Armando Cantu and Naomi Rodriguez have opened their hearts and their homes to seven children. And on May 24, 2019, they officially became a family in the eyes of the law at Aransas County Court at Law in Rockport, Texas.
The “Cantu Family,” as they call themselves, was already large. When they met, the couple each had their own biological children, making them a family of six. But those children are grown, all in or around their 30s, and parents to the couple’s ten grandchildren.
Expanding the family
But Naomi and Armando decided to help children in need by becoming foster parents. And since 2017, they have had seven foster children living with them. Six of those kids are biological siblings, with one practically a newborn when it all began.
The couple knew from the start that it would be a good fit.
“We love them so much. When they first came into our home, we could already feel how we were going to bond with them. We’ve just grown on each other,” Rodriguez told Caller Times.
After two years of fostering, the Cantus decided to adopt all seven children. At the time, their ages ranged from just two years old to 11.
The oldest is a daughter who is not biologically related to the rest of the children but is thrilled to have a loving home with lots of siblings.
A unique adoption
Armando Cantu always knew the children were meant to be a part of their family.
“When it works, you know the feeling. You feel it in your heart, in your soul, so you know it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
What’s rare about this adoption is not just the number of children adopted at the same time but that 6 of the children are siblings. It’s rare for kids to be able to stay together in the foster system, even when there are just two siblings.
“I just felt that if I brought one in, I’d have been selfish because they still have brothers and sisters,” Rodriguez said. “And to be separated in the system, it would have been really hard to find each other and stuff. So we just decided, let’s just do this together, and that’s what we’ve done.”
Vickie Shular, an adoption specialist who worked with the Cantu family, praised the couple.
“Not everyone wants to adopt seven kids, so that says a lot about their character as humans.”
Making it work
Raising seven children is no easy feat, but the Cantu household has made it work by sticking to a routine. And that includes having the kids tidy their rooms before school.
As for mealtimes, those are staggered, as are bedtime and bathtime.
“As long as we stick with the routine, we do awesome at home,” Rodriguez said.
At 53 and 42 years old, Rodriguez and Cantu know how to wrangle children, especially since they’ve already done it with their own and have grandchildren roughly the same age.
“If my home was bigger, I’d probably bring in more kids,” Rodriguez told 3 News.
Making it official
The courtroom was full of family members carrying gifts on the day the adoption was made official. The scene in Judge Richard Bianchi’s courtroom was one of organized chaos and lots of happiness.
At the time of the adoption, the siblings (consisting of 3 boys and 3 girls) were ages 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8, and the eldest child was an 11-year-old girl.
There were hugs all around and then the inevitable trip home, with tons of new toys in tow for the new big, happy family.