This inspiring story comes from the book “Faces of Generosity,” published by Ronald Blue Trust.
In Galatians 4:4-5 it says that God adopts us as his children: “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”
Imagine being a mom to 15 adopted children. Molly Armstrong is just that.
Most people would say, “Are they crazy?” But the Armstrongs say, quite simply and very convincingly, “The Lord brought them to us. He’s always helped us work it out.”
In addition to the horses, cow, llamas, and a camel on their farm outside Charlotte, North Carolina, Molly Armstrong and her husband Tom have 15 children, 8 boys and 7 girls, half of them mixed-race–all adopted. Now ages 16 to 40, the abundance of children in their house is winding down to the few teenagers left at home.
It all started back in 1978 after Molly’s husband, Tom, finished dental school at Washington University in St. Louis and the couple moved to North Carolina so he could open his first practice. They had decided when they were first married that they wouldn’t have children unless they could adopt. They eventually became Christians, just about the time they were finishing dental school, and that’s when the Lord went to work on them.
One evening at work Molly had a call from a patient who asked if they wanted to come get a four-month old baby boy–right then. They told the woman they’d come as soon as they finished with their patient. When they picked up the baby, Molly put him in a bassinet in the back seat of their Volkswagen Bug and headed to a pharmacy to pick up some formula and diapers.
“We had no idea what we were doing,” says Tom. The next day they learned that the child had a double ear infection and several other infections throughout his body. “That was our beginning of parenthood,” Molly remembers.
They got a second baby boy–and then the abundance really began. The Armstrongs then took in siblings ages 3, 4, and 9, removed from a foster home where they had been for three years. Shortly after that adoption, another child joined them, and then they were parents of six children–a “challenging group of kids,” recalls Tom, “because of the hard situations they came out of. We cried a lot, but we just said, ‘Lord, you work it out.’ We were also still open to receiving other children. One time there was a group of six that we tried to get, but we couldn’t.”
The Armstrongs kept adding to their family, another time getting two boys in the same way that they got their first child: with an urgent phone call and a pick-up the same day. At one point they had 14 children at home, adding on to their house year after year and finally buying a 22-passenger bus as their family car.
They had a contractor custom build a round dining table–“the biggest table we could get in the house through double doors.” Shopping for groceries when there were 14 at home meant a trip to a Sam’s Wholesale Club about every three to four months to fill up a trailer. Parenting that many children depended on one key word: logistics.
“Oh, and rules, of course,” they said. “We kept track of everybody and what was going on. The children took care of our animals on the farm and had to do chores, for which they got an allowance as they got older. Bedtime was a specific time so that we had a chance to say hello to our spouse at the end of the day.”
Molly and her husband spent the weekends playing with the children and always made time to create special memories. They traveled to the beach every year and visited Disney World every four or five years. Several years ago, they did a western tour–10,000 miles on the bus. Molly recalls, “We saw all the parks and the Pacific Ocean and just had a good old time.”
Molly and Tom have made an impact on many other families by talking about and encouraging adoption. “There are many different ways you can adopt children if you’re willing to have an open mind. We counsel people on keeping their hearts open, like we did. We just always said, “Thank you, Lord. We’ve had a great life, we enjoy our kids, send us more if you want to.'”
In John 19:26-27, as Jesus is about to speak his final words on the cross, he looks down and sees his mother:
“So when Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household.”
In this world, a mother’s love is often seen as the ultimate measure of love for one another, but God takes it one step further and asks us to adopt one another as brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, just as He has adopted us as His sons and daughters. The sacrifice and love of Molly Armstrong and her husband for their 15 adopted children is a beautiful example of what God’s love looks like in action, as we all seek to imitate the heart of Christ.
Watch our FACES OF GENEROSITY VIDEO to learn more.
Scripture quotations taken from the NIV(R) copyright by Biblica, Inc.(TM) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB) copyright by The Lockman Foundation.