In this day and age, who would be foolish enough to have 17 children? Do you think they might be crazy… or maybe a little unstable?
Let me introduce you to my family. There’s Larry, my husband. And me, Kim. And our children: Kali, Else, Deanna, Kristopher, Jaime, Joshua, Kate, Brian, Jesse, Kerry, Jordan, Kayla, Christian, Jerome, Stefan, Eli and Echo.
When Larry and I married in 1971 we planned to grow our family the usual way. We knew we wanted children but never stated exactly how many.
Soon after we got married, we moved from Manitoba to Esquimalt, B.C. to the Canadian Armed Forces Base where Larry was a military member. In 1975 we were blessed with our daughter Kali. It was a difficult pregnancy and we realized adoption would be a wonderful way to grow our family.
Kali was a few months old when we were posted to CFB Winnipeg. Larry and I followed our faith into the adoption process in Manitoba, firmly believing God would lead and we would adopt the children we were meant to adopt.
We adopted Else in 1977 and Deanna in 1978. Kali, Else and Deanna filled our hearts and home with the joy that only children could bring.
In 1983 we were posted to CFB Lahr, West Germany. What an opportunity for all of us! We felt our family wasn’t finished so we completed the adoption paperwork with social workers on the Base and the adoption worker for the German government. We were told that adopting while stationed in Germany was next to impossible. It would be considered an international adoption and there was already a long waiting list.
Our goal was simply to have the paperwork completed and Manitoba, our home province, agreed to honour our application date and home study if we were posted back to Manitoba.
A few weeks after we completed the paperwork our German social worker phoned us asking if we would be interested in adopting a boy born to a Canadian soldier who had decided to place him for adoption. Thankfully we had listened when God whispered, “Do the adoption paperwork now.” We were blessed with 5-1/2 week old Kristopher.
Life was busy and in 1988 we were posted to CFB Kingston, Ont. Again we felt urged to complete the adoption paperwork required
in Ontario and we added our daughter Jaime and a few years later our Joshua. In 1991 we were posted to 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta. I became an adoption trainer for social services and enjoyed meeting people wanting to adopt. We were fulfilled watching our children grow. We had a six-bedroom home, a 10-passenger van, and again felt the need to complete the adoption paperwork because someone was waiting for us. Soon after, Kate joined our family.
At that time there was a noon segment on TV called “Wednesday’s Child.” Once a week a child or sibling group available for adoption would be profiled. One day I saw two little brothers on the show and heard a familiar voice whispering, “These boys need you.” Brian and Jesse joined our family.
In 1997 Larry retired from the regular Forces and accepted a position with the Prairie Region Cadet Detachment in Regina. Our family was on the move again. We found home in a small community outside of Regina. We settled in and helped the kids adjust to their new community.
Once again we heard God whispering that there was a child waiting for us. We contacted our social worker in Alberta and were blessed when our son Kerry joined our family!
Our family was complete—or so we thought. When Kerry went to school it was so quiet in our house! We decided to become a foster family and completed the training for our region. We were told that we would help transition the children back to their birth families and adopting a foster child was rare. We were excited that our home would once again have the pitter- patter of little feet. And fostering would be a good fit with us, as our family was complete.
We enjoyed fostering very much. Each child who joined our family, whether for days or years, was welcomed with open arms. We chose to foster younger children and loved having babies to snuggle.
Of the 85 foster children who came through our door, God whispered seven more times, “This child needs you.” Jordan, Kaylum, Jerome and Christian joined our family through PSI orders (legal guardianship orders) and Stefan, Eli and Echo through adoption.
Larry and I live an incredible life. Many of our children have cognitive disabilities and we have had to become educated in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, ADHD, mixed race families and older child adoptions.
To watch a child grow and bloom in our home is a gift. Life has been more of a struggle for some of our children than for others. Not all of them will be able to live independently. Many of them will always need support of some sort to succeed.
Our family is complete now… except we know that we will be welcoming many more sons and daughters-in-law and grandchildren. Each and every one will be a blessing to our family.
We are often asked “How do you do it with so many children?” or “Why do you have so many children?”
We have not been alone on this journey. Our faith has been confirmed and re-affirmed during good times and bad. Our faith community has been incredibly supportive. Our small town and the local schools have been wonderful and willing to help our children succeed. Our older children and our friends are our greatest cheerleaders, loving and supporting each and every child who comes into our home.
I believe that God whispers to all of us. We just need to stop. Listen. And ask. “What can I do to help you Lord?” I know God has faith in us also.
—Kim Skidmore, Shepherd of the Valley, Lumsden