NNSA employee Eric MacEwen, an IT and cyber specialist at the Kansas City Field Office, always knew he wanted a lot of children. But he and his wife, Amy, didn’t plan on eight of them, at least not initially. After having two children of their own, the MacEwens decided to adopt and within nine years’ time had six more children make up their family.
“Even while we were dating, we talked about adoption, but deciding to adopt so many children wasn’t an instant decision,” said MacEwen. “After adopting MeiLi, who was such a blessing to our lives, we knew we wanted more kids. We knew someone at church who had adopted a sibling set of three girls. We wanted to keep siblings together, which is hard in the foster care system.”
The MacEwens and their biological children, Kate and Sam, first welcomed young MeiLi who they adopted from China. They later went on to adopt brothers Reggie and Zy from foster care, followed by siblings Juliana, Jose, and Marisol, also from foster care.
When adoption has not been an option, staying connected through other means is something the MacEwens strive to do with children they’ve fostered. At only five days old, Ziya stayed with them until she was 20 months. Eventually, Ziya returned to her mother, but she continues to stay with the MacEwens every other weekend and goes on family trips. The MacEwens also keep in close touch with other foster children with whom they’ve shared their home.
With such a big family, MacEwen said vacations and family activities are chosen with care. “We like to travel, and with a large family it can get tricky. Plan, plan, and plan again is the way to go. If something happens, you just roll with it.”
Closer to home, they select sports based on how many kids can play at a time. All the girls play soccer in the fall and the boys play basketball in the winter. They also work at a food pantry once a month and still make time for date nights.
“This journey has evolved into a very nice individual thing,” he commented. “Sometimes it's a school event and dinner, sometimes it is coffee and homework at a coffee shop. Or something like the NASA SpaceApps hackathon with the older kids.”
Like every other family, it’s not always fun and games. “It takes work, and we have an awesome therapist who helps,” said MacEwen. “Most of our adopted kids have PTSD and anxiety from their previous situations. Meltdowns happen and there are real struggles. So again, our therapist is on speed dial.”
MacEwen said that what keeps him going during the rough times is his faith. “I do believe it's my calling to be a father to the fatherless. Sometimes I disappoint myself, but I just have to figure out how to do it better next time.”
If he had to do it over again, the one thing he would change, if he could, would have been to buy a bigger house when he first moved to Missouri. “We only had three kids back then,” he said, laughing.