Reece’s Rainbow Report #54: Boyer Family

Cindy Boyer has always loved children.

That’s one of the reasons why she and her husband Dennis had eight of them, raising six boys and two bookend girls on an acre in central Florida. And most everyone — from the 1970s TV show to the “normal” families around them — seemed to think that eight was enough. Life was busy to the brim, replete with ballgames and practices and church and social commitments. 

“I was a children’s director at church and was always with kids, even before we got married,” says Cindy. “The ones I naturally went to were the children that not everybody accepted.”

But then something funny began happening: a little over a decade ago, right when things should have remained at full steam ahead, or even speeding up a bit, life began slowing down. Cindy, a longtime stay-at-home mother, found herself spending even more time at home. 

The couple soon felt it all was for a reason: they were being slowed down not because they were 55 and 59 years old, but in order to take a new fork in the road. In 2012, that road led them straight to Russia and a toddler waiting to be adopted code-named Adalyn. She had a cleft lip, gum and palate — very similar to three of the Boyer boys. Dennis and Cindy flew to Russia to meet Adalyn, falling completely in love. 

Adoption was nothing new for the Boyers; Dennis, a crematorium supervisor, is adopted, as are several of his siblings. But what smacked them squarely between the eyes and directly in the heart was Putin’s American adoption ban three days after Christmas in 2012. The law affected even families like theirs who had already met their children. 

The grief bit into the Boyers’ hearts. But they slowly began seeing a purpose in their pain.

“I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God took us to Russia for a reason,” says Cindy, now 66. “Why we never brought her home, that I don’t have answers for. But I just know we were supposed to be there.” 

In 2014, the Boyers adopted three-year-old Abraham and two-year-old Sarah, code-named “Charlie” and “Lola” on Reece’s Rainbow. The pair were biological siblings from Ukraine, rescued from the under-siege city of Luhansk. People urged Cindy and Dennis to be realistic — how could they successfully complete two adoptions in a war zone

“I don’t listen to the news,” Cindy says. “I listen to God.” 

The two newest Boyers came home with scads of war- and orphanage-related trauma, despite their tender ages. Both remembered shootings. 

“The trauma my children have were from bombings — they were scared to death,” Cindy says. “It took about a year to get them over anything that was a loud noise.”

But Sarah and Abraham gradually showed signs of growth, too. Things were going so well that Dennis and Cindy returned to Ukraine in 2017 to adopt five-year-old Ayden, code-named “Esteban.” There was a playmate of Ayden’s at the orphanage that the Boyers got to know well at visits. He wasn’t available for adoption, but they never stopped thinking about him. 

In 2021, nine-year-old Tymur became a permanent part of the family. In doing so, he became a true brother not only to Ayden, his old friend, but also to Alyna & Anya, a pair of Ukrainian sisters the Boyers had adopted in 2020, and Vitaliy, a 15-year-old the Boyers had previously hosted beginning in 2016 but finally adopted the same year as Tymur. Each time, the funds miraculously appeared exactly when needed. 

“If it’s not God, it’s not going to happen,” Cindy says. “I don’t understand the why’s, but I can trust.”

That makes seven adoptions in seven years. And don’t forget the banned adoption (Cindy and Dennis still regularly receive orphanage reports and photos on 12-year-old Adalyn), 17 total pregnancies and eight born biological children. But Cindy and Dennis, now 70, take raising 15 children ages 44 down to 7 — including four 11-year-olds — all in stride. Their adopted kids’ diagnoses mostly include Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and heart conditions. 

Cindy homeschools the children remaining under their roof, who are all involved in various 4-H projects. The Boyer property is always good for a few moos, laughs, squawks, shouts and oinks. 

The children living on that property, meanwhile, are well-known for being joy-bringers. People often tell Cindy how much they love her kids — a feeling their mother completely understands. 

“They have given my life a purpose, because we’re meant for relationships,” she says. “I just cannot see my life without them, even in the hard moments.” 

One of those hard moments came when Vitaliy, now 17, announced, “Mama, I wish I was a baby and wouldn’t remember” all the hardships he walked through in Ukraine. “I just wanted my family to be a good family there.” 

“I told him his family was a good family; they just made bad decisions,” Cindy says. “Just to hold a 15-year-old sobbing because he so desperately wants to be here but is grieving for his country is hard.” 

Yet she and Dennis, married for 47 years, remain committed to extending a listening ear and a welcoming set of arms for their children to utilize in those hard moments. They would have it no other way. 

“The best part is the joy these children have brought — the laughter that overshadows the hard,” she says. “I can think of no better way to retire, or never retire, really.” 

Because when you truly love something — or many someones — so hard, it turns out they love you hard right back.

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.
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