14 kids, 13 grandkids, my parents

I come from a large family. So when people express surprise when I tell them that we have 4 kids I always think that their horizons are a little limited.

When my parents had their third child the doctors informed my mom that she should stop having kids since all three of her children had been delivered by caesarian. Back in the day the c-section method was a lot harder on moms and the uterine wall and having more kids would have been pushing their luck, according to the docs.

My folks always wanted a large family and Mom particularly wanted a daughter or two. All of their kids were boys so both the limited number and gender mix were a bit of a disappointment to them. They solved that problem by going the route of adopting more children to fill out our family to its current size.

My folks have raised 14 children, three of them home made, 11 adopted. I’m the second oldest. The current age-span is 44 to 22 years of age. All of the adopted kids were adopted as infants, except Adam, who came home from an orphanage in Vietnam at the age of 2. My adopted brothers and sisters are from mixed races, several from outside of the country and some with physical challenges. So my family has black kids, korean kids, vietnamese kids, phillipino kids and some we’re just not sure about.

When you have 8 or more kids and want to adopt more the adoption agencies will mostly offer you special needs kids, some with severe physical challenges. The foreign adoption agencies began to suspect we were using the kids for child-labor and Mom and Dad had to find references to attest that they were not mis-using the kids.

We always knew when Mom was going to get the itch to add a new kid to our family, it was about the time when the youngest started to stop being a baby. The real surprises were when, through weird issues with adoption agencies, we would end up with two kids the same age at the same time. So we had the  experience of raising pseudo-twins with a couple of my sisters and with a pair of my brothers.

Growing up in a very-mixed-race family of 14 kids probably isn’t much different from growing up in any other family. I wouldn’t really know, though,  I only know about my family. We always had enough people for a snowball fight or building snow tunnels in the back yard. Heck, we had enough people for two full basketball teams, with referees, substitutes and cheerleaders, even before the friends came over. Sometimes people would stare or make unkind comments but that’s probably not unusual. One of our best stories is when we went out to dinner and the restaurant manager made a point of telling Mom that they usually asked youth groups to call ahead before they came in.

Mom and Dad stopped adopting kids about the time that grandkids became imminent. They currently have 13 grandkids provided by 4 of their kids, as near as I can figure. Do the math and that tells you that when we sit down to to a meal there are 29 of us. Add in 10 or 12 friends and roomates who usually show up and you can understand why Mom cooks two turkeys and a prime rib for Thanksgiving dinner.

I’m not sure if we’ll be able to make it home for the big family Thanksgiving or Christmas this year, things are pretty crazy here in California right now. I like doing the small family gatherings with just the Honey and the kids but I miss the crowds and crazyness, too.

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