Reece’s Rainbow Report #38: Richardson Family

Jaime Richardson was driving back from the airport when an unusual road sign caught her eye. “Uranus, Indiana,” it read ― and she immediately knew what she had to do.
“Heck yes, kids, we’re doing this!” she yelled to the full rows behind her. A few hours and mildly inappropriate photo opportunities later, they were back home, impromptu adventure achieved. 

Sure, it’s a life that Richardson, a social worker by training, never imagined herself living. After all, who dreams of parenting 16 children ages 19 down to six months and all under the same roof at once? 
“I have to be very comfortable with chaos,” Richardson says. “We’re big, but there are bigger and crazier families out there than us.” 

It hasn’t always been this way. Richardson and her husband Chris, an engineer, became foster parents in New York a year after their wedding. That was in 2007, with their first adoption coming in 2010. Even after their move to Indiana, the urge to give disadvantaged children a loving father and mother prompted them to keep acting. 
Over the last 13 years, in other words, the number of children taking their last name has come at a fast and furious pace. Today, Jaime and Chris have six kids adopted from New York foster care, two from Indiana foster care, two adopted via private domestic adoption, one whom Richardson gave birth to via embryo adoption, three from Ukraine and twins from China. 

“I’m just following my call, and it would be frustrating to do anything outside of that call,” Richardson says. “We could have chosen not to go against the grain, to have two and a half kids and take fancy vacations, but most of that stuff doesn’t have eternal value.” 
At the beginning of their adoption journey, the Richardsons said they wouldn’t feel comfortable with special needs. Today, however, the majority of the Richardson children have exactly that, including cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, epilepsy, genetic abnormalities, blindness, partial deafness, G-tube and trachea dependency and learning differences. 

“I also said I would never be a stay-at-home mom or homeschool or live in the Midwest,” Richardson says. “Then God laughed.” 

Richardson, age 40, and Chris, 44, discovered five of their children through Reece’s Rainbow. But before the adoptions of “Kaitlyn” and “Katrina” from China in 2017 and “Preston,” “Kaysen” and “Scout” from Ukraine in 2020 came a trip to China in 2010. Part of Richardson’s master’s program in social work, what she saw children languishing in orphanages without parents changed her outlook forever. 
Around the same time, Richardson found Reece’s Rainbow on Facebook. In 2016, she saw a video there of “Kaitlyn” and “Katrina,” twin girls in China with Down Syndrome. She instantly knew that they were meant to be her daughters. In 2017, the twins became Adelaide and Emmabelle. 

Yet you have to rewind even further for the full story. Just before Richardson saw that video, she and Chris had been matched to a boy named Remi from Ohio foster care. Tragically, Remi died of an asthma attack before he could be adopted but his foster brother, whom the Richardsons met and enjoyed immensely, had Down syndrome. 

“After that, I thought it would be great to have a child with Down syndrome,” Richardson says. “It was six months to the day after Remi died that we saw the video of the twins.” 
2020 brought another international adoption with a few twists. Preston,” who eventually became Vladi, got stuck in Ukraine for an extra three months thanks to a positive tuberculosis test. “Scout,” a young girl with blindness and autism whose real name is Dasha, got added on to the family’s adoptions at the very last minute. Not to mention all the medical care for Ezra, who was listed as “Kaysen.” 

“I had such a supernatural peace about it all,” Richardson says. “People were praying, and I knew God would provide. It’s like, ‘Wow, I’m on an adventure!’”

The adventure hasn’t stopped, either. Everyday life with 11 boys and five girls spread out amongst nine bedrooms, their matriarch says, is “consistently unpredictable,” filled with plenty of medical appointments, meltdowns, mountains of food and way too much poop for Richardson’s liking. She utters sentences she never thought she would say, like “No peeing from the top of the tree” and feels oddly proud when a child who struggles with verbal communication uses profanity correctly. 
The logistics of a large family, meanwhile, are usually on another level. The Richardsons drive an 18-seater bus when they all need to travel together, plus a handicap accessible van that seats two wheelchairs, a typical minivan and a small car for long road trips with just one kid. Three Richardsons are full-time wheelchair users, with several others using them occasionally. Ezra’s former foster carers, now living in the U.S. as refugees, sometimes fly out from California for weeks-long visits. Groceries arrive five times a week to fill up the family’s three refrigerators and one deep gigantic deep freezer. A staff of aides and assistants shuttle in and out of the house most days to help with medical care, schoolwork, life skills and household chores like cooking. 
It's a fair amount of chaos, but Richardson rolls with it with one caveat. 

“People look at my family and think we’re crazy and we are; you have to be to choose this life but I wish they would stop telling me I’m such a saint,” Richardson says. “It’s not for everyone to adopt, but it is for everyone to do something extraordinary.” 
Like take a trip to Uranus and smile for the camera, knowing you may have well landed among the truest stars. 
Crystal Kupper
Crystal Kupper is a freelance writer specializing in magazines and special projects. Since earning her journalism degree, she has written for clients such as Zondervan, Focus on the Family and the Salvation Army, among many others.