Family with 15 Children Counts Its Blessings this Thanksgiving Day
MARION, Iowa - It's 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday... a quiet, peaceful morning outside a home in Marion, but inside it's a different story.
Brad and Jenny Groothuis are already busy in the kitchen as the rest of their family starts coming in for breakfast,14 hungry kids, ready to put away a whole production line of eggs and pancakes.
"Yeah, it's a big part of our day. It's a time when they're all chatting. And sometimes it can get kind of chaotic when everybody's trying to talk," Jenny Groothuis said.
Brad and Jenny have 15 children with one in the hospital right now.
Seven are biological and eight they adopted from Africa. Quite a few of the children have health conditions and special needs.
The couple always talked about adoption, but thought it would come later on, but when a civil war ended in Liberia they thought it would be good idea to adopt two children because of the situation over there, but they ended up adopting several more.
The family does get some help from generous people in the community, but for the most part the young couple, both 39, make it work on Brad's job at Rockwell Collins.
"We really just have an expectation of our lifestyle. We don't drive new vehicles. Sometimes we eat a lot of beans and rice. Sometimes we're blessed to have more than that. But really it's just about keeping the expectation where it needs to be," Brad Groothuis said.
And part of that expectation means everybody pitches in. Laundry alone is an endless job with at least six loads every single day. Then there's school work. The pair home schooled the kids for years, and for a good reason.
"Obviously coming into a foreign country where English is not your native language, and maybe you don't even know what it's like to live in a family, it would be a lot to suddenly be thrown into an entirely new situation like that," Jenny Groothuis said.
One of the fun things about spending time with this family is seeing the bond between these kids. Much of that comes from the family's deep faith in God.
"I don't have to solve every problem. I don't have to have every answer. That's when faith fills that gap of what I can do and what I know and what needs to happen," Brad Groothuis said.
"Step by step, we've kind of stepped out and it's just been neat to see how God has shown up and provided every thing every kid needs," Jenny Groothuis added.
Adoption, of course, is not for everyone, but this family hopes they serve as an example of how we all can make a difference in someone else's life.
"If more people would just help their neighbor and just help each other, there'd be a lot less need around, and I think it'd be a lot better place altogether," Brad Groothuis said.