Children by the dozen: Former Tahoe residents to share story of adopting 12 children in TV special
SPANISH SPRINGS, Nev. andamp;#8212; The Bain home is home to many things. It is a cathedral of tiny shoes, a tavern of milk jugs, a gallery of watercolors, a library of picture books, an orchestra of laughing voices and pounding feet. It is a home that is a cafeteria, a playground and a school, a unique refuge in a hot desert of suburban tracts and chain stores.Yet for all its labels, Kathy and Dave Bain’s home draws its authenticity not from its functions but from its inhabitants: 13 children, 12 of whom are adopted.Sitting at their dining room table, Dave and Kathy said first reactions to their large family can be categorized into two comments andamp;#8212; andamp;#8220;you’re completely crazyandamp;#8221; or andamp;#8220;you must be saints.andamp;#8221; The truth, they said, lies somewhere in between.andamp;#8220;It was never about our vision to adopt (12) kids. It was more about their needs and if we could meet their needs,andamp;#8221; Kathy said.
The couple, 1982 North Tahoe High School alumni, began their adoption journey after going through a stillbirth, soon followed by the near life-threatening pregnancy of their son Mitchell, now 23. It was after Mitchell’s birth when doctors told the couple future pregnancies would be too dangerous.The realization struck hard and turned them toward adoption in 1992 when Kathy, working as a bank manager at Bank of the West in Kings Beach, heard about a single mother, with six kids, who was pregnant again, and in need of an adopting couple. This led to the adoption of Jennifer, now 18, and opened a world of new thought that led to becoming foster parents, that led to the adoption of Tyler, now 9, to adopting Jesse, now 8, to adopting McKyla, now 5. The family left Tahoe for the Sparks area in 1999. In 2005, then working for Washoe County as a foster parents co-trainer, Dave told Kathy about eight siblings who, unless someone intervened, were doomed to be separated.andamp;#8220;They just kept growing and growing upon our hearts and we asked ourselves where are these kids going to go,andamp;#8221; Kathy said. andamp;#8220;So, we just thought about it and prayed about it and then we decided we just needed to keep them with us.andamp;#8221;Reflecting upon the adoption process, Dave said for him it wasn’t a matter of sacrifices or logistics andamp;#8212; it was matter of doing the right thing.andamp;#8220;They were going to split them up into four different homes, and we said they’ve been through enough stuff already and they don’t need to go through that,andamp;#8221; Dave said.So, in Dec. 23, 2009 the Bains moved into a larger home andamp;#8212; with many rooms andamp;#8212; and celebrated Christmas with their eight new additions: Mariano, now 15; Angie, 14; Stephanie, 12; Sophie, 10; Andrea, 9; Diana, 7; Francisco, 6; and Gabriel, 5. The kids fully moved in on Dec. 29.
Though adoption was a decision made by the heart, for the Bains, living requires both heart and head. To make it all possible, finances must be planned to the penny, schedules strategized, and discipline diagrammed to an easily accessible list of cause and effect and family infractions versus time-outs.Life for the Bains begins at 7 a.m. and ends somewhere around 8 p.m. andamp;#8212; depending on luck.andamp;#8220;… some (of the kids) like to get up at 5, but they have to stay in their room until 7 a.m. They get up and they have breakfast, they get dressed, they clean up their rooms, do their chores,andamp;#8221; Dave said.Then it’s a barrage of home school, doctors and dentist appointments, time with counselors, lunch and then free time, then dinner, before ending the day with a movie.
As if scheduling obstacles aren’t enough, the Bains also face family challenges that extend far beyond traditional ones.Kathy said one myth held by many couples wishing to adopt is when they do, they get a perfectly healthy child andamp;#8212; in many circumstances, that isn’t the case.andamp;#8220;There’s still a risk, whether biological or adopted, if your kids are going to grow up how you want them to be there’s no perfect answer,andamp;#8221; she said.Many of the Bain children suffer from trauma and neglect, Kathy and Dave said, and some with fetal alcohol syndrome, some whose parents were addicted to drugs and others from physical and sexual abuse.Gaining their trust and keeping the family together is an everyday effort that eventually led Kathy to leave her job at Bank of the West and dedicate herself to her family.andamp;#8220;It’s hard to understand the trauma that our kids have gone through and not just get really angry about it,andamp;#8221; said Dave. andamp;#8220;There’s a whole other world out there the way people treat kids.andamp;#8221;Coping with the problems, Dave said, requires showing constant support but also creating a predictable environment where food is always available and punishments such as a time-out or no television are linked directly with a specific behavior. Even dinner time and family trips have to be planned well to alleviate fears of hunger or fears of isolation.For this reason, the couple said all adoptive parents should be prepared. Yet, Dave said, it is also for these intense needs that nurturing adoptive parents are needed for the 130,000 kids in America who are legal orphans.andamp;#8220;You get reward from seeing them be successful and going through these transformations; and for us, that is greater than any fancy job, or fancy car,andamp;#8221; Dave said.