kokopellinelli (kokopellinelli) wrote,

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Okay, remember this?

This is worse.

Ukrainian couple has 17th child, lays claim to largest US family

SACRAMENTO, United States (AFP) - Complete with proud smiles and self-conscious glances, Vladimir and Zynaida Chernenko's seventeen children were introduced to the world.

Cradled delicately in Vladimir Chernenko's thick arms was his baby, David, whose birth on December 7 gave the Ukrainian-American family the largest brood in the United States, according to the Russian language newspaper The Speaker.

"When we got married back in the Ukraine, for six month we had no children and thought we wouldn't have any kids at all," Vladimir told reporters at a celebration in Bethany Slavic Missionary Church in Sacramento.

"I never thought I would have such a family."

Vladimir said he was serving in the Ukrainian army when his wife wrote in a letter that she was pregnant.

"I said how could this happen, me in the army and she is at home pregnant?" he recalled with a laugh. "I was young then and didn't take into account we had lived together a while."

The family emigrated and settled in California seven years ago, the couple said. Vladimir is a security and maintenance worker for a charter school and the family lives in a seven-room house in Sacramento.

"It's a lot of work, and we all get tired, and it's difficult from financial point of view," Zynaida Chernenko conceded when asked if having such a large family was difficult.

"But, we overcome the fear by looking forward to our children with love."

The children, the eldest of which is 22, share duties and responsibilities, with the older ones filling in for their parents at times, the mother said.

"It takes a great deal of work to raise all of the children, on each level," Vladimir said. "Education and upbringing plays a large role, but the most important thing is love and a big heart."

It also helps to have a 15-seat mini-van and a huge dinner table, the family confided.

"I talk to my friends, and they are worried their family has only one child or two," said 18-year-old Dimitry Chernenko. "They go home to nothing. I come home from school and I'm never bored. You always have something to do."

Part of that is by parental design, the mother explained, because she and her husband make certain the children keep busy with school, chores or other tasks.

"Our goal is to raise the children so when they grow up they will not be afraid of anything in life," Zynaida said. "I think if every family approaches it that way, we will have a very healthy society."

The siblings do not squabble about portion sizes, television channels or other matters because their dad has driven home the importance of putting aside selfishness in order to survive as a family, 17-year-old Anatoliy said.

"We sit all together, put out the food and eat like a regular family," said 16-year-old Lyudmila "Sometimes we wait for each other to finish, and then feed the little kids."

The father and mother said it was difficult to estimate how much they spend weekly on food, because the money goes out as quickly as it comes in.

"It's impossible to say how many diapers we've changed, because back in the Ukraine we didn't have those things," Vladimir said. "We used other means."

The huge family group appeared to be thrilled by the presence of reporters and the notion of being on the television news.

Two-year-old Timofey, however, napped in a sister's lap as the family fielded questions and posed for pictures.

"It's cool to be called the biggest family in America."

The couple expressed thanks for the support they have received from Russian and American business people, along with their church.

When asked whether David would be her last baby, Zynaida replied: "I can't say."

"I am grateful for all my children, my wonderful husband, my friends. And, I'd like to thank my doctor."

They have a 15-seat van. That. is not. big enough. They need a bus.
Tags: article, kids

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