The truth is, I don't know how many kids I have. Someone pointed out to me recently, that several of my kids are not 'my kids' at all. Technically, I guess it's true.
I gave birth to six children. My youngest was supposed to be a twin, but the only evidence was an empty second embryonic sac on an early ultrasound. My oldest son is actually my stepson (although I've never like that term), but I married his dad when he was only five and I wrote it into my wedding vows that I would be a mother to him. I have never called him anything but my son.
Then there are the others! A plethora of young people who have come in and out of our house on a daily basis. Some used to eat dinner with us almost every night. Others needed our support during a difficult time. Some moved into our home, all of them moved into our hearts. We call them our 'unofficial foster kids' for lack of a better way to explain that our bond is that of family, not friends.
Sometimes we get our hearts broken and other times we are filled to overflowing with the joy they bring us. When our 'foster' son left with the army on deployment to Afghanistan, you couldn't tell my anguished mother's heart that there was no physical bond between us! Speaking of physical bonds; I thank God everyday for these kids and for their REAL parents who have shared them so graciously with us.
If you ask my kids about the others, they will simply say, "Oh, that's my brother," or "That's my sister." My children have given up their privacy, sometimes shared their rooms and (often) their limited bathroom time to accommodate the kids we have brought into our home. They have even sacrificed their birth order on many occasions, so that we could include someone in our family. Can you imagine that one minute you are the oldest child at home and then in the next you have a 'sister or brother' above you?
We believe it has taught them that we are blessed and we should share those blessings when we can. They know that hearts and families can grow to fit in all those who need them.
I have never been a person who knows how to love by halves. I'm all in, all the time. Some of these additions to our family call me mom, some call me Cookie, but I guess I'll just keep on calling all of them 'my kids!' God bless.