Mustang-native Amy Paulson grew up in a large family with five children and always wanted to be a mother. She married the love of her life at the age of 19, and she and husband Brandon were excited to start a family. After years of trying, the couple came to terms with the fact that biological children just weren’t in the cards. Amy believes that, “God had something else planned. Some of us are just born mothers that can’t have kids.”
Becoming a Family
Amy’s first experience as foster mother brought three children—and then heartache—into her life when the children were eventually returned to their parents. “We’re not doing this again,” she remembers saying. Recalling that, Amy was initially hesitant when Brandon approached her about three boys in foster care in need of a home. Even though Amy ultimately agreed, the timing didn’t work out and the boys were placed with other foster parents. Then, a caseworker asked if they would take three girls instead. So, the Paulsons welcomed Shyla (age 12), Abeni (age 11), and Caroline (age 8) on January 2, 2011.
“We did not start out wanting to adopt,” Amy explains. “I became friends with their birth mom. We tried to help her. We were trying to be that bridge because we had already been through letdown and heartbreak. We did not want to get too attached and want them forever, because when they went back, it would kill us. We thought we would help get the family back together and we would be the fun ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’.”
But then Amy recalled, “Everything just lined up.” While visiting the girls’ siblings, she realized they were the three original boys they had tried to foster, as well as an additional sister, Kyaira (age 15). That is when Amy knew these children were destined to play a special role in their lives.
Kyaira joined the family in April of 2011 and two of the boys, Daniel (age 14) and Harvey (age 9) joined the Paulson family in December of 2012. While the youngest brother was adopted into another family, the other six siblings were officially adopted by Amy and Brandon on November 26, 2013.
As overwhelming as instantly becoming a mother to six children might seem, Amy says, “Our biggest challenge with these kids is that they are afraid to make mistakes. To them everything has to be perfect, everything has to be exactly right. They know we won’t hurt them, they just don’t want to let us down.” The house is surprisingly quiet, but Amy says it gets crazy over the weekend when the kid’s friends and her nieces come over. “We usually have between nine and 12 kids every weekend,” she laughs. “I don’t know how I do that!”
Free time is hard for Amy to find, but she manages time for herself after the youngest kids go to bed. “I had 15 years of ‘me time’ before they were placed with us,” she explains. “My husband and I have been an established couple for a long time. We’ve done all the ‘me and him’ stuff. Now we are ready for the kids.”
Amy manages this large family with a tight schedule and teamwork. Everyone takes care of their own laundry, has chores and takes turns cooking. They also have lots of extended family support. “I don’t think I do anything more than any typical mother would do. I’m just doing what these kids need me to do.”
Here’s more about how this this 35-year-old keeps on top of a family of eight:
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
I always question myself.
How has motherhood changed you?
I have a lot more patience and responsibility.
What are you most proud of?
The kids becoming mine.
What is on your wish list?
A larger house.
What is the biggest challenge in your life?
Making sure our kids are happy and taken care of.
Advice for other moms?
Have unconditional love and don’t be afraid to be the parent. If they get mad, they will get over it.
What is your parenting style?
I’m known for being strict.
Favorite advice about motherhood?
Motherhood is a choice you make every day. To put someone else’s happiness ahead of your own, to teach hard lessons, and to do the right thing, even when you’re not sure what the right thing is and to forgive yourself over and over again for doing everything wrong.
What the kids say about Amy:
- Caroline (age 8): “Mother’s lovable and awesome at making meatloaf.”
- Harvey (age 9): “The best thing about my mom is she is fun, she loves us and she cooks with us. Whoever cooks doesn't have to do the dishes.”
- Abeni (age 11): “My mom is awesome. She lets us have afternoon snacks and she helps us with school. We play with her, we go to church with her, and we have picnics with her.”
- Shyla (age 12): “Mom is a bomb cook. There are too many good things just to pick one.”
- Daniel (age 14): “She’s very nice and she helps a lot around the house. And she does fun activities with us, like going to a picnic.”
- Kyaira (age 15): “My mom is the best because I can talk to her about anything. And I know she is always going to be there for me no matter what. Any time I am going through anything, I can go to her about it and she never turns me away. She’s always there, she’s caring, she never gives up on any of us and she tries her best to make our lives easy.”
Quick facts about Amy
- What are 5 words that describe you? Caring, loyal, silly, loving, giving.
- What is your favorite indulgence? Chocolate.
- What is your favorite TV show? The Good Wife.
- What is your favorite meal to cook for dinner? New recipes, I love to try new things.
- What’s always in your handbag? Antibacterial wipes.