“Do you have kids?” I have been receiving this question for longer than I remember. It was the most asked question by customers and people at social networking events. I understand some are using it as a simple question, trying to find common ground with someone you do not know. However, it has fast become a hurtful question to those who do not. To those who cannot conceive, to those who have lost a baby, to those struggling to adopt, or those who had their children taken away. Other “common ground” questions come with such less pain. “Where are you from?” “Do you like sports – What’s your favorite team?”, “who is your favorite musical artist?”. It is time to retire this sexist, painful, and age-old question. Because let us be honest. It is asked WAY more to women anyways.
For me it was never hurtful in the way it would be another. However, it has made me uncomfortable on so many levels. Normally after the question and my answer, “no”. It is followed with, “oh you will love them one day,” or “why not?” or “oh, they are just the best.” My answers being, “I don’t think so”, “I don’t want them,” and “they are the best, when they can be given back to their parents.” The worst statement of all after this onslaught of conversations is, “you’ll change your mind,” “you’ll regret it,” “oh you are young, things will change.” And my favorite favorite favorite “your husband will want them.” It seems a lot of people forget – like birth control and other family planning practices– that my uterus belongs to me. It does not belong to my husband, to my family, to random strangers on the street. It belongs to me. Who cares if my husband wants them? Do you think this conversation was not had before we entered a promise of forever?
With that pint up frustration out of the way (that I did not know I was including here) lets talk about the children I do want and how I got there. Growing up I was never the super maternal type; I would rather send my barbies to college then push a baby stroller. Besides for one brief co-babysitting stint of two four-year old’s (thanks Trisha!), I did not babysit. Spending hours with children was not appealing. I did spend two summers during Vacation Bible School hanging out and “supervising” in the 4-year old room when I was 14 (for some reason 4-year old’s were my thing). That was 100% about having the additional responsibility of adulthood and finding the shyest quietest kid in the whole room to devote my time to. Up until a few years ago, as an adult, even talking to children made me uncomfortable. Thankfully, some quality time with some great little nuggets, (Thanks Jordan!) I have finally gotten over that small hurdle.
Although these days I find tiny little humans cute and enjoy picking out gifts and attending princess parties. I still have no desire to birth one from my own womb. I would rather adopt. Even though I did not push around baby strollers, since I could remember I have always felt a pull to adoption. Not a baby human, but a midsize human. A child that has been lost in the system, struggling to find a place to call home I have always been someone who believes I have the heart and patience for lost souls.
This is not something that my husband and I are ready for anytime soon. I still have a lot of goals and life plans that would be easier as a family of two humans, versus a family of 3 or 4 humans. Does not mean we have not made changes to our family of the fur baby variety. Our first baby fell into our life over a year ago. In typical me fashion, after a vat of bottomless mimosas, I went over to the local animal rescue to pet the cats. Slightly tipsy I looked into Gypsy’s cage and instantly fell in love with her sweet face and expressive eyes. She was shy, and skittish, and slow to trust, and she was all mine. I called my husband at work and told him I was adopting a cat. Our sweet little girl is a three-legged black kitten (9 months at time of adoption). The adoption facility was so overjoyed they had found someone to love her, as they were worried being special needs and “unlucky” black would hold back a quick adoption. They had not met us. Every little bit of her that was “different” made us love her more.
I wanted our second fur baby adoption to be just as spontaneous. The perfect fit we would stumble upon for our little family. However, with Covid shutting down all casual visits to animal rescue facilities, it seemed more clinical to find a new child than we wanted. On the other hand, now that I wasn’t working we had the time to commit to making he or she comfortable, and (equally as important) time to get our first baby comfortable with sharing her space with a new alien creature. Ultimately the pull of having the time outweighed the clinical process of finding a new baby online. I knew I wanted another special needs child like my first, a he or she that needed a little extra love but would flourish with the right environment. Then I saw his picture. A tiny, blind from birth kitten, with the sweetest face. I instantly knew. He was it. The addition to our family that we so desperately needed.
After some back and forth emails, one two-hour drive just to meet him, and a month of anxiously waiting for him to recover from ring worm. We got the call. He was all ours. Come pick him up! He has been home for two weeks now. Its been a long, slow, process getting Gypsy to love him as much as we do. She still does not quite love him but last night we got to sleep with both in the same room at once. That was enough for me to finally feel at ease. I knew if she did not take to him, we would have to find him a new home, this tiny little fur baby I had fallen head over heels for. I could not accept he was fully ours until our first baby fully accepted him. Thank god she did. So, world, I introduce to you, Franklyn Brotherton (named after my grandpa), our new, sweet, mischievous, cuddle bug, Houdini fur baby. Being a family of 4 feels perfect.