Thursday Mar 08 2012
Community Portrait: Couple’s dream to have a houseful of children comes true
By: Story and photo Michael Kirby
For Todd and Amy Hanaway, life around the house is anything but dull. Currently the Weimar couple has nine children ranging in age from 6 to 17 years living at home. Typical they are not, but a family they are. Three of the children are adopted, three they are legal guardians for, one is a foster child and two are their biological children. They also have two dogs and three cats. The Hanaways have been licensed foster parents for 13 years and over the years they have played a part in raising 47 foster children. Many of the children who have been a part of the Hanaway family are developmentally handicapped or have severe medical conditions. The children go to six different school sites, and are involved in the challenger sports program at the Auburn Recreation District and are very involved in community activities. Because of the children’s disabilities it’s almost daily routine that someone needs to be at a medical appointment. It’s a logistical feat that sometimes takes both Amy and Todd and their care helper of six years to organize doctor appointments, school activities and recreation schedules. Recognizable even during a short visit is that their home is a happy place. The kids all hang out just like a regular family, interacting, laughing, joking and taking care of each other. The Hanaways have been married 17 years, and Amy had always wanted to be a stay-at home-mom. “I wanted to have a house full of children,” she said. The Hanaways first opened up their foster home to two special needs children 13 years ago. “We fell in love with the children and it just kept expanding, adding on to the house and filling up bedrooms with more kids,” she said. The Hanaway home was soon filled with special children that needed a loving home. “Most people come with stray animals, Amy comes home with kids,” joked Todd. One of the first children the Hanaways fostered after being bounced around the foster care system went on to graduate high school, worked at Pride Industries, married, and now has a 6-year-old child. The Hanaway clan have all gone to Disneyland and the kids are eager to return, though the trip requires their caregiver Christine Conterno and Amy’s parents to come along and help. It’s important for Todd and Amy to make special time for themselves like other parents, and on rare occasions they spend some alone time. “We try to sneak off for breakfast or lunch when the kids are all out of the house at school or when we can,” Amy said. “It’s a life dedication, it’s not a nine to five job. We’re fortunate to have Christine to help with the children,” said Amy. “Their medical needs are such that you can’t just call anyone to babysit, you need someone that is trained.” Amy had a background working with children with autism and she always wanted to work with special needs kids. “I have the best of both worlds. I get to work with them and be their mom,” said Amy. She credits her husband, Todd, with being a great partner, amazing husband and father, with a lot of compassion for people. “I wear a lot of hats here. I’m the maintenance guy, the taxi guy, a little of everything,” Todd said. The Hanaways have provided a loving home to many children that maybe would have never been able to say, “That’s my Mom and Dad” and feel what a real family is like.