All is ‘K with the Longendyke Krew
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Keri, Krystin, Kyle, Khonnor, Kenzi, Kadyn, Karslyn, Kayla and Kheegan. That’s right,we’re all Ks. It’s the Longendyke Krew.
I wake up some mornings feeling like I got no sleep, because my 6-year-old brother, Kheegan, has his night light on. I slowly drag myself out of bed and get ready for school as my sisters are yelling at me to hurry up. “We have to get to school, you never wake up,” they complain. And I throw a little snotty remark like, “Really? I’m awake now aren’t I?”
This is my life. It’s loud and stressful sometimes. And it gets to the point where we need to leave each other alone and take a breather.At the end of of the day, though, we love each other.
But it wasn’t always like this. There weren’t always nine kids in the house at a time forcing us to share a room and sacrifice the luxury of my own space.
My mom and her first husband Bret, had my two oldest sisters, Keri and Krystin, who are my half sisters. After their dad died, my mom met my dad. My brother Kyle came along, and then came me. We appeared to be the perfect average family. But when I was 3 years old, my dad was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer in the blood. I was not old enough to get what was going on. I knew he was sick, like maybe with the flu or something. I didn’t know how serious it was until I learned that it was cancer when I was older. All I remember while visiting my dad in the hospital was seeing him sitting in his room and wearing a hospital gown. I was scared and I just wanted my dad to be OK, hug him and play outside with him in my backyard.
About a year later, my dad’s cancer had gone away and we were back to our normal lives. A scary moment in my life was over, and it was time for excitement and fun. That’s what I thought anyway. But I was wrong.
My mom was diagnosed with leukemia when I was just starting kindergarten. Being older, I knew right away what was going on. My mom was sick just like my dad had been. But it seemed worse. She would lay in bed some days with little energy and had to fight the cancer for a year or two.
Finally, it was over. No more cancer! My mom survived and started life as her old self again. That was when she and my dad began talking about starting foster care (taking children into our home and being their stable family at a time of sorrow). My mom wanted more kids because of the joy we brought to her, even when she was sick. We had never stopped sharing laughter and fun with her But,because of cancer, her body was no longer capable of having children. So the night we went to my cousins’ temporary foster home, my mom brought them home. Hannah was in middle school, and David was a year older than my brother Kyle.
If you ask me, my mom and dad did a great job at being motivational people and role models to them, and especially heart-warming parents. They treated them like their own children. That’s why they are so good at loving kids and taking them into their home, no matter what a child has done. Hannah and David developed a sensitive and dependable relationship with us while living in our home for at least six months.
My parents and us kids liked having them there, enough to want to take in two little girls. Before doing so, my two sisters, Kyle and I were told we were going to be watching two little girls, not knowing how long it would be. We thought it would be fun and gave it a go. A few days later Kenzi (her name was Sabrin at the time) and Kadyn (her name was Yasmeen) arrived at our house with a bag of clothes and a couple personal items. Kenzi was only 5, and Kadyn was only 2. They were nervous and shy, having just being taken away from their home. Their faces lit up when they saw a swimming pool and a slide attached to it in the backyard. They were having a blast. It was a fun day. I was happy to have little sisters for a change.
After about a year, the girls’ birth parents got their rights back so they went home. We said goodbye to them after Kenzi’s dance performance. It was a sad time. They became my little sisters, who looked up to me, and I was loving it. But I was back to being the youngest, the little chubster baby again. Some of my days were lonely because I didn’t have little siblings to play with. My brother had friends over numerous times, but they only let me watch them play basketball. I was mostly an observer. It was boring. I needed my little sisters. They came back to stay the night every now and then, but it was different than having them there every day.
About a year later, they came back to us due to a problem between the parents. I was so happy! I was a big brother again. Not only to two, but three. Their little sister Kayla (Layla at the time) was a newborn, hardly out of the hospital. She was adorable. I remember feeding her bottles and burping her afterwards.
The summer after Kenzi was in third grade, my parents adopted the three girls, making sure it was what we all wanted to do. We did it. The girls, my brother and I pounded the gavel and made it official. They were Longendykes. While having them, Karslyn (being Destany at the time) was staying with us for a while, because her parents were still needing to learn to take care of her. She loved being with us, but at first she was crying every night, missing her mom. My mom held her in her arms, sitting on the living room chair, rocking her to sleep. Later on, my mom picked Karslyn’s newborn brother up from the hospital. Kheegan (named Robert at the time) was adorable. He was so small like a baby doll. He was the only premie to come to our home, very different than the rest of us, especially me because I was a 10-pound baby.
I was so happy to have a little brother. After him and Karslyn went back to their birth parents a few years later, it was still lonely even with four other kids in the house, because my older sisters had moved away. Karslyn and Kheegan were gone for about two years. We cried tears of joy when they returned! It was the happiest times of our lives. We adopted them soon after, and we had our family. A big family, but it is our family. And we love it.
If I didn’t have my four little sisters and little brother, it wouldn’t even feel like my life.Things get hard at times, but we look at all the blessings we have, not the negative things in our life. After living in this family for the majority of my life, it’s going to be weird when I leave for Central Michigan university. This is my life. Every time I think about moving to a dorm with only three other people, instead of eight, I get nervous about being away from what I’m used to. I’m so very thankful for my Mom, Dad, Keri, Krystin, Kyle, Kenzi, Kadyn, Karslyn, Kayla and Kheegan. I’m so amazed at how well my mom and dad have dealt with everything, and put up with my shenanigans. I love you guys. All 10 of you!