The foster/adoption web sites I have visited have advice for married couples. One takes the tongue-in-cheek title for a section, "Top Ten Ways Foster Care Can Ruin a Marriage", but the accompanying article is entirely serious. This is just the sort of article that helps to balance my perspective on children who need a family to love them and a temporary home to shelter them with the reality that my mister does not feel the same pull on his heartstrings. My mister and I have spent years enjoying the idea of our forties when the kids will be out of high school, and our fifties when they will likely be building lives of their own. (This is the "up side" to parenting while one's peers complete their degrees and begin careers.) In the past few months, one of us has had a change of heart.
Having been surgically, permanently cut off from our child-bearing years, there was no reason to consider the possibility of more offspring. Friends with small children and infants have been willing to entrust their children to us while they work, are ill, or enjoy a date. This seemed sufficient, and on occasion even had the hallmark feeling of being overwhelmed that is, as it turns out, not solely the mark of being 21, broke, and in charge of someone who cries to communicate. Those challenges are offset by the moments of sweetness like being presented with a painstakingly drawn stick figure in thick waxy crayon for the refrigerator door, an infant's head resting peacefully on one's shoulder, the endless entertainment of translating the gobbledy gook that passes for speech at 2, and little arms wrapped tightly around one's leg in a hug that can only reach so high.
My mister is far less intrigued by such things. His memories of infants involve rather a lot of crying--- sometimes by the babies. He is content with a world that revolves around us as a couple, and the goal is to raise our children and get back to the honeymoon as soon as the kids are reasonably self-sufficient. (That is rather an enticing idea.) I read of the ways to dip a toe into the pool of children who need safety and love without disregarding the differing goals that the mister and I see before us. The opportunities to care for others' children, the crisis shelter for kids facing removal from their homes in the face of abuse where volunteers are needed, and in months a return to La Moskitia where the youngest children can face uncertainty and benefit from one more pair of open arms reaching out.