Thursday, December 18, 2014

An Incredible Mormon Mother of 20 Children

We asked Cayce; Mormon Mother of 20 Children, to share her story.  It's 'incredible' by all accounts and you can't even begin to imagine our joy and appreciation for her willingness to share such a personal message.

She's an inspiration to us here at Mormon Moms and will be to many of you as well as you read her powerful and uplifting message as to following the Spirit and doing what needs to be done even when it's difficult, challenging and not as you thought you'd planned. 

Thank you, Cayce, for being willing to share your amazing journey; the honesty, ups, downs, and realness of it all.  Your family is precious and helps us all want to be and do better in whatever ways we can.  Thank you and blessings to you!!!

The amazing "Thill family"  (youngest five faces blurred pending their adoptions)

In her own words:

I am so excited! This is my first guest writing appearance. I was asked to share the story of my family. If there is one thing I love to talk about, it is my family. You see, I was born in Ohio and grew up in Michigan. My parents divorced when I was 5. My husband, John grew up in Michigan too. His parents were also divorced. John is the oldest of 4 children. I am the youngest of 3. John grew up in the Catholic religion. I grew up in multiple religions, Baptist, Methodist, reorganized church, non denominational ….well, you get the picture.

John and I met through a mutual friend in 1990, we were 19 years old. We were pen pals. (You remember the days before email, texting, tweeting, you had to actually write a letter on a piece of paper and mail it.) John was stationed in Germany in the US Army. I was living in Ohio at the time, working at Cedar Point (amusement park). We wrote for 1 1/2 years then met at the Detroit Michigan Airport for the first time in February 1991. (This was during Operation Desert Storm and no one was getting leave (vacation), his was granted, We were engaged in a few weeks and then were married in November, of that same year. We also found out we were expecting our first child. It was such an exciting time. John was stationed in Hunstville, Alabama (Redstone Arsenal). Our first baby was born on July 21, 1992. A beautiful girl we named, Kodey.

In February of 1993, we found out we were expecting baby number 2.  Sixweeks later, I collapsed and was rushed to the hospital with no blood pressure. The Dr. on duty was the same doctor who had delivered our girl. He was familiar with me. :) He told me I was going to lose the baby and went in the hall and told John I probably wouldn't make it. The last thing I remember before surgery was teasing my Dr. about his Jamaican vacation.

Well, I obviously survived. I woke up and was still pregnant! What a surprise! This singular event changed the course of our lives. This prepared us for the change that was coming. John was transferred again. In July 1993, we moved to Augsburg Germany. I was scared and 6 months pregnant with a 1 year old. We moved into our apartment and met our neighbors. This couple lived upstairs. She was a Relief Society counselor (church women's organization) and he was the ward mission leader (leader of missionary work in the local congregation), of the tiny Augsburg Servicemen's ward. They didn’t say anything about religion. Instead, they focused on being our friends. They talked to us about having a baby in a German hospital (they had just had one). They invited us to dinner. They invited us to play sports (Mutual activities) and make crafts (Homemaking). We met the missionaries. They became our friends. we became friends with the missionaries. These 20 yr. old young men, took my cloth diapers to the laundry room (4 floors down) and put them in the washer so I didn’t have to carry my big belly, baby and diapers down the stairs. One day I asked our new friends, "what makes your church different from mine?". She said we should talk to the missionaries. We did. Our son was born November 11, 1993 and we were baptized 4 weeks later. We were sealed (eternal marriage) in the Frankfurt Germany temple in 1994 with our two children.

In 1997, we moved to New York in when John separated from the Army. He attended the Culinary Institute of America. We were there for 2 years and had a prompting to move to Michigan. We did. With no job but a place to stay. Two weeks later John got a job and I got called into the RS Presidency. I was asked to carry out an assignment involving LDS family services. I was prompted to adopt. I talked to my husband and he was reluctant. He just wanted to make sure he could love another persons child like he did our birth children. Six weeks after our papers were submitted, a baby boy was born. We saw him and it was love at first sight. A year later, we welcomed our second son by adoption. Our family had grown and we were done! We did foster care for LDS family services. One of the babies was adopted by a family in Saratoga Springs, Utah. We came for a visit and fell in love with Utah. Five weeks later, John had a job with BYU Aspen Grove and we moved to Utah.

Within a year, we signed up to become licensed foster parents. Two months after classes were over, we got our first placement. Siblings Jonathan (4) and Gallie (2). 1 month later we got another placement of 2 sisters, Aleceeya (9) and Kloey (2). We ended up adopting all four children. Now, we were really done! But, the Lord wasn't! a year later we adopted Joseph (2) and Katie (11mths). A year after that, we adopted Jacob(8), Andrew(7), Lydia(5) and Ben(4). I can tell you again we were done! While on vacation in Michigan, we received a call about a little girl who was 4. We had worked with her before. We cut our trip short and when we arrived back in Utah, along came our Abigail. We decided 15 children was definitely enough. We had all we could handle. The Lord however, had different plans. Then came our final placement in 2011. They are still in foster care after 3 years with us. I can't give you their names but Boy E was 2, Boy Z was 1 and girl P was 4 months. 11 months later a sibling was born a girl E and then in November of this year, another sibling was born baby boy S . So my kids ages currently are: 22, 21, 21, 15,15, 14, 14, 13, 13,12,12, 11, 11, 9,8, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 8 weeks. So, you read this right, we now have 20 children! I am not sure we are done yet but, I have learned over this time many, many lessons.

First, the Lord has His own plans for us. My vision is extremely narrow. I think about worldly issues and problems. He thinks about eternally important things. He also sees who I am and who I have the potential to become. I often don’t have confidence in my ability or I create my own limitations. The Lord put me on a particular path. One that even I couldn't have comprehended. I learned early on...I will do what the Lord wants me to do. I will always be willing to do whatever He wants me to even if it is scary. I never would have thought I would have 20 children. I mean, who does this? I even have a grandson now!

Are things perfect around here? Oh no, they are not.(As a matter of fact, as I am writing this, one child is picking on another, there is some screaming going on and general chaos.) Our kiddos have hard times. They have anxiety, depression, ADHD, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, sleep issues and I could go on and on. One of those lessons I learned is, some days, I give 10%, some days 90% but whatever it is, the Lord makes up the rest. He always has my back.

We have cared for 65 children over the last 14 years. We get tired, we have good days and bad days. The Lord however, gave me this responsibility. Whether I do it perfectly or not, He knew I could get through each and every day.

The biggest lesson I think I have learned besides trusting the Lord is, I don't have to be perfect. This was such a hard concept for me to understand. I am not a 'pinterest' mom. I occasionally exercise. I am a size 12 not a 2. I read my scriptures most days but not every day. Sometimes, my kids hair isn't brushed and they are wearing mismatched socks. But, it is what it is. I am still a daughter of God. I am still a person worthy of so many blessings. I am still perfect for Him. At the end of the day, (as I sigh, look at my husband and declare "I made it") I know I have my Heavenly Father's love and devotion.

I am so grateful for the life I have been blessed with. I can see the chain of events that have led me to each and every stop. I have seen what has shaped and molded me into the person I am today. Not into perfection, but into the mold that is a perfect fit for me.

Cayce Thill is a mother of 20 children. She has been married to John for 23 very eventful years. She loves to clean house, do laundry...well, not really. She really likes to read and go to the movies (which doesn't happen often). They reside in Orem, Utah. She loves to hear from people. You are welcome to write her at and visit her blog thilltribe.