My name is Becky, aka FullPlateMom. This is my first time contributing here at No Hands But Ours. I am mom of ten amazing children who all came to us through adoption, and wife to one never-endingly patient man who I call Joe, but is lovingly referred to as FullPlateDad on our family blog. You can read our story here. FullPlateDad and I adopted four children from the United States as infants. We then went on to adopt three older children from Ghana. Our three newest children fell into the middle of the four we already called ours. As one might expect, those adoptions took some time for our family to adjust to. Five years later, we went on to add three more children from China to our crew. We get asked a lot of questions about our family. Some of them are kinder than others, but most of them come from a place of genuine curiosity about what it’s like to live in such a large family. Many people wonder what it’s like for our children, specifically our eldest. Since we interrupted age order, our eldest child isn’t our first. I know, how confusing, right? But, if anyone can give you an idea of what it’s like to grow, adapt and cope with this sort of change, it’s my boy who started it all. On the family blog, he is known as ResponsiBoy.
ResponsiBoy came to us at the age of five months. He was born in Florida. He was an only child for all of six months before we began adding his siblings to our family. Since joining our family he has watched us add nine children to our family. To his dad and I, he seems unfazed by this, but I wanted to give you an idea of how he really feels about this change, and in general, how he feels about adoption. The adoptee is a vital part of the adoption triad. We have never discounted our son’s feelings about not only his own adoption, but about the adoption of each and every one of his siblings. He has had a say in our decision to adopt, and recently he traveled with me to get his newest baby sister. When asked to contribute his thoughts and feelings in interview form for NHBO, our son jumped at the chance. These are completely his own words. I didn’t alter, omit or change anything except for his real name. I simply recorded his exact words as he answered.
What is your name and how old are you? My name is “ResponsiBoy” and I am twelve. How old were you when you were adopted? I was five months old. How many siblings have you seen added to your family? I have seen nine siblings added to my family. Do you like having all these siblings? Yes. Even though we go through rough times, we always work them out. When we went to Ghana to adopt, you gained a sister who was older than you. How did it feel to gain a sister who was older than you? Even though we talked a lot about it before we adopted the kids from Ghana, it was still a big change. To be honest, at first I was jealous and disappointed that I wasn’t the oldest any more. I guess it just felt good being the oldest. But now I’m used to it. I like her. We’re friends. What was the hardest part of adjusting to having a big sister when you were once the eldest? It’s hard to get used to the fact there is someone who doesn’t know the rules who is the same age as you. Sometimes you would let her do things I would never get away with. Do you understand why that happens though? Sure. I have a mom and dad. I’ve had a mom and dad all my life. Some of my brothers and sisters never have. They have to learn the rules. What is the hardest part of having so many brothers and sisters? The hardest part would be the rare times when you know you have a lot of brothers and sisters, but none of them want to play with you. I don’t like it when we fight either. Otherwise, it gives me a lot of attention. People think we’re pretty cool. We went to China last month to bring home your sister, Poppy. How was that for you? The food was weird, but the trip was cool. Ha! I know that, but how was it actually being part of the adoption process this time? I liked it. I liked that I got to meet her first. She bonded to me first, and she still likes me better than she likes any of the other kids, because I was there when you met her. That was pretty neat. What did you think about meeting all the other kids and adoptive families that we got to travel with? That was one of my favorite parts. Some of the kids were older. That was cool. I know sometimes the older kids don’t get picked. I see it when you talk to me about the kids you’re advocating for. They’re usually older. And those ones that are on the list a long time, I know that makes you sad. I liked it that some of those kids were getting adopted, but it made me think about the ones that aren’t, then… I felt bad. At this point we had to stop for a minute while I cried. This isn’t unusual for me when we have these sorts of conversations. So, after all this, after telling me all the good and the bad, would you want more brothers and sisters? It depends. I like the way our family is now, but I always like the way it is now, and then, the change always turns out okay too. If we adopt them and they’re younger than me, I’m fine with it, but I don’t want any more change now that I’m going to be a teenager. When there’s a baby though, I always want them. We have a lot of kids though. Don’t you think that will ever change? Don’t you ever think we have enough kids? I don’t think that will ever change. I think I’ll always think about the kids who are waiting. Me too, buddy. Me too. What does adoption mean to you now that you’ve been through it so many times? Adoption means helping someone in need. It also means that your family is capable of handling a big change in their lives really well and that someday you’re going to love that child with all your heart.
A Postscript from FullPlateMom: Allowing my son to complete this interview was a scary prospect for me. I encouraged his honesty, but never directed him on how to answer. He could have said anything, and I would have felt compelled to write it just the way he had phrased it. Turns out, he said things beautifully, all on his own. I am amazingly proud of this young man, and how our family, and the way it was formed, has shaped him. Hopefully, his willingness to be honest will help other families as they decide whether adoption is the right leap for them.