This Mom With Moxie Has Six Kids (Four Adopted) And Homeschools, Too
Chloe shares what life is really like when you have six kids (at home and in public!)
Chloe is the kind of mythical mom you've heard about in your circles and can't help but want to get to know better. Not only does she have six kids, but she adopted four of them, homeschools, and makes life look pretty darn cool while she's at it. I knew of Chloe long before I knew her personally, and I have to say, I've only become more inspired the more I've gotten to know her in real life. While she may be pretty humble about motherhood, she's definitely a bonafide mom boss.
Naturally, when we decided to start featuring Moms With Moxie, Chloe was first on our list. She began freelancing for Mabel + Moxie in 2018 and always adds a fresh perspective from her time in the parenting trenches. But enough of our outside look, here's what Chloe shared with us:
Mabel + Moxie: Tell us a little about how your family came to be. How many kids do you have, how did they join your family, and what are their ages?
Chloe: My family is my husband of (almost) 16 years, myself, and our six kids. Yes, six. I'm still getting used to people's reactions when I say six. My oldest two are 14 and 12, and joined us by the usual means. They're our only biological children. Things were a little too easy, so we decided to explore foster care in the hopes of adopting.
Our first placement was my son, whom we picked up from the hospital when he was just two days old. His adoption was finalized before his first birthday. He's 9 now. Three kids was good. Life was manageable. So we decided to shake it up again. We we're placed with our daughter at 2 weeks old. Her case was a bit trickier, but we finalized our adoption around her first birthday. She is 8 now.
Four kids was tricky in the beginning, but we found our groove. We kept fostering, but took only emergency placement of infants that we handed back to their biological families or to new adoptive families. It was a good way to keep our feet in fostering, which felt like part of our identities now, without adopting again.
Then, in 2017 we got a very unexpected call. There was a sibling set of two that were 2 1/2 and 18 months (just 11 months apart) that needed a home willing to adopt them. Every licensed home in our county had been contacted already, and no one had stepped forward. Though we had specifically said we were not looking to adopt again, our beloved social worker had thought of us. She said that she immediately imagined them in our family. She asked if I wanted her to send me their photos. And I knew. I knew before she sent the photos that we would say yes. I knew before I called my husband at work, with my hands shaking and my voice breaking.
We spent a month bringing them to our house for visits to get all of us used to each other. Within a few weeks, they began to cry when we returned them. My daughter clung to my husband. My sweet little son wound his arms around my neck and called me "Mama" and cried when I brought him to the door of his foster home. It was heart breaking and I begged to let them move in with us sooner than planned. Thankfully, the county listened and they got to come home. We finalized adoption just six months after that. They are 4 and 3 now.
M+M: How did you decide you wanted to adopt?
Chloe: When my eldest was a toddler, I made a friend in my moms group whose daughter was adopted from foster care. We started talking and her story intrigued me. My pregnancy had been fraught with hyper-emesis and gestational diabetes and though we wanted another child, I wasn't eager to go through pregnancy again.
We went to an orientation meeting that the Department of Health and Human Services held for people interested in fostering and adopting. It was a terrifying night filled with worst case scenarios and we left believing it to be a dead end. We took the leap and I got pregnant again and it was worse than the first time around. Somehow, I made it and my daughter was healthy but there was no way in hell I was doing that again.
We watched our friends that had inspired us grow their family by two more precious daughters during this time. My heart and arms began to ache for a baby again, so we set aside our worry and started the process to become licensed foster parents. It turned out to be a painless, if not tedious, process. We were placed with our baby boy before the ink dried on our new license.
M+M: Did you always know you wanted a big family?
Chloe: No, not really. Definitely not this big, at least! My sister is quite a bit older than me and we never lived in the same house as kids. I grew up as an only child and it was often lonely. I knew I'd always have at least two kids.
Having a big family isn't all the chaos and hardship I imagined it would be. Babies are hard for me, but I have learned that I am good at parenting kids and teenagers. I really love my big family and all the things that come with it. Our big family dinners are always full of laughter. Our home is always warm and full and happy. My kids know how to share and work as a team better than most. I can't even imagine not living this way now.
M+M: What has it been like to homeschool some of your kids?
Chloe: Homeschooling is another thing that we sort of stumbled in to without a plan. When my eldest children moved from preschool to public school, they didn't thrive. My son became anxious and withdrawn. My daughter cried every day of kindergarten. I decided to pull them out and homeschool them until we found a better fit for school. That was six years ago.
We found that homeschooling was a way for us all to connect in new ways. I got to know my kids better than I ever had. It took all of the pressure out of traditional education and made it more of a lifestyle for us. I'm so grateful that we've been able to experience it.
Homeschooling was going great until my fourth left preschool to join us. She is an extreme extrovert that craves constant input and she wasn't happy homeschooling. We found a wonderful school that she is ecstatic about going to every day. I had a moment of feeling like I failed her (that damn mom guilt is hard to shake!) by enrolling her in school, but she has blossomed and I have no regrets now.
My eldest decided to attend high school next year, and I will only have two homeschooling then. My little two will follow their sister at school. It feels strange to be able to see the light at the end of my homeschooling tunnel, but I am also excited. It is going to be a new chapter for my children as individuals, for us as a family, and for myself personally.
M+M: Your youngest two are of a different ethnicity than your own. Has this been a different experience for you as a mom?
Chloe: It has been eye opening, for sure. We have fostered children of different ethnicities before, so we were prepared for the unwanted attention we get in public. What I was not prepared for was the heart-rendering realizations of what life will be like for my sweet babies. Right now, they live under the privilege of having white parents. People think they're cute and that our family is novel. There are so many intricacies surrounding race and culture that they will face, though. When they grow up, they will be part of a world that doesn't have a space for them. It breaks my heart and keeps me up at night. I'm learning, though, and I'm determined to give them the best start and the tools they'll need to succeed.
M+M: What is it like when you're out in public with six kids?
Chloe: The first time we went anywhere, it was to a big Fourth of July event. I made t-shirts for us all to wear. All night, people asked what kind of group we were or if we were a daycare. So, no more matching shirts!
We get lots of looks. People still think we are a daycare sometimes. We get questions, but they're mostly kind. I have good comebacks to rude questions prepared and when they come, they roll off my back now. My kids are used to life as a big family, so they know the routine too. We talk a lot about being a team. Teams works together and are only concerned with what is happening within the team. So we do what is best to advance all of us (which sometimes means just getting through the checkout at Costco) and ignore everyone else.
M+M: What has been the most surprising part of motherhood for you?
Chloe: Most of motherhood has been me thinking I've finally figured it all out and then being blindsided by something new. You'd think I would be a pro after all these kids, but I still don't really know what I'm doing. The cosmic joke of mothering is that each kid is such a unique individual that you will never master this gig. And if you start to feel confident, they'll hit a growth spurt or start puberty and you'll be back at the start.
M+M: From the outside, it may seem like motherhood must be your calling since you decided to have six kids. Do you think this is true?
Chloe: I have never considered this! Parenting kicks my butt daily and I honestly would have quit by now if it was a traditional job. So perhaps not my calling. Parenting these six humans will be my life's greatest work, though. My husband and I have devoted our lives to them, without condition, and if we all survive then I'll call it a success.
I feel called to child welfare work. It is important to me to have ways to be involved outside of fostering (our license is closed). I feel called to write, which I do for fun and work. Having activities outside of mothering that fill my soul is vital to me. And, hopefully, I'll have plenty of time to experience more callings in my life!
For more inspiring, humorous, and insightful words from Chloe, you can check out her work here.