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Hillsborough mother of 12 celebrates Mother's Day

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The Harres. Image courtesy OneHopeUnited.org The Harres. Image courtesy OneHopeUnited.org

There's one thing you can count on when you visit the Harre Family. There will be noise. On a recent Thursday, 11 of the family's 12 children were at home. Several played on a swing set, one played house and several more ran around the big backyard.

Tammy Harre uses one word to describe her family's home life.

"Chaos," she said with a laugh. "It's busy."

But the Harres wouldn't have it any other way. Parents Tammy and Brian knew they always wanted to start a family, but after four biological children, the family kept growing. The kids now range in age from 4 to 23.

"My whole dream was being a wife and mother," she said.

Through two different adoptions, the family brought 7 more kids into the fold. Their 12th child is still in the foster care system, although, they hope to adopt her, too.

The Harres run a farm they call the Forever Family Farm. The have pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and a large garden. All the kids have chores and help take care of the animals. Tammy Harre said it helps them learn responsibility and how to care for others, a skill they might not have gotten in their former lives.

"Growing up, I didn't have a mom who cared about me," said 15-year-old Vanessa Harre. "Just knowing she's there for me makes every day worth living."

The family has worked closely with Eckerd Community Alternatives, a community-based agency for child welfare and foster care services in the Tampa Bay area. Spokesperson April Putzulu said there's a growing need for families like the Harres. Eckerd oversees the welfare of 6,000 kids in the bay area.

"We need more foster families. We need more adoptive families, just like the Harres to step forward," Putzulu said.

Tammy Harre doesn't think her family is done growing just yet. And she hopes other families out there feel the same.

"Just do it," she said. "I mean, if God's ever given anyone an inkling of what they should do, life is not all about being happy and comfortable."

For more information on fostering a child, visit Eckerd's website at www.EckerdCBC.org. Another resource for fostering children is One Hope United, at www.OneHopeUnited.org.

 

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