'Changed my life for the better:' West Fargo couple fosters then adopts 8

What started as an empty house quickly filled up after the couple opened the door and their hearts to foster children.

Erik and Dawn Herford, in the back row, with their eight adopted children, and grandparents.
Contributed / Herford family
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WEST FARGO — If you stop by to see the Herford family, there's a good chance Dawn Herford will be holding a baby or toddler.

The Herford house has become a secure, safe sanctuary for foster children who now have become Dawn and Erik Herford's family through adoption.

"We've really grown in the last few years. Kids were not ever really a possibility for us for awhile," Dawn said.

When Erik and Dawn married 14 years ago, they tried to have children, but medical issues prevented it.

"We went down the IVF road, and it just scared me. It was emotional (and) it was stressful," Dawn said.


In the early 2000s, the Herfords started fostering children, and soon they started adopting.

Their Christmas ornaments tell the story. Life as a married couple, then an adoption, then another and another.

"There are certain times of the day when it's loud, crazy, usually right after breakfast," Erik said.

On Thursday, Dec. 8, on the mantle are the stockings of Hannah, Leighton, Ben, Kayden, Isabelle, Jaxsen, Blayke and Tatum. That's right. Dawn and Erik Herford are the proud parents of eight.

"Once we got one and then some more siblings started coming along, we felt that they needed to stay together. So it's just kind of snowballed into eight, which is great," Erik said. "We love every one of them to death. They are just a lot of fun."

The kids are thriving despite roadblocks they faced from day one, with days spent running to school, sporting and doctor visits.

"Most of our kids were pre-disposed to some sort of drugs in their system. We had one that was also abuse-related, but they are all different, they're all unique," Dawn said. "They all come with their own quirks, and needs and wants and you just do it."

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"It's changed my life for the better. I couldn't imagine not having these eight kids. It's been an absolute blessing," Erik said.


In this crazy, chaotic household of 10, the kids wouldn't want it any other way.

"It's amazing, just, parents are the best," said 13-year-old Leighton Herford.

Two-year-old Blayke Herford was mesmerized by the Christmas Tree. This is home now.

One might find a dust ball or crayon marks on a wall, but you will also find a house full of hearts. A couple that never dreamed of a family, is now putting eight to bed and caring for three more in foster care.

The Herfords are also foster rescues. Right now, the couple has 10 puppies and two dogs.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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