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The Family The Size Of A Baseball Team

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
January 5, 2023 3:03 am

The Family The Size Of A Baseball Team

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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January 5, 2023 3:03 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, the Bohlender family has 10 children, 6 of which are adopted. Take a listen to hear their stories of adoption and how they came to found the adoption agency Zoe’s House. 

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It's Time to Man Up!
Nikita Koloff

What up?

It's Dramos. You may know me from the recap on LATV. Now I've got my own podcast, Life as a Gringo, coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday.

We'll be talking real and unapologetic about all things life, Latin culture and everything in between from someone who's never quite fit in. Listen to Life as a Gringo on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. Everyone gets AT&T's best deal on the new iPhone 14 with the incredible camera. So people currently listening to comedy podcasts, people listening to self-help podcasts, and people listening to true crime podcasts, who actually can't stop listening to true crime podcasts and it's ruining their lives. The point is, everyone, new and existing customers, ask how to get the new iPhone 14 on us with eligible trade-in.

Visit or our stores for details. Terms and restrictions may apply. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on the show, including your stories.

Send them to There's some of our favorites. Today we bring you the story of the Bolander family. They're from Kansas City and have a rather large family.

Here's Faith with the story. Randy and Kelsey Bolander have 10 kids, ranging from the age of 27 years old to five years old. Jackson, Grayson, Zion, Zoe, Anna, Mercy, Piper, Creed, Cadence and Scout.

Six of the Bolander children are adopted and their adoption stories have been nothing close to boring. When they adopted their first daughter, Zoe, they barely made it home from the hospital. We could only get within about three or four hours of her. We couldn't get right there overnight. So we flew till late into the night, drove most of the night. And at eight o'clock the next morning, we were in her hospital room. We were still in Las Vegas where she was born. And due to some paperwork snafus, we had to stay in Las Vegas for about 10 days.

There we were holed up in a little extended stay hotel. And the social worker called me at the hotel. We don't have your fingerprints.

And I said, well, we filed the paperwork. And she said, well, we don't have the fingerprints. Maybe you should call the FBI. And so I literally it was like 1-800-FBI. It was just a general phone number and left a voicemail. Oddly, they called me back and they said, we don't seem to have it.

I don't know that we've ever had it. I don't know what to tell you. I call my social worker back. I explained that the FBI doesn't know what we're talking about, which is never a good sign. And she suggested that maybe we should get an apartment because we may be there for a while. I just went into a panic. I'm like, I don't want an apartment in Las Vegas.

I've got a home in Kansas City that I really like to go to. And she called us in about an hour and a half and said, you know what? We found them. We have your fingerprints.

They're right here. You are free to go. I hung up the phone and I looked at my wife and I said, shut the phones off. I don't know if she's right or not, but we are leaving.

We're going back to Kansas City. So we raced to the airport, barely in time for a five o'clock flight. There's a seven o'clock fight. We would like dinner. So we, we opt for the seven.

We sit down, we have dinner, we go get in line and we sit and we wait. Seven becomes eight, eight becomes nine. The plane gets pushed back to 10 o'clock. By now I'm exhausted. I am a little bit panicky and I'm thinking that I might be a fugitive and I'm sitting there holding this little girl and I've read just enough John Grisham novels to know how this all works out.

And so I'm looking around and trying to figure out who is the FBI person here who thinks I'm leaving without my fingerprints. The plane didn't leave till two in the morning. We landed in Kansas City as the sun came up. And again, just a wave of emotion and didn't realize that, wow, we, we, we did it. We, we made it, we're home and we have a little girl. A few years later, they adopted their twin daughters, Anna and Mercy. Before bringing the girls home, Randy had a very honest conversation with their birth mother. She said, I want to know how you feel about multiracial kids. She was Japanese, Thai. And I said, well, I have a multiracial daughter at home. Zoe is African American, Latino. We are Caucasian. And I did not ask what race you were when I got on the plane.

This, this is not an issue to us. With that, we walked down the hall. She checked out these twin girls out of the nursery, little tiny babies, didn't even have names, baby A and baby B. We looked around and there was a closet open, like supply closet. We went into the supply closet and this lady did the bravest thing I've ever seen in my life.

She kissed each one of them on the head and said, this is your new mommy and daddy and handed Kelsey and I each a little girl and said, I need to go back to my room now and turned around and walked out. I had to drive across the street to Target and buy car seats because we left Kansas City with nothing. And I'm in the parking lot taking car seats out of boxes and people are walking by staring at me thinking that is the most lackadaisical, lazy man in the world that he didn't do this before. And I, I want to try and confront him and say, I didn't know, but that even made me look dumber.

So I just ignored him. We stayed in Florida for another week in the area while they finished up paperwork and social workers met with the birth mom just to make sure this was something she was fully on board with. And then we turned around and flew back to Kansas City with twin girls.

We were home six weeks with the newborns, with Anna and Mercy. And my wife motioned me to come down the hall. I went down the hall, we stepped into the bathroom and she handed me a pregnancy test and screamed into a towel. And so we went from four to seven really quickly, three years after Piper was born, I get a phone call and it is Anna and Mercy's birth mom's sister. And I'm in my office and she said, we had lost track of their birth mom. She'd been homeless for a while, but I just got a call.

She had been living in a U-Haul storage unit. And when they told her she had to leave, she said, I don't know if this is true or not, but she told the manager of the storage unit that she's pregnant with twins. I went from surely not to what are you going to do with the twins in about 30 seconds. In my mind, I saw my twin girls that I had at home that were their siblings. But in my mind, they weren't two or three years old or however they were. They were 15. And in my mind, they were asking, there were more like us and you didn't want them.

And I just couldn't, I couldn't bear that thought that they would ever think that we would not want more like them. We flew down, met with her, said, you know, if you would like to keep your children together, we will willingly do this. It was a little, you know, it was a little bumpy, but she agreed. Not long after that, we brought home a little boy and a little girl, Creed and Cadence. Three years after Creed and Cadence were born, late one night, my phone rings and I recognize the number. It is the lawyer that we used for Creed and Cadence's adoption. And I answered the phone and he said, are you sitting down?

And I, you know, kind of instantly knew where this was going. He said, we just found out that the two sets of twins, birth mom had a little boy in the last couple of days. And he has been taken into state custody, but somebody at the hospital remembered that you had adopted the other four and they called me and they wanted you to know. And you're listening to Randy Bolander tell the story of his, well, large family and how it came to be. And it's not like typical large families come to be.

Ten kids, six adopted. And when we come back, we're going to hear more from this remarkable family, the Bolander family here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of seventeen dollars and seventy six cents is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.

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Listen to Brace for Winnings presented by DraftKings Sportsbook on the iHeartRadio app on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. And we return to Our American Stories and to Randy and Kelsey Bolander's story. The Bolanders have 10 kids, six of which are adopted and five of their adopted children are siblings. We left off with the Bolanders about to adopt the fifth boy of that sibling group. He had just been taken into state custody.

Let's return to Randy. Lawyer called me and said, you guys need to come down here. We are going to remove him from state custody.

And so that's what we did. We flew down and served papers on the family, which was a real turn of the tables. They're not accustomed to that.

And about a week later, we flew home with Scout and Scout was about three months old. You know, there's a law of diminishing crazy. The amount of chaos that one child introduces to a home is not multiplied by the number of children in the home. Just the nature that there are children in the home means crazy is going to happen.

And so it's not like 10 or twice as crazy as five. We joke about nothing working for our family. Nothing normal works, normal house, normal car, nothing works. When we were all together under one roof, about the only thing that would work was a Ford 15 passenger E350 super duty homeschooler special van, big white van. I'm on my second. We've got 180,000 miles on the second one.

It's the only thing that would work for all of us to go together. When we do go someplace, of course, people wonder. And I've kind of got a standing rule when I notice somebody is watching and counting heads.

As I walk by, I whisper, there's more at home just to keep them wondering. Even the cheapest of options for a family of 10 isn't very cheap. At a fast food restaurant, especially with them getting a little bit bigger, if we just take the seven or eight that are usually with us now, you're going to drop with mom and dad eating 65, 70 bucks.

You know, pizza is a three digit affair. I had a friend one time, we were all at Chick-fil-A, their family and our family. And he was watching me and he asked me, when was the last time you sat down and ate a sandwich? And I couldn't really remember because when you go into one of those places, you're always kind of on duty. You're standing, opening the sauce, walking from this table to that table.

And so, you know, I can stand in my own kitchen and eat a sandwich. With so many children at home, being relationally intentional with all of them is no small task. There aren't enough hours in the day to go spend an hour with each child every day.

It's just the math, it doesn't work. That said, one of the things that we have talked about from the time they were little was trying to figure out what is the key to their heart. What makes that child come alive and how can we incorporate that into our day, whether we're as a group or we are one-on-one once in a while. It isn't as much about quality time together, it's about being known.

And when they feel like they're known, it doesn't matter if they're in a group of five. They feel individually known by a mom and a dad. The Bollenders are passionate about ministry and adoption as a ministry in particular. In order to build on that, they founded Zoe's House, an adoption agency to help make the process a little easier for people.

We have had a lot of talks about under what circumstances would we do this again. And one of the things that we've realized is we're not the only ones in the world that can do this and we can help other people do it. And so we have taken steps towards how can we be the most productive in reproducing what we do rather than doing it all by ourself.

We had struggled with how adoption works and how it's done. Like any industry, there are people of widely different abilities and intentions. And we thought it was one of those things in particular that should be done right. We were very fortunate.

The people that we worked with were very ethical, were very kind, did a good job. But you start hearing stories and you realize that sometimes it's not done that way. Knowing that we were now kind of the adoption people. When you have 10 kids, it's the only thing anybody ever remembers about you. We knew we would be fielding these questions for the rest of our lives and knew that we would love to make a difference in how adoption is done.

And so about five years ago, literally within a couple of days of finding out about Scout, someone approached us and said, would you ever consider starting an adoption agency that might be able to do this and make it a little more doable for people and do a better job? And Kelsey and I have a long running joke when one of us wants to do something. If it's something we're not qualified to do or we just haven't really been trained in, our joke is, has anybody dumber than us ever done this?

You can almost always find someone. And so if we find one person who's dumber than us, we say, well, we can do that. They did it. And so we dove into it and we hired very smart people and they helped us considerably. We learned a lot and launched this adoption agency that has leaned into the idea of excellent birth mother care and also very above the board, honest dealings with adoptive families and just trying to make it the best experience that we can so that when it's done, adoptive families can talk about it with their children and not have a sense of shame and talk with honor towards their birth parents, which they deserve. It's easy to look at a family like the Bollenders and be intimidated and not know how to go about having a family of 10, six of which are adopted. But how the Bollenders ended up where they are now wasn't a step by step plan they set out on. You know, how in the world could you have four and adopt another six? We get asked that a lot. Well, it didn't happen in one day. And yet people do that.

You know, people adopt sibling groups. That wasn't our case. Who would say yes to 10? We would just say yes to the next one. Can you do this one more time? Very rarely is anybody to say yes to 10 at one time.

Very rarely does anybody ever get asked that question. But can you do one more? We found we had the capacity.

We could do it. Now, there have been people who have kind of wondered, are you guys kind of hooked on doing a good thing? And they forget the fact that of the last five, they were all biologically related. And so it wasn't like we were cherry picking children from around the world to complete a set. We were, for those last five, fighting tooth and nail to keep a family of kids together. When you see other people that have done things that seem monumentous or a little out there, like adopting multiple kids or launching a business that went hugely successful or whatever, don't assume that they've got it any more together or any more talented than you are.

They just said yes to an opportunity and they're figuring it out as they go along. People a lot of times will say, wow, you guys have great systems. You must have great systems to make life work. Well, no, actually our laundry room, it's chaos.

No, we don't have any great systems. We just do life like everybody else, just at a larger scale. And so I think I've learned that those who I've looked at and gone, wow, they've done things I didn't know that I could do, maybe I could do them if the door opened. The other thing would be not to wait until you have things all figured out, until you try and do some good.

Problem solving is a great skill, but you can't solve problems if you don't know what they are. And so to dive into them and to figure out what the next problem is and how I can fix it, you find yourself, you know, 20, 30 years down the road, having done things you would have never thought you could have done or said yes to. One of the things I am proudest of in life is how my older boys have leaned into adoption. You know, we're in ministry. The pie is only so big. And every time we have adopted, the slice of the pie would seem to get a little smaller for everyone. When we brought home twins, they fought their way to the front of the crowd in the foyer of the house to be the first ones to hold the twins. And it was one of the most gratifying things as a father that I've ever experienced. The value and the joy and the fun and the personality that the adopted ones have brought to the table, I think has so overwhelmed any sense of what might have been in a different world that the older ones just can't imagine life not having been like that.

And they grew up in a house where there was always something going on. Fun was kind of a byproduct of the house and still is. It's very fun, very loud, crazy place.

It's been chaotic, but it's not been boring. And a great job as always by Faith. And a special thanks to Randy and Kelsey Bolander for sharing their story, their family's story. Oh, and by the way, you can find out more about the Bolander's mission at zoe's house And a special thanks to our friend in Kansas City, EJ Becker, for bringing us this story, the Bolander family story of real beauty here on Our American Stories.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-05 04:27:16 / 2023-01-05 04:35:30 / 8

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