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The life of a single mother can be exhausting, but Erika Rogers has taken it to another level. She is the head of a house of 9 kids. 2 are biological, 7 adopted – four of them have Down Syndrome. This full house has a lot on their plate, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“There is homework that needs to be done every night, there are meals that need to be prepared just on an army scale – so many people eating. There’s kids watching TV, kids playing outside, there’s kids asking questions for homework,” says Erika Rogers.
This safe, comfortable home has provided these kids exactly what they needed after an unthinkable past. Caleb is 16 years old and was adopted from an orphanage in Ukraine.
“He was pretty neglected in the orphanage. He has institutional autism – which is autism that is basically done to you. He had basically no stimulus whatsoever. Growing up he had one diaper change a day, one bottle a day and was left in a crib all day long,” says Rogers.
All four of her children with Down Syndrome were adopted from Ukraine. They range from ages 22-9. They all bring their own personalities and “sass” to the family. “Down syndrome is 3 copies of the 21st chromosome and I really think that sassiness and stubbornness is on that 21st chromosome and kiddos with down syndrome just have a little extra,” says Rogers.
Jessa was adopted at the same time as Caleb back in 2012. She was 15 years old. “Sometimes I wonder if I adopted a Ukrainian maid because her favorite thing to do is sweep so we let her do it. At the orphanage it’s what gave her worth and value and she was able to help at the orphanage,” says Rogers.
Clare is the youngest of the family and loves playing on her mom’s iphone and drinking her coffee! “She has definitely wrapped everyone around her little finger. She’s the youngest of the family and pretty much gets whatever she wants,” says Rogers.
Last but not least is Malachi, the comedian of the family who was adopted in 2011 with Clare. Rogers says, “Malachi just keeps us laughing all day long always. He is always up to something to get a laugh out of you and sometimes he does it because he thinks it’s funny and usually he doesn’t get in trouble because he’s just so darn cute and gets away with it.”
As she takes on the challenge of a family of this size, Erika says there are certainly critics, concerned about how adopting four children with special needs impacts their family dynamic. She assures anyone, it’s all good. Rogers says, “I will tell you – it affects them… They’re better people because of it. My bio kids have more compassion, more understanding and will grow up to be amazing adults because of their siblings with down syndrome.”
At the end of the day, this family is bursting with love and happiness, a lifestyle Rogers wouldn’t want any other way. “My kiddos are worth fighting for. They’re worth pushing through the exhaustion. I live on coffee to keep going but there’s not one of them that I would trade for the world,” says Rogers.