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Woman of the Month: Mother of 50 kids

September 23, 2008

Sara Larsen stared at the fragile baby boy in her arms. The victim of extreme neglect, he still had vomit sticking to his hair and filling his ears. The foster mother sighed, knowing how much work this child would be, and wondered if she and husband Dick could handle it. But as soon as the Eugene, Ore. Couple left the room, Dick looked at her and asked, “How do we get him out of there?”  Scenes like these are the snapshots of Sara Larsen’s life. The former farm girl from St. Charles, Iowa, grew up with one brother and never imagined the dozens of children that would one day fill her home. Today, however, the Lane County foster mother has fostered 54 children and adopted five with her husband of 43 years, in addition to raising a biological son.

Larsen began fostering in 1979 after suffering several miscarriages. Eventually, the couple began specializing in hard-to-place medically needy children. Some came with cracked skulls, fetal alcohol syndrome or drug withdrawals, but all left with a strong parent/child bond.

“When we take them into our home, they’re family,” Larsen says. “They’ve got to have nurturing and bonding and loving. You deal with the grief when they go.”

Whenever the Larsens felt strong attachments to a certain child, they prayed about their feelings. Though they were not successful in every adoption attempt, they still keep in regular contact with most of their former foster children today.

The hardest part, Larsen admits, is watching children re-enter abusive homes.

“I nearly wanted to quit after one little girl begged me to ask her mother to stop hitting her,” Larsen says, and yet the state still granted the abusive mother custody. “I told God, I’m not taking this anymore. And He said, just because it’s hard for you, you won’t do it anymore? I knew then I couldn’t give up.”

And the easiest part of opening up your home to so many children society would rather ignore?

“That’s easy,” Larsen smiles. “You fall in love with every single one of them.”


Know someone who deserves to be recognized as Oregon Woman of the Month?  Email us at oregon[at]

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Discuss this article

Suz September 23, 2008

What a beautiful woman! There is little glory or quick rewards in what Sara does, but rather a lot of tackling real gritty human problems that take all of one’s time and mental energy. People like Sara keep the world going around.

anony September 23, 2008

How does one keep in contact with 50+ kids? I have a problem keeping in touch with two. Email?

Lizzie September 23, 2008

Sara Larsen’s ability to touch 54 children’s lives, is such an inspiring story! And to think that she keep in contact with most of the children must be very encouraging to the children.

Olivia Rossi September 23, 2008

What a touching story. Thank you for including it and for choosing such a worthy woman. What fortunate children to have her and how nice to know that Sara is in our world.

Dee Dee September 23, 2008

I can’t get over the “cracked skulls” notation. Who would do such a thing? In an age where so many families want a child and here we have parents who would do this. I say to such abusers, if you do not want your kid, please hand the child to someone who does!

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