The Financial Implications of a Third Child

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Now that life has settled down with two children in our home, my wife and I are starting to look at the decision to have a third child. Our plan always has been to have our children close together in age so that they can be peers to each other (roughly) during their school years, but we never quite hammered out how many we wanted to have, figuring we could cross that bridge when we got there, much as we did with the decision to have our second child.

We’ve arrived at that bridge.

Having enough love to spread around to more children isn’t really a problem. Our evenings (especially before 8 PM) and most of our weekends are completely centered around our children at this point, and the more, the merrier. Adding another child wouldn’t change our day to day lifestyle much at all.

Our biggest concern is the financial aspect. Adding another child would change our financial situation significantly, much more than the leap from one child to two children did. Here’s why.

Child care costs would come very close to matching my wife’s salary. Adding a third child to our daycare bill in one year would bring the weekly total to around $400. This adds up to an annual bill in the range of $21,000, which begins to approach my wife’s after-tax salary.

Our solution to this would be for one of us to become a stay at home parent. I think this is the inevitable solution if we choose to have a third child – one of us would have to drop out of the normal workday lifestyle for about five years to raise our children until they are old enough to all be in school.

We’re also looking at adoption. We are beginning to seriously look at adoption. There are many, many children out there who were dealt a poor nurturing hand right off the bat.

On the other hand, this raises a big question about financial support for these children. Can we afford to feed five mouths, provide them with ample educational and growth opportunities, keep our house, and maintain some modicum of a good life with just one salary? That’s a big question – in fact, it’s the biggest question, really.

Right now, it’s that final question – and the uncomfortable answers to it – that keep us from wanting a third child. We’re not concerned with showing the child love and care, but we are concerned that our two children now might lose opportunities due to taking on the additional commitments. In the end, our desire to have more children is outweighed by concern for our ability to provide opportunities for the children we have now.

I also think it’s sad when genuinely loving parents who want to have another child at home have to consider not doing so because of financial concerns like this. However, every solution to this problem that I can conceive of ends up encouraging people to have more children, particularly people who can’t properly care for them, and that’s overall a detriment to society.

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63 thoughts on “The Financial Implications of a Third Child

  1. What a timely post, Trent.

    My wife and I have adopted two daughters from China. Our first came home in 2002 (she is 5 and in kindergarten) and we brought our second home in September (she is 2).

    We don’t feel that our family is complete and have felt all along that we would also adopt a boy. Finances is certainly the critical part of the equation.

    Maybe you can do a series on how to pay for more than 2 children. :-)

  2. I think the only reason to have a third child is if you can’t imagine living without one. We made that decision, and we love all three!

  3. I’m so pleased that you and your wife are giving this so much thought. Seems that most people don’t – they just keep having more children whether they can afford them or not.

  4. “one of us to become a stay at home parent”

    This is one of the greatest gifts you could give your children.

    “We are beginning to seriously look at adoption.”

    This would be a wonderful choice, but there are a lot of hidden costs involved with adoption (initial fees, undisclosed medical problems, taxes (any fees the gov’t levies))

    “Can we afford to feed five mouths, provide them with ample educational and growth opportunities, keep our house, and maintain some modicum of a good life with just one salary?”

    Trent, your kids are young enough that you can prepare them to be successful in life. They have plenty of time to learn how to work towards important goals like college. Parents do not have to pay their kids way through school.

    Having a “good life” is entirely up to you and your wife. You define how much you need beyond the basics. Plenty of people have great lives without all of our modern conveniences and luxuries.

  5. It sounds like you are giving this a lot of thought, and you’ll do your best to be an excellent parent to however many children you decide to have. Having a stay-at-home parent can be wonderful, but there are more than just financial aspects to the decision. Does your wife derive satisfaction from her job in addition to her paycheck? Would she be happy spending the majority of her time with the children, or does she crave more adult interaction? Is she prepared for the challenges she may face reentering the workforce after several years? If she’d be genuinely happy to have the chance to stay home with the kids, this would be a great option, but you want to be sure you’ll both be happy with the decision.

  6. Good for you for giving this serious thought. Too many people seem to have children as if they did not have any say in the matter.

    If you look at the environmental impact of adding another human being to the planet for the next 100 or so years, adoption, in my mind, looks like the better alternative.

  7. Here’s another element of the equation: “love to spread around” is not unidirectional (from parents to children). It also exists between the children themselves as they bond during childhood, bond and quarrel during adolescence and perhaps through early adulthood, and continue to develop their relationships throughout their lives and come to support one another as you and your wife grow old and eventually pass on. More people in this network = more sibling relationships to cultivate.

  8. Thanks for thinking about whether to have another child rather than just doing it without thinking like so many others.

    Like Laura K above, if you do decide you want to grow your family, please consider adoption. The decision to birth another child into the world isn’t just a financial question for you, but for the world itself. We are running out of resources and undergoing population explosion–more so in the US than most other industrialized countries. There are *so many* unwanted children out there that if you have more love and money to give to one, they would give you back a lifetime of love in return if you brought one into your home.

  9. What ben said:

    “The decision to birth another child into the world isn’t just a financial question for you, but for the world itself. ”

    I’ll chime in to support the idea of adoption. There are truly thousands of “unwanted” children waiting for decent homes. Your home is a decent one. You’ve got what it takes to make the world brighter for someone else’s child. I hope you’ll give this option serious thought.

  10. I see adoption ads in the newspaper and they even pay you monthly of like $800+ to adopt one child, amazing!!…they are from the catholic church or some organization.

  11. It is interesting to read your thought processes as I am currently going through the same procedures with my wife as we prepare for the birth of our first child.
    Thank you for the interesting insights…I know I certainly appreciate it.

  12. Another option may be becoming a foster parent. I live in Ontario and work for a Children’s Aid in my district, and foster parents are paid pretty well. I also know of several people who have becoming foster parents, and adopted their foster children, as well as certain cases where the adoptive parents are paid monthly subsidies to help out with the costs of having several extra children in their family.
    Something to think about..

  13. Again, please adopt. The ‘unforeseen medical issues’ exist with every child, not only ones you don’t birth yourselves.

  14. We have six children on around $40,000 a year. Life is full and fun,(we homeschool) and it’s hard sometimes too but they are each other’s best friends and they will always have each other even after we have died. My grandfather had nine other siblings and as a kid growing up I witnessed their friendships amongst each other and how they supported each other through triumphs and tragedies. My husband was 8th of 9 and I’ve seen the same things. You can’t “buy” an opportunity for your children that is better than the love and companionship of another sibling in my opinion.

  15. Sarah, I just wanted to clarify that I did not intend to discourage Trent from adopting. I simply wanted to raise the issue that children adopted from overseas often have undisclosed medical conditions.

    It’s important to be aware of this possibility, especially when it might require drastic changes to one’s lifestyle. A lot of the commenters seem to think daycare is a great solution if both parents enjoy working. A serious medical problem might eliminate this option and some parents (I’m not thinking of anyone in particular) might hold that against the poor child.

  16. I am really happy to see that we are not the only people who are considering financial implications before having a child. I would feel bad to bring a child into this world with the amount of debt that we have. It just wouldn’t be fair…

    I am sure you two will make a decision you’ll be happy with. Good luck and please do let us know your decision. I appreciate this post, as we can relate to it very much. Thanks!

  17. I have a radical idea for you Trent. Why not give everything a test drive. Take a year off of work and become a stay home dad/writer/foster parent. If you are considering adoption, foster parenting has a number of very valuable benefits. 1) you have the opportunity to try out the process before making the permanent decision of adoption (you can even start with respite care on weekends only), 2) you receive financial benefits which will allow you to care for another child without taxing your current resources, 3) there are a ton of kids in foster care that desperately need a loving home to avoid a group home situation and not all of them are in need of permanent placement, so it is not selfish to think of foster care as a trial.
    I guess you could also continue as a two income family in this scenario, Trent, you have made so many posts lately about changing your life and leaving your job. You have the means to live the life you envision. Sure, it might take you a little longer to reach your goals, but wouldn’t it be a shame if you looked back in twenty years and wished that you were an author with a house full of kids. I’ve never seen a headstone that read “middle manager who paid off his mortgage early”. Your dreams are not crazy Trent. Live your dreams.

  18. I don’t see any comments from anyone who has actually done this. I have. I found myself unexpectedly pregnant with a third child which would give us 3 in 3 years. (birth control isn’t foolproof as many people have proved). Not only did this make it financially foolish to work but he was born with a congenital heart defect requiring open heart surgery. Day care for a high medical needs child is pretty much an impossibility.

    Fast forward 28 years. The child not only survived but thrived. After graduating from college with honors he spent 3 years living overseas teaching English as a second language. He has now entered seminary. Was it worth it? Yeah every minute. The world is benefitting from his presence.

    The only thing I would caution you about in having children very close together is to think down the road when they have some years of all being in college at the same time. It was a financial nightmare for me as a suddenly single mom to have 3 college students simultaneously. But that would be a whole nuther subject.

    You may ask how does one do this? The answer is frugal living one day at a time.

  19. EVERY human being comes with “unforeseen” medical issues, no matter what part of the planet they’re born on.

    I think adoption is a great idea. I watched my adopted cousin grow up into a smart, bright young woman. I often think of what she would have been like if she would have lived with her birth mother…who is now homeless on the streets of L.A. last we heard.

    You have created such a nice, peaceful, loving world and it would change your life to bring an adopted child into it.

    Great post, Trent.

  20. I had a few friends go the other way, waited till the child was older and prepared for a brother sister. Recently had friend with two older daughters (8-10) and who just had baby number 3 and he laughed when I asked him how the girls were adjusting, it was like having 3 mothers he said:)

  21. Kim, serving as a foster parent is a great idea. There is a real need for good foster parents who are in it for the children and not the paycheck.

    Trent, you’d also get a taste of parenting a child that isn’t biologically your child. No matter how much you love your kids and they you, the relationship is always slightly different if you are not the biological father or mother (speaking from experience).

    Gayle, that is a wonderful story. “Was it worth it? Yeah every minute. The world is benefiting from his presence.” I wish this view was more prevalent. Every child is a blessing and when given the right mix of love, knowledge, and skills—every child improves the world no matter how many physical hurdles must be overcome.

  22. In December of 1983, while we watched our two kids open Christmas gifts, I felt my face flush and I had the overwhelming feeling that someone was missing. Somebody was! Although we had agreed on two kids, and had sold all the baby things, along came #3. If you ask me, three is the perfect number.

  23. The problem with the idea of the one parent (virtually always Mom) staying home is that she can easily become “Suddenly Single” in a second. If she has been out of the workforce for 5 years, the ability to get a job that will support four people quickly is unlikely to be there.

    You also need to factor in the very significant loss of future retirement income should one parent drop out of the workforce. There are also many people for whom work is just as vital a part of life as their children. Finding that out too late after quitting is a very painful experience.

    Don’t forget to factor in the additional expenses of additional life and disability insurance FOR BOTH OF YOU.

    Often a far better plan is for both parents to cut back their work hours some but stay in the workforce in case of sudden tragedy.

    I like the suggestion for you to try living on one salary for a year before deciding. Of course, some things get decided for you, despite your best efforts!

  24. I doubt that you will get to the end of your life and regret that you had more children–adopted or biological.

  25. I have a tremendous amount of respect for people that adopt children – I knew it a truly great thing to bring someone less fortunate into your household and shower them with love and affection. I personally could probably not raise a child who is not my own for that very reason, but people who can have my utmost respect.

  26. We have three children. Our oldest is five. The baby is one. I have always been a stay at home mom, so our third was not a significant financial difference. We are also homeschoolers, so I will be out of the workforce not merely until the youngest is five, but until he is eighteen. I don’t think I’m missing much, especially since I’ve worked before. I’m a musician, so we’re not completely without a second income, but it’s very small and irregular.
    I suppose it’s a different situation if you’re used to two incomes, but I think you’ve mentioned before that one of your incomes goes mostly to daycare and other expenses of the job. We don’t have the savings cushion and retirement funds socked away that some do, but we don’t have a lot of debt either. We also have only one vehicle, a twelve-year-old minivan. I usually take the car one half-day a week. My husband comes home for lunch daily.
    My suggestions are, after you’ve crunched the numbers, consider how much life insurance you’re going to need for whoever stays home. In our case, and with our committment to homeschooling, we have enough on each of us to support the other and the children until the youngest is in college. Also look at what the remaining job’s medical insurance will cover, when, and what they’ll regard as a pre-existing condition. (Your wife may need to be on your insurance before she gets pregnant.)
    Benefits of staying home: more time with your children. More focus on your children’s education. (Is there even a preschool out there with a 3/1 ratio?) Easier breastfeeding (with its attendent financial and health benefits) if Mom stays home. No one has to skip work because of a sick baby. Kids are healthier because they get exposed to fewer germs. The parent at home will have time for in depth research on subjects of interest to an extent they didn’t have before. (Naptime.) Home cooking and baking are easier to fit into the day.
    Downsides: if the at-home parent gets sick (like stumach flu or influenza, not common cold) then the working parent will have to take the day off. There’s a lot of social pressure to put your kids in an unending and expensive array of ‘Mommy and Me’ classes. Your spouse may occasionally call you at work with the words “I just wanted to talk to someone who didn’t think emptying the kitchen sink onto the floor was a good idea.” (You can insert many other childish escapades, such as those involving eggs, milk, socks, trash, and toilets here.) The other children will all find such events delightful. Some people will think that a stay at home parent doesn’t do anything, and you will suddenly become the first called for everything any organization you belong to does. Also, since you can afford to have a parent stay home, certain relatives will decide that you are rich.
    The key to staying home frugally is to actually stay at home. Fo someone used to being out and about and social this may be hard. Parks and libraries are free places you can go, but there aren’t many others where you can’t spend money.

  27. Having a stay-at-home parent can be wonderful, but there are more than just financial aspects to the decision. Does your wife derive satisfaction from her job in addition to her paycheck?

    Just wanted to point out that EC made a sad but all too common assumption with this quoted comment, given that Trent didn’t specify which one of them would become the stay-at-home parent. I wish that Trent’s attitude was more the norm in our society — that either parent can stay home with the kids — but sadly, this is not the case.

  28. Hard to believe you guys are already thinking about another child, since you’ve got an infant. It’s so hard to think about the major ramifications the decision (or not) to have another child likely will have on a family’s future for generations. I’d just say, if you DESIRE to have more children, have them. If you’re happy where you are, keep your family the way it is. Another child will bring untold changes to your family, be they positive, or negative. You have to be ready for that.

  29. Money isn’t everything. That being said, everyone should be responsible in providing the basics for their children. You may want to think about part-time employment for the stay at home parent. I have many friends where one parent works the weekends or the evenings. It means that you sacrifice some time with your spouse but it can help ease the financial burden and 5 years passes very quickly with children.

    What opportunities do you think the children would miss out on? I’m sure there are community recreational sports and boy/girl scout programs in your area. These community based programs aren’t expensive. Most give discounts for multiple children. As for college there are very good ways to attend which don’t take you broke. Children can start at a community college and then transfer to a State college. They can work summer jobs prior to and during college.

  30. It is so interesting to read others’ thoughts on the topic of adding children to a household. Yes, it holds significant financial concerns. 2 things we consider heavily in our house:

    1) Just because the world says that we should have “X,Y, and Z” (fill in the blank: an ipod, Baby Einstein, whatever…) does not mean that WE have to have it. We can certainly live a fantastic, fulfilled life without some of the things our culture deems as mandatory to happiness. Which translates into: our children are not being slighted any experiences or materialistic items because we don’t buy into the belief that we have to have them.

    2) We don’t consider our children burdens. Financially or otherwise. (I’m not saying anyone else does, just this is what we feel in our home.) So many people we know consider their children as financial drains, they suck up all of their time, etc. If we can realize that these children we are allowed to care for are not burdensome, but true blessings to our lives, it adds a completely different perspective.

    Just offering some things that my husband and I consider. Please don’t look at just the dollars and cents aspect of more children. As you already know, they provide a joy that cannot be described. :)

  31. The various suggestions (have another child, adopt a child, foster with a view to possibly adopting) all have merit, but I want to say to the people who claim that *all* children come into this world with unforeseen medical issues are not being realistic.

    Yes, it’s possible that you could have a third child of your own and that baby could be born with Down’s Syndrome, have a heart defect, develop cerebral palsy as a result of oxygen deprivation at birth, etc. etc.

    But your wife wouldn’t be giving birth to a baby with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, or addicted to cocaine, or HIV positive. You wouldn’t discover that the baby had been shaken to the point of brain damage by parents too ignorant to know that it could cause damage.

    I have a friend who has been a foster parent for years and she’s had kids with all those problems except HIV (& she may have had that experience too, without having told me about it).

    The point is that a very high percentage of kids who come up for adoption have very serious, often hidden problems that can be incredibly expensive lifelong issues to deal with. I don’t say you shouldn’t consider adoption, but you should think about the possible ramifications very carefully.

    You might be able to do something wonderful for a child who might otherwise be shunted from here to there, but you might also compromise your other children’s financial security, health, or even safety. This is a decision that deserves a lot of thought.

  32. I agree with adoption.Love given to people without expecting reward.Be fare to every living life.Your 3th child still does not came to the earth,but those children have no choise to not to be in the world.
    Maybe i am pessimism,i myself even want i was not born at all.i am sorry for my bad mood

  33. Can you afford to feed five mouths, provide them with ample education and growth opportunities, keep our house and maintain some modicum of a good life with just one salary?

    I don’t see why you couldn’t make do on one reasonable salry. I suspect you will need to make some sacrifices in the things you have or get but that doesn’t mean you are giving up the good life… How much richer might your life be with a thrid child? I bet there isn’t any material possession that is more important to you than your children… wouldn’t that be true of a third child as well? Certainly giving up $21K means a lot of changes and shouldn’t be done on a whim. You may not be able to stay in your current house… but I’m sure that you could still afford a house it just may not be as nice, large, or convienently located as your current one. You may also have to be more creative on spending for the kids- look for free alternatives or cut out things that aren’t essential. Will your current children possibly miss out on some opportunities? Possibly, but having another sibiling may offer them other opportunities as well. You may also need to ask your children to help out more when appropriate. For instance when they are old enough getting part time jobs to help save for their education- that may help help them grow and appreciate the value of their education.

  34. Deciding to have a child in cold blood is always a scary decision.

    You have youth on your side (I believe you are both still in your twenties?) It is a asset both in parenting and in shoring up your financial position.

    The greatest cost until you hit college is indeed daycare, so it makes sense for one parent to stay home– probably the one with the smaller salary.

    We have three children spaced ten years apart between oldest (16) and youngest (6). I work two days a week and the rest of the time I am managing the household or enjoying the kids. Babies are starting to look good to me again, but I know that at 41 years old with a 16 year old approaching college, I have neither the energy nor the money for a fourth child. I am nicely unconflicted about that. I do think if you take time to listen, you have a pretty good gut sense of whether another child is the right choice.

  35. Trent, you and your wife are to be applauded for thinking so carefully. Most people don’t. If your wife does decide to become a stay at home parent, perhaps she could start an online business, or do some of the “Simple Dollar”. You have mentioned starting another blog, and have also mentioned your concerns regarding the amount of time this would take away from your family. The two of you could split the workload more evenly and grow a lucrative online business at the same time. I am not saying this would be easy with three young children at home, but it could be done. It would have the added advantage of giving her continued business experience which would make it easier for her to re-enter the workforce when the children were older.

  36. I have recently stumbled here and enjoy reading your blog. From personal experience I can say having a third child did take some serious thought and we were concerned about the financial aspect too. We had a well thought out plan and now the “baby” is almost five years old. We have even saved much more than anticipated. Thought you may appreciate hearing a positive outcome. I’m not going to sugar coat our personal situation…there were bumps in the road as my husband is in the military which lead to an unexpected deployment and two moves within three years (two more moves ahead within two years). We rolled with the punches and still stayed on track. Best wishes to you and your wife as you make this important decision.

  37. Trent…another aspect that you must consider that no one has mentioned regarding adoption, especially foreign, is the very real issue of emotional problems! There was a very compelling issue in a recent Time magazine, I think, about many adoptiive children having such deep-rooted pshychological disorders probably from not having the opportunity to bond early on, that they practically found it impossible to bond with their adoptive parents. The resulting pressures on the families were UNBELIEVABLE! The children were often violent and uncontrollable. One parent after experiencing so much frustration snapped and resorted to shaking the child…it eventually died and she is in prison now for the next 10 years! NOT to say that you would be that parent, you are such a kind, concerned parent, but you need to look realistically at all the aspects of adoption. And unlike Ben above said “you will get a lifetime of love in return” is not always the reality, unfortunately! So, please think of ALL the pros and cons of adoption, especially, and you will make the right decision! Kudos to you and your wife for number one, being so responsible BEFORE you decide to have another child, adopted or not.

  38. My husband and I had the surprise of having three children when I became pregnant with twins when our first born was a year old. We were not financially ready for three. I stay at home because day care costs are just too high for three kids. I must say that though I wanted and intended to be a stay at home mom, I do miss the adult interaction and get a bit stir crazy. My oldest is now in Kindergarten and I have 20 months left until the twins go to school. My husband works two to three jobs at at time to keep us going. It was not what we planned, but we are happy and healthy. I am a teacher, so should have no problem re-entering the workforce. My husband plans to return to school for his MSW. In the past five years we have gone through a bankruptcy and recovered after he lost his job of six years unexpectedly. We love to read your site.

  39. Trent – good post. Good luck in your decision. I’m a mom to two beautiful IA (internationally adopted) kids who are a year apart in age. I love them “like my own” because they ARE my own. FWIW – if you and your wife want a third child, go for it. Don’t let money rule your heart desires.

    A.M.B.A.

  40. I would second and third what Carol says. A child is not a pet: you can’t take it back to the dog pound after it chews up your furniture and bites your kids. When you adopt a little girl or boy, you are faced with having to deal with the child’s physical and emotional problems for the rest of your life. The disruption that a child with major psychological problems will bring to your family is not something to take lightly.

    Among my several acquaintances and friends who have adopted, I do not know one couple who has not had to cope with very serious problems. The least of these happened when an exceptionally beautiful Korean-born child became convinced she was ugly and worthless because she didn’t look like all the plain-vanilla kids in her small-town, all-white school. She could not be persuaded of the truth — that physically she was lovely and spiritually she was delightful — and over time this developed into a big issue.

    That is a very small matter compared to 13-year-olds running away to live on the streets, violent attacks on siblings and parents, theft, property destruction, drug use, excessive drinking… Might your own kids do those things? Sure enough. But when you adopt a child, that child very likely will come with built-in problems stemming from the parents’ drinking and drug use, from inherited tendencies to mental illness, from separation from family, from early physical and psychological abuse. You at least know your own birth-child will not be abused, either in the womb or after he arrives.

    If you decide to consider a mixed-race or international adoption, you should think about the infrastructure available to a child of color. Is there a barber or a beautician in your little town who can cut African hair and make it look great? Is there a beautician who can teach a young woman of color how to use make-up? Can she even buy make-up for dark complexions there, or will she have to order all her foundation, blusher, eye shadow and lipstick over the Internet? Do you know adults of color who can serve as role models for such a child? Are there other children who look like her, and if there are, how accessible are they to a child growing up in your family? Will she be accepted or excepted?

    Adoption is an altruistic and beautiful act. But it can require enormous spiritual and financial resources. Not to say you can’t or shouldn’t do it: just to say it would be wise to reconnoitre your personal resources and those of your community before taking such an enormous, irreversible step.

  41. Glad you are putting thought into this. I think adoption is a wonderful way to show your love. I hope you will consider adopting a child from the States. Indeed, there are many foreign children without parents, but there are children right here who are trapped in our child welfare system who need loving parents. Some are older children who see the benefits of living in our country, but those benefits are unavailable to them. It is easy for these children to become angry and hopeless – leading to bigger problems when they grow up.

    In regard to one of you staying home with the children – it is a smart option., But, if you make more than your wife (21,000 after taxes), I think you should stay working at your computer job for a while. You have been discussing writing full-time for a living and it is risky to take on freelancing. Yes, you are writing now – your website is very enlightening. But you yourself say that you are not a financial advisor and that what you write should not be construed as fiancial advice. If this is true, then writing finance books will be no more than a smart guy with experience writing about finances and what he reads about finances. It works with a blog but it might not work on the open market. Then again, I have been wrong!! I am hope I am!

  42. Trent … rather than re-thinking the desire to have a third child altogether, you can re-think the need to have them be all close in age. My daughter and son are six years apart. We deliberately waited until my daughter was nearly done with daycare before we attempted to get pregnant again. Now we have one daycare and one aftercare (for an hour or so) bill that we can comfortably afford. My daughter adores my son, and we find having them be six years apart is an absolute joy! No, they will never be in the same school … but they are not competitive with each other and get along well. Bonus … we also will not have two college tuitions at the same time — ever. My point .. a lot can change financially in a couple of years and you are relatively young so there’s no biological clock pressure … I don’t think you have to decide this right now, do you?

  43. I have 2 boys ages 2 & 3 and I am preg with our 3rd. I totally understand the financial impact of adding another child. We had fertility treatments with our boys and were totally surprised by this pregnancy. The most expensive short term issue is Day Care. You are right! Day Care for 3 kids can run you nearly $400 per week. It would be cheaper for my husband to stay home since I make substancially more money but he doesn’t feel like he could do a good job being a stay at home dad.

    It would be easier if the kids were spaced futher apart (at least 4 years). If one of the boys were in Kindergarden that would give us a $600 month break on daycare.

    My Advice: Spacing is key. If you are thinking about adding a third child make sure your youngest is out of daycare. Everything else will fall into place.

  44. Happy Pre-Christmas Trent!

    What a beautiful topic to discuss so close to the holiday. On 12/27/04, I found out I was (unexpectedly) pregnant for the second time. Only later did I found out there was not one, but 2 babies! So watch out, you may go for #3 but end up with 3 and 4!

    That being said, I don’t know if I would have become a mother of 3 by choice, but now that they are here, I wouldn’t want it any other way. My children are close in age (dd-4 ds-2 ds-2) and they are at the same stage, they play together, run around together, etc.

    Financially it is only really coming into play now. As infants they wore (and still wear) 90% hand me downs and I breastfed and cloth diaper. I buy their toys and needs at yard sales. Now that the boys are older they are determined to eat me out of house and home and will continue to do so for the next 16+ years!- that is the toughest part- staying on food budget!

    Although we are saving a little for college, we are hoping for some financial aid with 3 kids in college for 2 years simultaneously, and that a rental property we are purchasing now can provide much needed cash flow that we can allocate for that.

    I have also always worked part time around 10 hours a week since the birth of my daughter, I plan to go back full time once daycare will not be full time.

    I guess I should just say go for it- somehow, you always find the money, these things all happen for a reason.
    Good luck!
    Danielle

  45. Taking the financial aspects into consideration is very wise. but, I’ve found that the joys of knowing my children balances out the extra costs and commitments. It sounds like you lean the same direction. Best of luck to you.

  46. Wow! Great post! If only everyone would put the consideration you did BEFORE they had children. I have not had children because I never felt I would be able to financially support them. Why that doesn’t stop other people, I don’t know. Guess they figure they can get help from the government.(So all of us who didn’t have children still get to pay for those who did and can’t afford them.)

  47. How lovely that you and your wife are contemplating adoption. How sad that Shevy and others are so very negative on the subject. I say that as the adoptive mother of five children adopted from foster care, many of whom do have serious emotional issues. Of course, you need to think carefully about a decision to adopt a child. Of course, you need to read widely. Of course, there will be problems. But there is also considerable joy. All of my adoptions are successful (Four of my five kids are now adults) though one child is not leading a very successful adult life. Money is the least of your problems in a foster-care adoption–homestudies are free or reimbursable, attorney fees are reimbursable, you get monthly aid (though I found it closer to $500 a child than the $800 Andy posited) and a medicaid card. There’s also a one-time tax credit per child than can be spread over several years if you don’t need it in the year you adopt. One caution–good adoption practice says to not adopt a child older than your youngest child. It’s not advice that is always followed, but it should be.

  48. Dissenting opinion here (somebody has to post one).

    My mother is a very gentle, sweet, elderly lady. I asked her recently what, if she could go back and change anything about parenthood, she would change.

    She said they would have stopped at two children.

    I am the fourth born. I was NOT offended by her comment — I know that she loves me deeply. I also know how hard her life was.

    Just my two cents.

  49. I have enjoyed your blog, and it is interesting that you pose this question at about the same time we were discussing the long-term impacts of this question: specifically, the environmental impacts of this. It is another “Inconvenient Truth” that more people means more energy use and more global warming. Deciding to have another child means to literally exponentially increase your impact on the environment. One more child isn’t really “one” more person– it is 150% what it takes to maintain the present population level.

    Do you recycle? Try to save energy by shutting off lights or unused electrical items? Convert to more energy efficient appliances and light bulbs? Well, deciding to have another child has far more of an impact on the earth than any of those activities. Even the size of vehicle it takes to comfortably go visit Granny (or go to church, a school program etc.) is unfavorably impacted by deciding “one more”.

    Is that sad that it is a financially impacted decision? No, thank goodness for our world population, it is not.

    Adoption is a great option, but moving a child from a community that treads lightly on the earth to our current community has the same impact as bringing another person into the world. That doesn’t mean don’t do it… just look at the big picture. I adopted my second (and final) child. She is one of the joys of my life.
    Good luck deciding….. keep in mind, I love my husband, but that doesn’t mean I need a second or third.
    Kay

  50. This is a great duscussion but I am surprised that in a situation where frugality is so highly valued that money would be a huge issue. Many kids with wise, frugal parents don’t even know the grew up poor until they are out of the home making a life for themself (I’m one of them). I have eight siblings and I am grateful for each one of them from the bottom of my soul. We were poor but we were so happy. We didn’t lack any material good and we didn’t have the best of anything. I’d rather my children learn to live without than be miserable because they didn’t get the iPod or Wii they wanted for Christmas. Living without teaches children so many important values that can’t be learned in other ways.

    I hope to have a family of at least 4 children (my own and adopted) and my husband and I are not worried about being able to provide for them financially. My parents couldn’t afford to send any of us to college but four of us are college grads thanks to student loans and scholarships. I don’t agree with parents handing their children a college education. If kids don’t have a sense of the value of education and have a part in working towards it, they will often take it for granted– moreso than those who have to work their way through and actually apply for scholarships.

    I guess I just find it a little annoying to hear people worrying about not being able to give their kids “enough.” What’s enough??? Who knows?

  51. Very interesting! I have two younger sisters and we were all born within 2 3/4 years. Because odd numbers can be difficult, I’d encourage you to wait another year or two and have two more of your own. This will spread out the financial impact and I know I’m terribly old-fashioned but I think those who are able to have healthy children of their own should do so. I believe adoption is wonderful and most successful for those who are unable to have their own. The risks of the adoptive child bringing problems that affect your other two children are just too great. Without even considering medical problems, the state of mind of the pregnant mother greatly affects the child. The world has a lot of problems these days and I believe you are the type of parents who can raise exceptionally healthy children who can be our leaders tomorrow. So take a little break–2 years between pregnancies will give your wife’s body time to rejuvenate and be ready to do it all over again! (We had only one daughter who is in her 20′s now and turned out to be fantastic in every way; my only regret is that we didn’t have more. One is an odd number and she did require more energy than two would have but maybe that’s what she needed to thrive as she did.)

  52. I just wanted to reiterate that I’m *not* negative about adoption. I think it can be a wonderful, life-changing experience for both parents and children.

    I remember how deeply affected I was by the documentary “Who Are the Debolts and How Did They Get 19 Children”. I know people who have successfully adopted children, including foreign children of very different ethnicity and children with serious physical/developmental issues.

    I only intended to point out something that is not as widely known as it should be, even though it should be a matter of common sense. The vast majority of children who are put up for adoption these days are children who are born with extremely serious health and development issues, some of which are not obvious during infancy. Adoptions of toddlers and older children almost always involve emotional issues.

    Anyone contemplating adoption should take these matters into careful consideration. If you feel you are capable of dealing with all the possible ramifications, then by all means you should adopt. If you couldn’t deal with any of the likely scenarios, then you shouldn’t. It isn’t fair to anyone involved to do otherwise.

    And fostering is a wonderful, wonderful idea. Many children will never be free for adoption for various legal reasons, but they still need a good stable home.

  53. My wife and I never analysed this issue. The first two children were born quite close together.

    Then we had another 3 after a space of 7 years.

    It may be expensive to feed 5 hungry mouths and all that, but somehow, new doors have also opened for us along the way.

    No regrets at all.

    We just thank God that we have been blessed with normal, healthy and active children.

  54. I have 5 children b/t 4 and 12. There are pluses and minuses. Yes, its a financial burden, but it has forced us to live more frugally. If we had only two or three, we might be in the same financial place, just more wasteful.

    One “hidden” issue is that our society is geared toward 2-children families, which manifests itself in many subtle ways — try having five kids in 4 different age divisions playing soccer on a Sat. all over the county. Or hire a babysitter ($10 an hour); Baby-sitting coop? Out of the question. Those $200-a-pop birthday parties that almost all kids have today that we never had growing up? Multiply that by five and you can guess how many we have….

  55. Thanks Shevy for presenting several facets of a very complex issue. My brother and I are both adopted (as infants, which is not the easiest trick these days in the US) from separate Children’s Homes (he in Portland, OR, and me in Memphis TN), so I have a warm spot in my heart for anyone who wants to give a child a home–I also comprehend the statement “There but for the grace of God go I” in a particularly deep way. With a different adoptive family, I could have been a very different person–I have great parents, and was raised with very high expectations–graduated from college, went on to get my doctorate in Chemistry, have a stable 19-year marriage to my best friend, and 2 wonderful kids, and a very satisfying job. However, my brother, raised by the same parents until age 10 (my folks separated and divorced after 14 years of marriage), turned out completely differently. So, who knows–nature or nurture?

    Trent and his wife appear to have a remarkable capacity for objectivity when making decisions, including the emotional ones. And, adoption (as with conception and childbirth) should be no exception. Infant adoption in the US is reputed (I’ll admit I have not researched this myself) to be more challenging–long wait lists (if you want to have kids closely spaced, this might not be a possibility), a desire in some cases for “open adoption” (birth parents retain some visitation and other rights, which has got to be hard for all parties), etc.

    Adopting older kids has a whole string of other problems, ranging from physical to emotional to mental. If you go this route, I would strongly suggest family counseling pre- and post-adoption.

    As brutal as it sounds,adoption of preteens and teenagers is probably something that should only be done if there are not younger siblings in the home. Some of these kids have been abused, exposed to drugs or alcohol or violence, and there’s a whole world out there with which you and your family really don’t want to become familiar.

    Would strongly suggest that anyone looking to adopt or foster older kids have some serious, no-holds-barred discussions with social services case managers, and with experienced foster/adoptive parents. There are issues that you can’t anticipate unless you’ve been in their shoes, and you need to enter into a lifelong decision with as much information as possible.

    Good luck with the decision, Trent!

  56. I think it’s a great question to ask, Trent, because so many people use this as an excuse rather than a reason. While I can appreciate your reasoning, I would have to disagree.

    When you go to plan for retirement, you plan a 401K, pension, etc. You know that sacrificing money now will be worth it in the future because of compounded interest over time will yield great benefits in the long run.

    While imperfect, this example applies on two levels:

    1. Investing in people yields much more than investing in stocks. Children will provide love, care, companionship, etc. for your entire life. Children will help take care of you in retirement. You’ll never regret having another child.

    2. Rarely has anything worth doing not had a cost associated with it. You sacrifice some things to make sure that you stay out of debt, that you have college savings or retirement. Children learn best when everything is not provided for them. Take a look at the wealthy among us– those that “could afford to have kids” and what they do with their money. Many are structuring it so as not to spoil their children. In fact, many children that have done something with their lives have done so because they have been willing to live below their means and to work hard.

    That, and some of what the others say about the opportunity to raise your own children is why my wife has been with our children since we’ve had them, and we’ll probably be homeschooling them as well.

    But it is your choice, and you’re in the best position to make it– just food for thought! :)

    Merry Christmas!

  57. Although I have chosen to log in as anonymous, I am a regular reader and often respond to threads. My husband and I had planned to adopt a child and then have a biological child in a few years. The child we adopted turned out to have disablitities that we were totally unaware of at the time of his adoption when he was three months old. They have ended up cosuming every ounce of energy and time that we have and have consumed more financial resources than we have. We are currently have some medical debts that were not covered by our insurance. And we are looking at much much more the older he gets. We are also looking at the possibility that he will not be able to live completely independently as an adult.

    Needless to say, we have not had a child, nor have we adopted another. So if you chose to do so, please consider it carefully. It could very well take financial resources away from the children you’ve already got. Yes, as stated, you could have a child with issues. But if you adopt, chances are pretty high that you will.

  58. I am adopted at birth. One Sunday after church, I wondered why I had red hair & others did not. It was then at the age of 9 that I learned how loving my parents were as I was the only adopted child. While I have wondered from time to time about my birth parents, one things for certain: I consider it the most wonderful, loving thing that a women can do – that being aware that she was unable to handle me as a child & in a proper way releasing me to a couple who welcomed me into their arms in the loving way. It does not matter if I was a high school dance, parking lot hangout, or whatever, the bottom line is that woman who gave me birth understood issues with raising a child & did the ultimate gift of love. Merry Christmas and or Happy Holidays to all!

  59. I would be really interested to see a further breakdown of the costs and various options involved in adoption. Perhaps not for Trent and his family, but for others adoption may be the only way for a couple (or a single individual who chooses) to have children. The costs of adoption are at best daunting, and at worst almost completely prohibitive. A few posts looking into the costs of adoption and potential ways of making it a financially feasible prospect would be welcome.

  60. Trent,

    I’m going to ask a hard question because I think you, of all people, can answer it thoughtfully.

    When you look at all the posts here encouraging you to go ahead and have a third child, and listing the reasons why … couldn’t those same reasons be given for having 5 or 8 or 12 children?

    Because, as far as I see it, what we are trying to do here is assign some sort of “value” to a human life. That value is some combination of financial, logistical, risk exposure, etc.

    In other words, you could frame the question as “Is it more important to provide orthodontia for my kids or create those 3 or 6 additional lives?”

    Is affording a home in a safe(r) area worth more than another son or daughter? Or violin lessons, or tutoring, or a more reliable vehicle, or an emergency fund cushion to help offset the stress of a leaking roof or job loss, or the ability to buy enough insurance to offset the death (or disability) of you or your wife?

    I do not have an answer for this question, by the way. I have posed this to a few parents over the years and they have quickly changed the subject.
    This is a hard calculus.

  61. I disagree with Shevy’s statement that adoptions always come with inherent risks. Two of my friends were adopted (both had American mothers) and are good well adjusted members of society, both married with children. I have another friend who has two adopted girls from China. Both girls are wonderful, bright, athletic, and participate in many activities. Another couple we know have 2 children adopted from mid or south american countries) who are also loving children doing well in school. Raising any child is a challenge. If you are interested in foreign adoption, there are some countries with a poor track record, and other countries with a good track record, just do your due diligence in research and talk to other adoptive parents.
    My view is that having additional children does not just impact us personally, but everyone else on this planet, as the world is already carrying more people than it can reasonably sustain. I do have 2 children but will not have any more because I would like my children to know what rain forests and coral reefs are (and not just from a history book) when they grow up.

  62. Speaking from experience…don’t space your children so far apart that the youngest feels like they have multiple parents. I have a sister who is 17 years younger than my oldest brother (who died) 12 years younger than my other brother, and 10 years younger than me.
    She never knew her older brother….so she feels left out from the bond we all had with him. She was 2 when he died. And she is very rebellious and admitts she wishes they never had her so space apart and it affects her. My parents were married 18 years before divorcing…we all grew-up with 2 parents in the home…she can’t remember that. She feels like the black sheep..and has issues with feeling connected.

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