Mom celebrates special day with 10 kidsWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Mother’s Day is a tenfold blessing for Charlene Rook.
The Oak Harbor woman and her husband, Chuck, have 10 children —one biological daughter, eight adopted children and one nephew in their permanent custody — ranging in age from 7 to 20.
It’s not the family they planned on — after they had their daughter, the plan was to adopt one boy — but it’s one Charlene said has been a blessing from God.
“I believe every child we have adopted or who has come to live in our home was meant to come here. It was a God thing,” she said. “I had to do some convincing with my husband, but we said yes to God and that’s how it was. The kids needed homes and parents and we were saying yes.”
When their biological daughter, Meridian, was 6, the Rooks took in 11-year-old Jason as an emergency foster care placement and later adopted him. Before they knew if they would be able to adopt Jason, Charlene was searching online and came across 11-year-old Rick and his 9-year-old sister Katherine.
“As soon as I saw them, I told my husband ‘These two are going to come live with us.’ He said ‘No, I said one boy and that’s a boy and a girl,’” Charlene said. “Six months later, they came to live with us.”
Next came 8-year-old Jennie followed by 11-year-old Carla, both foster placements the Rooks went on to adopt.
Because Jason had severe behavioral issues, the Rooks became known as a couple who could handle hard-to-place children, either because of their behavior or because the children were older.
After their sixth child, the Rooks decided they were finished adding to their family and the time had come to stop fostering.
But two weeks before their fostering license was set to expire, the couple got a call that Chuck’s nephew, 1-year-old Tyler, and Tyler’s two siblings, 4-year-old Cody and 6-year-old Sally, were up for adoption.
“We said we’re adopting everyone else, we can’t not adopt family,” Charlene said. “So we added onto the house and brought them in.”
Last year, the couple took in another nephew, 12-year-old Dustin, of whom they currently have permanent custody. With so many kids — plus a menagerie of two monkeys, three dogs, two cats and a goose — things can get pretty chaotic in the Rook household, Charlene said.
“It’s a day-by-day thing because there’s so many different personalities under the same roof,” she said. “We all get along pretty well, but of course the kids come with different baggage and stuff like that which makes it difficult, but we work through it. The most important thing is sticking to it. Every day is like a roller coaster ride, but we just hang on tight and don’t let go. But it’s exciting, too. There’s a lot of excitement in this house.”
The couple are teaching their kids to give back to the community and the family regularly volunteers with Food for Thought, One Matters, Tent City and other local organizations.
Charlene also gives back as an AmeriCorps member with Adopt America Network, a nationwide nonprofit that matches adoptive children with families. She serves as family outreach coordinator in Toledo, helping families during and after adoption navigate the system and connect with resources, support groups and advice.
On Mother’s Day, Charlene will be counting her blessings for Jason, 20, Rick, 20, Katherine, 18, Carla, 18, Meridian, 16, Jennie, 16, Dustin, 13, Sally, 12, Cody, 10 and Tyler, 7 — her unplanned but divinely orchestrated family.
“It’s not easy to adopt in the first place so to have kids just come to you and it just work out that way, it was definitely meant to be,” she said.
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