way about another?
I learned that a mother's heart can only multiply. It can never divide.
Mothers aren't given a specific amount of affection and devotion for their children that gets divided up as more children arrive. God, in the beauty of His loving character, gave us hearts that can only expand. With each child's arrival, we also receive a greater capacity to love. It is one of the greatest wonders I have experienced in my entire life, and the precious divinity of that truth still affects me deeply. It is profound, yet simple. Our hearts multiply. They never divide.
The best way to describe it is to watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Do you remember when the grinch's heart grew? That is what I think happens to us as mothers when we receive another blessing from God. I felt it the moment Calvin was placed in my arms. And, if I am being totally honest, I felt that same thing happen the first moment I saw Inessa at the airport almost a year ago. It was as if God was whispering to me, "Here. Feel this. This is just a small taste of how much I love this child!" I had no idea at that moment how this would all end up playing out, but I knew immediately that my heart had grown again.
People wonder how we will manage with three children. People wonder how we will manage with a preteen girl. I think people may even wonder what we are doing to Jude and Calvin by adopting another child. Well, I don't have any specific idea of how we will balance three active children. I am certain parenting a preteen girl will be a challenge at times. And although Mark and I have always been cognizant of how adopting would affect the boys, we do know one thing. We know there is room in our family and in our hearts for this amazing girl. There is no love being subtracting from those awesome, precious, adored, delightful boys. Our hearts have multiplied.
It's the infinite beauty of God's math.