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If you have more than two children, you’ve probably been asked, “Don’t you know what causes it?” If you have more than three, you probably heard it several times. If you dare to push the cultural norms with more than four children, you probably hear it ALL THE TIME as people question the value of a child.
Whether it’s well meaning friends and family speaking “all in good fun,” or random strangers who have somehow decided your family life is their business, the question insinuates you could/should have prevented pregnancy and shows our culture’s attitude about the value of a child.
With our third pregnancy, we began encountering people indirectly questioning the value of a child.
“Don’t you know what causes it?”
“Are they all yours?”
“Are you done?”
“You sure have your hands full.”
“Better you than me.”
We have seven children through birth and adoption, and though we are not easily offended by such comments, after hearing the first question so often, my husband and I had to come up with an appropriate(?) answer or two. So now, when someone says, “Don’t you know what causes it?” we have three choices.
Number 1. Plead ignorance.
Answer: “No, what?” in a very curious, I-really-want-to-know, tone. I’ve yet to have anyone explain it to me on the spot!
Number 2. Be honest.
Answer: “Yeah, but we like it too much to quit!” (wink) I borrowed this answer from a fellow pastor’s wife who has eight children. Once I used Number 2 with my dad. (I know, TMI for a loving daddy, but he has a good sense of humor and I know he loves our kids!) My dad now relates our conversation to people and says he quit asking after that. My dad also says that growing up in a pastor’s home I learned the scripture passage, “Be fruitful and multiply” whether I got the rest or not!
Number 3. Teach biology.
Answer: “Well, let me explain it to you.” Then give a biology lesson they are not likely to forget!
The Value of a Child in Growing Families
After we brought home our two girls from China a friend added me to an online support group for large adoptive families. We soon discovered we are not a large adoptive family after all. Many amazing parents have opened their homes again and again to children without families and joyfully welcome additional biological children as well.
This encouraging group shares tips on handling the everyday homemaking that comes with a large family, but also makes growing family announcements. Many times members share the news of a pregnancy or adoption in our group first because the online friends in this group will share their excitement, while the reactions from their family and friends will likely be negative. Many comments will not be negative in the light-hearted sense of the questions above (most large families are used to that and handle it good-naturedly), but brutally critical, often without subtly or tact.
The root of the negative reactions about a new child in the family lies in the devaluing of human life, particularly children, in our world.
The popularity of abortion and the rate of abandonment show a view that children are disposable. Even many Christians who celebrate the birth of a first or second child, or maybe even a third, often change their attitude when the household continues to grow by either birth or adoption. People are quick to point out how modern technology or “choice” can prevent more children, but who would dare point out which one should have been prevented or left alone in an orphanage?
This attitude is not new.
Remember King David, the man after God’s own heart? He was the eighth boy in an impressive line of brothers in his family. His own father didn’t even consider him of enough value to be presented before the prophet Samuel. He was left watching the sheep when the next king of Israel was to be chosen. (1 Samuel 16:5-13) Yet what did God say to Samuel?
David grew up to become King of Israel and a man after God’s own heart. He experienced failures, as we all do, but God valued this youngest of eight boys, and generations of people have valued him ever since.
Why should we value EVERY child?
1. God made every child in His image.
The eighth child in a family, whether born or adopted, special needs or “normal,” white or brown, reflects the image of God just as well as the first. The value of a child is rooted in the image of God displayed.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27
2. God crafted every child personally.
God knitted every child in the womb with His special care. He chose the characteristics of each one, even those with special needs. The timing, birth order, and ethnicity are all a part of His perfect plan.
3. God has a purpose for every child.
Our amazing Creator made each child to bring Him glory, but each child also has a specific purpose in God’s grand design.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremian 1:5
4. God takes interest in every child.
Whether literal children, or children in their faith, God warns us about our attitude toward children. Jesus affirmed the value of a child.
Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. Matthew 18:10-11
5. Jesus calls children to Himself.
One of the most memorable accounts of children in the Bible is Jesus blessing the children. When even His disciples did not see their value, Jesus rebuked the disciples and took the time to hold and bless children. What an affirmation for both the children and their parents who wanted their children to be near Jesus!
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14
Still, today, Jesus calls children to Himself. According to the Barna Research Group, forty-three percent of people who have a personal relationship with Christ accepted Him before the age of thirteen. (Evangelism is Most Effective Among Kids)
6. Every child is a blessing from the Lord.
In the world of the Old Testament where child sacrifice haunted the worship of pagan gods, our God strongly condemned and forbade it (Leviticus 18:21). God’s people sacrifice an animal to redeem their firstborn sons (Numbers 18:15). When God Himself gave His only begotten son, He gave the greatest sacrifice known, one that He did not even require of His own people (John 3:16). Despite the view of cultures around the Israelites at the time, and the culture around us today, children are a blessing from God.
Only in recent years our society has decided that too many children are a burden rather than a blessing. Just a generation or two ago, large families were the norm.
Neither the birth order, nor the family size, nor the nationality, nor the physical/mental capacity of a child changes this amazing truth. EVERY child is valuable.
So when God gives an already large family the gift of a new baby or leads them to adopt again, remember the value of every child and choose a loving response. “Congratulations!” “How wonderful!” “What a blessing!” “That’s so exciting!” “I’m so happy for you!”
Let’s celebrate the value of every life.
Whether children belong to a large family like ours or a small family like many of our friends, I want them to remember that every child is a special gift made in the image of our magnificent God.
Three Endings . . .
When I began writing this post a few months ago, I intended to end with this disclaimer:
ENDING NUMBER 1:
For my family and friends- this post does NOT mean we are making an announcement. We are celebrating the gift children and encouraging others to do the same.
BUT Things changed since then, twice. My next plan was a slightly snarky ending with a cliff hanger.
ENDING NUMBER 2:
Let’s practice a little dialogue to see what you’ve learned. Remember, if this conversation plays out, I’ve probably been hesitating to share our news because we’re unsure of your reaction.
Me: We’re expecting another baby!!!
You: Congratulations! That’s wonderful! The kids must be so excited to have another little brother or sister!
Me: God is leading us to adopt another child from China!
You: That’s awesome! Children are such a blessing. I’m so excited the girls will have another sibling from China! Which Scenario is true??? You’ll just have to ask!
Then, the joy of our impending announcement faded almost as soon as it came. So, here is the final ending to a post that has been in draft mode for months.
ENDING NUMBER 3:
The value of a child has never been more real to me. I hesitate to even share the words, but maybe someone else needs to see the hope of Christ in the midst of sorrow, and hear the value of their unborn child affirmed.
My husband and I recently lost our eighth child through miscarriage. As all the thoughts above about the value of a child mulled around in my head and some found their way to the keyboard, we realized I was pregnant. Surprised, but not shocked, we hid our growing excitement, waiting for that first doctor’s visit. I began miscarrying before the original OB appointment, but because the pregnancy was so early, we had to wait five days for a follow-up blood test (a weekend and holiday added a few days) to know for sure.
Grieving With Hope
Like David when his and Bathsheba’s child was dying, we held on to a sliver of hope and prayed fervently, but God’s ways are not ours. Now, like David, we arise to worship even in our grief. (2 Samuel 12:16-23) No one on earth knows the value of a child more than a grieving parent. Though we do not grieve as the world grieves, we still do grieve because we loved and wanted our baby. Thanks God our sorrow comes with hope!
We call our baby Shepherd, because like the beloved shepherd/king David, this baby is our eighth child, yet still valuable to us and our Heavenly Father.
The Courageous Mom, who is in a strikingly similar place in life as myself, recently shared some Scripture and Spirit filled thoughts in the posts below. God is using these to encourage us along as He heals our broken hearts. It Is Good to Grieve the Loss of Your Unborn Baby We Will Worship While Weeping
As I have more time to pray through and process all that God is doing in our lives in the midst of our sorrow, I hope to share more thoughts related to mothering and miscarriage.
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*Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.