For those of you in the adoption world with more than the appropriate (ie under 6, though that might be a stretch) number of children, you read the title and your hackles are already up. But others of you might have never heard of, or at least thought about the term before. I personally find it vile and demeaning to the utmost.
What is it, you ask? It is a term bandied about that refers to people who adopt (collect) children, often in amounts larger than deemed acceptable. It has overtones of abuse and neglect and is pretty consistently used in regard to cases of adoption, abuse, and neglect. Can we just end the use of the term period, and call it what it is, which would be serial abuse? To call it 'child collecting' is to both minimize the abuse and demean the children involved to the status of thing. This is not the use of the term that has rankled me in recent days, though.
A few days ago I was reading a blog and was reading the comments when I came across a particularly disturbing use of the term. (I love this writer's blog and the comment didn't really have anything to do with her post. I don't want her very well done post to be linked to this whole rant, so I'm going to just leave it anonymous at the moment.) In the comment, the poster accused the parents of a functioning, loving family as being child collectors pretty much because the family had more than the usual number of children. Once again, through ignorance, all the usual accusations were trotted out. What are they? It is impossible to love and care for more than 10 children. The children are homeschooled and thus are unable to function on their own or with any competency. The older children raise the younger children. And, in this case, it was even patently worse because some of the children (gasp!) had special needs. Rarely have I seen all of these in one place. It was almost as if it was written as satire. But is wasn't.
To beat a dead horse, because evidently there is still much education to be done, here go again. (If you're part of the choir you can move along to the next blog because you've heard all this before.)
Child collecting implies that children are things and not human beings. It says that the parent has no connection with the child. It says that there is some competition to see who ends up with the most children. What all of these assumptions do not take into account is that there is so much more going on than just bringing a child into a home. These children are human beings. They are unique individuals with their own needs and quirks and gifts. There is both work and effort and joy that comes from raising a child and that it true for any number of children you happen to have. No one (if they are mentally sane) brings a child into their home, puts that child up on a shelf, and then goes looking for another child of a type they don't have yet. The process is too costly.
People who have trouble with the number of children a family are showing their own deeply held belief about the nature of love. It seems they come from a place where love is a limited commodity, as if a person is given just a certain amount of love to give out throughout their life and if it is used up... well, too bad for you. With this view, love is something that must be guarded carefully and doled out to only a few. What a sad and stunted way to live. Love doesn't work like that. Love is infinitely available. It can never run out. In fact, I would venture to say the more you use the love you have, the more love you have to give away. A visual idea of how this works is one that is used with adopted children sometimes to explain how they can love more than one set of parents. I also find it a highly useful way to explain how parents can love more than a couple of children. Picture several ( or 20 or more) candles on a table. Take a match a light one candle. How many candles can you then light with the already lit candle? Just a couple... or more? Do you ever 'run out' of fire to light the next candle? No, of course not. You can always light another candle. You can always love another person. Just as the fire is not diminished by lighting another candle, a parent's love is not diminished by loving another child.
But how do you have time to care for all those children? Well, you just do. You prioritize what is important, you make choices, you ask children to help. It works out. Based on the number of parents who have three or less children and have told me that theirs take all their time, it seems that ones children will take all your time regardless of how many you have. More is just a little more efficient.
Instead of going on and on and repeating myself, I'll just take this opportunity to link back to past posts where I say the same things over and over again. At least that's what it feels like.
How Do You Do It?
That Will be a Table for 25 Please
The Tale of Three Frying Pans
An Open Letter to President Obama
In Which we go on a Field Trip and I continue to Tilt at Windmills
Circus Side Shows
December Outing -- or doing some large family myth busting
Group Home of Family
Growing from a Small Family to a Large Family
Institutionalization, Large Families, and Expectations
More is Easier
The Joys of a Large Family
Large Families, Older Siblings, and Vocabulary