The ink is barely dry on the marriage certificate for 19 Kids and Counting‘s Ben and Jessa Seewald, but the young pair is already making plans to expand their family.
“We hope to adopt a lot of kids,” Jessa, 22, told People. “If God blesses us with biological kids of our own, it’s not going to quench our desire to adopt. Even before we were married, we wanted to adopt.”
Ben, 19, who comes from a family of seven kids, is on the same page. He added, “Kids are so important.”
The trick is figuring out what their options are, as not many young people adopt. Still, it is technically possible: Although some states, restrict people from adopting until they are 21 or 25, any legal adult in Arkansas is eligible to adopt.
However, there is another significant barrier: According to a writer for Recovering Grace, a support group for former followers of the Duggars’ religion, IBLP, founder Bill Gothard warns against adoption.
“Gothard’s CARE Booklet on the topic offers so many warnings and case studies of adoptive failure that its cumulative effect is most certainly to dissuade prospective parents from considering this option,” the writer said of his experience.
He added Gothard advises prospective adopting parents to be wary of “generational sin.” He explained, “Gothard proof-texts the idea that we are connected to the sins of our ancestors by referring to an obscure text in Hebrews… When we adopt a child from another ‘spiritual ancestry,’ what are we bringing home? Will our child have the predisposition of a fireman or a Frankenstein, a hero or a monster?”
That may be why none of the Duggars have actually gone through with adoption, even though Jessa’s parents and siblings have all expressed “interest” in it.
That doesn’t mean Ben and Jessa won’t break with tradition and actually adopt, which may be more likely as they aren’t currently expecting — even though Jessa’s 6-year-old sister, Jordyn, thought they were.
“She asked if I was pregnant, and I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ And then she said, ‘Well, you look pregnant,'” Jessa said.
Ben said Jessa was a bit offended, but he reassured her Jordyn only thought that because it’s the Duggar norm for newly married women to get pregnant.
“Jessa thinks she’s fat, but she doesn’t remember all the times people tell her that she looks great,” Ben said. “Her sister is used to people in the family getting married and being pregnant right away. Of course she’s going to look at Jessa and says she’s pregnant.”
For more on Ben and Jessa’s plans for parenthood, pick up this week’s People or tune into 19 Kids and Counting on TLC on Tuesdays at 9/8c.