'How I Raise 15 Children': One (Busy) Mom Tells All

Even if you have a big family, odds are, it’s not as large as LaChelle Adkins's Georgia clan. Adkins and her husband, Jerome, welcomed a 15th child into their sizable family on Sunday.

Former corporate attorney turned stay-at-home mother Adkins, 43, gave birth to daughter Hope Monique, the newest addition to her brood, which includes 13 children and two stepsons with her husband, Jerome, 45. Jerome juggles three jobs as a U.S. major in the Army Reserves, a manager of a retail chain, and a church pastor.

Courtesy of LaChelle Adkins

“The chaos is normal to us and we love it,” Adkins tells Yahoo Shine.

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The children (deep breath) are: Jerome Brendan, 24, Taylor, 21, Christian, 20, Jonathan, 19, Alexandria, 17, McKinsey, 16, Victoria, 14, Elisabeth, 13, Olivia, 11, Danielle, 9, Jeremiah, 7, Joshua, 5, Jordan, 3, Faith, 2, and Hope Monique, 3 days old. The oldest, Jerome Brendan and his wife are even expecting their own baby in July, making Adkins a soon-to-be grandmother.

All were natural births. “No pain medicine!” says Adkins, who grew up an only child and never imagined she would have such a large family. But when she got married, Adkins decided to forgo birth control. “Taking it became a burden, and I wasn’t opposed to having more children with my husband,” she says.

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Although there are 15 kids living in a four-bedroom house, Adkins runs her home like a well-oiled machine. She drives a 15-passenger Ford van, an upgrade from the two minivans she and her husband previously owned. “It was hard before, because we couldn’t go anywhere without two cars,” she says. “Now, everyone just piles in one van.” When the family goes grocery shopping, they’re bound to get a few stares and people often approach, asking if Adkins is running a daycare center. “The children get a kick out of the attention,” she says.

Surprisingly, the Adkins’s morning routine is fairly seamless. “The kids pack their own lunches in the morning, and I keep snacks in Ziploc bags so they can grab and go,” she says. Fortunately, the children’s schools are located on the same street, so they are driven by various family members when they don't take the bus. The family spends around $350 per week on groceries, thanks to Adkins’s dedication to clipping coupons, and they sit down for dinner each night between 6 and 6:30 p.m.

In order to keep a lid on their schedules, each child is allowed one after-school activity per year (such as basketball or cheerleading), and weekends are spent at church and attending each other’s events. The children are allowed their freedom; however, Adkins and her husband have banned sleepovers. “It would be difficult to host extra children for the night, and because my kids range so much in age, other parents might not feel comfortable,” she says.

Bedtime, she admits, can be a struggle. “Our goal is to get everyone in bed by 9:30 p.m., but that doesn’t always happen, especially with the older kids,” she says. “And our 2-year-old still insists on sleeping in our bed, but that will change soon when we move her into the older kids’ room.” And as with any siblings, arguments break out occasionally. “If both kids are eating the same snack, one might shout, ‘She’s copying me!’ but everyone really gets along,” she says.

It’s no surprise that date night is a rarity, but when Adkins and her husband do manage to catch dinner and a movie, they have built-in babysitters. “We’ve never paid for childcare because the older kids watch their younger siblings,” she says.

According to Adkins, the children don’t mind the attention that comes with being in a large family and they've even been approached by reality television show producers (a show has not yet panned out). “We don’t want to be freak shows but there’s a lot people can learn from our large, blended family,” she says.

And that family may even get larger. “We’re not opposed to having more children,” says Adkins. "We'll see what happens."

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