What I want you to know about adopting seven children

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Becky Ketarkus.

Large families aren't freaks, and I'm no saint.

When people ask me how many children I have, and I answer, the reaction is always the same...open mouthed shock. I'm 34, and I have seven children, with an eighth on the way. They all came to our family through adoption. When I add that caveat, I see the light bulb of understanding go on, and then the inevitable 'you really are amazing for doing that' comes next.

I'm not amazing, but I'm not a freak either. While people say they think we're amazing, they distance themselves quickly, because in a world of families made up of 2, 3 or maybe 4 children, there is no way that my husband and I can be doing this well with SEVEN, can we?

I want the world to know.... We do fine.

I'm not perfect, but you won't find me with uncombed hair, in my bathrobe, with a lollipop stuck to the side of my face at school pick-up either. Well, not usually. I have my days, just like the families with 2, 3 or maybe 4 do, but overall, I get dressed, comb my hair and even *gasp* go to work. Our lives are complex, just like everyone else, but mostly, we're regular people. Please treat us like it. In return, I promise never to judge you for not adopting, or for not having a large family, because frankly, I don't have time to care what anyone else does. Your choices are your choices. I'm happy for you. Please return the favor.

The truth is, my husband and I didn't set out to adopt all these children. We didn't look at each other before we were married and say 'I know, let's go out there and save eight orphans!' We don't think of our children that way. They were kids who needed us at a time when we desperately needed them. We didn't delve into the dark depths of Africa and save anyone, and our children weren't rescued from foster care. They're not dogs from the pound, and I'm not a saint. It makes life harder for them when you act like I am. I'm just their mom. Please treat me like that.

We wanted to be parents, this was how our family formed. Yes, a lot of days it's more complex than if we had children who looked like us, who had a past that we knew and understood. Adoption isn't always easy. We deal with complex issues, but most days, our family is just our family. I don't know any different. My kids don't know any different. They also don't know what it means to be an only child. Most of them don't even know what it means to be one of three, or even four. They don't remember, because our large family formed quickly. I don't know how they'll feel about their siblings in adulthood. All I can do is hope that they love growing up in our loud, noisy household as much as I love raising it.

When you question how I give each child enough individual attention or how I plan to pay for all their college educations, I'll answer you honestly. Some days I don't, and I have no freakin' clue. We do the best we can, just like every other family out there. Our kids are loved, they're happy, and we have everything we need.

And, before you ask...no, we don't know if we're done yet.

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