The never-ending list goes by the names of Andrew, 47; Jenny, 47; Gail, 45; Susan, 44; Johanna, 43; Mai, 41; Amy R., 41; Amy J, 39; Mark, 40; Nancy, 38; John, 36; Nick, 37; Kate, 36; Ben, 22; Dan, 20; and Caroline, 19.
“To take 14 kids that are not biologically yours into your household is pretty impressive,” said Dan Joslyn. The sophomore from Pittsfield, Mass., was adopted at five weeks old and is a part of a “big-hearted family” of 16.
“It’s speechless when it comes ‘oh, we have a big family,’” Joslyn said. “I would say we have 16 people, and people don’t believe me.”
When asked about each member of his family, Joslyn’s cheerful tone showed how much they mean to him. Many members of the family came right out of emotional situations in Vietnam, and three of them, including Dan, joined the family much later.
“The best part about it is that 14 of these kids are adopted,” Joslyn said. “It brings in all kind of races: African American, Korean, Vietnamese and Caucasian, many different races.”
The two masterminds behind this family are Audrey Eldred and Charles “Chuck” Joslyn. Eldred, who is in her 70s, was previously married and had 11 kids before meeting Chuck.
“We realized that we had so much fun with these kids, we didn’t want to stop,” Eldred said. “We just had such a good time.”
Chuck Joslyn, who is also in his 70s, was previously married with three children before meeting Eldred.
You would think having 16 children would make it hard to earn a living, but what makes it even harder for Chuck and Eldred is the fact that they are social workers.
“We try not to spend more than we have to,” Eldred said. “We are really careful with money. We buy most of the clothes secondhand. Money is an issue; we have to be careful with that many kids.”
In recent years, this family has been through some great moments but also emotional times. Four years ago, Dan was in a serious, life-threatening car crash but has fully recovered.
“I don’t remember really what happened in the crash,” Joslyn said. “It showed a lot of determination for me to be able to come back from a broken leg, and the worst was the traumatic brain injury, because a broken leg can be fixable but the brain injury took three years for me to consider myself fully recovered. I feel like I am back.”
About three months after Joslyn was back from recovery, his older brother Ben was killed in a horrific car crash.
“I believe the crash was a shockwave that we still feel today whenever we go to his room or whenever we think about him,” Joslyn said.
“When we almost lost Dan, and then a year later lost Ben…it has been awful, it really has been,” Eldred said.
The family has grown stronger throughout the years due to these emotional events.
This modern Brady Bunch will meet up this October for a family reunion.
Both Eldred and Chuck Joslyn added that even though they had 16 children, it has always been a great and happy family, and they would not change a thing.
“It wasn’t a bad thing having 16. If we had to do it all over again, we would,” said Eldred.
Mark Loiselle may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org