Did You Really Have 8 Children?

When I let people know we have 8 children, their mouth drops and they typically say, “You have 8 children?” “You gave birth to 8 children?” No, no, no I did not give birth to eight children, let me explain.  My husband of 24 years and I have three children, two boys and a girl. We were a family of 5 for 12 years. In 2007 we received a telephone call from one of our nephews. There were loads of issues and the situation was not good for the children. My husband right away flew to Tulsa Oklahoma to check on the children. He had some work to do to gather up all the children and discover what was really going on. There are 5 nieces & nephews, two boys and three girls, 17, 14, 12, 10 and 6. They were in need of assistance. Someone else needed to take care of them. He ended up going before a judge to get temporary custody of them. To get them all home because of costs we made a decision that he would travel by Greyhound bus from Oklahoma to Oregon with all 5 children. That was quite the experience for him and the children. Although buying seats for all of them, most of the time he ended up having to give up the youngest child’s seat and have her on his lap for hours at a time. It was typical for the bus company to sell too many tickets, which resulted in not enough seats. I am sure they did that on purpose. If you have taken the Greyhound bus before, you know from ones own experience you meet some attention-grabbing people and the buses bathroom more often than not gives off a bad odor. Not a fun trip! I don’t think he will be back on a Greyhound bus for a long, long time.

We made room for the children in our house. At first we thought this would be brief and they would ultimately go back home. They were with us about a month when JJ was required to take the children back to Oklahoma to go before the judge. During the trial, the judge presented JJ with two possible choices. The children will be put in foster homes in Oklahoma or legal guardianship would be granted to us. The judge allowed him to make a quick call home to me so we could make the decision. Sometimes in life you are confronted with unanticipated decisions that you know will considerably modify your life. At times these decisions are not ideal so you have to think about what’s most important. Family is family and we could not find it in our hearts to desert these young ones.  There was only one choice and that was to bring them home to live with us. So our family expanded permanently from 3 children to 8! There of course were instant obstacles. Our three children had to adjust to the addition of 5 more children in our home, sharing their parents etc… But we worked through those challenges and we came out stronger and closer. The children have meshed well together.

Birden Family Photo 2008 By Cindy Rose Photography

Stayed in Oregon until 2010 and then moved as a family of 11 to Arizona. You should have seen the caravan traveling down Interstate 5. Yes 11, we brought JJ’s mother with us. We located a home that would accommodate this large family and made some modifications to who would be sharing rooms. We felt that the cousins should share rooms together, which would help to successfully combine the family. So we paired them up by age and same gender. It really has helped them to bond.

Birden Family By Loralei Photography
Birden Family 2014 By Loralei Photography

Now, kids are growing up and experiencing the typical stages of life, graduations, new cars, jobs and the oldest nephew has moved out.  JJ and I have done our best to supply an atmosphere they all can thrive in. From time to time it really does “take a village to raise a child.” In our case, it’s taken a lot more. I do want to thank my mother in-law Eyvonne for her help, my parents & siblings and all our dear friends in Oregon and Arizona for their help.  You know who you are.

Would love to hear about your own similar experiences. Please share in comments section.

20 thoughts on “Did You Really Have 8 Children?

  1. […] We have had and have the privilege of raising our 3 children along with our 5 nieces & nephews. (See previous blog for that story!) We have watched 7 of our children walk down the graduation aisle. But with graduation comes the […]


  2. Hey R. So far I like and enjoy. I met you first with three little ones but got to know you better and grew to love you with eight not so little ones. Not everyone is a sharer, so maybe that’s why they are not as quick to support idk. You know my heartache journey of over 20 yrs. the only way I got through that, and still continue to thrive is by sharing, of course only with those who want to hear and have the heavy aspects of life shared with them. So for those who choose not to be sharers or to be shared with this should be very easy, just don’t tune in. Right?
    As for the rest of us we do what we need in the meantime to stay balanced, healthy, reasonable, happy wives. mothers, siblings, parents, and children both sets of our parents, and most iimportantly our greatest parent of all.
    So in short… You go gir! Love you. Proud of you mamma!


  3. While I have only known you and JJ for a short period of time, I feel so blessed to have met you and JJ and having the opportunity to get to know your wonderful family. I can’t imagine how blessed and loved your nieces and nephews, as well as your biological children, feel being in your home and care. You are a wonderful person and Mom and my life is so much richer for knowing you Raina and JJ. Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your families life. Love you guys!!!!


    • Terry, thank you! I so appreciate your loving, kind words, raising all of these children has been a labor of love. We only want the best for all of them. JJ & I have so enjoyed getting to know you and look forward to spending more time with you & your family.


  4. Beautifully written sister. I love all my nieces and nephews! They have blossomed so much under your care with JJ.


  5. You have one amazing family, and it was so fun to see what you all share in person during our visit this past spring! I look forward to many more wonderful posts, Raina!


  6. While I already knew the story, reading it brought tears to my eyes! Truly your self- sacrificing love has been evident from day one and an example to all. The children have been a blessing and joy to all of us and surely you and JJ are a blessing to them. Love and big hugs!


  7. Nice work on your first blog. Hard to believe some were not supportive of our decision. However, Raina and I both saw it as an “opportunity” to impact 5 more lives.


  8. That’s awesome! You made me cry. You did a great job raising them. They are so happy, loving and respectful.


  9. Raina, this is such a deeply moving story of values, love, commitment, unwavering conviction, and leadership. While I knew aspects of the history, your blog beautifully conveys the big picture, and some of the many challenges and triumphs. Bless your hearts!
    Hugs, L.


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