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.