Single mom's dream of a large family becomes reality
Angela Lapham grew up in a big family with a lot of cousins so it only seems natural that she would want a big family of her own.
And that is what she has indeed, after adopting five of the 21 children she fostered through Oakland Family Services over the past five years. She also adopted her oldest daughter through a private adoption.
"I think that's why I'm big on taking in siblings," Angela said. "I can't imagine growing up without your parents and then losing your siblings, too."
Through Oakland Family Services, Angela has been a foster parent to newborns, teenagers and special needs children. Some have stayed for nearly two years while others only a few weeks.
"It is very rewarding," she said. "You have to have that love for kids. The craziness, the laughing... it's all worth it to get through the tough times."
The single mom is raising Domenica, 6, Roman, 5, Aleigha, 4, Brendria, 3, and Acora, 1 in her Madison Heights home. She also is fostering a four-month-old sibling of two of the children.
That's six children with the oldest being 6 years old! It certainly draws attention when Angela walks into a room but it doesn't seem to faze her. With each child, she needs more food, more clothes, more car seats and a bigger car.
"I have a routine at home, and they know how it's going to be," she explained. "We have our bumps along the road. We are bigger than a normal family but we stick it out and get through it."
Angela first became a foster parent of two sisters, ages 3 and 6, about two months after adopting Domenica. The girls, and eventually another sibling, stayed with Angela for nearly two years before they were adopted by their uncle.
"The little girls - to see how rough they were when they came and by the time they left how they changed, it was just amazing," she said.
Seeing those type of positive changes is what keeps Angela opening up her home to foster children. People often tell her it's something they have thought about and she encourages them to foster and gives them some advice, too.
"The main thing is a lot of people think they are going to adopt a foster child," she said. "It's important they work with the parents so if the child leaves, they aren't heartbroken.
"It is tough. You get attached. I've always gotten along with all my parents and that has made it easier."
Hanging up in her house are photos of each of her foster children. She still keeps in touch with all of them, some of whom visit her or invite her to their birthday parties.
Longtime friend Laurie Kruse, who was at Roman and Aleigha's adoption last year, describes Angela as patient and loving.
"She is the most loving and caring person I have ever met," she said. "You know how Peter Pan never grew up? That's Angela. She brings stability but still has fun."
For most of the time she has been a foster parent, Angela has had five children in her home at a time and wouldn't have it any other way.
"I fight for the ones who no one fights for," she said. "I would have never thought this is where I would end up, but I would never change it either."