By the time I was a freshman in high school, I had 17 brothers and sisters. We all shared a house. I was adopted when I was 3 years old by a 30 year old single woman.

Then she adopted 1 other child who was 4 years older than me. Of course I was too young to remember nor do I recall much of what happened in my life prior to the age of 6.

Very soon after, we moved to Port Angeles, Washington and then my adoptive mother began adopting many other kids. My experience with this became more interesting as I got older. All of us are different nationalities or bi racially mixed and my adoptive mother is Caucasian. We stood out like a sore thumb when we went grocery shopping or to church.

At first I was introduced to two new siblings. Then the next group she adopted was four siblings at one time.

Then my mother began adopting just one sibling at a time from that point on.

We lived in a six-bedroom home in a small city with only one high school. I shared a room with bunk beds with two other siblings. I do remember prior to the age of eight having a room all to myself. But this was only for a short time.

Growing up in such a large family with one single parent is challenging. Even though I was the second child adopted, from an age perspective I ended up being right in the middle. I have 4 older sisters and 13 younger sisters and brothers. Most of my siblings that joined our family were older me when I was adopted. This made things more challenging because they lived difficult lives prior to coming to live with us as they were moved from foster home to foster home. Essentially, this made things harder to adjust to a new family. They had trouble trusting their new siblings or accepting that this would actually be their new permanent home vs another foster home. Even though I always welcomed a new brother or sister with open arms, it was very hard to create a solid relationship with any of them. But over time there ended up being one or two with whom I could connect.

It was amazing how I was surrounded by so many people but always felt alone.

There was always a lot of arguing. Many of us would just scream over one another’s voices trying to get a word in to talk to our mom. When I asked her the other day how she dealt with all of us yelling at the same time, she told me she was so overwhelmed that she would just tune us out.

Some people would say it’s great to be part of a huge family and others would prefer not, but there are pros and cons to both. I love that I had this experience and learned so much by watching my siblings grow up.

I am grateful I learned how to become independent at an early age.

My adopted family is all I know, but my entire life I have been actively searching for my biological parents. I would love to have a better understanding of who I am and where I truly came from.

Tamara Steets

Tamara Steets is a Healthy Mind and Body Coach from Seattle Washington. Her passion for fitness and nutrition started back when she ran track in high school. She has a background in the field of nursing and personal training. Her goal is to help others achieve a healthy lifestyle.