TWIN FALLS — This afternoon, Tina Baker’s quiet time was an hour of running errands.
She and her husband, Jon, have six children living under their roof. And on Feb. 24, the entire crowd was home because it was Jon’s day off work and snowfall cancelled school.
Tina returned home with full WinCo and Old Navy plastic bags, set them on the kitchen island, greeted Jon and picked up adopted 3-year-old son Josiah.
Soon, the Bakers’ 5-year-old foster son came into the house crying because his feet were wet with snow. He wiped his runny nose on his shirtsleeve.
“Mom, can I have a snack?” adopted 4-year-old daughter Chloe asked, and Tina passed out small packages of Dole fruit snacks.
Since gaining their foster parent license in 2011, the Bakers have seen 45 children come through their home.
“We get calls quite often to take more,” Tina said.
Her original thought was they’d take in foster teenagers and their babies, but that never happened. “God had a different plan for us.”
a big family’
The six at home now are Jon’s biological teenage daughter, two foster children and three former foster children the Bakers adopted.
“I always wanted a big family too, so here we go,” Tina said.
She’s not sure exactly when she and Jon decided to adopt multiple children. It just happened over time. And they continue to foster.
Their 6-month-old foster girl has a rare heart condition called tetralogy of fallot — a combination of four heart defects present at birth — and had open heart surgery at 3 months old. On the afternoon of Feb. 17, Jon rested her on the kitchen counter and lifted up her fuzzy shirt to reveal a large, red incision on her chest.
The 5-year-old foster boy was at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Magic Valley that afternoon. He loves it there. He’d recently missed a week of school while sick; his fever climbed to 103.8 degrees.
“It seems that the kids we get have immune systems that are no good,” said Tina, who’s a nurse.
Minor illnesses such as colds seem practically constant, she said. “Everybody’s got snotty noses all the time.”
Because she’s a nurse, Tina and Jon are often asked to take in foster children with complex medical issues.
“There’s no such thing as a normal foster kid,” Tina said.
“Or a normal kid,” Jon chimed in.
Tina had her first son at age 14 and her second at 18, and she married their father when her oldest boy was 8 months old. They divorced after 18 years.
Tina’s sons from that marriage, now 21 and 26, live in the Magic Valley and stop by often. “They both hang out,” she said. “We usually just have a revolving door.”
Jon also has two biological children: 13-year-old Abigayle and her 19-year-old brother.
Together, Jon and Tina adopted Taren five years ago, then last year Josiah and Chloe.
“I was the first one to get adopted,” chimed in Taren, now 9.
Poop and puke
On the afternoon of Feb. 24, with the children home for a snow day and Jon off work, Tina received a call saying she didn’t need to come to the Sawtooth Surgery Center, where she works on Fridays. So the whole family was home.
The television in the living room displayed a video and lyrics to the song “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Josiah and Chloe played on the living room floor.
Jon held Josiah, who stood up dancing to the song. “Blah,” said Josiah, who suffers from permanent brain damage and developmental delays.
One of the family’s three dogs, Roscoe, was inside, his feet skittering across the kitchen floor. The two other dogs peered into the house from the other side of the sliding glass door.
Outside, Abigayle and Taren shoveled snow together in the front yard, but they started fighting. So Jon sent Taren to work in the backyard instead.
After finishing the driveway, Abigayle ate chips and played phone games on a bar stool at the kitchen island. Tina unloaded items from plastic bags onto the counter. She pulled a green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt — she found it on clearance — out of an Old Navy bag and took it to the living room.
“Josiah, look at what Mom found you,” she said, holding it up.
The three other youngsters, after dancing in the living room, headed to a playroom downstairs to play dress-up. Soon, Taren emerged wearing a dark red costume dress.
The 6-month-old was asleep in another room. She’s teething and is pooping frequently, Tina said. “Now she’s got a sore bum.”
As she unloaded baby food from the WinCo bag, she said the baby also has acid reflux, but solid food helps. It means there’s less puke.