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Growing Stepfamilies

Photograph by Getty Images

When I started dating my husband, people were extremely curious about his two children. They asked me lots of questions, asked me how I could “deal with a man who already had children” and if he would ever want to “start over” with me and have more kids.

I tried really hard to not get irritated. Really, I did try, and I know my husband had to do this as well. Because when his family found out we were dating and he mentioned that he was thinking of marrying me and having more kids, everyone told him that was a terrible idea.

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“You already have two!” They told him. “Why on Earth would you want to start all over? It’s going to be really hard on Chloe and Trey.”

I guess I get it. I can understand where people were concerned. But to my husband and me? He isn’t “starting over.” He’s adding to his family. There isn't going to be “his first two kids” and then “new babies.” There are only going to be his children. My children. Our children.

When we discussed babies in the past, I did worry about Chloe and Trey. At the time, they were 4 and 2, and I worried that they would feel replaced by a new baby. I worried that they would be upset that the baby would be with daddy all the time and they only get every other week. I worried that my bond with the two of them would wane, that the love I feel for them would be overshadowed by the new baby that had grown inside me for nine months.

This is about giving the kids another sibling, about our family not being finished yet.

But as our family has strengthened, those thoughts don’t plague me anymore. I no longer think of Chloe and Trey as my stepchildren whom I have to protect from feeling less important, but instead as our two children—our big kids who will one day deal with a little brother or sister in our family. I think of them the way I imagine most people think of their oldest children. I worry about how they would react to a baby, but from a place of change and growth, not alienation.

Some people still don’t get it. Before I was pregnant, I was having major baby fever when my husband told me, in front of his family, that we still had things we needed to do before adding another baby. “Or you could just wait,” my sister-in-law said, “since you already have two kids.” My husband corrected her, telling her he still wanted more.

Later, I asked him how that made him feel. “If we had two kids together, do you think people would think it was weird we wanted to add a third?”

“Maybe,” he said. “But I think everyone thought I was done having kids with Chloe and Trey. I guess they just think I should be done.”

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But this is our family. This isn’t a discussion on “starting over” with a new family or my husband having “separate” kids. This is about expanding our family, filling our home with more laughter, more yelling, more sticky hands and more “HUGGIES!” from kids with outstretched arms. This is about giving the kids another sibling, about our family not being finished yet. This is about love.

If you’re part of a blended family, do you want to have more children? Are people supportive of your decision, or do they think it’s a terrible idea?

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