In 1997, Americans eagerly awaited the arrival of Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey’s septuplets. The couple had one daughter when they underwent ovulation-stimulating treatments for infertility, and learned they were pregnant with seven babies. While they faced criticism for declining selective reduction abortion, they also received an enormous outpouring of support, including the gift of a seven-bedroom home in the town of Carlisle, given to them by local builders. Now, that home is taking on new life to help young mothers in need.
The McCaughey children, who are the world’s first surviving septuplets, and their older sister, have grown up and gone off to college and the military, leaving the McCaugheys with the issue of what to do with their home.
“The house has been a huge blessing in our lives for the past 20 years,” Kenny McCaughey told local CBS news. “We just don’t need this much space.” And because they now feel it is too large for just the two of them, they partnered with Ruth Harbor, a Des Moines, Iowa, non-profit that provides housing and support to young women facing unplanned pregnancies.
The McCaugheys knew they wanted to downsize, but were unsure who would be a good fit for the 5,500 square foot house that served them so well for 20 years. While at church, they happened to meet officials from Ruth Harbor, who mentioned that they had been searching for a new home in order to help pregnant mothers, including after birth.
“As our kids are leaving the nest, it seems to be the right time to start a new chapter,” Bobbi McCaughey said in a statement. “We have been blessed to receive such a wonderful gift, and nothing would please us more than the idea of our home being used as a place of refuge to others in need.”
Ruth Harbor took possession of the home in April, and had their mother-child housing program up and running in the summer. It came with a 12-person dining table as part of the deal.
“Not only will the Carlisle home provide more beds and enable us to serve more women and babies, it will allow us to dedicate each home to the specific needs and training that are unique to each program,” said Mark McDougal, executive director of Ruth Harbor. “We anticipate that the McCaugheys have built many memories in their home. It seems wonderful that new and continuing memories will be built by more young moms going forward – for themselves and their children – when they have engaged in the Ruth Harbor program.”
Heather Holmes was born just one day after the septuplets, and last year, she discovered she was pregnant. She wasn’t able to live with her parents, and was sleeping on her sister’s couch when Ruth Harbor became her home.
“It’s kind of scary to think what would have happened,” she told local CBS news. “The giving just never stops at this house it seems like.”