Supermom of 11 with 8 adopted children gets as little as 1 hour's sleep a night

A ‘supermother’ of 11 who adopted eight of her children spends $1,200-a-month on food for them and sleeps for as little as one hour each night. Julie Chambers, 48, was a mom of three when she and husband David, 50, began fostering in 2008.

The couple, from San Diego in California, initially refused to consider adopting, but soon realized they couldn’t bear to part with the children they’d taken in, or inflict further upheaval on them.

Julie said; ‘We never wanted to adopt and our only intention was to foster, but look where we are now. David even said he wasn’t sure if he could love another person’s child.

‘But we soon realized that taking care of another child and showing them love feels like the feeling you get when your first baby is born. That feeling never gets old.

‘After fostering a child the main thing for us was not wanting the child to go through the trauma of being sent to another family and made to feel like we don’t want them anymore.

‘We adopted our first child in 2010 and our last child in May last year. Our house has been a bit like a revolving door and same days are great, but some days are not so great.

‘Some days I get to the end of the day and think to myself, ‘how did I manage?’. I don’t get much sleep, only between an hour to three hours a night, and I do feel a bit like superwoman at times.

‘I can’t sit here any say it’s easy, because it’s not and it is a battle at times. But I feel very blessed to be entrusted to have such an amazing large family.’

Julie had always dreamed of having a large family, but doctors warned she was probably physically unfit to carry another child after suffering a freak fall in a restaurant in 2004 that shattered her knee cap. But she and construction worker David realized they could have the big family they’d always desired by giving youngsters placed in care a loving family of their own.

The devoted mom now wakes up at 5am each day after a maximum of three hours sleep at night to ensure she has enough time to prepare for the day ahead. She has strict meal times to keep her family on track, and spends between $1,000 and $1,200 a month on feeding them.

Julie and David’s eldest three children, Chase, 25, Baylie, 23 and Cayden 20, are their biological offspring. The other children – Cameron, 11, Braelyn and Cardyn, 7, Brecklyn, 6, Brynlie, 3, Cash and Caysen, 1, and baby Cane, who sadly died at 8 days old last year, have all been adopted into the Chambers’ household.

The couple signed up as foster parents four years after Julie’s accident with Cameron – the first child they adopted – becoming the second child they’d fostered in 2009. A year later they were asked by the fostering agency if they’d consider adopting the one year-old, but said no. But they changed their mind on realizing the amazing chance it would offer Cameron, and have adopted seven other children in the nine years since.

Five of the couple’s children came through a fostering network, with the other three adopted privately.

Explaining their ethos, Julie said: ‘We have never made any rash decisions and all we want to do is help’, said Julie.

‘We didn’t want to see the kids go through the trauma of being re-homed. Me and David know we can give the kids a great upbringing and a happy home.

‘It is hard though, and I call it daily controlled chaos. One great thing about it is that they all have each other to play with.

‘But now we’re in lockdown, it is getting even harder to keep the kids occupied. The pandemic is making it difficult to come up with things to do and it is taking its toll on us.

‘The time we spend together is invaluable, so I wouldn’t change any of it.’

Eight of Julie and David’s ten children live at home at their five-bed family home as the eldest two Chase, 25 and Baylie, 23. The couple’s remaining children all have a disability or some level of special needs.

Cayden, 20, has high functioning autism whilst the youngest seven have disabilities ranging from autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Julie must administer a long list of medications to her brood while also doing huge amounts of housework that includes cleaning, cooking and washing for her family.

She does most of this on her own, with the help of David in the evenings and at weekends, as well as a part-time carer and medical and occupational therapists who visit them family twice a week to help out.

Before the recent lockdown, Julie would make a special effort to take her children on field trips and days out outside of school. But as some of her kids have conditions which compromise their immune systems, the family are having to be extra cautious about taking any unnecessary trips out and risking a potential Covid-19 infection.

Julie said: ‘I don’t see them as disabled kids and we never looked at their disabilities when we decided to adopt them. I love structure and that helps me to cope.

‘We never planned to adopt specifically special needs kids, its just how it worked out. We adopted them for who they are.

‘I don’t really sleep and my day started when the boys wake up at around 7am each day. I only get stuff done for me either early in the morning or late at night, otherwise I’d get nothing at all done.

Julie added that she would adopt more children if she could – and that she does not rule out doing so as more of her offspring grow up and move out.

She explained: ‘I love each of my children like they are my own and they are the best kids in the world. If I’m honest I would have more kids, but there just isn’t enough hours in the day for that.

‘I love having all of my children around me and I am nervous for the day they have all grown up.’

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