When a Family of Four Becomes a Family of Nine

Jan 12, 2021

Every year at the holidays, Larissa* and her husband, Vance, would adopt a family, blessing them with tangible support at the end of the year. Last year, that changed. “Suddenly, we became one of those families,” Larissa said.

Their new need came from the sudden addition of five more members to their family. One of Larissa’s cousins lived a tumultuous life and ultimately died. The fathers of her five children – ages 6 to 17 – weren’t in the picture, and other family members didn’t have the stability or financial means to take them on.

Larissa’s mom had been a foster parent for years and had impressed on Larissa that she didn’t want the kids to wind up that system. Unfortunately, she wasn’t in a place to take on the five children herself.

Larissa and her family were the best option. “My husband graciously agreed to take this on,” she said. So their family of four, including their 2-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, became a family of nine – all shoehorned into their three-bedroom townhouse.

The couple did their best to attend to the kids’ many emotional needs, which were compounded by loss, abuse, and neglect. “The kids have been through a lot,” Larissa said, adding that the oldest is often withdrawn and the youngest still cries for her mom.

To meet the family’s immediate expenses, Larissa took on another fulltime job and Vance worked overtime. Still, with the need for clothing, bedding, groceries, and medical insurance, the couple maxed out their credit cards.

Though she had reservations about asking for help, Larissa followed through when the school district pointed her to The Salvation Army. The officers and staff at the Elgin Corps Community Center provided the family with pajamas for all the children, toys, groceries, and books.

When Larissa went to pick up the items, she said, “My trunk wasn’t big enough to hold everything they gave us. It was overwhelming support. I have no words. I didn’t think it would be that much.” The books were especially appreciated, she said, as the youngest likes to be read to at night.

In this new year, Larissa is focused on providing therapy and insurance for the children, offering a healthier and more stable life than they have previously known. The couple also hopes to purchase a house, so the family has the room they need to flourish.  

Along the way, Larissa says they will keep trusting and depending on God, knowing too that The Salvation Army will be there for any other emergency needs. “They were there when we needed that push,” she said. “We are very, very thankful.”   

*Names changed to protect clients’ privacy.


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