This is the story of one couple who really went above and beyond for their neighbor, adopting her children after she died. What makes it all the more extraordinary is that they were the kind of neighbors that didn’t really speak to each other. But little did they know what this good deed would bring their way...
Couple Adopts Their Neighbor's Children and Karma Had Something Extraordinary Waiting for ThemPublished 9 months ago
Our story starts with Tisha and Kevin Beauchmin who live in Las Vegas, Nevada. They consider themselves a pretty average family, though they are larger than most, with five children of their own.
Obviously, with seven mouths to feed, the couple was pretty busy just trying to make ends meet. Tisha worked as a bingo cashier and Kevin had a job as an asset protection security officer. With both of them working full time and looking after five children, they didn't have much time for their neighbors.
One day, however, their neighbor Audrey got in touch to ask a favor of the Beauchmins. She needed them to watch her children. Audrey hadn’t been feeling well for several months, and after several visits to her doctor, she was referred to the hospital for some tests.
The problem was that these tests required her to stay overnight, which would mean her three children would be on their own. Despite the fact that Kevin and Tish already had a very full house, they quickly agreed to the request.
Although the Beauchmins didn't know their neighbor very well, they didn't even need to think twice about helping out. As a single mother, Audrey had no partner to look after the children, and having these hospital tests was obviously very important.
Space was tight, so all of the children would have to share their bedrooms. Fortunately, all the kids seemed to get along well so this wouldn't be a problem, and it was just for one night. But at that point, they had no idea what was coming.
Knowing that her children were now being looked after, Audrey admitted that she actually wasn’t worried about her health. She was even looking forward to getting the tests done so that she could get some answers about what was wrong.
She had been experiencing symptoms for some months, which wouldn’t go away, and she hoped that with the tests they would find an explanation and she could move on to getting the correct treatment. The hospital stay was fairly standard, and she was just expecting some blood tests and perhaps an MRI scan.
Going into the hospital that day, Audrey had no idea that it would not just be some simple tests and an overnight stay. In fact, she didn't leave the next day as planned. She was asked to stay an extra night, then another and another.
Tisha recalled later in an interview, “She went into the hospital that Tuesday for the tests and was expecting to be released soon after, but her stay lasted 32 days.” Audrey’s health issues were more serious than the doctors had anticipated, and at some point, she had to tell her children the truth.
Audrey had been looking forward to getting the results of the tests, but when they arrived, they only contained bad news. There would be no getting treatment and moving on with her life – she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and given just months to live.
Even before this, it had already been a very difficult time for everyone. The children had been receiving therapy, with counselors coming to the house each week to see the kids alone and for group sessions. Now with eight children to feed, Tisha had to take on extra work.
The news of her diagnosis was obviously heartbreaking for Audrey, but after 32 days in the hospital, she was immensely relieved when she was told she could go home. It had been a long time for her to spend away from her children.
Getting out of hospital also meant that her three kids could be at home, so they could hopefully get back to some kind of routine. And it meant life could be a bit more normal for the Beauchmins too. But of course, there was no forgetting about her diagnosis.
With Audrey back at home, life for Tisha and Kevin was a little easier for a while. But their relief was to be short-lived. One day Tisha was at work when she received a call from an unknown number, and it came with bad news: Audrey was back in the hospital.
She again asked Tisha to look after her children. And while she didn’t think twice about helping, she couldn't deny it was difficult. “The kids were used to it, but my family and I were not,” she explained. “It was rough.”
Taking in Audrey’s children for a second time, Tisha asked her how long she expected this hospital stay to be. But instead of giving her an answer, Audrey replied with a question of her own. “I want to ask you if you can take care of my children when I go?”
Nothing could have prepared Tisha for this, especially since it was not so long ago that these two neighbors barely knew each other. But despite this, she agreed straight away. “I just cried and said, YES! Seeing what they were going through, hearing about their past, these kids needed us, and we wanted to help them.”
When Audrey asked that question, she must have known what was coming. The doctors had expected to release her a few days later, but she sadly slipped into a coma. Tisha took the children out of school to spend some time with Audrey, even her own five children wanted to say goodbye.
Tisha remembers those last moments, “They ended up spending hours at the hospital, and we stayed until the kids tired out, and seeing as there was no place to sleep, we decided to hug and kiss and say goodnight to Audrey.”
Tisha and the children barely had time to process their moments with Audrey before there was more news. On the way home from the hospital, she received a call from one of the nurses. “Audrey had passed away a few minutes after we left. I stayed silent till we all got home, and then I told the kids…”
Although they had known the end was coming, it was a terrible moment for everyone. Tisha admits, "This was my worst moment as a mother!" Audrey's children were completely grief-stricken, but at least they knew they had a home with the Beauchmins.
Tisha had made a promise to a dying woman, and she wasn't about to go back on it. She and her husband took in Audrey's three children as their own, even though they were struggling to provide for what was now a family of ten!
Fortunately, there was another neighbor, Elizabeth Thames, who would help this family out. She knew what had happened to Audrey, and wanted to do something for the children and their compassionate new family. She got in touch with Las Vegas’ Fox5 Surprise Squad – a television show that helps those in need.
When the Surprise Squad heard all about what the Beauchmins and Audrey's children had been through, they were completely taken aback. As soon as they learned of their situation, the team started planning a huge string of surprises.
One reporter asked Tisha why she had done so much for a neighbor she barely knew, and she replied, “I don’t want them ever to have to go through what I went through as a child. They’ve been through so much and knowing them; they deserve to be happy and live in a place they can call home.”
Now that the Surprise Squad had made their grand plans, the next stage was to put things into action. Soon enough, Tisha had a knock on the door and she came face to face with the team, who were part of the local news.
In order to get to work, they had to get the Beauchmins out of the house. They organized a hotel near the casino where Tisha worked, and the family moved in there for a week. With a large team and a few volunteers, the Fox5 Squad was able to do in a few days what would take about six weeks.
The biggest and most important task on the Squad’s list was to do some renovating. With three extra children in the house, all of the kids were forced to share beds and it was getting very cramped. But the Beauchmins had no money to renovate.
It wasn’t just about being comfortable either. In order to be approved as foster parents for Audrey’s children, they had to prove that their house was suitable for so many occupants. So the Fox5 Squad set to work renovating the loft – and covering the entire cost!
This loft renovation would be the most important part of the project, after all, it would impact the future of this new blended family. Some of the children had already been sleeping in the loft, but by adding a wall, the team would be creating two separate bedrooms.
During this whole sad affair, the Beauchmin's oldest daughter had not even had a bedroom. Instead, she was forced to sleep in an open space near the kitchen. Now with this renovation, she would have a room of her own, and a beautifully designed one at that.
Although the show was called Surprise Squad, the Beauchmins did know about the loft renovation. What they didn't know was that the team was going to give them so much more, especially after hearing how much they had been through.
The team took out all of the furniture and set to work cleaning the place from top to bottom. They then had a team of decorators come in to give all of the walls a fresh coat of paint. If that wasn’t enough, they also fitted out the house with new furniture!
When the Squad installed all the new furniture, they made sure that all eight children now had their own bed! The oldest of the kids, Chad, had been sleeping on the sofa all this time. Instead of getting his own room, the team gave him money to put towards a deposit on his own rental.
With the help of local sponsors, the gifts for the family kept on coming. The Beauchmins would be gifted a new car, one that was big enough for their new extended family. And to help keep all of those hungry mouths fed, they would be supplied with a year’s worth of groceries!
Of course, the best part of any of these surprise renovation programs is when the team reveals the results to the lucky family. In anticipation, the Surprise Squad, a television crew, and the whole neighborhood were waiting for the Beauchmins to come home.
When they walked through the door and saw the transformation that had taken place, needless to say, that they were completely overwhelmed. It wasn't just the loft renovation, but the entire house that had been made over. The Beauchmins couldn’t believe their luck.
Although they tragically lost their mother, they found a new family. Tisha even said in an interview, “These are our children now,” letting them know just how welcome they were.
She then revealed her reasons for being so welcoming, “I had to go into the foster care system, and I don’t want them ever to live through anything I had to deal with when I was a child. They’ve been through too much. They deserve a loving family and a place to call home.”
Just in the way that the children would have been lost without Tisha and Kevin, the Beauchmins would have been lost without their community. From a couple who didn’t have much time for their neighbors to begin with, they could never have expected this support.
It all started with a single phone call from one clever neighbor, and from there the whole thing gained momentum. Getting the Surprise Squad onboard started a chain reaction that led to help from volunteers and local businesses, resulting in the most wonderful surprises for a family in need.
Many of those that came to help the Beauchmins just couldn’t believe how generous Tisha had been, taking in these three children for a woman that she wasn’t even friends with. But Tisha was equally as disbelieving at all of the help she and her family received.
After seeing all of the work that the team had done, Tisha exclaimed "It’s overwhelming that somebody would do this for me and my family. I didn’t do anything too special. I did what anybody in my shoes would have done."
She might have thought it was nothing special, but we beg to differ. It’s not just anyone who would take on three children as if they were her own. Perhaps it was her own experience with the foster care system that led her to go above and beyond what any normal person would do.
One thing's for sure, if it weren't for Tisha, Audrey's children would have ended up in an orphanage or in foster care, probably separated from each other. It was her selfless act that went on to inspire a whole community, who in return made sure that she and her family had all the support they needed.
There are several iconic families throughout history and storybooks, from the rumbling Flinstones who live in a cave and the Adams Family with their dark comedy, to the Kardashians who pretend to be real but live a completely unrealistic life.
Yet none of these families can compare to this one Tennessee family that pushes the envelope on what a traditional (and non-traditional) family should look like. Once again, we are reminded that there is no such thing as a “typical family”.
To truly understand the unorthodox set-up of this particular Tennessee family, you need to understand where it all began. Katie Blackmer, a 32-year-old woman from Christiana, Tennessee, was once married to 32-year-old Stephen Shepard.
The two met when they were still wet behind the ears, at the tender age of 18 years old. After being best friends for two years, their friendship turned to flames and they got married when they were 20. A few months later, their small family of two started to grow.
A few months after getting married, Katie fell pregnant. The lovebirds were ecstatic to be growing their family. Fast track a few years later and the couple had birthed three beautiful children together.
Gracelyn, their eldest, is now 11 years old, Kaylynn is 10 years old and Colston, their youngest, is 5. However, although their children were the greatest gift that they ever received, it wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine.
Katie and Stephen got married when they were young. Add three kids to the mix and it’s no surprise that all of their energy was invested in raising their children while figuring out adulthood.
Eventually, the couple became complacent within their relationship. Putting their children first, they forgot about the duty that they had to one another as husband and wife. Things were starting to fall apart and their house was no longer the ideal happy home.
After a while, the tension took a toll on their marriage. Rather than remain together in a toxic home environment, Katie and Stephen decided to get a divorce.
In Katie’s words, “The first part of our divorce was rocky, to say the least. We fought about everything including the sky being blue. I told myself I couldn’t do this forever. The hate game and the blame game was getting old at a rapid pace!”. It was during this time that a new character entered the story.
The pair had been divorced for a while and spent their days arguing about almost everything. Although both of them were single, they were able to make their children their main priority. It was during this time that Katie started noticing 41-year-old Ben Blackmer. The two fell head over heels in love.
Katie had given love a second chance and was very pleased that she did. But by choosing to love Ben, Katie also chose to welcome someone else into her life.
After spending time together, Katie fell in love with Ben. This love manifested into the desire to marry one another and they vowed to spend the rest of their lives together.
However Ben came as a package deal. Ben has a 19-year-old son named Hunter, and Katie welcomed him into her life with open arms. The two had blended their families - Ben and his son, and Katie with her three children. Yet Stephen was still around and they needed to make it work.
Katie and Stephen’s relationship post-divorce was rocky at first. But still, their children were their number one priority and they held it together for the sake of their kids. Their daughter plays travel ball and so the pair would have to spend time together around 5 days a week, forcing them to co-parent on a friendly level.
After their divorce in January 2016, they made an effort to remain friends despite their differences. Before long, their friendship was effortless.
A year later, in 2017, Ben, Stephen, and Katie were hanging out socially on a regular basis. As they shared dinners, cookouts, went on holidays and supported their children’s sports games, their friendship continued to grow and their co-parenting skills improved.
This set-up worked very well for the kids. Where most children of divorced parents have to split their time between their mother and father, Katie’s children were able to spend time with both parents. There was no need to choose between the two, and the kids had more freedom.
In May of 2017, Katie’s phone rang. When she answered, her heart skipped a beat. The voice on the other side told her that Stephen and his brother were involved in a fatal car accident and both were in critical condition.
Katie rushed to the hospital as fast as she could. The medical team escorted Katie to Stephen, and the sight of him broke her heart. All that she could do was cry, pray and beg for him to be okay. Stephen was not only a friend, but the father of her children, and she was all too familiar with growing up without a father.
Stephen was lying in the hospital in critical condition fighting for his life and Katie’s knees were bruised from praying for his survival. Her ex-husband had become a good friend of hers, and was a loving father to their children. And that’s where Katie’s real fear crept in.
Katie had lost her own father in a car accident at the young age of seven. All that she could think about was that their kids needed their daddy. Throughout his recovery, Katie didn’t leave Stephen’s side.
Sadly, Stephen’s brother passed away after fighting a long battle for survival. Stephen was more fortunate. After recovery, the doctors released Stephen from the hospital but he still needed to have full 24-hour care for about a month and a half.
As a single man with very young children, Stephen didn’t have anyone to step up to the role of caregiver. At least that’s what he thought. Without hesitation, Katie and Ben decided to take Stephen home with them. In Katie’s words, “He needed us, his kids needed him and he needed his kids.”
Over the course of the next month and a half, Ben and Katie looked after Stephen, tending to his every need. Together, they supported him until he was healthy enough to go home. But when the time eventually came, he never left.
Once Stephen was healed, it was obvious that Ben and Katie’s home was now his home. In a bizarre turn of events, Stephen stayed living in the house - with his ex-wife and her new husband.
Strangely enough, the dynamic in their new home was perfect. The children loved it and the parents continued with their healthy friendship. Everyone had settled into a routine without a hitch. They would joke that their relationship was like a weird triangle.
Although home life was great, the group of three parents still wanted a fourth person to come along make their ‘triangle’ a square.
It wasn’t long before the fourth person did come along, transforming their shape into a sturdy square. In December of 2017, Stephen met and fell in love with 31-year-old Brandy Henderson.
In a strange turn of events, Brandy and Katie actually knew each other from school, meaning that the dynamic was familiar and easy. Soon, Brandy’s overnight stays at the house became permanent and she moved in. But once again, there was a package deal involved.
By merging his life with Brandy, Stephen was also merging his life with her two children - Kayleigh, who is 9 and Jaxson, who is 7. When Stephen started dating Brandy, everyone decided that it would be best that they all stay together and raise their children as a team.
Now, the four adults, five young children, and Ben’s 19-year-old son live together in a two-story, five-bedroom home. Katie says, “We call ourselves the ‘Blended 10! This works for us! This is our plan from here on out. It’s loud and hectic. But I don’t know what I would do in a quiet house now!”
Although their cohabitation set-up is strange and unconventional, Katie mentions that it has been quite easy. The adults have all known each other for years, making it easy to raise their six children together.
Katie claims that she’s gained a best friend and sister out of Brandy, as well as two more children that she loves as her own. Her own children have bonus parents which makes their support system huge. And this support is incredibly important when you consider the mania that fills the house of five school-going children.
Katie describes their house as “hectic all the time.” Thanks to the constant playing, running around and chasing one another, the noise levels can reach a loud level. Although she admits that she was nervous at first, Katie says that everything has fallen together and that they have a wonderful family - but that doesn’t make the schedule easy.
With 5 kids in school and sports, their schedule can get quite crazy. Kaylynn plays competitive softball and basketball, Gracelyn is in competitive cheer, Colston plays baseball, Jaxson plays baseball and football, and Kayleigh is in cheer. But when the family cheer and support on the stands, they do so as a team.
While it’s not always rainbows and butterflies, the group sorts out their disagreements as best that they can, learning to communicate for the sake of their children.
When their crazy schedules have a lull, the families find themselves sitting around the dinner table together. When Hunter is home, 10 of them sit around the table talking and laughing. Without the distraction of cell phones and TV, the family is able to connect. For a while, Brandy and Stephen had been planning to purchase a house of their home but prices in the area are incredibly high, so the group thought it best to stay in the same house. As a result, the parents split the bills fifty-fifty.
Katie has shared the story of her “blended” crew as an effort to encourage families that may be struggling with co-parenting. Their strange set up has received mixed feedback. Their family and friends are supportive, but some people have less kind things to say.
At the end of the day, Katie understands that life isn’t always easy and perfect, but they’ve created a system to make it work, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.