When Kim and Frank Farley got married they knew they wanted to have children, but in their wildest dreams they never imagined what their lives would be like fifteen years later.
They married when Kim’s son Coy (from a previous marriage) was six. Frank, who had never been married, had already become interested in adoption through his volunteer work for the Florida Children’s Home (formerly located in Brevard County, now in Tampa). “I think he had pretty much decided to adopt on his own before we met,” says Kim. Marriage and the birth of their daughter Savannah put those plans on hold, but only for a little while.
“After Savannah’s birth we became interested in adopting and we began looking overseas. We didn’t even know where Bulgaria was, but we learned about 5-year old twin boys there and we knew we wanted a child aged between Savannah and Coy.” Kim says the adoption of Anton and Atanas took almost two years.
Over the next five years the couple welcomed three more biological children and adopted six others from Vietnam, China and Taiwan. “Christian’s birth was induced a week early so Frank could go to China to pick up Noah”, says Kim, who admits the couple never really planned on having so many children. “Every adoption has been a different experience. Sometimes things happen for a reason. When we were adopting Nathan in Taiwan we learned that Joshua and Jeremy, who were brothers, were going to be separated. We told the adoption officials we weren’t shopping for children but they wanted to know if we were interested. Then we learned that another couple was going to adopt Joshua and the boys were going to be split up. A couple of months later that fell through and we ended up with both of them. Frank said all along if God wants us to have both of those boys we would and we did. Doors have just opened up for us and obstacles have seemed to disappear.”
It’s no accident that many of the Farley’s children came as a package deal. “Siblings are so much harder to place with families,” says Kim. “ I think these kids have enough baggage when the come here, and they’ve put up with enough garbage their whole lives before they came to us. We can at least give then that family connection.”
Six years ago the family increased by seven with adoptions of siblings Gabriel, Sarah and Isaiah from Liberia, Assatta (also from Liberia) and siblings Josiah, Caleb and Hannah from Taiwan. Hannah’s adoption in particular was a race against the clock. “We knew Hannah was a special needs child and we knew time was running out for us to be able to get her the help she needed, “ says Kim. Experts had warned the couple that Hannah needed to begin her education by a certain age or there would be little anyone could do to help her. “We went back and forth for more than a year before we were able to bring her home.” Today Hannah is thriving at the Wabasso School in Sebastian.
Surprisingly, language has never really been a barrier says Kim. “They go to school and become immersed in our culture right away. They learn so fast.” A list of chores posted on the kitchen wall ensures everyone is assigned tasks designed to help the household run smoothly. “We expect good behavior from them,” says Kim. “We couldn’t take them anywhere if they weren’t well behaved. Before the economy went sour we did go out to dinner as a family once in awhile. I could just see the looks on the faces of the people in the restaurant when we walked in, but the truth is, I don’t like it when other people’s children misbehave in public, so I’m certainly not going to tolerate it if my own do.”
As a parent, Frank admits his biggest challenge “is finding time to spend with each child individually. I spend plenty of time with them, but I worry sometimes that I don’t get to be each of them one on one enough.”
Frank says, “as a rule the children get along very well. If they’re having a problem with someone there’s always someone else to play with. We expected issues when we started down this path but so far, so good. There’s been nothing that’s insurmountable. We know we can always works things out.” Frank, who grew up with seven siblings, says “they get along better than I got along with my brothers and sisters growing up. They had a Sunday school teacher who once told us they behave just like brothers and sisters should. They can be at each other’s throats, but if someone else messes with them-look out!”
“They are our biggest joy,” says Kim. “Even when they aren’t such a joy, if you know what I mean, they are our biggest joy.”
Twelve years ago Frank, who owns Farley Engineering LLC in Sebastian, built the family’s home in Grant-Valkaria. Throughout the years it’s seen its share of modifications as the family’s size increased. Much to the couple’s surprise, the homestead is about to undergo yet another slight renovation. Kim is expecting the couple’s 21st child in August. Since Coy is engaged, the kids like to say they’ll soon be a family of 22 children.
“I am one hundred percent positive that God picked each of these children to be here with us,” says Frank, “and that all of this worked out the way it was supposed to.”