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Foster Dad of Six Looking for Rescue of His Own

After reuniting siblings, a family has until Jan. 1 to find a larger home

Tammy and Kevin Ziegler have started signing their e-mails differently the past several weeks. Now, after their names, they’ve added “The Power of 8.” That’s because two foster children have a new home with the couple, and their four other children.

Tammy and Kevin Ziegler's family of six recently grew to eight with the addition of two foster children: the brothers of their adopted daughter, Amaya. Now the Zieglers face a new challenge in finding a larger home to house everyone. 'As a family, we said 'We will keep the family together, no matter what it costs,' Kevin Ziegler says.
Tammy and Kevin Ziegler’s family of six recently grew to eight with the addition of two foster children: the brothers of their adopted daughter, Amaya. Now the Zieglers face a new challenge in finding a larger home to house everyone. “As a family, we said ‘We will keep the family together, no matter what it costs,” Kevin Ziegler says. (Ziegler family photo)

The Zieglers have three biological children, one adopted child and two foster sons now. Crowding their home’s hallways are two 10-year-olds, two 8-year-olds, a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old. Even though the additions are a joyous occasion, they present a new challenge.

The three-bedroom Ventura mobile home the Zieglers live in is too small for eight people, according to the coach community’s by-laws, and the family must find a new home by Jan. 1.

As soon as the boys moved in, the family began to make changes. The Zieglers put the mobile home on the market, one room was emptied out for a pair of bunk beds, and their daughter now sleeps in their room. The boys have been with the family for less than two weeks, but Ziegler sought out the mobile home community leaders as soon as they arrived.

“They understand our heart,” he said, “but we also understand that there are rules in place for a reason.”

According to regulations, a minimum of four bedrooms is required for eight people, so finding a suitable home quickly is a top priority. Ziegler has been poring over classified ads and meeting with numerous landlords about places for the family to rent, but he admits to meeting some resistance.

“When people find out you have six kids, they change their tone about renting to you,” he told Noozhawk on Monday.

Ziegler spends his mornings managing the bustling Montecito Starbucks, 1046-A Coast Village Road, where he’s worked for the past three years. He and his wife, a teacher in Ventura, have always wanted to adopt children. That dream came true a year and half ago when they adopted 2-year-old Amaya. Ziegler listened to Amaya’s mother give up her rights to her five children in court. The children’s mother is single, charged with general neglect of the children, and their father is in prison.

“It was an amazing step for a mother to stand before the courts and say, ‘I cannot provide for my children,’” Ziegler recalled. “It was heartbreaking.”

The Zieglers adopted Amaya, and two of the five children were adopted by another family. When the two other boys were on the verge of entering a children’s home, a decision was made.

“They needed to stay with their family, and I am their family,” Ziegler said. “We said, ‘We will keep the family together, no matter what it costs.”

Ziegler’s dream is to have a large enough home to bring in more kids, and even provide housing and support for pregnant teenagers.

“If I had a house big enough, I would take in more,” he said.

About 80,000 children are in California’s foster-care system, and when the adoption lined up for the two boys fell through, the Zieglers stepped up.

“I think we need to look in our backyards more often,” he said. “When you talk about foster parenting, you’re talking about bringing a child in and showing them love.”

Amaya and her two brothers spent Thanksgiving together for the first time, and each child was asked what they were thankful for. Amaya’s answer surprised everyone.

“She told us she was thankful for her adoption,” said Ziegler, adding that the family couldn’t believe what they were hearing. She went on to tell them she was grateful her brothers were together with her.

Separated from her brothers at 9 months of age, the three are now reunited. So far, things have gone well. Sunday night, when Ziegler was tucking the two foster boys into bed, the oldest asked if he could call the Zieglers “mom and dad.” Ziegler acknowledged that he and his wife would never take the place of the boys’ real parents, but he said it was OK if they wanted to start referring to them that way.

Like all children in the foster system, the kids are facing their own struggles. Whether its neglect, emotional distress or chemical dependency, Ziegler noted that every child has needs when entering a new home.

“Some of them just need to be loved,” he said. “As silly as that sounds, there’s no greater Band-Aid than a hug.”

Finding a place to rent temporarily while their home sells is now the family’s top priority.

“I still have a house I need to be honorable to,” said Ziegler, who was unable to sell the property several years ago when the market was more favorable. Getting a loan for a new home, and walking away from the old one is out there, “but that’s not the honorable thing to do,” he said.

Ziegler is hopeful of selling the house for what he can get, and has started looking at foreclosed properties in Ventura. As a military veteran, he could have access to a VA loan, but all the houses he has seen need repairs. The residence must be livable to qualify for a loan, putting the family in a quandary.

“I’m not looking for the millionaire lifestyle,” Ziegler said. “That’s not what I want. I’m just looking for a place to put my kids where I don’t have to stress out as much about meeting their needs.”

Ziegler acknowledged that it’s hard for him to talk about the needs of his family.

“I’m a quiet person, I stick to myself, but I would do anything for my wife and my kids,” he said. “They are my future. They’re going to be future presidents, and I’ve got to make sure we raise them the right way.”

For more information on the Zieglers’ plight, or to make a donation, e-mail Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews or @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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